In church ministry, I am acquainted with the power of grief. Not only do I spend my time with those who experience deep loss. I have been metaphorically ambushed by the strong emotions of grief and left struggling to stand up again. Whether a loss of a mother or a grandfather, we all know that disorientating feeling which can linger. I am discovering a different kind of grief as we face the global pandemic. Many of us feel like we have been steamrollered, flattered, many people express the same sentiment, feeling the disorientation and fatigue, is this grief? I ask myself. My answer is yes.
Our confidence has been weakened in the things we trusted, and we do not feel as protected as we did; certainty seems to be evaporating before our eyes. Our lives have been interrupted, and we can feel insecure about the future. Greif arrives when anything we are committed to leaves, our job security, our freedom to travel the world, to enjoy family celebrations, weddings, graduations, I feel for so many grad classes. I miss standing on the steps of Willow Park Church, greeting the hundreds who arrive to worship each weekend. We often think mourning only comes when someone dies. Mourning these events and other losses is a real emotion, lamenting them is part of healing. It is good to acknowledge the grief, as when we don’t; grief has a way of turning up in our body, our emotions and even our faith.
As people of faith, we often find ourselves holding disappointment in one hand and hope in the other. Our trust is in God. When Jesus’ good friend Lazarus died, Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha questioned, why has this happened? If only you had come in time. But Jesus saw things from a very different perspective. When he arrived at the tomb, the Bible tells us that Jesus was deeply troubled (John 11:33-35). The Greek word for troubled describes a horse shuddering. If you have ever owned a horse, you will know that moment as a small earthquake erupts from within your saddled beast. Jesus wept for the pain of the family, but also the pain of the world. This story tells us that when we grieve, he grieves, when we shudder because of life’s hurts, he shudders.
I would go further when our faces are wet with tears; his face is wet. The beauty of Christ is that he understands human uncertainty, human difficulty, and loss. What faith does is give us a different perspective. The people in Bethany saw the funeral of a brother; Jesus saw a miracle coming.
C. S. Lewis, the great Oxford scholar, who himself knew all about grief, said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” As we continue our journey, let’s be listening for the shouts from heaven.