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Top ten things you probably shouldn't say when someone is grieving over a loss: (Okay its more than ten because people say some really stupid things)

Just put it behind you

Time will heal all wounds

At least you've had a good life so far

Well at least hes in heaven now

Shes an angel now

I know just how you feel.

Be thankful you have another child

I am sure God gave you cancer because you are so strong

Just look ahead because God is pruning you for great works

You will see later how God is going to use all of this for something good

At least its not as bad as that time I. . .

This too shall pass

Hey you're not unemployed; you are fun employed!

All things work together for good

Everything happens for a reason

When life gives you lemons make lemonade

 

I love you

I am so sorry

A wordless hug

 

(Thanks to David Hallenbeck)

 

We are in the second week of Advent and for this years sermons we are looking at Jesus reading of the scriptures in Luke 4. He was on the verge of beginning His earthly ministry and after reading a portion of scripture from the book of Isaiah He announced that He was the fulfillment of the prophecies that He had just read. 

Last week we learned that He came to bring Good News to the poor.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, 
 Luke 4:18 NLT

Let me read this same verse in the NKJV and see if you can catch the phrase that is missing in the former translation.

18  The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives  And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; Luke 4:18 NKJV

I have included two different versions of this verse because in some translations of the Bible there is a missing phrase. It is a vital part of the character of our Lord and one that all of us need to hear at one time or the other in our lives.

Here is the phrase: He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted. . .

This sermon is about how we can come to an understanding about who Jesus wants to be in response to our grief.

 

How do we handle grief?

How do we overcome things that can tend to destroy our joy?

 

Identifying Grief

 

Before we ask the how questions lets try to identify what grief is.

 

Author Edgar Jackson poignantly describes grief: Grief is a young widow trying to raise her three children, alone. Grief is the man so filled with shocked uncertainty and confusion that he strikes out at the nearest person. Grief is a mother walking daily to a nearby cemetery to stand quietly and alone a few minutes before going about the tasks of the day. She knows that part of her is in the cemetery, just as part of her is in her daily work. Grief is the silent, knife-like terror and sadness that comes a hundred times a day, when you start to speak to someone who is no longer there. Grief is the emptiness that comes when you eat alone after eating with another for many years.


Grief is teaching yourself to go to bed without saying good night to the one who had died. Grief is the helpless wishing that things were different when you know they are not and never will be again. Grief is a whole cluster of adjustments, apprehensions, and uncertainties that strike life in its forward progress and make it difficult to redirect the energies of life.

 

Dr. Wright defines the following terms so we can get a grasp the nature and the impact of grief on our lives:
Grief is defined as Intense emotional suffering caused by loss, disaster, misfortune, etc. Acute sorrow - deep sadness. The word is derived from the Latin verb meaning to burden. Indeed, you do feel burdened. You are carrying a heavy load of feelings.
Mourn is defined as to feel or express sorrow. Mourning is the expression of grief. The word is derived from a Gothic verb meaning to be anxious, and it comes ultimately from an Indo-European base meaning to remember; to think of. Mourning involves remembering and thinking of the deceased, and this makes you feel anxious or uncomfortable.

The Kbler-Ross model, commonly known as The Five Stages of Grief, was first introduced by Elisabeth Kbler-Ross in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying. It was never meant to be all inclusive. In other words not everyone goes through every one of these steps in the exact order. In fact not everyone experiences all five steps but it is good to be aware of them.

Five stages of grief:

1.     Denial and Isolation  I feel fine. This cant be happening to me.

2.     Anger   Why me? This is not fair.

3.     Bargaining  I'll do anything for a few more years. I would give my life's savings.

4.     Depression Why bother with anything? Whats the point of going on?

5.     Acceptance Its going to be okay. I can't change it so I might as well learn to accept it.

Interacting with Grief and Grieving People

 

Appropriate expectations through the grief journey:

Your grief will take longer than most people think.
Your grief will take more energy than you would have ever imagined.
Your grief will involve many changes and be continually developing.
Your grief will show itself in all spheres of your life.

Your grief will depend upon how you perceive the loss.
You will grieve for many things both symbolic and tangible, not just death alone.
You will grieve for what you have lost already and for what you have lost for the future.
Your grief will entail mourning not only for the actual person you lost but also for all the hopes, dreams, and unfulfilled expectations you held for and with that person, and for the needs that will go unmet because of the death.
Your grief will involve a wide variety of feelings and reactions, not solely those that are generally thought of as grief, such as depression and sadness.

