Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

03/17/2019 P.M.

 

Coping With Our Losses Through Grief

Luke 22.39-46  1 Thessalonians 4.13-18

 

When Jeff is out of the pulpit on Sunday Evening, we are examining some emotional issues that affect us all at one time or another...

 

For instance in the last two such lessons... We’ve examined Worry and Anxiety...

 

We noted that Paul said it was possible to live above worry... From Philippians chapter four.

 

Then last Sunday Evening... We noted what Jesus had to say about Worry and Anxiety from familiar verses from the Sermon on the Mount.

 

Paul contends that we can live above worry by...

• Learning to rejoice… Deciding to Rejoice Always… Rather than worry…

• Having a gentle calm nature… Let your gentleness be evident to all.

• By sensing and practicing the presence of God in our life…. Know that the Lord is near.

• Worry is inhibited… By prayer and petition… 

• By counting our blessings… With thanksgiving…

• Worry fades in the face of right thinking…Paul says... Think on these things... And he gives us eight things to consider thought-worthy.

 

Last Week we heard Jesus say... 

• Worry and anxiousness tend to fade when we give God His rightful place in our life... Place Him and His Kingdom righteousness first in every arena.

Live one day at a time... 

• And Trust God to care for things beyond our control... 

 

Tonight... We consider another emotional issue

that we all must all deal with frequently... Grief...

 

Grief is defined as a deep distress caused by a loss... Any significant loss.

Grief is the... Normal...Rational... Reponse to a loss.

Grief is the pain we feel over the loss... Sometimes the overwhelming pain.

 

Grief is God’s blessing to mankind...

It’s a mechanism He has given us to help us deal with our losses in life...

We grieve at a loss...Any loss...

How intense the grief... How long the grieving... Is dependent upon our feeling toward what has been lost...

 

For instance…

• We grieve over the loss of a billfold... A credit card...

• We grieve over the loss of a job...

• Loss of health...

• Loss of youth...

• Loss of a loved one... A spouse... parent... a child.

You can easily see that the intensity of the grief is proportional to the feelings we have for that which we’ve lost.

 

OK... Here is a good place to consider HOW...

How do we deal with the pain?... How do we deal with Grief?...

 

First and foremost... We need to establish that Grief is a personal pain... 

Grieving is An individual Experience.

 

You see... There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Yes... We can do some things wrongly. There are some unhealthy ways to deal with the pain. 

 

For instance...

I walked down the hall with a young lady who had just lost her father in the ER... I put my arms around her... Saying I’m sorry for your loss...

 

She instantly said...I’m not sorry... I’m glad he’s dead!!... He sexually abused me since I was ten years old.

 

Truth is… We don’t know what another individual is thinking… Where their heart is focused… Don’t even try to go there!!

 

Indeed… Grief... How we deal with loss is a personal thing... A very personal thing... And for us to assume that we know... what another is going through... what they feel...Can be a serious mistake.

 

I hear people say... The pain will go away faster if you’ll ignore it.

No it won’t!... Here it is church... We will grieve... It’s the way God made us...

The question is not...Will we grieve... But when??

Trying to stuff our grief leads to some ugly results... 

Frequently... Stuffed grief comes back to greet us as... Anger... Bitterness... Resentment... Hate... Guilt... Depression... 

Don’t deny the pain...don’t stuff your grief... Let it happen!!

 

I hear some people say... You must be strong in the face of your loss.

Listen... Feeling... Sad...Frightened... LONELY... Is a normal reaction… It’s OK!!

 

I had a man who had just lost his father in the ICU tell me... I wish I could cry... But my dog died when I was six years old... My father told me… Don’t you cry… I don’t want to see you cry!… Strong men never cry... And I’ve never cried since.

 

WOW!!... What a serious mistake... Jesus wept!... The Ephesian Elders shed tears when Paul told them they would never see him again. 

The text says… There was great weeping.

 

Let it happen... Tears are a cleansing agent that wipes away some of the pain... Don’t deny the tears... Let them flow... Let the hurt out.

