By S. Leonard Tyler
Grief-stricken victims cry out, “What in the world can I do? I have tried to live right all my life, and now look at me! This has robbed me of everything. My life is ruined! No one is left who cares for me. I have nothing left to live for – what’s the use?” or, “I have betrayed myself and those who trust me. Although I have tried hard to straighten everything out, it has been to no avail. This seems to end my chances to ever amount to anything. I have repented genuinely and confessed and prayed to be forgiven, but no one seems to accept my efforts. My mistake follows me everywhere I go. Nothing is ever said about my repentance and correcting the wrong (!in). I feel as David: ‘No one cares for my soul . . . my sin is ever before me! (Psa. 142:4; 51:3) What can I do?” Such are grief’s fruits as it develops, regardless of the cause that opened the door: tragedy, whether being sinned against or having committed sin, brings these results. These results are hard to deal with but can be handled with care.
What Is Grief?
Grief is a common emotional heart/mind problem. Grief is just as real as a broken leg, and all suffer some of her fruits more or less in life. Webster’s New World Dictionary defines it: “Intense emotional suffering caused by loss, disaster, etc.; acute sorrow, deep sadness; a cause or the subject of such suffering . . . come to grief, to meet with difficulty or failure.” Her fruits are the same, but one suffers according to the depth of grief: anxiety, insecurity, unhappiness, sorrow, discontentment, distress, gloom. dejection, self-guilt (for every ill), loss of self-confidence and even self-respect.
If you are the unfortunate, grief-stricken victim, what may you expect? Grief wraps her curtains of gloom tightly around her victims. Mental anguish blocks clear and positive thinking. Thus the victim seeking relief often turns to some physical pleasure or lust-fulfilling desire to overcome the depression, only to later learn he has complicated the problems; and grief tightens her grip, squeezing her victim in to despair. Grief can rob one of all purpose and hope in this life. Therefore, we ask, “What can be done?” Have you tried the Lord?
God’s Means Of Healing
God is the Creator and Lawgiver of all things through Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:2; Eph. 3:9; Col. 1:16-17; Jas. 4:12). The laws of procreation and preservation are established and called “natural laws” or “nature.” Thus all healing depends upon God’s provisions. Doctors cannot heal. They are, in many cases, an essential part of the healing process (Matt. 9-12) – but no healer. As a well-known, practicing surgical physician related his observation to me: “We physicians are said to be members of the healing guild or profession, but we can heal no one. It takes a higher power than doctors possess to heal. Ali, it’s true, we can remove the defective body parts that would otherwise destroy the whole, give special drugs to slow or kill the infectious germs and viruses, etc., which cause the bacteria effecting disease;. but the body must respond with the healing power.” This is known as the natural healing process. Have you not heard doctors say, “We must now wait for his response”? This is the healing period, the recovery from the surgery. This means that the patient must respond with his own potential to the healing. Doctors cannot heal.
The patient needs the right care – encouragement to keep his spirits up. He should be able to choose his own source of encouragement, so long as it does not disturb, complicate, or interfere with the healing. The more effective the encouragement is, the more weight it yields to the healing. Doctors recognize and accept a wholesome attitude and positive disposition to be great and valuable assets to the healing. One’s attitude – confidence and “righting spirit” – has so much influence upon the healing.
However, a word of caution is needed here. The overawareness of the delicate feelings characterizing the patient can so easily lead one to accept some fictitious or unfounded remedies: pseudo-miraculous claims, superstitious practices, witchcraft, alcohol or other drugs, or lustful, immoral flounderings, anything to kill the agony of gloom, depression, and grief. However, such leads one deeper and deeper into grief’s control.
Good health must be reached and maintained in reality, not make-believe. That is within the bounds of truth and right. The “feel good” theories, experiences, sensations, highs, even psychological satisfactions, run contrary to reality, right and truth. Truth and right must be the reasons upon which any program is accepted, since truth and right are essentials for real success. Substitutes may bring momentary relief, but, when life starts crumbling around you, reality will tell the rest of the story. This should impress all of us with the importance of our study – Grief: God’s Means of Healing. This does not mean miraculous healing. It is healing through God’s provided way of self-preservation. Let me illustrate:
In the very morning of creation God saw the loneliness of man and said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Gen. 2:18, NKJV). Thus God made woman for a companion – a helper suited for man. If man or woman refuses God’s plan, he or she refuses one of God’s provisions to prevent and also heal grief. Man and woman are complements to each other in this life. They are the basis for the family. Marriage is one of the great divine organizations for man’s propagation and stabilization. A greater unit for a contented and stablized life cannot be found. Marriage gives each member (as children come) a fundamental feeling of belonging, loving and being loved, wanting and being wanted, caring and being cared for and unselfishly and joyfully sacrificing for the good of others, thereby finding fulfillment and contentment. Isn’t it tragic to observe the deterioration of the home, robbing man and society of its wonderful and stablizing influence for good?
