Grief


Great interest has been generated over Steve Harvey’s plainly transparent and particularly moving interview on TBN of late. The many responses to his very emotional display range from positive compliments to overt criticism. Central in the debate is one single unarticulated, but still apparent dichotomy. Can one be emotionally pained, and yet not be spiritually changed? Common today in many an organized church is the uninhibited freedom to be securely open and emotionally expressive. However, does an animated display of a person’s emotions certify one’s spirituality and validate one’s legitimate faith? We need to explore this further.

Paul boldly distinguishes worldly grief from Godly grief in his commentary to the Corinthians in Chapter 7. His second epistle notes several distinct characteristics of Godly sorrow or grief. Godly grief is clearly different because:

1. It begins with clear conviction—the acknowledgment of wrong (9a)
2. It includes genuine regret—sorrow for one’s sinful behavior (9b)
3. It brings about repentance—an obvious change of life’s course(10a)
4. It leads to salvation—deliverance from one’s sinful ways (10b)
5. It leaves no regrets—void of any sense of enduring guilt (10c)
6. It is confirmed by conversion—a new commitment to the things of God (11)
7. It also encourages others—provides needed strength to the church (13)

If the Apostle is right, then it is clear that any expression of mournful emotions that is absent of these qualities should be regarded as suspect. The acid test of true Godly remorse reveals a clear transformative result. If a redemptive change does not emerge from one’s sorrow, the Bible indicates such grief ends only in death (see vs. 10).

Think about it. When is the last time you observed a genuinely penitent sinner consumed by indisputable remorse for their errant ways? If you haven’t seen it in a while, this could mean we are guilty of welcoming many a person to join-the-church, but few sinners to repentance. I pray this is not true!

The church of Jesus Christ is God’s center for corrective change. You see, change without correction falls tragically short. You don’t agree? Then, the next time you have a flat on your automobile, simply take the flat tire off and move it to a place where an inflated tire already sits. You will have change, but you will not have correction. The Lord wants us to experience change with correction. Jesus can help you!

Remember this! God loves each of us just as we are; however, He loves us too much to let us stay that way!

In John 11:35, our Lord succumbed at the grave of his beloved friend—Lazarus—and is unashamedly portrayed expressing His emotional side. The Bible’s shortest verse there is recorded where it says, “Jesus wept.” It is no secret that men (historically) have not been the most comfortable beings when it comes to openly expressing their emotions or displaying any public sensitivity. Much commentary has been offered as to why this fact exists. A major reason is that men have not been (as a general rule) conditioned (nurtured or encouraged) to expose their sensitive sides. In fact, a sensitive side has been largely viewed a weak or feminine (less than masculine) side. No “real” man wants to be seen as feminine. At times, parents (adults) perpetuate this myth when at hurting moments for boys, they (boys) are routinely admonished to, “Be a man!”, or “Don’t cry!” What is up with that? Why can’t a man (a male) openly own and display his painful emotions? Who made that rule? What is the big deal?

 

God has ingeniously engineered the human body with many functional systems for our good. Unlike other creatures, emotional tears are inimitably human. They provide essential cleansing to the eyes as well as the mind, our emotions, and the body. Tears are secreted by our lacrimals—tiny, sponge-like glands which rest above the eye against the eye socket. Pin-head size holes exist at the lower part of the inner eye socket from which the moist secretion is expelled; and for healthy benefits. Crying can reduce stress levels, encourage a good sleep, and retard diseases aggravated by stress, such as high blood pressure, heart problems and peptic ulcers. If more people (men in particular) would cooperate with healthy grief rather than fight it, studies prove it could lessen the tendency to be stressed, have hypertension, endure a stroke, undergo a heart attack, or even be depressed.

 

Jesus proves there is nothing wrong with crying, and there was nothing weak about Him. If we were not designed to occasionally cry, then there is clearly a major flaw in our anatomy. Yielding does not mean one is weak. To the contrary, it can be a sure sign of strength. It minimally conveys to others that the one crying is in some way hurt. And when you’re hurt, the Bible indicates that our God mysteriously leans over the banister of heaven and gives attention when His children cry. David put it like this: “In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried out to my God. He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.” (Psalm 18:6)

 

My brothers (in particular), if the urge arises, every strong man needs to learn it is okay when the “flood gates” open. It only means that you’re human; and a wonderful miracle is unfolding. You’re going to feel so much better!