SHOULD BELIEVERS GRIEVE? - P1
“He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him” (Isaiah 53:3 NASB).
Should we grieve as Christians? The answer depends on who you talk to. There are many Christians who do not think Believers should mourn for loss or death. They argue that the resurrection ensures a hopeful future where we will be restored and reunited with those we have lost and because of that, we should experience joy when we suffer separation, because our loved ones go to be with Christ. It is true that we have the hope of the resurrection for ourselves and for our friends and family who are known by Christ, but God never instructs us not to grieve when we suffer loss or separation, and we see that even God grieved on many occasions: “The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart” (Gen. 6:6).
God grieved because the outcome of sin meant loss and separation from His creation, for unholiness must be separated from Him. Yet, He was “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pt. 3:9b, KJV) and be saved through faith in His Son “Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Rom. 5:11). God desires reconciliation—He does not want to suffer loss or separation with the creation that He loves. God understands grief better than we can ever know. And He actually instructs us to grieve, even for fellow Believers: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15). But why should we grieve for those who are saved, if we are to see them again?
The answer is that just as it was not God’s will that He suffered loss and separation, He also did not design us to suffer loss or separation. Death and loss are not natural—they are the outcome of sin. We were not designed to be separated from life—not from God, not from our fellow man, not from health, and not even from animals or plants. Indeed, heart-rending dirges have been written for nature destroyed by decay and death. You see, God designed us to live forever in His presence—never to be separated from God or our family—never to suffer pain, loss, or death. And so, when we suffer these unnatural things, our natural response is grief—a deep sorrow: “a feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or other misfortune suffered by oneself or others” (Google Dictionary). We instinctively know these things that befall us are not natural because God did not design us for them. At its core, true grief is sorrow over sin and the effects of sin upon the earth, the lives of others, and our own lives.
Throughout the Old Testament, we see that people of faith grieved and mourned when they experienced loss and separation. We could speak of the grief of Jacob at the “death” of Joseph, for “he refused to be comforted. And he said, ‘Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son.’ So his father wept for him” (Gen. 37:24-25), the grief of Hannah at being childless: “I have poured out my soul before the Lord...out of my great concern and my provocation” (1 Sam. 1:15b-16b), the sorrow of Job at his loss of everything: “Oh that my grief were actually weighed and laid in the balances together with my calamity! For then it would be heavier than the sand of the seas” (Job 6:2-3a), David’s many trials: “How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?” (Ps. 13:2), and the grief of Jeremiah at the horrific judgement of Judah: “My sorrow is beyond healing, My heart is faint within me!” (Jer. 8:18)
We see from these men and women of faith that they sorrowed over the horrific consequences of sin upon the earth. Yet are there limitations on our grief as Believers? In the next devotional, we’ll examine a New Testament perspective. Amen.