Friday, May 13, 2011

Grief....

On my mind lately has been the question, "when does sadness become sin?" How do we know when grief is inordinate? As I shared in this post on Hannah recently I know that being godly does not equal feeling no pain, darkness, and sadness. I also know this about Jesus from Isaiah 53, that He was:


"A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief:...Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows:..He was oppressed, and he was afflicted...Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.."

But I also know that being a Christian means submitting, bearing our cross, and waiting on the Lord, so reading this below from Horatius Bonar's Morning of Joy got me thinking. The thing is I don't want anyone to walk away from reading this thinking I'm belittling their pain. I'm not.....I know what it is to feel hurt, loneliness, loss, etc. I also know I can't pretend to understand what others might be going through, just as no one else can really know my heart and motives. However the one thing I found helpful in this was the reminder to focus less on myself and my problems, and more on all the Lord has done for me, and all my blessings. No matter what is going on that is always a more profitable way to think....but don't think I have perfectly achieved that. I'm talking to myself here too!


Our present “light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of  GLORY.”.....Not only do all things work together for good to us, but they as truly work together for glory.


Faith lays hold of this and prizes tribulation...most needful is it that we should realize these prospects, these glimpses which God has given us of what we are yet to be. It is not merely lawful to do so for the relief of the laden spirit, but it is most vitally important to do so for the health of our soul, for our growth in grace, and for enabling us to press on with cheerful energy in the path of service towards God and usefulness to our brother saints or fellow men.  The Man of sorrows had joy set before him.  And it was for this that He endured the cross, despising the shame (Hebrews 12:2). 


He needed it, and so do we; for He who sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one. He  found  in  it strength for the bearing of the cross and the endurance of the shame.  So may we, for as the path he trod is the same that is given us to tread in, so the strength is to be found where our forerunner found it. 


There is joy in store for us, even as for him; joy not only like his own, but his own very joy (John 11).  This makes us willing to bear the cross in all its weight and sharpness....We can glory both in the cross and the shame. We have less of these than he had, and we have all his consolation, all his joy to the full.


When this is lost sight of, selfish melancholy often fastens on us. We brood over our griefs till they engross us entirely, to the shutting out of all else.  We magnify them; we spread them out and turn them over on every side in order to find out the gloomiest.  We take credit to ourselves for endurance, and thus feed our pride and self-importance. We fret under them....Nothing can be more  unhealthy  than this state of soul, not more unlike that in which God expects a saint to be. It shuts us into the narrow circle of self.


To meet this unhealthy tendency God seeks to draw us out of ourselves. He does so in holding up the cross  for us to look upon and be healed: but he also does this by exhibiting the crown and throne. The cross does not annihilate man’s natural concern for self, but it loosens our thoughts from this, by showing us, upon the cross, One to whose care we may safely intrust self with all its interests, and in whose pierced hands it will be far better provided for than in our own. If we are to have glory as surely and as cheaply as the lilies have their clothing, or the ravens their food, why be so solicitous about self? Or why think about self at all, save to remember and to rejoice that God has taken all our concerns into his own keeping for eternity.




Thus  God  beguiles  us  away  from  our  griefs  by  giving  us something else to muse over,—something more worthy of our thoughts.  He allures us from  the present, where all is dark and uncomely, into the future, where all is bright and fair. He takes us by the hand and leads us, as a father his child, out from the gloomy region which we are sadly pacing, with our eye upon the ground, bent only upon nourishing our sorrows,  into fields where all is fresh and Eden-like; so that, ere we are aware, joy, or at least the faint reflection of it, has stolen into our hearts, and lifted up our heavy eyes.


There is nothing more  healthy and genial for the soul than these anticipations of the morning, and of morning-glory. They are not visionary, save in the sense in which faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  They transfuse the life  of  heaven  through our frame, they act as regulators of the soul in its wild and inconstant movements, neither allowing us to sink too low nor to soar too high. They tend to steady our extreme impulses by acting as a counterpoise to the weight of grief which so crushes us with its pressure. 


"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
Psalm 30:5


4 comments:

  1. This is a beautiful tie in for our link up at Women of Noble Character this week. Thank you for your wonderful words as they are just what I needed to read. Your message is well put and truly Spirit led. Thank you for linking to NOBH also. God bless you, Stefanie!

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  2. This was heavy, as was mine on Pain. I loved the sentence, There is nothing more healthy and genial for the soul than these anticipations of the morning, and of morning-glory. They are not visionary, save in the sense in which faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
    Praise God there is so much more than this life, although I do enjoy it here :)

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  3. Stefanie, what a beautiful post. It always good to be reminded that these are only "light afflictions", and but for a moment. We get so wrapped up in our grief it is hard to see that. Thank you for linking to Women of Noble Character. Have a blessed day!

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  4. Hello Stefanie,
    Thank you for linking up with LACE.
    This is a most interesting article on grief.
    I agree..we must not dwell unduly on our personal pain but seek to understand it in the light of Christ and His sufferings.
    His grace and strength brings the promise of hope and healing into all our situations :-)
    blessings..Trish

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"Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
Isaiah 55:6,8-1