Bittersweet

CB037598Have you entered the fellowship of the sorrowing this week?  When we think of this term, it usually translates into graveside scenes…occasions of deep mourning for the loss of someone dear.  I have learned that this pain never really dissipates…but that, in time, it can evaporate from the initial thick and stifling cloud into a thin mist that only lightly shrouds the spirit.  Perhaps this is what you have experienced lately.  Feel the embrace of your Father:

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Rev. 21:4

Go here to read a recent sermon from my church (we are going through the Beatitudes), on “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  This is a different perspective on mourning…perhaps not what you might expect.  These have been good messages–each of them a miniature portrait of our Savior.

This is an excerpt from the Desiring God blog.  I don’t know that I can say I am entirely on every “page” with John Piper, but these little snippets that he shares on the blog have been a blessing to my heart time and again.

…the seasoned soul in Christ has a steady joy and a steady sorrow.

They protect each other. Joy is protected from being flippant by steady sorrow. Sorrow is protected from being fatal by steady joy.

And they intensify each other. Joy is made deeper by steady sorrow. Sorrow is made sweeter by steady joy.

For the seasoned Christian soul, I do not see how it can be otherwise while people are perishing and we are saved. I do not see how it can be otherwise while these two passages are written by the same inspired man:

I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. (Romans 9:2-3)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:4)

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6 thoughts on “Bittersweet

  1. I’m one for NOT turning to scriptures in times of Grief and Grieving. The cliche sayings are insufficient to help those who are suffering. Without dishing religion entirely, one must address the inner experience of grieving, feel the feelings, express them safely, journal, draw, speak, sing or shout – whatever is necessary to to relieve the tension and heartache.
    Grieving is a process, not an event. And no one is being singled out by its arrival into their lives.
    Religious sayings may be soothing but they are not therapeutic. And oftentimes they serve to mask the feelings underneath and cover them over with canned phrases.
    Grieving is work. It requires feeling feelings, not just talking about them. It requires “inner work” which I fail to see religion ever accomplishing.

    Dr Moe
    Grief Recovery Counselor

  2. With all due respect, Dr. Moe, the efficacy of scripture in the grieving process depends upon a couple of things. I believe the Bible to be alive and powerful. In the life of a Christian, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, it is the Word of God that is used to renovate, rejuvenate and renew. It is not merely a band-aid slapped on the exterior of a wound. It is the balm that penetrates and purifies. That is pure therapy. This is God’s Word for His people. The Bible is replete with examples of grieving individuals. Some, like Ruth’s mother in law Naomi, “talked out” their troubles. The end result in her situation was that she asked to be called “Mara” which means “bitter”. Merely talking through grief does nothing more than ingrain and reinforce the pain. There needs to be release. David, for one, felt this. His words were very candid, especially throughout the psalms. His conclusion on one occasion was, “Whom have I in heaven [but thee]? and [there is] none upon earth [that] I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: [but] God [is] the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” (Ps. 17:25,26) Yes, it does take time, I agree with you there. And, the pain of loss I don’t believe ever “disappears”, although believers are equipped to be able to bear it (1 Cor. 10:13) by the One who bore more pain, anguish, loss, grief than anyone else ever has. He is the compassionate Savior, about whom it is said in the book of Isaiah, “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” So, it comes down this– what is the Bible? A sterile list of do’s and don’ts and platitudes and “good examples”? Or is it “quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). The second question is, Who is man? Someone who is self-sufficient, self-made? Or someone who is undone and without hope until he finds the Savior, Whose word is truth (John 17:17)? I much prefer to trust in God who can make no mistakes rather than in man’s theories which can be skewed, false, and insufficient. Regarding my confidence in the Bible as God’s Word, please follow the link for “Why You Can Trust the Bible” in the left side bar.

    I am glad you came to visit. I would invite you to come to know the Savior personally, if you do not–for He is perfect compassion and mercy. If you would like to talk with someone further, I would point you toward my pastor, whom you may contact by clicking here.

    .

  3. I appreciate where you’re coming from. Obviously scripture works for you. For myself my connection with the Divine began in earnest when I finally rid myself of the last vestiges of religion. There are many paths up the mountain I suppose. This one works for me.

  4. I appreciate your perspective as well, and I understand it. I was actually an outright mocker of Christianity before I trusted Christ. What I came to understand was that Christ said “I am the way, the truth and the life–no man comes unto the Father but by me.” There are ways that seem right to people, but Proverbs says the end of those ways is death. This is not about religion. I was sick to death of religion and its trappings. It is not even about a denomination. I happen to attend a baptist church, but if someone asks me for an identifying term, I’ll say I am a Christian, a Bible believer. It is about Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Who He is, why He came, what He desires for us. Person to person, if you will. We may try to rid ourselves of “religion”…but He is ever near, and everlastingly interested in seeing us come to Himself. He has drawn you through this blog, like it or not. 🙂

    Please, if you ever wish to talk with someone, use the link I provided. Our pastor is not a hell-fire and brimstone Bible thumper. He is truly and genuinely compassionate and skillful in the scriptures. He is a 20-year Navy vet who was converted after having experienced lots of “life”. He understands well the ways of modern psychology. I know he’d welcome an opportunity to talk with you.

    Sincerely,
    Diane

  5. Diane,

    You’re a doll. You’re supposed to let me vent my frustration over religion and then defend it so I can continue to be angry and frustrated. Instead you continue to shower me with love and understanding, and simply put woman, that’s no longer a fair fight. You’re practicing some kind of Spiritual Judo where you just take my rants against religious injustice and sweep them aside. You sound too healthy to be religious.

    Here’s the link to my grief and loss book. If it looks interesting to you then email me and I will gladly send you a FREE review copy which you have my permission to share with your pastor. You’ll be surprised at the content given my previous remarks.

    Dr Moe

  6. Thank you for the gracious offer, and for the kind words. If any good is observed in me, I give praise where praise is due. The apostle Paul said, “In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.” That is not false humility, but bare-faced assessment, given the only standard by which it is worthwhile to measure–Jesus Christ. He alone is altogether lovely. The “Judo” skills are His, not mine. 😉 As for my “health”…here is the healing prescription I found at age 17:

    “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.” Prov. 3:5-8

    You may find a sermon post interesting (I am web master for our church web site, and I am currently working with the pastor on the final edits for this week’s post on the text, “Blessed Are the Merciful”–which is the essence of good counseling). It will be posted within a few hours, and I would encourage you to take a peek. The link is http://mvbclander.com .

    Sincerely,
    ~Diane

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