Our previous articles have examined grief largely from a clinical perspective, providing an overview of  contemporary thinking about grief and grieving. Naturally, what has been missing from all of these articles is the perspective that we might gain from our Father in heaven through the words of Scripture. This then, our final article in this series, is a Biblical perspective on the subject of grief.

Review

As we have already discussed, grief is our reaction to a loss of some kind and, while the loss can be  things such as jobs, opportunities, and abilities  (such as eyesight or mobility), we usually associate  grief with the loss of life, which grief we call bereavement. We’ve worked through ‘models’ of grief, seen our common reactions, visited  depression, considered good things and not so good  things to do.

We discussed ‘models’ of grief being good  descriptively, but not necessarily prescriptively,  and we outlined a reasonably loose structure in  which we experience some form of shock, then  some period of emotional upheaval, followed by  a period of resolution and acceptance. Unless the  loss has long been expected and was well planned  for, as in the case of a terminal illness for example,  we are unable to do much about the initial shock.  Understanding the grief process and having good  supports can help us work through this more  effectively, but we reached the point at which we  understood that secular thinking can only take us  so far. It is now that the real benefit of the Truth  is evident.

In an organisational sense, life in the Truth offers robust systems and strong relationships  with regular routines and social structures. All of these things are valuable. In addition to life in the  truth, we then have the Bible, which, through the guidance and intelligence it gives, allows us the  opportunity to be actively involved in the most  complicated and longest lasting phase, which is  the upheaval period.

For our exhortation and encouragement, Scripture gives us a full and candid view of our  reaction to loss, and how we might work through  what we’ve seen can be a difficult and complex  process, particularly the middle phase, and it is here  that our efforts are more concentrated. We propose a Biblical conceptualisation of how we might best work through the difficulties here and so more readily move to resolution and acceptance. This is  not to say that we can avoid upheaval altogether though, for Scripture tells us that this is normal, as evidenced by the following examples.

Four Stories

Job

Scripture tells us of Job who, in addition to his  possessions and his health, lost his family, and then  as if the loss of these things wasn’t enough, also lost  his support and friendship. He laments generally in  Job 30:27–31:

“My bowels boiled, and rested not: the days of  affliction prevented me. I went mourning without the  sun: I stood up, and I cried in the congregation. I am a  brother to dragons, and a companion to owls. My skin  is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat.  My harp also is turned to mourning, and my organ into  the voice of them that weep.”

Can we identify with the pain in Job’s words  and indeed with the story of Job as we read it for  he loses almost everything that he has?

But perhaps more than Job, David is one of  our best sources of information about grief, as he  experienced a life full of extremes and then felt  moved to write of his situation. Many of the most  emotional readings we have are from David.

David

Following the death of Jonathan and Saul, David  composed a very moving and elegiac lamentation,  recorded for us in 2 Samuel 1 from verse 17. In it he expresses his admiration for Jonathan and Saul  both, and pours out his distress at his loss.

“Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their  lives, and in their death they were not divided: they  were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than  lions. Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who  clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put  on ornaments of gold upon your apparel. How are the  mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan,  thou wast slain in thine high places. I am distressed  for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou  been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing  the love of women.”

Both Job and David are very eloquent and  poetic, and illustrate the depth of feeling we can all  feel when grieving. David also wrote a very precise  account in Psalm 6 of a depressive reaction to the  events in his life. He tells us, “I am weary with my  groaning; all the night I make my bed to swim; I  drench my couch with my tears, my eye wastes  away with my grief…”(v6–7).

Jeremiah

Appropriately called Lamentations, the words of  Jeremiah capture extremely well the hopelessness  and misery so often associated with grief, and the  depression that can accompany it. So illustrative of  his own personal distress and despair are the first  twenty verses of this, his third poem, that they are  worth repeating in their entirety.

“I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his  wrath. He hath led me, and brought me into darkness,  but not into light. Surely against me is he turned; he  turneth his hand against me all the day. My flesh and  my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones.  He hath built against me, and compassed me with gall  and travail. He hath set me in dark places, as they that  be dead of old. He hath hedged me about, that I cannot  get out: he hath made my chain heavy. Also when I cry  and shout, he shutteth out my prayer. He hath enclosed  my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths  crooked. He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as  a lion in secret places. He hath turned aside my ways,  and pulled me in pieces: he hath made me desolate. He  hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow.  He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into  my reins. I was a derision to all my people; and their  song all the day. He hath filled me with bitterness, he  hath made me drunken with wormwood. He hath also  broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered  me with ashes. And thou hast removed my soul far off  from peace: I forgot prosperity. And I said, My strength  and my hope is perished from the LORD: Remembering  mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the  gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is  humbled in me.”

