Following a span of four days in which we had three funerals at our church I saw an article that got my attention. Written by Ed Stetzer and entitled Recovering the Good in Seasons of Lament, I thought this is a piece I need to read. I read it and I’m glad I did.
The reality is that everyone experiences losses in life and grieves those losses. The losses we face, however, are not limited to the passing of loved ones. I have moved three times in the past 40 plus years and as excited as I was about where we were moving to, leaving each place was a significant loss.
Grief and lament are not limited to our losses, but they are part of life. Perhaps another way to say it is that we all do and will go through times of discouragement, confusion, uncertainty, pain, disappointment, and failure.
Even though they challenge us, such seasons should not surprise us. A verse I often emphasize in my teaching is Jesus’ words in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble.” That suggests to me that our decision to trust and follow Jesus does not mean we will be exempt from things that hurt us – things that cause us to grieve and lament.
As much as we wish it were not so, and as much as it grieves us, neither should death surprise us. Hebrews 9:27 reminds us “each person is destined to die” (NLT). We can prepare for it and expect it, but neither takes away the loss death deals us.
Stetzer notes that when those close to us experience loss “it’s natural to want to step in and provide encouragement,” but we don’t know “what to say or how to go about saying it.” And giving me as a pastor some comfort, Stetzer rightly notes, “The truth is that we don’t have all the answers.”
Offering a challenge that makes sense to me, Stetzer surmises, “Perhaps the church needs to allow space for people to lament – to wonder why, to ask questions, and to work through their grief. Maybe we needn’t be a people of quick answers but instead of soft hearts and listening ears.”
To grieve and lament in life is appropriate. In Ecclesiastes 3:4 the teacher notes, there is “A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.” The shortest verse in the Bible tells us that at the grave of Lazarus “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). That’s an example I have often followed in my own grief and one I will continue to follow in the future.
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Hi Dr. Mink,
I’m sad because we lost my friends sister on Christmas Eve. We attended the Memorial service last Sat at Riverside CA Harvest Church on Arlington and Adams.
Like you wrote, now I’ll just be sad for awhile as a lot of words have been shared about our friend. And a lot of tears have been shed.
Thank you for your article.
Thanks for this Bob definitely good info to remember in times of sorrow.
Thank you for this brief article. The timing for me could not have been more perfect.
So very timely Bob. we lost about seven people in our school district just this school year alone and each one has given me pause
And the losses we’ve experienced at Discovery, mainly due to moving after retirement is still a loss. And I never thought about it in this frame of mind before. It’s been unsettling for me the number of people that have retired and then moved. I don’t deal with big major changes like that but I am finding that I can accept a little bit more as I myself am getting older. Thanks for the comments on loss. ☺️