Your loss will resurrect old issues, feelings and unresolved conflicts from the past.
You may have a combination of anger and depression, such as irritability, annoyance or intolerance.

You will feel some anger and guilt, or at least some manifestation of these emotions.
You may experience grief spasms, acute upsurges of grief that occur suddenly with no warning.
You will have trouble thinking (memory, organization and intellectual processing) and making decisions.

You may feel like you are going crazy.
You may be obsessed with the death and preoccupied with the deceased.
You may find yourself acting socially in ways that are different from before.
You may find yourself having a number of physical reactions.

Others will have unrealistic expectations about your mourning and may respond inappropriately to you.

 

Lets think about how we should respond to others grief for a few moments.

 

If you tell somebody, Let me know if there is anything I can do, than follow it up.

If you say, It just takes time, than be there and stick with them.

This must be very painful for you. Let them describe their pain without telling them your story.

I have no idea what you must be feeling. Do you want to tell me about it?

Don't fell like you have to say anything

Take the initiative

Help with everyday concerns

Help with the children

Listen

Allow them to grieve in their own way

Remember special days and times.    

 

A British publication once offered a prize for the best definition of a friend. Among the thousands of answers received were the following:
"One who multiplies joys, divides grief, and whose honesty is inviolable."
"One who understands our silence."
"A volume of sympathy bound in cloth."
"A watch that beats true for all time and never runs down."
The winning definition read: "A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out

In a small European village was a town square that held a special statue. This statue of Jesus was the pride and joy of this small town, But World War II arrived, and soon the bombs began falling on the town. One day the statue was hit and blown to pieces. The residents collected all the shattered pieces and slowly did what they could to re-create it. When they finished their reconstruction, the only pieces missing were the hands of Jesus, so they placed a plaque at the base of the statue with the words, Now we are the only hands that Jesus has

 

In summary, your grief will bring with it, depending upon the combinations of factors above, an intense amount of emotions that will surprise you and those around you. Most of us are unprepared for the global response we have to a major loss. Our expectations tend to be unrealistic, and more often than not we receive insufficient assistance from friends and society.

 

Interacting with God

God grieves
1. Genesis 6:6 The Father grieved over evil in Noah's Day. (The Lord God was sorry He ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke His heart.) 
2. John 11:35-38 Jesus grieves over the death of Lazarus. (Jesus wept) 
3. Eph. 4:30 The Holy Spirit grieves over believers sin.

God responds to our grief
1. Psalm 56:8 He records our tears. (You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in a bottle.) 
2. Hebrews 4:15, 16 Sympathizes with our weakness.
3. Isa. 65:19: Rev. 21:4 - He will eventually end our grief.

Grief measures the meaning of our attachments
1. John 11:36 Our attachments to friends.
2. Gen. 50:1 - Our attachments to family.

 

Grief potentially interrupts life's routines
1. 2 Sam. 12:17 Leaving mourners with little appetite.
2. 2 Sam. 18:33 Causing mourners to wish for death.
3. 1 Sam. 4:18-22 Multiplying mourners illness and death.

Grief potentially persists over an extended period of time.
1. Gen. 50:10 For seven days.
2. Numbers 20:29 For thirty days.
3. Gen. 50:3 For seventy days.

Grief is potentially expressed in a variety of ways.
1. Matthew 26:37-38 Before a loss.
2. Mark 8:31-32 By shock, numbness, or denial
3. Job 10:9 In anger 
4. Isa. 38:1-22 - Through bargaining
5. 2 Samuel 12:16-18 With depression
6. Phil. 1:12, 21-24; 4:11-13 With acceptance

Grief is potentially facilitated by various expressions
1. 2 Samuel 1:17-27 Through songs.
2. Lamentations 1-5 Through poetry

Jesus and grief:

It was not just a one-time fix and off he went but he spent time with people and helped them through the grieving process.  Jesus reveals to us that the Wonderful Counselor works with people in an in depth way through life's crisis and traumas.
Jesus was a compassionate counselor because he genuinely cared for the people who were hurting in need and he wanted to fix it for them.  In a sense he felt their pain, their hurt and their grief.

