Getting acquainted with Grief…

Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.

Today as I am writing, we are, and quite a few loved ones, are in deep grief over the loss of a loved one. It is shock and tragedy. The only light we have is dimmed by our great sorrow. How do we become ‘acquainted with grief’ and not be overcome by it? Don’t ask me, I have been overcome by it on many an occasion! I do know that turning to Jesus for strength in this time and continuing in His presence does change the immense weight of the sorrow, over time.

When I lost my father, the sorrow was more the time of watching him die from cancer that grieved me. When he was gone, I knew he would be with Jesus. In fact, before he lost consciousness, he asked mom to play Jesus loves me on the piano and sing all the verses. His last words, still almost a week before he died, were; “Yes He does love me!” We all cried. I don’t know how many people came to his viewing, but I saw people whose lives he had touched from every walk of life. My high school friends, business people, work friends, church family; I think there were something like 700+ folks that walked through to give their condolences for a kind, loving, ‘never knew a stranger’, helping, funny guy who died a month before his 67th birthday.  For 20 years I still wanted to call him every Saturday morning for our weekly joke. The loss was there and the sorrow, but the ‘grief I had become acquainted with’ subsided. There are some acquaintances that you are aware of, but don’t hang with consistently. Sometimes they move away. You don’t forget them, but distance and time do make a difference in the weight.

When my best friend Carol died of cancer, it was nearly the same, but again time and distance has made the sorrow somehow sweeter in the memories for both Carol and my dad. When my mom passed I was not able to participate in the passing of her life because we had grief living in our home. Rick had had a stroke and we couldn’t be there for her, but others in the family were. She was good to go, and they all did a tremendous job of making her last days as comfortable and well loved as possible.

Living with grief is another story. Acquainted now and in our bag! How do we handle the grief and the sorrow? One day at a time. We pray ‘a lot’! But we have found that selfish prayers (all about us) don’t really cut it. Praying for others is what gives us the grace to live here pretty much secluded from society and life as we once knew it. If and when God heals us or takes us home, I am convinced that without grief and sorrow as we know it through living day by day, throughout all the grief and sorrow that comes our way, we would not be as useful to others or to God’s plan, whatever that may be. He, Jesus, has brought us peace in the midst. Looking to Him the author and finisher of our faith, most days with some tears, but always rejoicing in His provision and grace for the day.

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