Grief Topical Study

<p><span class="heading-sm"><strong><span class="heading-lg">Grief in Scripture</span></strong></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><strong><span class="heading-sm">Synonyms</span></strong></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">There is a constellation of terms in Greek and Hebrew that are used quite interchangeably for grief. They include mourning, pain, and suffering. For example, the classic rendering of the passage in Isaiah 53 states that the suffering Servant is &quot;acquainted with grief.&quot; However, several newer translations decided the precise word is <em>suffering</em> or <em>pain</em>. The Beatitude in <a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Matthew%205%20">Matthew 5 </a>is nearly universally translated &quot;blessed are those who mourn.&quot; Nevertheless, it seems that the meaning of all these words is quite similar: they each point to the experience of loss.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><span class="heading-sm"><strong>Grief in Death and Sin</strong></span></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">In numerous instances people mourn for those who have died (<a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Genesis%C2%A023%3A2">Genesis&nbsp;23:2</a>, <a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/1%20Samuel%C2%A016%3A1">1 Samuel&nbsp;16:1</a>); in others they experience grief as a result of sin (<a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Numbers%C2%A014%3A39">Numbers&nbsp;14:39</a>, <a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Isaiah%C2%A061%3A3">Isaiah&nbsp;61:3</a>, <a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/James%204%3A9">James 4:9</a>).</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">Because of his true humanity, Jesus is pictured as one capable of grief and sadness. As depicted in <a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Isaiah%2053">Isaiah 53</a>, the &quot;suffering Servant&quot; is acquainted with &quot;grief (pain, suffering)&quot;</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">Also, at the grave of Lazarus, (<a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/John%2011">John 11</a>), we see Jesus in tears, conveying both grief and anger at the icy grip of death. His agitation and tears seem to be stimulated by his empathy with the grief and pain of Mary, Martha, and the other mourners (<a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/John%2011%3A33">John 11:33</a>).</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">The Beatitudes (<a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Matthew%205%3A1-12">Matthew 5:1-12</a>) describe the upside-down reality of the kingdom of God, in which experiences usually classified as bad are depicted as &quot;blessed.&quot; So also, &quot;Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.&quot; In the kingdom, the experience of loss and grief is blessed because it will lead to the comfort and joy of salvation when we walk through it with the L<span class="small-caps">ord</span>.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><strong><span class="heading-sm">In 1 Thessalonians 4:13,</span></strong>&nbsp;In <a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/1%20Thessalonians%204%3A13">1 Thessalonians 4:13</a>, Paul comforts people who have lost those near and dear to them by calling them to mourn, but not &quot;as others do who have no hope.&quot; He implies that the mourning itself is good when it is accompanied by the hope of resurrection.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">In<a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/%20Luke%206%3A25"> Luke 6:25</a>, Jesus rebukes those who &quot;are laughing now&quot; for they &quot;will mourn and weep.&quot; When we refuse to enter into the grief of sin and death, we will discover that it is the only way to the liberating joy of the gospel.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><strong><span class="heading-lg">Reflections about Grief</span></strong></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">Granger Westberg published the groundbreaking book &quot;Good Grief&quot; fifty years ago. It caused a sea change in the understanding of the psychology of grief from a Christian perspective. Westberg emphasized that grief is a good and necessary response to the universal experience of loss, and, if it is avoided, the pain of loss will only be more destructive.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">There is no way around grif, but there is a way through it.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">Death is not the only cause of grief. Practically any loss, whether of status, money, friendship, health, or hopes and dreams, can trigger the very same feelings with their exact intensity.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">&quot;We rejoice in spite of our grief, not in place of it.&quot; <span class="body-copy-sm">(Woodrow Kroll.&nbsp;<em>Back to the Bible</em>.&nbsp;1999, p. 33.)</span></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">&quot;We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer. As we will one day not be at all.&quot; <span class="body-copy-sm">(Joan Didion, <em>The Year of Magical Thinking,</em> Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2007, p. 198.)</span></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">&quot;The depth of the feeling continued to surprise and threaten me, <span class="body-copy">but each time it hit again and I bore it . . . I would discover that it hadn&#39;t washed me away.&quot; <span class="body-copy-sm">(Anne Lamott.&nbsp;<em>Traveling Mercies.</em>&nbsp;Anchor Books, 2000, p. 72.)</span></span></span></span></p>