HomeOpinion & AnalysisAppropriating grace during the time of grief

Appropriating grace during the time of grief

Exactly a week ago last Sunday November 8, 2020, at about 3pm, my mother went to be with the Lord. I can’t begin to express the depth of sadness, the sense of loss and the nature of grief I experienced as I saw my mother’s lifeless body lying there.

gracetidings:with dr doug mamvura

There is something about losing a mother that is permanent and inexpressible, a wound that only God can heal. As I write this article, I am also ministering to myself because I am indeed grieving.

The dictionary defines “grief” as, “deep sadness, as over a loss; sorrow”.

Those who have lived any length of time are well acquainted with grief and know that it is an inescapable part of life. We cannot avoid all grief, but we can avoid all the destruction that grief can cause.

One of the things I have been telling myself as I have been walking along this bumpy terrain is that God’s grace is sufficient for me and that my situation isn’t unique. One of the devil’s most deceptive ploys is to make you think that no one else knows what you are going through.

The scripture says very plainly, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Any situation you find yourself in is not only experienced by others, but it is a common experience to us all. This is very important to understand. If Satan can make you believe your situation is unique, then you automatically exempt yourself from all help that is available. Regardless of how others attempt to help, you remain beyond their reach because, in your mind, they haven’t experienced your loss and therefore can’t understand or help you. That isn’t true.

To heal and move beyond grief, we need others. Self-pity, and every other destructive result of grief, can only function in isolation. If Satan can cut you off from others, then it’s like a wolf separating a sheep from the flock: you are easy prey.

The Apostle Peter spoke about the devil (1 Pet. 5:8) and then said, “Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (1 Pet. 5:9). Peter said there was comfort in knowing that others are experiencing the same problems.

Those experiencing grief need to see that others have experienced similar things and have lived through it. In fact, people go on to thrive, not just survive.

Anyone who refuses the encouragement and hope that comes from observing others who have moved on with their lives will have a very hard time experiencing victory by themselves. A very close friend of mine, recently lost his mother and it was so encouraging to see him sending me a passage of scripture from 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

My faith was elevated when I read that message. To me that was a testimony on how God’s grace had enabled him to pull through during his bereavement. Apostle Paul was speaking from personal experience, as one who had undergone severe tribulation. He had fought wild beasts at Ephesus, been arrested and imprisoned, been beaten severely, faced death time and again, been stoned, been shipwrecked, and been exposed to the open sea. He had been in danger from flooded rivers, bandits, the Jews, the Gentiles, and false brethren. He had gone without sleep and had been hungry, thirsty, cold, naked, and faced pressure from concern over the churches. If anyone knew how to go through troubles with Christ’s strength, he did.

Another very comforting thing to remember in a time of grief is that the situation is only temporary. One of my favorite phrases in the Bible is, “It came to pass.” That’s why it came: to pass. No tragedy is permanent. Even death is only a temporary separation.

This is exactly the logic the Apostle Paul used to comfort those who had lost someone they loved. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, he said, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

Death is not a permanent split for believers. It is just a long separation. We will be united with those who have died. Remembering this will bring comfort (1 Thess. 4:18) and can even provide a lot of positive motivation. I know that one day I will meet my mother in heaven. I have that assurance from the Word of God because my mother was a believer. This applies to anyone who has received Christ as their Savior. You only need to confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead. This is how you get saved. My desire is to have as many people as possible know Christ.

Putting all our tragedies into the perspective of eternity also minimizes their impact on us. All tragedies will be totally forgotten in eternity as we experience the comfort of the Lord in full measure. Romans 8:18 says, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Paul suffered more persecution than any of us ever have. It not only involved physical torment but emotional pain that most of us can’t even imagine; yet he was able to call all his trouble just a “light affliction” (2 Cor. 4:17). If Paul’s suffering was greater in quantity and quality than ours, how can we justify calling our burdens great?

His affliction wasn’t light because it was less than ours, but because he put it into a different perspective. He said his afflictions were light because they were “but for a moment” (2 Cor. 4:17). After a million years in the presence of the Lord, all the hardships of his life would seem like nothing. That’s true for all of us.

Most people who experience grief are usually angry with God. They erroneously believe that it is God who causes the grief. I have often heard people blaming God at funerals and yet the Bible is very clear that it is only the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy but He came that we may have abundant life (John 10:10).

This is all a result of Christians incorrectly ascribing to God a sovereignty that makes Him responsible for everything that happens. That is not what the Bible teaches. In situations that cause grief, it is very comforting to know that God is not the author of, nor the one who allows, our tragedies. The Lord is not insensitively standing by and allowing us to suffer. He is touched with our feelings (Heb. 4:15) and has sent His Holy Spirit to comfort us in whatever trial may come (2 Cor. 1:3-4).

It is great to know that our God is full of compassion and is the “Father of mercies”. I thank Him for His strength, peace and comfort as I am going through my grief.

l Dr Doug Mamvura is a graduate of Charis Bible School. Feedback: drdoug@corporatemomentum.biz or Twitter @dougmamvura

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