Jesus has empathy for others:
Mark 8:2: 2I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat.
Mark 6:34: 34When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

Jesus accepts people as they are and then He changes them:
John 4:1-26 The woman at well is a great example because he could have condemned her but he did not instead he reached out to her right at her point of need.

John 8:1-11 We see him do the same with the woman caught in adultery.
Luke 19:1-10 We see him accept a dishonest tax collector named Zacchaeus.


Jesus meets peoples needs

John 3:1-21 - Even a religious leader named Nicodemus in the middle of the night.

Jesus helped the religious, the rich, the poor, the outsider and the insider. He does not discriminate. 

Jesus uses the right words
Mark 3:5 - 5He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, Stretch out your hand. He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.  He knew what to say, when to say it and how to say it.

 

Jesus emphasizes right behavior so that the process will bring recovery.
John 8:10-12  Jesus straightened up and asked her, Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? No one, sir, she said. Then neither do I condemn you, Jesus declared. Go now and leave your life of sin. When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
Luke 6:47, 48 - 47I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. 48He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock   When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.


Jesus encourages people to accept responsibility for our healing.

John 5:6  Do you want to get well? Jesus question to the man at the pool of Bethesda.

Mark 10:51 What do you want me to do for you? Jesus asked the Blind man.
The point here is people must understand that they have to make a choice to either remain the same or to be willing to change and grow through the experience. 

Jesus encourages people and gives us hope.
Matt. 11:28-30 - 28Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

 

Jesus emphasizes peace of mind and let us know where to find it.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. When we seek the counsel of the Lord and tap him as our resource then we will encounter peace.


Jesus speaks with authority

1. Matthew 7:28, 29 Jesus spoke with the authority of Gods Word and he has not bashful about it. When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.


Jesus confronts and corrects life's situations

Matthew 8:26:  He replied, You of little faith, why are you so afraid? Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 
Matthew 18:15 -17 If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
John 8:3-9  The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say? They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her. 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.

 

Patsy Clairmont in her book Under His Wings tells a moving story of the reality of dealing with grief. We buried my friends 26 year old son last week. An accidental gunshot took Jeff's life. We have more questions than answers. We are offended at people who have all the answers and no experience with devastating loss.
I watched the heart-wrenching scenes as the family tried to come to grips with the tragedy, I can still hear the travailing of the mothers anguished heart. I can still see the wrenching of the fathers grief torn hands. I can still smell the hospital and funeral home. Memories march before my mind like soldiers, causing me to relive the agony. If it is this difficult for me, Jeff's god-mother, how much more magnified it must be for his birth mother! I cant imagine. As I watched Jeff's mom, Carol, the week after his death, I observed a miracle. I saw her move from despair to hope. From franticness to peace. From uncertainty to assurance. From needing comfort to extending it. I witnessed a mom face her worst nightmare and refuse to run away. Instead, she ran to Him. When grief knocked the breath out of Carol, she went to the Breath Giver. I watched as the Lord placed His mantle of grace around her and then supported her with His mercy. The grief process has just begun for Jeff's loved ones. The Lord will not remove His presence from this family. But there may be moments when He will remove their awareness of His presence. That will allow them to feel the impact of their loss. For He knows it would be our tendency to hide even behind His grace to protect our fragile hearts from the harshness winds of reality. He offers us refuge, but He also promises us wholeness. Wholeness means we are fully present with ourselves and with Him. Therefore, we have to own our pain. If we do not, part of who we are we must either shut down, avoid or deny. That would leave us estranged from ourselves and divided in our identity. Also, we would never heal in a way that would allow us to minister to others. [Patsy Clairmont. Under His Wings. (Colorado Springs: Focus On the Family, 1994) p. 137]

A little boy and his father visited the country store, upon leaving the store the owner of the store offered the little boy some free candy. "get a hand full of candy", the merchant said to the boy. The boy just stood there looking up at his father. The owner repeated himself, "Son get a hand full of candy, its free." Again the boy did not move continuing to look up in the face of his father. Finally, the father reached into the candy jar and got a hand full of candy and gave it to his son. As they walked back home, the father stopped and asked his son why he did not grab a hand full of the free candy. The boy with a big smile on his face looked into the face of his father and said "Because I know that your hand is bigger than mine." In your time of sorrow and grief, place it in your Fathers hand because His hand is bigger than yours.