Saturday, April 29, 2017

joy vs grief

The visionary Hermas has some very strong words to say about grief today in A Year with the Church Fathers.

He basically says not to grieve. That grief takes us away from God, because the Holy Spirit is one of joy. So give up your grief, he says, and rejoice instead.

Now, we do need to balance this advice with the fact that one, we're human. When we lose loved ones (even beloved pets), we're going to be sad and grieve for a time. Two, Jesus wept, and He was without sin. Third, there is a time to weep and a time to laugh. So we know that grieving is natural and normal and not to be avoided at all costs.

But. There is a difference between grieving and then moving on, on one hand, and diving headlong into our grief and living there for years. We need to allow God, usually through the love of our friends and family, to lift us back up out of our grief and learn to live in love and joy again.

You probably know of someone, if you don't know them personally, who loses someone they love and basically grieve for the rest of their lives. NOTHING can cheer them up, because they have chosen grief, not as a stage to move through, but as their identity. They can never move past it because it is who they have become.

This is the mindset that our Hermas is talking to today. Let go of that grief. Move on. Allow God to heal you. And find what He has next for you in your life.

Remember, the advice that we're given by the writers of the New Testament, where we're told to rejoice always and to be full of joy, was written usually from prison cells. The people telling us to live joyfully were watching as the people they loved were being killed for their faith. And every human on the planet who has loved another person has had to deal with the pain of losing them. None of us gets to hold on forever... at least not in this lifetime.

So weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice. But when the season of grief is over, let the sun shine into your heart once more. You'll be glad you did.

God, thank You for rescuing us from the black depths of our grief, which threaten to swallow us.