Stina Busman preached this morning on grief. She offered this question for reflection: What do we do when we have to live with and after disappointment and defeat? As we all know, some things in this world go profoundly wrong. For Stina, it was the loss of Scott, her fiancé. Stina closed with a challenge: who will write the end of this chapter: Jesus or the enemy? We may grieve deeply, but we do so with great expectation!
Stina Busman preached this morning on grief. She offered this question for reflection: What do we do when we have to live with and after disappointment and defeat? As we all know, some things in this world go profoundly wrong. For Stina, it was the loss of Scott, her fiancé. Scott died during an open-heart surgery last fall. The surgery should have been routine and relatively low risk because Scott was a healthy young man. But things did not go well. What might have been a 4-5 hour surgery stretched on to 21 hours before Scott died.
Stina turned to I Thess. 4:13-14 for hope. In this passage Paul is trying to clear up an emotional confusion in the church of Thessalonica. Something was beginning to happen in this church that profoundly challenged their theology. Christians were beginning to die. At this time, the teaching that Christ was coming back was so strong that people clearly expected to see Christ’s return with their own eyes before they died. Paul’s intention here is to help the Christians see that just as Jesus rose from the dead, so also, he will bring with him those who have died in him.
More importantly for us today, Paul offers words of wisdom on how Christians are to grieve differently than those who do not place their hope in Christ. Those who do not know of Christ and the hope of resurrection grieve as though all were lost. Bt we who know Christ’s resurrection know both the grief of loss, but also the hope of having the lost returned to us in Eternity. Christians are to grieve with hope.
All of us experience loss in our lives. We really cannot and should not try to compare one person’s loss with another’s. This has no other effect than to invalidate someone’s loss and grief. No healing or growth can come from that. So what do we do with grief and loss? Stina offered these three thoughts:
1. Grief must be embraced on a personal level. We work through grief slowly. Very little in our culture allows for slow processes, but grief requires it. For this reason, truly grieving is a counter-cultural process. Grief and hope are not mutually exclusive. You can embrace both at the same time. In fact, it is critical that we do embrace both as Paul’s challenge shows above.
2. Grief must also be embraced by the community. Romans 12:15 instructs us to mourn with those who mourn. This is how the body shows that it is united, both to the one who experiences loss, and to the world that wants to be embraced by a healing community.
3. The one who grieves eventually has to give the grief over to Christ. If we hold onto it, it will begin to define us. Only Christ and our hope in Christ should define us. But this takes time. Stina commented that she still has lots of questions about why this had to happen. But she has learned that ultimately, she has to surrender those questions to God. She does not have the resources to get concrete answers to them. If our questions get in the way of our receiving love from God, then the enemy has won. One question we have to face when grieving a loss will be, will we give the pain over to God? Or will we keep it and let it destroy us?
Stina closed with a challenge: who will write the end of this chapter: Jesus or the enemy? We may grieve deeply, but we do so with great expectation!
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