 

Understand that... Grief is not an event... It’s a journey... 

Grief is a process we must go through.

Grief and Grieving is...The process... The journey... Of coming to terms with our loss.

 

You see church...

Grief is not something we get over... Don’t try to get over the loss... Face it head on… Just try to walk through it.

• A family never gets over losing a son or daughter... Did David & Bathsheba get over the loss of their first son?

• A devoted spouse never gets over the death of their companion for decades.

• We never get over the loss of a parent... A loving mom or dad.

• We never get over a collapsed career... The loss of an exciting job... Business... A bankruptcy.

• One never gets over the devastating announcement that they have cancer or heart disease.

• We never get over a divorce or the loss of a relationship with someone we love.

• Do you think Peter ever got over denying his Lord... Or Paul his persecuting the church?... Of course not... But they learned to live with their loss... They came to terms with their losses.

 

C. Everett Koop who served as the United States Surgeon General lost a son due to a mountain climbing accident in New Hampshire.  Koop wrote about the permanent void in their lives following their son’s death.  He wrote... People said... God will fill the void... But this is not so... Instead... 

• We found that the void is really never filled... 

• But somehow God does make the void bearable.

 

There is no reason to believe the ladies in this church will get over the death of their husbands… Or that Cammy Jo and Roger Arnold will never get over losing their mom... But somehow God...

• Makes going on possible... 

• Makes the pain bearable... 

• Somehow God even enables life to become enjoyable again. 

 

But there will always be an empty place in our hearts for those people or things that we treasure most... But have lost. 

 

Church... Indeed... We will do better if we remember that... GRIEF IS A JOURNEY... NOT AN EVENT!!

 

Sometimes it helps to understand the expected stages of Grief.

In 1969 Elisabeth Kubler-Ross introduced us to the Five Stages of Grief... These were based on her studies of feeling of patients facing terminal illness... But generally have been recognized as the emotions we go through for a significant loss.

 

Denial... This can’t be happening to me... There must be a mistake... 

 

Anger... Why is this happening to me... Who is to blame... Why?... Why?... Why?

 

Bargaining... God... Make this go away and I will do... ?Anything? 

Our guilt in some area will probably cause us to name something here.... Don’t be surprised with what chip you end up bargaining with!!

 

Depression... Depression occurs when we become too sad to do anything... Things we previously enjoyed doing... This is a sure sign that our grief has turned into depression.

 

Acceptance... I’m not over my loss... But I’ve accepted it... I’m at peace with my loss.

 

Now... Allow me to give you this warning... We may or may not go through these stages... Or they may be out of order in our loss... But we can generally say that most... If not all of these thoughts... Will become real in our pain.

 

Here are some other emotions we can expect... Emotions we need to be ready for... 

 

Shock and disbelief... I hear these statements in almost every Emergency Room 

Death... 

• I feel it’s not real... 

• I’m numb... 

• Like I’m dreaming... 

• This can’t be happening!!

 

Sadness... A feeling of... Emptiness... Hopelessness... Despair... Loneliness.

 

Guilt... There may be a feeling of regret that we did not say or do something to prevent the loss... Even if there was nothing more we could have done. 

 

Sometimes our guilt has to do with a lack of forgiveness… We wish we had said… I forgive you… Or, forgive me. Listen… If this is the case... If you need to say some of these things… Express your feelings to God... Forgive… Forgive!!... It’s never too late to forgive… Never too late to Deal with our... Guilt... Grudges... Regrets.

 

And above all... Know that God will deal with our confessions.

 

Anger... We may be angry with... The doctor... A hospital or clinic... With a family member... With God.... We may be angry with the person who died for leaving us  

Alone... Abandoned.... Perhaps we are angry with someone who caused our loss.

 

Listen... Paul tells us how to deal with our anger... Don’t hold on to it... Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.

 

Jesus says... Don’t let your anger turn to hate.

 

It’s alright to be angry... Even angry with God... He can handle our anger... But we must not allow our anger to turn into hate... To where we perpetrate revenge and retaliation for our pain.

