A Time to Mourn
A Time to Mourn: Grieving With Grace
“Blessed are those who mourn; for they will be comforted.” —Jesus of Nazareth
I recently read how some kids offered their understanding of this life attitude. Brittany, age 6, says the meaning of this beatitude is “If you cry, it will get better.”
Todd, age 9 says, “This means to pray for those who are sad. Try to help them take their mind off it. Invite them over to spend the night or go to a water park.” I don’t know if people find comfort in their mourning by going to water parks; but now that you mention it, I’ve never seen anyone mourning while slipping and sliding around curves, screaming at the top of his or her lungs!
Taylor, age 11 says, “I mourned when my puppy ran away. I cried for hours, wanting him back, but he never came back. We got a new dog, but I still cry sometimes.” All of us experience losses, but our hearts don’t want to accept them. We’re left feeling hurt and powerless.
“Blessed are those who face and embrace their pain.”
In the process of human development, we have a tendency to fall into an illusion in the way we expect life to be. We believe that “Life is supposed to be fair.” We come into the world as a child who has an open and soft heart to the experiences of life and all the gifts it has to offer—and then we grow up and are confronted with the reality of a broken world. And the question that many people ask at this point in life is:
“Why do bad things happen to good people?”
This is the question that has been asked since the beginning of time.
The problem for us is that the “why” question is hardly ever answered, if at all. And if we were honest, we’re not really looking for an explanation, as much as we’re looking for an argument! Perhaps the better question we should be asking is:
“What happens to good people when bad things happen to them?”
That’s the question I have pondered as a pastor, counselor, mentor and coach, as I have walked alongside people facing their particular pain: health issues—relational rifts—betrayals—loss of loved ones—traumas and tragedies of all kinds.
What happens to good people when bad things happen to them? How do good people face their pain? I’ve noticed that those who are walking out their path to healing are those who are willing to walk into and through their pain, not away from or around their pain
I love the one Charlie Brown cartoon where Linus says to Charlie Brown, “I don’t like to face problems head on. I think the best way to solve problems is to avoid them. This is a distinct philosophy of mine. No problem is so big or so complicated that it can’t be run away from.” Charlie Brown asks, “What if everyone was like you? What if everyone in the whole world suddenly decided to run away from his problems? Linus responds, “Well, at least we’d all be running in the same direction!”
Psychiatrist and best-selling author, Scott Peck, believed that our determination to “avoid problems and the emotional suffering inherent in them” is the primary cause of mental illness. He quotes Carl Jung: “Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.”
Sometimes we avoid our pain by turning to what some have called “behavioral narcotics”: work—possessions—relationships—thrills—television—internet—pornography—not to mention the literal narcotics of drugs and alcohol. Some of us keep really busy in order to avoid facing our pain. We cover it up with activity or projects or some other form of busyness. We don’t want to face the loneliness of our pain.
So how do we face our pain? I believe the first place to begin is to Count Your Losses. In order to face the pain, we have to “Count our losses.” You need to lament the losses in your life—to grieve your losses. I am less likely to deny and avoid my suffering, when I allow it to speak into my life, and consider what it is telling me about myself and my world. Counting your losses makes you more self-aware.
What happens to good people when bad things happen to them?
Life’s great question does not center on what happens to us—but how we live in and through what happens to us? This is the critical question, because stuff happens. And when it happens, the question is: Will we crumble and hide and run? Or will we face the pain and live in and through it and receive the comfort from those who really care about us?
It is true that trouble never leaves us where it finds us—sorrow will change our tomorrow. But each sorrow has the potential for us to become a better person, not a bitter person. When you face your pain, your life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So, let it do its work in you so that you may continue to develop and grow as you become more whole as a person.
Count your losses—don’t cut your losses—make sure you take time to grieve. Only people who grieve can truly be comforted.
Written by: Dan Hall has a Bachelor of Arts in Education and a Masters of Divinity. With over 25 years of ministry experience, Dan has served as a Pastor, Church Planter, Transitional Leader, Mentor, and Coach. Follow more of his writing on his blog, Voce.