Jesus

None of us can escape grief, for we all suffer at  different times, and while David, Job and Jeremiah can  write so fluently, we also know that a few very simple  words can express equally profound feelings.

“Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead…  Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw  him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if  thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When  Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also  weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit,  and was troubled. And said, Where have ye laid him?  They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept.  Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!”

Between them, these passages clearly show  the troubled mind, the physical manifestations of  emotion and distress, behavioural components, the  wretchedness and emptiness, the helplessness and  the hopelessness that can accompany grief. To be  sure, none of us might ever write such searching  prose when grieving, but many of us can identify  with the sentiments contained within them.

As the Father Suffered Grief, So will We

One of the key themes of the book of Job is the  concepts his friends put to him: sin brings suffering.  By extension, for Job to be suffering like he is, he  must have sinned gratuitously, and so the theme  develops. In reality, we know that the argument went  wildly astray, and we know that God maketh His  sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth  rain on the just and on the unjust (Matt 5:45). Good  things happen to sinners. Bad things happen to the  righteous. Put another way—things happen:

“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to  the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread  to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding,  nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance  happeneth to them all” (Eccl 9:11).

Because it is a normal part of life, we can expect  to experience grief at any time, and any number of  times. In the upheaval phase, there is one main,  common reaction, which we experience with grief  and other forms of significant trial. It is the reaction  that wants order and structure on chaos. It wants  explanations and meaning where none are obvious.  It wants answers where none might exist.

“Why me?” “Why is this happening?” “Why  not me?” They’re unanswerable, and yet cause for  us much of the continued anguish associated with  grief. They lead to more questions, of the “What  if…?” kind.

What if we’d seen the doctor earlier?

What if we hadn’t gone that way?

What if I’d been more faithful?

What if we’d exercised more?

What if I’d prayed more?

What if I’d done… ?

The result is the emotional turmoil we see in  grief. We ask these questions as part of our search  for understanding, to try and make sense of what  has happened; to make things like they were before.  Typically there is no reasonable and sane answer.

We question (and it is these questions that form  the basis of much of the difficulty and complexity  of the grief process) and, if we can answer them  here, then it may make the grief process itself all the  more understood. Before we delve into the process  of grief proper, let us consider Israel’s deliverance  from bondage.

The Parable of the Red Sea

It was an extraordinary night. Having left Egypt  under remarkable circumstances, the people were  to be witness to yet more. For now, though, more  urgent matters took their attention. They were about  to lose their freedom. They were about to lose their  lives. They were troubled and afraid.

Foes chased them, intent on their destruction. Unclimbable walls rose on either side, hemming  them in. They were herded to the edge of the sea  in front of them. The east wind screamed across  the water toward them and howled up the ravine.  Thunder and lightning raged from above and  darkness pressed on them from all sides. All around  was anguish. There was nowhere to go, every  direction was perilous, and there they were, in the  vortex of that maelstrom.

Grief can be similarly suffocating and  claustrophobic. It, too, can feel like foes on every  side and as though there is nowhere to go. And we  can waver, as did the Hebrews.

“And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel  lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched  after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children  of Israel cried out unto the LORD. And they said unto  Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast  thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore  hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of  Egypt? Is not this the word that we did tell thee in  Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the  Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the  Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness”  (Exodus 14).

In their despair, in the depths of their distress,  they crumbled. They question their God and their  faith is shown wanting, such is the anguish that  afflicts them. “WHY US?” they cry.

A Personal Parallel of the Parable of the Red Sea

Psalm 77 is a beautifully expressive Psalm which  shows how Asaph’s thoughts mirror those of his  forbears during the crossing of the Red Sea. It is a  Psalm that illustrates his difficulty with reconciling  the academic knowledge that God is a mighty God  Who never forsakes us, with his obvious suffering  and hopelessness.

“In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore  ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to  be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled:  I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah. Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that  I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, the  years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song  in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and  my spirit made diligent search. Will the Lord cast off  forever? and will he be favorable no more? Is his mercy  clean gone forever? doth his promise fail for evermore?  Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger  shut up his tender mercies?” (Psa 77:2–9)

This Psalm clearly shows Asaph’s thought  process, and we can track the development of his  conclusions. He begins by stating his affliction,  and continues by writing that he was struggling  with his faith, and had conflicting thoughts  about his suffering and his wish to glorify God.  Uncomfortable, perhaps from physical and mental  torment, he obtained no respite from his anguish,  not even in the usual and familiar refuge of sleep.  He reflects, considering God’s hand in the past,  and calling to remembrance his own, previously  successful, strategies when he could praise God in  times of distress through song (see also Psa 42:8  and Acts 16:25). Alas, it is of no use now. And so  Asaph questions his God, his faith wavering. Had  God forgotten to be gracious and merciful?

