The Season of Grief

Below is my meditation from a funeral I pastored last week. Given the amount of unrecognized grief through which our entire culture seems to be passing, I thought it might be helpful to share here.

There are seasons in life where our emotions become a jumble, and we feel as though we are being tossed around in violent rapids–drowning for want of breath. In these seasons we blend sorrow, anger, fear, joy, love, and hate into such a mix that we often don’t even know what we’re feeling at any given moment. We just know we feel.

We call these seasons of life, “Grief,” and the time in which we are mourning the loss of someone who has lead a full life–being loved and loving others with such strength that the loss of that present bond cannot help but be felt in our deepest being–certainly qualifies as one of those seasons.

Here is my message for you today. Follow the rapids. Submit yourselves to the waters of grief. That jumble of emotions, try as we might, cannot be contained. And the more we resist the current, the greater harm we do to ourselves–and to those around us. Because there is a purpose to grief–we feel all these emotions because the person we are grieving means something to us. And that relentless current is proverbial nature abhorring a vacuum. [Our friend’s] physical presence is lost to us, and we don’t recognize anything that can fill that hole.

But in these rapids that gaping wound can be healed. Submit to the tumble, allow the Holy Spirit–the gift God who guides us through life–to guide us as we bounce off rocks, get stuck in eddies, and tumble down waterfalls. And know that as the Spirit guides us God will help us recognize that all these things which are causing us pain in the present are not obstacles to our healing–they are the tools by which God is healing us.

These things which jostle us in the season of grief are memories, and when we submit to be jostled by them God fixates them in our minds and in our hearts and allows us to breathe them out in stories–filled with joy at what was, and tinged with sorrow for what has been lost. But through those stories, Jesus teaches us something important–life has happened and it will continue. And that is good.

And in that realization, may you come to a place of hope. Hope that Jesus’ words are true. Hope that the one who has conquered sin and death and promised us life in him is making all things new. And in that hope, tinged with sorrow, may your grief resolve and may joy find you. Now and forevermore–until we all meet again in the new heavens and the new earth, where the sting of death will find us no more. Amen.