– Jamie Anderson
Grief is just love with no place to go.
We grieve because we love. Love, is not painful but to love is to put ourselves at the risk of pain. Grief visits us at the departure of our beloved and the separation can be life-wrecking and sometimes, life-ending. Death can be sudden or through a long-lived illness. And as certain as it is, death always catches us off-guard for nothing could ever prepare us for the loss of those we love.
Renowned Christian apologists have often referred to grief as the dark night of the soul because in grief we are not only separated from those we love but we also feel separated from God. We feel forsaken of Him, as though He does not care. “How could a good God allow my child to die?” “If God was loving then my father wouldn’t have died.” But all our ardent prayers for relief and mercy seem to fall on deaf ears. The valley of the shadow of death is indeed a dark place for any soul to walk in. When Christ came face to face with death on the cross He cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” He too felt separated from the Father.
He too is familiar with grief. He was made in human-likeness that He might empathise with man. He travelled the path of grief to prepare the way for His followers to overcome. When Christ heard of the death of John the Baptist, He “departed thence by ship into a desert place apart…” He wanted to be alone, to mourn the death of His friend and cousin. That is what grief does, it drives us to desert places emotionally and mentally and physically too. We want to be apart, we want to be alone. And this feeling is not foreign to our Saviour. He was, after all, a man of sorrows as He sorrowed “even unto death” and often retreated to quiet places when His soul was troubled. Therefore, as Christians we can rejoice and be of good cheer in tribulation for even in solitude we are in good company!
The Bible is filled with precious promises of resurrection and reunion with dear ones who have departed. In Isaiah 25:8 we are promised that the Lord, our Lord Jesus Christ, shall return to swallow up death forever and will wipe away every tear from our faces. What a consoling thought, what a blessed thought! But until then we must still grieve, we must still shed tears and we must still endure the sting of death…for in this world we will not be without tribulation. Yet, as we grieve, as we hold on to this love that has no recipient, we can rest on the promise that we are not alone, we are not forsaken, and that Christ grieves with us because in our affliction He too is afflicted (Isaiah 63:9).
Displaced love is wearisome and a burden too heavy to carry on our own. Joseph Scriven knew this well when he penned down the words “oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything in God in prayer”, in his well-known hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”. Prayer remains the Christian’s consolation, thus, the Lord invites us to come to Him with our heavy burdens and our displaced love that He might give us rest in return (Matthew 11:28). And though from time to time we may borrow back the grief, we must just always remember to give it back to its Bearer…
There is a place for grief at the feet of Jesus.