August 22, 2017

It’s okay to grieve.

Before I start, can I just say a big thank you to all who responded to my posts last week? Both those who struggle with their own serious illness, and those who don’t – all your notes and comments were such a blessing to me, and an encouraging reminder that we are never alone in our struggles! And I would love to keep hearing from more of you, so feel free to send me a message about your own story, if you’d like.

As I was considering what to write about today, I kept thinking about the verses I’m memorizing in 1 Peter. In a way, it goes along with everything I wrote last week. But it’s not just specific to chronic illness.

It’s for everybody. Because it’s straight out of God’s Word, and every part of His Word is relevant for every person, at every moment.

Here’s the key verse [1 Peter 1:6]. I’ll fill you on the context as we go through it:

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary,
you have been grieved by various trials…”

 

In this you rejoice,

In what? What are we supposed to rejoice in? The word “this” refers the entire three verses previous – and there’s a whole lot in those verses! Let’s look at it:

  • “According to his great mercy,
  • he has caused us to be born again
  • to a living hope
  • through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
  • to an inheritance
  • that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,
  • kept in heaven for you,
  • who by God’s power
  • are being guarded through faith
  • for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

We rejoice in God’s mercy and His salvation. We rejoice in the sure hope of heaven, and the eternal inheritance that awaits us, as a result of Christ’s death and resurrection. We rejoice in God’s power, which shields us until then.

 

though now for a little while,

We all know that this world is temporary. And yet, when we’re suffering, it’s hard to remember that. It feels like the trials will go on forever.

But they won’t. There will be an end, even if that end does not come until we reach heaven. There will come a day when we’ll experience an abundant life, free from any kind of pain or grief or struggle.

This world is temporary. These struggles are only for a little while.

 

if necessary,

Why would Peter include this phrase? Maybe because Christ tells us over and over that “in this world, you will have tribulation.” Maybe because He says that servants are not greater than their masters – and if He suffered, then we must also suffer. Maybe because we’re told that, in order to share in the glory of His resurrection, we must first share in the suffering of His death.

In fact, if we look at verse 7, it offers a reason. We suffer…

“…so that the tested genuineness of your faith—
more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—
may be found to result in praise and glory and honor
at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Suffering grows us. It re-shapes our focus. It proves our character. And yes, suffering is a necessary part of the Christian life. Because we grow the most through suffering. We learn Christ better through times of trials than through times of peace.

And by rejoicing through our trials, we can offer a sweeter scent of praise to God. Because it’s not hard to trust Him when things are smooth. But when we trust during the rough times, He is much more glorified. And when we obey and praise Him during suffering, we are actually storing up praise to offer Him someday in heaven.

 

you have been grieved by various trials.

You know what I get from this phrase? That it’s okay to grieve during trials. It’s okay to mourn when you lose some person or some thing (like good health) that’s important to you. Peter doesn’t scold us for grieving; he simply assumes that we will grieve.

It is not a sin to feel sad. It is not a sin to feel discouraged, or weary, or upset about these trials. It’s a very normal part of our human nature. We have emotions. God, too, has emotions. He grieves, too.

It’s only sinful when we refuse to rejoice in what we do have. When we ignore that these things are “but for a moment” and will someday be no more. Grief only becomes sin when we reject God’s reality in favor of our own false illusions.

It’s okay to grieve. But in that grief, focus on the living hope you have in Christ. In that grief, rejoice in God’s salvation! In that grief, trust in His power and protection.

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
when he delights in his way;
though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the Lord upholds his hand.”
Psalm 37:23-24

 

QUESTIONS for YOU: Are you being grieved by various trials right now? Are you seeking to grow through that grief, or simply letting it flood over you and drown you in its gulf? How can you start rejoicing even in its midst?

 

Need something to help you deal with grief?
The best thing is to get in the Word every single day!
Consider reading along with me this week.

Monday: Amos 4-6
Tuesday: Amos 7-9
Wednesday: Ezekiel 1-2, John 8
Thursday: Ezekiel 3-4, John 9
Friday: Ezekiel 5-7
Saturday: Ezekiel 8-10, John 10
Sunday: Ezekiel 11-13

 

Photo by Steve Wilson

 

Linking up with these great sites:


Comments

  1. Our posts dovetail very well today. I also used the 1 Peter 1:6-7 verses. I don’t feel like I am in big trials right not. But there is enough annoying little things that can steal my peace and joy-if I don’t keep bringing them back to God.

  2. Excellent post, Elizabeth. Very timely.

    Yes, I am definitely in the grief process right now. From both the miscarriage and watching my grandfather die of cancer. I have some very sad moments. I allow myself to cry when those moments come, and then the next moment, praise God for placing those lives in my life. I truly think the key to rejoicing in the midst of grief is to grieve with thankfulness which is shaped by living a life of thankfulness. God is still God. He is still good and I am still thankful.

    • Catherine, I know you are dealing with a lot of grief-producing trials right now. And yet you are such a testimony of the joy that God can give through grief. Keep looking to Him! And know that many people are praying for you and your family!

  3. Just now catching up on blog reading (I was out of town last week). I didn’t know anything about Wegener’s Granulomatosis before, so I’m glad you’ve enlightened us here. And I’m sorry that you have to deal with it. 🙁 I’ve struggled with a MUCH lesser problem–chronic back pain–for 10 years, and I hate to ever even bring it up because it’s NOTHING compared to people who have much more serious issues to deal with, like yours.

    Nonetheless, it does give me grief, so I can stick it in the 1 Peter verses. I’ve also been grieving my last child leaving home this fall. We visited her this weekend, and it was sad leaving all over again. But that’s a “socially acceptable” grief, so at least people can understand that one. The invisible griefs are much harder for others to understand.

    I so appreciate you sharing these insights and linking up at Do Not Depart. I’m slowly getting caught up so I’ll share this on our Hide His Word Facebook page soon, too. I know many would be blessed to read your insights.

    Thanks!

  4. Ecclesiastes 3 talks much about there being a time for grief, joy, sorrows, etc….a time to laugh, a time to rejoice….
    King David has his experiences with grief….it is all throughout the Bible, in one form or another–one thing I like about David is that he can be in the depths of despair but then still acknowledge God being in control…

    • You’re right, and I love the raw emotion that we see in the Psalms – and yet, the constant reminders of God’s perfect sovereignty. Psalms are especially dear during times of heavy testing.

  5. Elizabeth, my heart is so with this! I feel like I have been intimately acquainted with grief. And sometimes it feels as though we aren’t allowed to grieve as Christians. But the opposite is true. I love how you put it: grieve, but without sin. Grieve and continue to count your blessings. And as we do that, true joy will fill our hearts. It’s amazing, and truly divine to have sorrow mingled with joy. Thank you for all the hard work you put into your writing. Your wisdom and heart are so evident. Blessings, dear friend!

    • Jacqui, I know you have dealt with heavy grief in your life. Thanks for the encouragement – and for your own testimony of Christ’s grace, which shines so clearly through your writing.

  6. Elizabeth–We have encountered a new grief just this week–the death of a dream rather than a physical illness or death–and we share it with a friend, and what you have written tells me what to say to her. Yes, we will be sad for awhile, but even then, we can rejoice in our blessings, at least for each other.

  7. What stood out to me as I memorized these verses was “if necessary” which communicated to me that if I’m struggling through a trial, it’s necessary to accomplish His desires. If there was any other way to achieve the goal, he would use it. Thanks for linking up with WIP!