What to do With Grief
A common understanding about the need for healing is that there is something in our life that is not as it should be. We don’t always know what to do about it, but our natural response is avoidance. If we sweep it under the rug, then we don’t have to deal with it. Or so we think. The truth is that our pain will resurface.
The first step in healing is not to turn away from the pain but rather to walk through it. Let’s say we acknowledge that we need help. And we cry out to God:
Give ear to my words, O LORD; give heed to my sighing. Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray. Psalm 5:1-2
We bring our suffering before God…then what? What does it mean to be healed?
For the paralyzed man in Luke (5:18-25) it was first to have his sins forgiven – for that was his deepest need. Secondly his body was healed.
I asked several people what it means to be healed. Some of the responses were: wholeness, happiness, growth, being better but different, the absence of pain and we are never totally healed.
That is quite a range of expectations and I would imagine a vast range of experiences to go along with it.
What are your expectations for being healed?
The total absence of pain?
Total healing of the body?
Certainly, scripture shows us all of that is possible.
There is a good chance you know someone who has experienced a miraculous healing; people who have astounded the doctors and defied science.
I know of a woman who had pneumonia when she was young. The doctor told her parents she would not make it. Her mother, being very stubborn and very devote in her faith, prayed that God would heal her daughter. And the young woman survived only to get rheumatic fever and once again the doctor said that she was too weak to survive. Once again her mother prayed and once again the young woman recovered.
Now all of this didn’t leave her without complications. She was told that she would never have children. Both she and her husband prayed that God would bless them with a family. These are my parents and they had 12 children, 37 grandchildren, 66 great-grandchildren and 3 great-great-grandchildren. She was not only healed, but she was abundantly blessed!
Many years ago my 13 year old niece was in a car accident. She ended up in intensive care, unconscious and on a respirator. We gathered in her room and prayed for her healing, for her doctors, for strength and peace and all of those things you pray for in times like that.
I knew God was there and that he would heal her. I believed it with all my heart.
Seven days later she died.
I thought about these stories and how different they turned out.
Did God hear my mother’s prayers and not mine?
Was my faith too weak?
I couldn’t help but wonder; Is God any less amazing today than he was 10 days before niece died?
I had to struggle with these questions and this is what I learned.
God did - and does - hear my prayers.
God’s performance does not hinge on my feeble capacity to have faith.
And I recognized that God still amazes me every day despite my pain.
I don’t think that when the paralyzed man was brought to Jesus anyone expected him to be forgiven. He was looking for physical healing – that is how he understood his need. But God knows our deepest need and that will always be the need for internal transformation; cleansing of our hearts, softening of our hearts, knowing belovedness, companionship, hope for our future and peace.
To me being given peace doesn’t mean that the pain is totally eradicated. Being healed does not mean that we are void of feeling. We would lose all compassion if that were true. No, it means that grief is incorporated into our lives and we can live with it in peace.