The Parable of the Red Sea 2

In response to the wailing of the people and the  torment in their hearts, Moses cries out across the  noise to the people. Though they were terrified and  trapped, unable to think clearly, reduced to kneejerk  reactivity by their fear, Moses gave clear,  simple instructions, saying unto the people:

“Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the  LORD, which he will show to you today”

What happened has become legendary, as the  Hebrews were delivered once more from the hand of  the Egyptians. What’s critical for us, is what Moses  said. Naturally, he was applying his words to nigh on  two million people in incredible circumstances, and  yet the same sentiments apply equally to us who may  feel as if we are alone on the edge of the same sea.

                                          Don’t be afraid 

                                              Stand still 

                                     Yahweh will save you

And just as God is able to deliver in mighty  ways and on such a grand scale as He did through  the waters of the Red Sea, so can He deliver us  from our distress.

A Personal Parallel of The Parable of the Red Sea 2

Already we’ve seen Asaph questioning his God, wrestling with the opposing concepts in his mind of  God’s help and yet his personal suffering. Clearly we can see our own struggles reflected in Asaph’s  words, and see how easy it is to query the nearness of God. The progression of Asaph’s thinking  from this point forward is also illuminating, as he  springboards from the example of the Red Sea.

“And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember  the years of the right hand of the most High. I will  remember the works of the LORD: surely I will  remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of  all thy work, and talk of thy doings. Thy way, O God,  is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?  Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared  thy strength among the people. Thou hast with thine  arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph.  Selah. The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw  thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled.  The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound:  thine arrows also went abroad. The voice of thy thunder  was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world:  the earth trembled and shook. Thy way is in the sea,  and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are  not known. Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the  hand of Moses and Aaron” (Psa 77:10–20).

He recognises that the infirmity is his own,  and he catches his train of thought in mid-process  and re-directs it back towards God. He revisits his  original thinking, and confirms for himself that God  is, in fact, great, for He had delivered His people by  His stretched out arm through marvellous displays  of His power.

Ultimately Asaph understands that he will  manage because, although not explicit in his words,  evident in his thinking are some key elements. He  knows that there is no answer to “WHY?”. An  equally good question is “Why not?”, for which  we also struggle to find an answer.  But there are two swords that the righteous  can wield for this particular Gordian knot, which  are the elements evident in Asaph’s thinking from  Psalm 77.

Two answers

Firstly, in Psalm 77 Asaph recognises that the  way God works is not always known to us or  understood by us. “For my thoughts are not your  thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the  LORD” (Isa 55:8), and nor are we able sometimes to  comprehend Him. We cannot second guess God, we  cannot presume to know His thinking. Rephrased,  we might never know the answer to “Why?”, but  can be assured that God knows. We can exit this  carousel because we know that God works in ways  we don’t understand. “Why?” is, therefore, a futile  question.

Secondly, as we read in Exodus 14:15–17:

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou  unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they  go forward: But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out  thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children  of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of  the sea. And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the  Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get  me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon  his chariots, and upon his horsemen.”

So is there opportunity to give glory to God.  Together, these notions are an incredibly  powerful tool. Much of our torment with grief is  created by our inability to understand what has  happened. We try to attach meaning to it, we try  to organise our loss into the framework of our  lives, we try to analyse it by hurling questions at it.  Those parts of our brain that allow reason to control  emotion become overwhelmed and ineffective.  Physical and behavioural symptoms manifest  themselves, and so it continues.

Together, these two concepts allow the believer  to exit the morass of confusion created by grief.

                                                 Don’t worry about why 

                                             Instead, give glory to God

These two concepts are perhaps best summarised  in Romans 11:33–36.

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom  and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his  judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who  hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been  his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and  through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be  glory forever. Amen.”

The Faithful Over the Unfaithful

The faithful, during grief (or distress, or pain, or  trouble, or stress, or torment) have significant  advantages over the atheist. Research shows that for  those with a clear, organised and structured faith,  and one which is central to their lives, the chances  of developing mental illness are fewer than for the  unbeliever. If mental illness does develop, then it  is likely to be less severe and of shorter duration.  Most of the angst associated with secular life is  minimised by a strong faith, because we have  consistent, coherent answers. So it is with grief.

