Our Sunday school teacher shamelessly paid us kids off with sugary satisfaction and glucose gluttony if we memorized a scripture verse each week. And all of us kids shamelessly responded the first Sunday of that well brokered deal with “Jesus wept”.
With more Biblical literacy now, I can say with certainty that the shortest Bible verse (and the victim of many a Sunday school memorization plan) comes from the story of Lazarus’s death and resurrection. Strikingly, Jesus shows a depth of emotion that is uncomfortable to our modern sensibilities: he grieves. It is not polite Sunday school literature. In contrast, Americans (and most churches) seem to be obsessed with being happy all the time.
Yet a careful Bible reader will note that Biblical characters are anything but happy. In Deuteronomy, one would expect a ticker tape parade for the induction of the great leader Joshua. But the Hebrew people pause for 30 days. The nation grieves Moses’ death. These ancient stories relate the importance of giving time, attention and space to attend to our losses.
Funerals make room for grief. Attendees have permission to be sad. But what about incidents that are labeled “minor” by our culture, yet cause deep emotion? What about the grief of a miscarriage or the death of a beloved pet? What about the dream of a marriage that failed, or a career path that led to a dead end? Honoring those losses is like a balm for the soul. The spiritual habit of sitting with the disappointment and pain and giving the emotions voice has the power to shape our inner most parts. Jesus is our example. In addition to Lazarus, he wept for Jerusalem. In Hebrews 5:7-8 the writer claims that Jesus prayerfully “cried out”.
It’s only human to dodge grief. Lately, a loss struck my family and dodging was not an option when our 8 year old neighbor was killed in a sudden car crash. When I was told, my chest tightened and I felt dizzy. I immediately sat down in our driveway and cried. After the shock settled, my husband and I strategized. We had to tell our daughter that Gabby would never come over to play again. From time to time, my daughter will talk about Gabby and I listen, hug and hold her in her grief. As I do so, I am reminded to offer the same for myself when the ripple effects come.
Even when I get rejection letters from work I have submitted as a writer, I feel the same way I felt when the news of Gabby’s death came, just less intense. Those losses I honor too. In prayer I give voice to the pain of rejection and I fix myself a cup of tea. This invites God to work through my losses to shape my soul. I rise from my emotions ready to start a new project and a new day.
Discussion Question: Do I allow myself time and space to grieve losses, no matter how small?
See more devotions from Amy, and our other Young Adult writers, or find our how you can become a writer yourself at our By Young Adults for Young Adults devotion page.