Isn’t it amazing how God always seems to meet us right where we are? He can take something we hear or read, or even a few words from a conversation, and cause it to speak to us personally, just when we need it most.
The dawning of a new year is like a clean slate, renewing our hope in the unspoken promise of a better marriage, a more connected family or a healthier lifestyle. A new year beckons us to leave the past behind and set our sights on the things that could lead to a more fulfilling life.
In the last few months of 2018, I began a journey that has carried over into this new year. I started down the path of grieving—for people and relationships lost, for things that didn’t turn out quite the way I had planned and for any other loss that may have occurred, which I neglected to grieve properly.
The purpose of grief is to allow us to work through our feelings, thoughts and memories associated with the many changes and losses in life. The goal and intention of grieving well is an emotionally, relationally and spiritually healthy life through Christ, who gifted us with the ability to grieve when life gets messy.
It appears that we have forgotten how to grieve as a society. We overlook the importance of grieving well. It probably isn’t intentional. It just happens because we are busy. But maybe more importantly, we don’t like to feel the pain that loss or change can bring. We don’t like the feelings of sadness, loneliness or anger.
We seem to have forgotten that God created us to experience all our emotions, even the ones we don’t want to feel or sometimes avoid at all costs. But grieving takes time and attention.
I believe that God has made me aware of my need to grieve, but I don’t think I am the only one. While telling friends about this process I am going through, I realized that many of them are uncomfortable with grief.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s not like I am walking around in sackcloth and ashes. But when the subject comes up, I sense uneasiness.
Whatever the reason, we have become a society that avoids grief and pain.
God longs for us to find restoration, freedom and wholeness that only He can bring, oftentimes through grieving, not just for our own well-being, but so we can be vessels of love and hope. We can help bring restoration to others by sharing our stories and pointing them to the only One who can provide complete wholeness.
Southeast Christian Church’s After Further Review sermon series, delivered by Teaching Pastor Kyle Idleman and Senior Pastor Dave Stone, came just when I needed it. This series has helped me see that God is in my grieving.
Listening to Idleman give an overview of the Beatitudes in the first sermon, “First + 10,” caused me to reflect on all the struggles I encountered in 2018. I also remembered the struggles of others that seemed so overwhelming. The three keys Idleman called “Jesus’ Vision for Your Life” are so relevant in all areas, especially when things become difficult.
Those keys are: I can’t. You can. God, help me.
What if we realized we cannot do this on our own every time the journey takes an unexpected downward turn? We have the promise that He will never leave us. Joshua 1:5 tells us, “‘No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”
God desires to hear those three little words, “God, help me.” We are acknowledging that when we are weak, He is strong. He does not need to hear them in order to work on our behalf, but He knows that we need to say them, to put our trust in Him.
Matthew 5:4 says, “‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.’”
Stone illustrated this on a ladder, which represented the steps to finding joy in Christ. When we grieve, God is there, giving us the comfort that we need to heal in order to experience His joy.
The Beatitudes don’t seem to fit in today’s culture. However, we have all heard stories of those who have found restoration and redemption during complete brokenness, and have come face-to-face with what they could not fix on their own.
It is through failure and disappointments that we can begin to see that in our weakness, He is strong. It is often during the most painful times of life that we are assured that God can. And not only can He, but He has been there all along, waiting for us to ask for His help.
I can’t. Truly, I cannot do this on my own. He can though! We see it again and again in His Word and in real-life situations around us. “God, help me,” is sometimes a desperate whisper on the lips of those who have experienced total defeat, but that is all it takes to witness the life-changing power of God’s eternal love.
“’Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven’” (Matthew 5:3). The poor in spirit are broken, messy and seemingly without hope. But brokenness precedes wholeness in Christ. We can only be strong when we admit our weaknesses and allow Jesus to be the One who is strong in us, for us and through us.
Laurie Lyons works in Southeast’s Campus Care Ministry.