When we feel that we are facing our own Red  Sea, we know that there is a path in the water.  Where is it exactly? We don’t know. But we know  it’s there.

When we feel surrounded by foes, be they stress,  depression, anxiety, or other grief reactions, we  know that there is help.

“And when the servant of the man of God was risen  early, and gone forth, behold, a host compassed the  city both with horses and chariots. And his servant  said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?  And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are  more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed,  and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he  may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young  man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full  of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (2  Kings 6:15–17)

Notice the key things in these verses?

                                               Don’t be afraid 

                                                  Stand still 

                                          Yahweh will save you

This is a conceptualisation, a framework, of how  we can think about grief and loss. We don’t need to  ask, or answer the “Why?” or “What if?” questions,  because we trust God, even if we don’t understand  His ways. On a more mundane level, the question  then becomes, “Yes, but what next. What do I do!?”  Let us consider the words of David.

Two Key Elements of Healing

In Psalm 30:1–5 we have a wonderful description  of David’s reaction to trial.

“A Psalm and Song at the dedication of the house of  David. I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me  up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me. O  LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed  me. O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the  grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go  down to the pit. Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his,  and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.  For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is  life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh  in the morning.”

Psalm 30 applies to literal and metaphorical  foes, and the principles relate particularly well to the  foe that is the frailty of our flesh: illness, weakness,  anxiety, depression and so on. For our consideration  of grief, there are notable elements in this section.

The first, as already noted, is David’s praise to  God which is true of all things and, despite his need,  David is sure to elevate God before anything else,  praising Him for His greatness, and acknowledging  that all things are due to the power of God, and not  David’s own power. Giving glory to God is always  to be our first step. David then reveals two central  aspects of the grief process and, together, they are  the pivot on which healing and recovery turn. The  first is obvious to all.

1 – Seek God

We know that God will help. Of this there is no  doubt. Academically too, we are all confident that  this is so. However, there is no doubt that it can  also be much more difficult to appreciate this when  we are in despair. Just as David questioned the  assistance from his God, Scripture records other  examples of our faithful brothers and sisters losing  faith. We, too, can wonder.

We know that we can find our God in prayer,  or in the words of the Bible, and many times we  hear well-meaning brothers and sisters say to the  despairing, “Just read your Bible”. Many of us who  have suffered know that, while this is well meant,  it is cold comfort. We can’t concentrate and we  can’t remember. We have no motivation to read, or  everything we read reminds us of our loss. We read  and then feel guilty for not feeling better.

It is certain that the Bible contains all the  answers we ever need, and we are right to continue  in the Word, but in times of great distress we are  often unable to find the answers, and feel the more  miserable because we are not doing well, even  though we are doing what we are supposed to do!

We also know that:

1 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is  common to man: but God is faithful, who will  not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a  way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1  Cor 10:13)

2 “I can do all things through Christ which  strengtheneth me” (Phil 4:13)

3 “For with God nothing shall be impossible”  (Luke 1:37).

It is a nice connection to make between  1Corinthians 10, that God also makes a way to  escape, and the passage through the Red Sea  which Asaph alludes to in Psalm 77, “Thy way is  in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy  footsteps are not known” (v19).

We might not know the path, but God surely  has provided one, just as he did for Moses and the  people.

Assuredly we know these things. God will not  destroy us. We can draw strength from Him. He  can do anything.

But, practically, they are concepts that can  sometimes seem a million miles from us. In the  middle of grief, when our usual coping resources  can so easily seem overwhelmed, these can be the  last things we think.

This is not the time for careful verse by verse  study, or prolonged reading. This is the time to go  directly to God in prayer.

1 “Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray” (James  5:13)

2 “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken  heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit”  (Psa 34:18)

3 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present  help in trouble” (Psa 46:1)

4 “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver  thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (Psa 50:15)

5 “As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD  shall save me” (Psa 55:16)

6 “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up  their wounds” (Psa 147:3)

7 “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed;  for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will  help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right  hand of my righteousness” (Isa 41:10)

8 “When the poor and needy seek water, and there  is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the  LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not  forsake them” (Isa 41:17)

9 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty  hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:  Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for  you” (1Pet 5:6–7).

There is no doubt that God watches us. If we  ever wonder how intimately God knows us, perhaps  the following verses may help. “But even the very  hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not  therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows”  (Luke 12:7). Every single hair, of every single one  of the faithful, is known to Him.

But not only that, He also knows all of our grief,  including our trials and distresses. David tells us,  “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears  into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” (Psalm  56:8). They used to call it a lachrymatory, a bottle  for tears. The point David makes is that God knows,  counts, and keeps record of every tear we shed.  None of us could claim that of any other person.  God claims it of us all.

