Hope and Grief
Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,
And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. Job 1:20-22
Job was worshipping. He sinned not. He blessed the name of the Lord.
But he also grieved.
He rent his mantle. He shaved his head. He fell down on the ground.
This was not a man who was trying to disguise his grief. He was not trying to be strong. Or to ‘hope it away’. He did not see the absence of grief as the presence of faith.
There are times in our lives where grief is ok. Where it is actually the proper response. When God wouldn’t expect anything less of us. Allowing ourselves to grieve does not lessen our spirituality or our hope.
Instead, its how we grieve.
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Wherefore comfort one another with these words. I Thessalonians 4:13-18
This passage is talking about the death of a loved one - which Job was definitely experiencing here. But its hope and comfort can apply to most grieving situations. You see, we don’t have to grieve the same way the world grieves. Because we don’t believe that this is the end, that this life is the only thing we have.
Our grieving is tempered by our belief that one day the Lord is going to descend from Heaven. He’s going to shout. We’ll rise up. And we will ever be with the Lord. That does not take away our grief here, but it gives us comfort. It gives us the hope to endure our grief. Each day that we can look at our trials in light of eternity is a day that builds our hope, increases our faith.
Not only does grieving in light of eternity build our hope, but knowing that our hope and faith in trials brings God glory gives us strength to go on. Consider the man born blind in John 9.
And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him…
He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.
We like to quote “I was blind, now I see”. It makes a great line in a song, or a message. But do we really understand the implications behind it? What its like to be blind? I know that I don’t. I don’t even have second hand knowledge of it. And as difficult as it would be now, it would be devastating in Bible times. He would have been an outcast. A beggar. Unable to have a productive or fulfilling life.
And people assumed that it was his fault.
On top of all that, he had to answer the question, was this your fault or your parents? Because surely someone has sinned.
But no. God had a plan all along. And it was to bring Himself glory. And not just a little glory. A lot. The Bible says that no one had ever been healed of blindness before this man. This was a completely unheard of miracle. I’m sure it was talked about and passed around and marvelled at. And every time the story was uttered, so was the name of Jesus.
Just think of that.
What if every time someone uttered our story, our pain, they immediately associated Jesus with it? What if our reaction to pain was so hope-filled, so pure and so righteous, that people automatically knew that we must have a relationship with Jesus? What if every time we grieved, we didn’t hide it, but showed others what its like to grieve with the hope of Heaven in view?
The greater the grief, the greater the opportunity to give glory to God. Most everyone can make it through a little grief intact. But its the big hurts, the constant pains, the life-changing situations where our faith can really shine.
Grief is not bad. Its not wrong to have days that we sit in the ashes and rend our mantles. The good or bad is found in what we do after that. Can we say with Job that we did not sin in our grief? Or can we say with the blind man that we give God glory in our situation?
Go ahead and grieve. But keep the hope while you do. For God is working away in whatever situation you are facing or will face. And when we truly believe this, we can have hope no matter the trial.