Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How the Book of Psalm Addresses the Issue of Grief

Psalm 31 states, “O' Lord have mercy on me in my anguish.  My eyes are red from weeping; my health is broken from sorrow.”   Another emotional verse is, "I am worn out from groaning;  all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears" (Psalms 6:5).  Tears are a gift.  Emotions are not of the flesh.  They were created by God and they are not evils.  Many verses like these in Psalms teach us to be emotionally mature, not inhibited.  God teaches us that using emotions appropriately, may actually promote healing.  Emotions run high in the midst of grief.  Often people are quick to discourage crying, expecting someone to just get over it and move on.  They’ve misunderstood the purpose of emotions and their therapeutic qualities.  
I believe Psalms speaks to different people at different times in different ways.  Depending on what you’re going through, the Psalms can portray a different message.  I call that, God speaking through scripture.  This is why the Bible is the LIVING Word of God.  God is alive and well in the Word.  He can use those verses to offer answers and encouragement to those who suffer.  
Christians also have the gift of hope that others don’t.  However, Christians do still grieve.  Psalm 147:3 states, “He heals the broken hearted, binding up their wounds.”  Often in the midst of our grief, we can’t see God working.  At times we may even feel that the scriptures are mocking us when it states one thing, and we feel the opposite is happening.  It is only later when we can see the hand of God in all that we suffered through.  I like to picture God holding my hand and walking by my side through every trial.  It is through scripture I have the faith to get me through some of the hardest times.  Even though I don’t feel God’s presence, that doesn’t mean He’s not there.  He’s always there.  That’s faith!  
God reminds us again that He is there in Psalms 22:24, “For He has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one.  He has not hidden His face from him, but has listened to his cry for help.”  God hears our prayers, and Psalms teaches us how to pray in the midst of grief and despair.  
Psalm 46 states, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.”  I am so thankful for this verse, which Christians can go to remind them that they are not alone, no matter what the circumstance.  It says to me that we can hide under God’s protection (refuge) and He will give us strength in the midst of our troubles, or grief.  Our God is our great protector.  
Psalms 30:5b is also a scripture that brings great comfort and encouragement in times of grief, “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”  Psalm 23:4 is often used when talking about death, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.”  I often experience my trials or grievances as walking through the valley even when not in a life or death situation.  Even there, in the valley of the shadow of death, God still holds my hand and walks me through.  Even there, I have the hope of not being alone.  Even there, He brings comfort.  "For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling" (Psalm 116:8).  
Grief is a normal, natural, and often deeply painful response to loss.  Often, people think of the death of a loved one when they think of loss, but many other significant changes in life can involve loss and therefore grief.  People grieve over things like the loss of a job, divorce, or losing a home.  Everyone experiences loss and grief at some point in life.  The severity of the grief depends on the significance of the loss. 
The book of Psalms in the Bible is full of richness to offer to those who are grieving.  Psalm 77 states, “I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered you, O God, and I groaned; I mused, and my spirit grew faint. You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak.”  The Psalmist was obviously in deep despair.  He’s calling out to God for help, but doesn’t seem to get the answers he’s looking for, at least not right away.  
So, instead of giving up all hope, the Psalmist decides to meditate on the past.  The Psalmist remembers who God is and what God has done.  Psalm 77:11 states, “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I 
will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.”  When God appears absent, his influence is there, even when he chooses to remain unseen.  The way the Psalmist puts it is, “in the middle of the churning waters, your footprints were unseen (Psalm 99:19)”.  God was there the whole time offering His healing, bringing redemption and hope, and yet, still unseen.  
This is a good reminder to those grieving, who seem to have lost all hope.  God is there, even in the midst of tragedy.  He does still have a plan.  He’s in control, and is still concerned about you.  In fact, He’s right there with you.  The pain will only last for a season.  God does heal the broken hearted.  Joy will come in the morning.  
The Psalms show the honesty of the people of God as they plea with him.  They pour out their heart in anguish and despair as they express their grief, fear and doubt with the Almighty God.  They get angry with God.  These verses show us that it’s ok to show our anger to God in times of grief.  God will not judge us when we doubt Him, for He knows we are only human and cannot see through the eyes of heaven, as He does.  
In moments of despair, it is easy to feel like all hope is gone.  But reading the Psalms, we can find a renewed hope as we remember all that God has done.  God is a god of miracles.  He can certainly deliver us from our pain.  He can fill that void caused by any loss, in His time.  

1 comment:

  1. This is a paper I had to write for school. I found it appropriate for this blog....being that I've had to do an awful lot of grieving, as many do.