Handling Times of Grief - Part 2 — Morning Devotions - Hope 103.2

Handling Times of Grief – Part 2 — Morning Devotions

The process of grief goes through what today we call the stages of grief—the first stage is called shock and the second, suffering.

By Chris WittsWednesday 19 Oct 2022Morning Devotions with Chris WittsFaithReading Time: 1 minute

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In Part 1, I started talking about handling grief and loss. I opened up the story of Job from the Old Testament—you might know that story. Job was a remarkable man—devout godly person, with lots of wealth and material possessions, only to have them wiped out, including his children who were killed.

He was a man that feared God but he faced complete devastation and heartbreak. What was he going to do? If you read Job you’ll find he went though something quite normal that today we call the stages of grief—no doubt in those days they didn’t called them that.

First Stage – Shock

We need to know that not all of us will experience the stages of grief in the same order, nor will we experience them all in the same intensity or even experience every stage. But they are common to us all. The first reaction to loss, and Job’s first reaction, is numbed shock.

We are told at the end of chapter two that Job’s friends come to visit Job to console him but: “When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” (Job 2:12-13)

No one says a word; Job doesn’t say a word. Why? Because he’s in shock. This is a universal first reaction to loss. Hearing about the death of a loved one is so unbelievable, so contrary to the reality that we are used to, that our minds often cannot comprehend it. We go into a state of shock. We will neglect everyday normal activities like eating; we will be unable to make decisions with any kind of clarity. This stage may last for hours, days or weeks. It can be frightening.

But it is a normal reaction and I would suggest that in many ways it is a wonderful reaction, because it’s the way God created us. It is a kind of natural protection that keeps us from facing all at once the full impact of our loss. It has been described as a time of numbness and it initially insulates us from the intense feelings that threaten to overwhelm us. I believe that it is a God-given reaction that is built into our systems.

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

We are not meant to stay in this stage, but you don’t need to rush out of it either. Above all you should not fear it. It is normal. And keep in mind that while you may be in shock over your circumstances God is not. Psalm 121 says:

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I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

So when you are in the midst of shock at your loss, know that God has got you firmly by the hand. He will not let you go and he has got the situation in hand. When this shock wears off, we are able to fully grasp the reality of what has happened and we move on to the next stage.

Second Stage – Suffering

The next phase of grief could be described as a time of suffering and disorganisation. It is filled with a whole range of emotions and reactions. For Job it was a time filled with a lack of hope. Job wonders: “Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb?” (Job 3:11). His sorrow is so great. Anyone who has ever experienced profound loss is very familiar with these feelings.

When it hits you how totally life has changed for you, there appears to be no hope, no reason for going on, no possibility that there could ever again be anything worth living for and you want to say, Stop the world I want to get off. Is that how you’ve felt? Yes, it may be difficult to focus on anything in this stage but we need to remember the words of 1 Thessalonians 4:13 that says, “…we do not grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.”

While we do grieve at our loss and it seems like all hope is gone, we need to remember that all hope is not gone. For Christians believe that “…Jesus died and rose again,…” (1 Thessalonians 4:14). The grave is empty—we have a hope in a living Saviour who not only has paved the way to God for us, but who lives today to be with us in the midst of our grief.

The psalmist says that when he walks through “the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4). Jesus Christ is our rod and our staff, that which is used by our shepherd to ward off all harm to the sheep. Our hope is in Jesus Christ.

(To be continued in Handling Times of Grief – Part 3)