 

We’ve all known those who have become revengeful toward God… Because they blamed Him… They stopped coming to church.

 

Just be mindful… We must be careful with our anger that it does not turn to hate.

 

Fear... A significant loss can trigger a host of worries and fears... We may feel... Anxious... Helpless... Insecure... There may even be panic attacks.

 

When a husband dies and we’ve never… Written a check... Paid a bill... Filled the car with gas.. Changed a tire... Done the taxes... There may be a lot of fear... And rightly so...  But remember this... God is good… He has provided us with…Friendship... Fellowship... Togetherness. He will supply help through others… But we must be willing to let others come alongside us and help.

 

Another warning that we need to mention... And that is to prepare yourself for significant dates... Future Grief Triggers.

Watch out forAnniversaries!!... Your wedding... The date of your loss... Maybe it’s been a month... a year... two years.  Just be prepared to be without who or what you lost on the holidays.

 

It might not be a date... 

• But a set of circumstances... 

• A smell... 

• A deja vu moment... 

• A picture… 

• Maybe a time of year... Spring... Fall.

Don’t allow these to sneak up on you.

 

One last thought in this area... When to consider professional help.

I’ve made a list… Let me read it for you…

• When there are intense thoughts of guilt that seem to grow in intensity.

• Feelings of overwhelming hopelessness or worthlessness...

• Feeling like life isn’t worth living...Thoughts of suicide... A preoccupation with dying...

• Wishing you could have died with your loved one...

• Having difficulty trusting others since your loss...

• Sensing that others don’t care about you or your loss to the point you are withdrawn socially and become an extreme loner.

These symptoms are called complicated grief... They signal that the time is right for one to seek professional counseling.

 

Now... I want us to end our thoughts on a Biblical note...

I believe Paul tells us how to deal with our grief in First Thessalonians 4.13... Listen

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.

 

First... Paul says grieve... It’s the good & right thing to do… It’s proper to grieve.

God’s children are not asked to become stoic unemotional people... We are to become like Jesus... Have His... Heart... Attitude... Disposition... and Behavior.

 

Jesus wept at the death of a friend... Lazarus. 

In the Garden… He experienced deep grief before His arrest… So much so that He said… My grief is taking Me near death. 

We find Jesus kneeling in prayer… The face down in the dirt… Grabbing the grass in pain… Jesus grieved!!

Listen church... If we have a Jesus heart... We will grieve over our losses.

 

Secondly... We are to Grieve with hope...

We are not to grieve as do… non-believers... non-Christian… the pagan world.

We grieve differentlybecause of our hope in Jesus.

• Our grieving is without despair... 

• Sorrow without defeat...

• Sadness... But not without hope.

 

You see… Our hope is built on a past experience… Paul gives us the hope... We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

 

Our hope is in a past event… His resurrection… Jesus conquered death… And He has given us this victory over death.

 

We will be like Him in the resurrection… What a hope it is!!... Amen?

 

Thirdly... Our grief is to be temporary.

Our grief will come to an end... Our hope is based upon a future reality... God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Him..

 

Remember the sequence... The dead in Christ will rise first... Then we who are alive and left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air... So shall we always be with the Lord.

 

Indeed... Our hope is built on Jesus and His righteousness.

 

No wonder Paul ends by saying... Encourage one another with these words.

 

Church... Do we believe what we sing... Because He Lives... We can face tomorrow regardless of our losses... Amen?

 

Well... What do you and I need to do tonight to rid ourselves of the grief of wrong doing... Grief as the result of our sin-guilt?

 

If you are not a child of God... The answer is to become one by... Faith... Repentance of sin...Confession of the fact that Jesus is the Son of God who died for our sin guilt... And the New Birth... Water Baptism... Raised to walk in a new life... Conforming to the image of Jesus.

 

If we are a child of God... John tells us that acknowledgment of our sin... Confession of our sin-guilt to God will effect His forgiveness.

 

So... The invitation tonight is that we each go home without any sin-grief as we stand and sing this song together.