The security in knowing the constancy of God,  and His assurance that He cares for and will help  us forms the basis of the second key feature, for  which a little background is useful.

2 – God Provides Hope

When we are caught up in grief and simple  decisions seem like mountains too high to scale,  we easily lose perspective, and develop a view of  the world, or of ourselves, or of the future that is  negatively coloured. We ask or say things like:

“I just can’t imagine life without him”

“How can I continue?”

“It’s no use”

“I’m hopeless”

“Will it ever get better?”

We question God, we question ourselves, we  question our friends, we question our faith, and we do  so in ways that are mostly unanswerable. There is only  one way through this wilderness, and it is this:

Hope

But this is not high level hope in the resurrection,  or the establishment of the Kingdom, but a much  more immediate, prosaic and intimate hope.

This is the hope that things will change  This is the hope that I won’t always feel like this  This is the hope that it will get easier  The hope that the memories will be gentler to bear  The hope that I won’t feel different from others  The hope that someone is there to help  That the next breath will be easier than the last  That I can get on top of things  That it won’t last forever  This is the hope that there is, dare I believe it, hope.

It is this minute by minute hope that comes from  our knowledge of and faith in God’s ability to help  and heal. It is this personal hope that makes time  go faster, that makes burdens seem lighter and that  makes the darkness a little lighter.

David wrote so simply in Psalm 30:5 that  “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh  in the morning”. It will change. It will get better. It  will get easier to bear. Separate from the help of God  and the importance of hope, there is only one other  factor of real importance, touched on in previous  articles, and supported by Scripture.

Reliance on Others

Chief among our supports is our God. He is a  structural and functional support. He carries our  burdens and lightens our load. He answers prayers.  We also have recourse to our brethren and sisters,  and are exhorted to use them, and they to help us.  Proverbs 17:17 reads, “A friend loveth at all times,  and a brother is born for adversity.” Grief is a  difficult situation to help in, because it is so personal  to the sufferer and yet, even though we might feel  helpless ourselves, our presence and support are  invaluable. Job 2:11–13 encourages us:

“Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil  that was come upon him, they came every one from  his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the  Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had  made an appointment together to come to mourn with  him and to comfort him. And when they lifted up their  eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their  voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle,  and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. So  they sat down with him upon the ground seven days  and seven nights, and none spoke a word unto him: for  they saw that his grief was very great.”

Analysing these few verses highlights some  extremely helpful thoughts. The three friends  got together to help. Rather than making isolated  attempts, they made a coordinated effort which  has the benefit of, in addition to sharing Job’s  load, sharing the burden of sharing Job’s load.  They made no effort to jolly Job or cheer him  up; he did not need to appear as though he was  happy, or coping. Job did not feel compelled to do  anything because they were there, and they placed  no expectations upon him. They demonstrated a  wonderful application of the notion so helpful for  grief supporters: Don’t just do something, sit there.  Often, people in grief don’t know what they want  helpers to do, except be there while they cry. They  don’t need the silence filled with conversation  or the latest news, but just to have someone else  around who isn’t embarrassed by long silences or  sudden tears.

The three friends mourned too, expressing their  grief for Job’s loss by lifting up their voice and  weeping, suffering with him. 1 Corinthians 12:26  reminds us: “And whether one member suffer, all  the members suffer with it.” And Romans 12:15:  “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with  them that weep.”

However, the only way we can rely on others,  is if they are there to be relied upon. Grief, endured  alone, is agonizing. Shared, it is bearable, and the  comfort of others allows us to be more active.  Jesus wept. David composed. Jeremiah wrote. Job  mourned for an entire week with his friends. What  is important is that they did something. They used  the people around them, they cried, sang, prayed,  and glorified God. We have our own outlets. Other  people allow us to express emotions and give us  someone to talk to, and they can help us find our  God. These are important considerations, as they  allow us to continue our progress through the grief  process.

We are right to weep and to mourn: “To every  thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose  under the heaven… A time to weep, and a time to  laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Eccl  3:1,4).

For all of them though, they sought God, and  sought to give glory to God.

“Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing:  thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with  gladness; To the end that my glory may sing praise to  thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give  thanks unto thee forever” (Psalm 30:11–12).

Conclusion

Fear not, stand still, and see the salvation of Yah.  Seek him in prayer, for He will help, and the sure  knowledge of His mercy provides hope that we can  heal. Use supports, communicate, be active in the  process, and we will surely understand Jeremiah  when he wrote in :

“But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion  according to the multitude of his mercies” (Lam 3:32)