Pain, loss, frustration, grief and depression must be important in the eyes of God since so much of the Bible is given to discussion of each of these. Job may have been the first book of the Bible actually written and it is intended to demonstrate that one of the primary ways of looking at grief and loss was totally wrong. So often then and now people think that every time they go through some illness or loss in their life it must be a punishment from God.
One of the first questions raised in hospitals or rehabilitation centers is “Why is this happening to me?” The reasoning normally goes along the line, “I am striving to live according to God’s teaching. Why would God punish me? What sin have I committed that I wasn’t aware of?” When God evaluated Job his response was that he was the best man in that part of the world. Yet Satan convinced the Lord that Job might be doing right and serving him just because of all the ways God was taking care of him. So God allowed Satan to attack Job and his family.
When his friends came to see about Job and saw the dire condition he was in they reasoned that he must have sinned in some horrible way for God to bring such trials upon him. When Job denied any such sin they set out to convince him of his guilt. In their mind it wasn’t reasonable for a good man to go through such so Job must not be a good man.
When Jeremiah wrote the Book of Lamentations somewhere close to 586 B.C. It was in response of God’s punishment of Judah and Jerusalem. The sin of the people was so great that God brought Babylon against them to utterly destroy the nation of Israel. God called Jeremiah the prophet to plead with the people before the captivity to change their ways, and serve God with their whole heart. But they refused and continued to serve idols and live immoral, ungodly lives. So God brought Nebuchadnezzar against them with his mighty army and left Jerusalem and the Nation of Judah in total ruin.
It seems in reading Lamentation that Jeremiah had walked through the city to see all that God had determined to do to punish them for their sins and failures. His description of the city was devastating. It was in total ruin. Yet Jeremiah knew it was their sin that had brought about such ruin. Yet the pain for the loss was beyond description. He told of the walls being down, people living in total poverty, immorality and good mothers being so down that they were cooking and eating their own children.
Whether our problems come because of sin or simply because we live in a world stained by sin, problems, devastation the pain is still horrible when we are going through the losses in life. How should we react in times of loss, hurt and grief? Too often Christians have gotten the notion that we must deny our grief and pretend that everything is all right instead of pouring out our pain to the Lord. They refer to Paul saying to the Thessalonians that the Christian shouldn’t sorrow like others who have no hope. While we should not face death and loss in a hopeless way neither should be pretend it isn’t real or overwhelming. God had both Job and Jeremiah to express their hurt in the strongest way possible. Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus whom he knew he was about to raise from the dead. But he groaned in his spirit at the thought of the family going through such pain. The word translated “groaned in his spirit” literally means to snort like a horse. The NIV has the word “indignant” to describe the feelings. He hurt and was angry and frustrated at what Satan was doing to people in death.
It is normal for us to hurt, to grieve and be depressed during times of great loss. But it is vital in such times to lean on God. In Jeremiah 3 the prophet remembered the love and protection of God and cried out hopefully “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion says my soul. Therefore I will hope in him.” God is still there to lean on whether the hurt is brought on by my own sin and failure or as an attack from Satan on the righteous. He still loves and cares and is there to help when our hurt is there simply because we are human and live in a world of grief and loss.
So freely pour out your heart in grief. But keep hoping in the Lord whose steadfast love never fails and whose mercies never come to an end.
Leon Barnes, see Leon’s blog at “Http://leoninlittlerock.wordpress.com”