I recognize the quibbles about marriage (time and space refuse me to discuss them) and the difficulties and fidelity problems involved. Notwithstanding, I wish I were able to establish in the minds of all the great principles, positive influences, and loving provisions marriage offers for man’s good. Husbands should love their own wives and wives should love their own husbands and become as one – each possessing and being possessed – by his own choice. They want each other. . . Husbands to love their wives as themselves, and wives to submit themselves to their husbands, not by force, but love. They want each other. They want children to rear in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is loving care… Children to honor their father and mother with absolute love and respect. Then, when mother and father have needs or grow old, they have someone to lean on. This is another of God’s ways to heal sorrow, gloom, and grief. Mother and father, your opportunities are fast passing to build a refuge for a contented future. You now are building by training, giving, loving, and sharing with them today. Consequently your grief, will be lifted when you hear their voice through tears say, “Mother or father, I still love you. You still have me. We have one another.” Then, as the days slowly creep and clouds filled with rain hang heavily over your head, or cold weather fastens you in and loneliness fills the house, you hear a car pull up, stop, and little feet patter on the walk; the door flies open, and grandchildren cry out, “Grandfather/mother, look what we brought!” They throw both arms around your neck and give you a great big kiss and say, “I love you.” Paul said, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). God’s help does not come by miracles, but through the touch of those who really love you – through your own family. This is one of God’s means of healing grief to those who will open their hearts and receive it. God provides; but man must accept with love, respect, and confidence.
The More Abundant Life
Defeatism is the response, “I have no family. I have lost them. We are torn apart. I have no companionship, no communication, no love, nothing to hold to.” But wait! The Lord has not failed you. You may have made a mistake — sinned – but he still stands with pleading hands, “Return. Come back home; I will give you rest.” Remember the prodigal son. He came to himself and went back home (Luke 15). This illustrates God’s love and desire to receive those who will repent of wrongs. Come back to him and he will forgive, receive, and commend you to a greater life. This is another means of God’s healing sorrow and grief. Take refuge in Christ. “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore” (Eph. 6:13,14a). Victory lies ahead. “Draw near to God and He win draw near to you. . . Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas. 4:7,8). Take hold of the hand that never changes nor weakens. He will never fail you nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5). The fact that Christ will never leave us is very consoling and comforting. He said, “And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20). Faith in Christ gives one personal comfort, courage, hope, and patience to keep on in the faith until the race is won (Heb. 3:12; Rom. 2:7-11).
Faith Helps In This Life
All spiritual blessings come by grace through faith. God provides the means by his grace, and man accepts God’s provisions through faith. Faith is produced and sustained by hearing God’s word (Rom. 10:17; 2 Cor. 4:13; Heb. 4:2). Faith accepts: “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose. . . If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:28,3 1) Thus faith lifts man’s vision and aspirations from the material to the spiritual, from man’s thinking and wisdom to God’s thinking and wisdom (Phil. 3:7-10,20). Paul testified, “. . . for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Tim. 1:12). Paul does not lose sight of the reality of life in a troubled, wicked world. He accepts it with confidence and assurance in Christ. Faith does not remove reality. It does not change the natural laws nor problems necessarily, such as: temptation, pain, sickness, financial disappointment, tragedies, and even death. Faith gives you reason to endure in hope and to right courageously, the determination to see it through, and the strength to win. Listen to Paul’s explanation, “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:8-9). Faith gives courage to overcome. Never give depression time to create anxiety in your heart; it leads to uncertainty, uneasiness, self-guilt, and on to grief. Arthur Somers Roche wisely observed, “Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained” (Reader’s Digest, June 1988, p. 64). Thus one must “keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23).
Paul gives his defense against fear, anxiety, and grief. “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content … both to abound and to suffer need … I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11-13). Thus faith undermines grief’s reasoning and gives you a right to expect victory over all your problems – or gives you strength to endure. Paul asked the Lord three times to remove the thorn from his flesh. The Lord said, “My grace is sufficent for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). He wrote the Philippians, “And my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). He recognized God “will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13, NKJV). The Lord will never forsake you; he will fulfill every promise made. Your efforts in the Lord never go unnoticed (I Cor. 15:58). Man may forsake you, but not God. On one occasion, said Paul, “all forsook me. . . But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me” (2 Tim. 4:16-17). God helps those who help themselves by faith.
God Helps Heal Grief Through Comfort
The brethren at Appii Forum and Three Inns so greatly comforted Paul that Luke wrote, “he thanked God and took courage” (Acts 28:15). Titus also comforted him by coming to him, and Titus was also comforted by the Corinthians’ reception (2 Cor. 7:5-6). The Corinthians were instructed to be forgiving toward the erring brother upon his repentance and to comfort and restore him (2 Cor. 2). God helps heal grief through the brethren. He told the Galatians, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). Communication – sharing love in both “word and deed” -lifts the burdens of sorrow, anxiety, and grief. Grief’s stronghold is loneliness. Man needs someone on whom to lean. Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn. 15:12). John wrote, “. . for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? ” (1 Jn. 4:20) Sharing one with another helps relieve grief: visit, communicate, show love and deep concern with action; that’s what helps.
The Providence of God
The providence of God, to me, is God’s omnipotence being manifest, not through miraculous performance, but rather through the natural, established, set order or law. God is; and, as Abraham expressed it, “He is able and will fulfill every promise made.” “He is as good as his word” is an old cliche but an absolute in this case. Thus, prayer is a great power in healing grief to the believer. “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of him” (1 Jn. 5:14,15). This is – and other texts could be given – an assurance that God hears and answers prayers. No one is able to declare the extent of help given nor just what means might be used to bring it about, only “according to his will”; and he makes the decision, not me. This is, to me, a spiritual reality; God will fulfill every promise within the bounds of His will. God cannot lie. Christ prayed, and so must we: “Thy will be done, not mine.” This is true, living, active, assuring faith: “It will be as God said.” So I pray in confidence that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (Jas. 5:16). No, we must wait patiently for God’s own time. It will be as God promised. We stand upon the everlasting promises of God, and all is well with my life and my soul. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me. . . The Lord is my helper, And I will not fear. What shall man do to me?” (Psa. 23:4; Heb. 13:6)
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 17, pp. 531-533
September 1, 1988