Grief is a Gift

a time for everything…a time to mourn, and a time to dance. ~Ecclesiastes 3

A few months ago, I attended a powerful women’s conference called Freefall to FlyRebekah Lyons shared from her book by the same title. So much of what she said impacted my life, such as how our calling = talents + burdens. Those things we are good at are the what we do, and the things that break our hearts are the why we do it. When those come together, it’s a powerful God-give purpose. A gift to us.

The past couple years I have learned a lot about grief, as my grandma passed away just over two years ago. The first year was rough, and I battled a lot of depression. I found comfort in the GriefShare group I attended and the email daily devotionals they offered. And God slowly but surely showed me that He is truly the Mighty Counselor and the great Comforter.

I don’t grieve daily anymore, but there are still triggers sometimes. And yet there was this day recently where something made me think of Grandma, and I caught myself smiling at the thought. Usually when I think of her, it makes me sad. But I was actually smiling. And I knew it was a significant day in my grief journey. Even though it will be challenging, and there will be times I will miss her, I can think of her now and smile. She danced the dance of life, and she did it well. Through her passing, I learned how to grieve, and how to be comforted.

I was reminded of that journey at the conference. Rebekah talked about grieving a city she had to move away from. By stuffing the grief down and pretending everything was ok in her new city, she became bitter and couldn’t receive the comfort from God. There are all kinds of griefs, large and small, and even though it’s not often culturally acceptable, we need to mourn those losses. One of the things she said was,

Grieving brings comfort. Comfort brings healing. And healing brings freedom. If you never mourn, you will never be comforted. If you never grieve, you will never experience freedom.

I had known the verse, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” but honestly that verse did not bring me a lot of comfort that first year of grief. But now, two years out, I see the truth in it. Without grief, I never would have known what an intimate Comforter my God is. And knowing more of that deep relationship with him now, I do believe has blessed me. God says in Isaiah 57:18-19,

I have seen his ways, but I will heal him. I will guide him and restore comfort to him, creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel.

When I looked up the word comfort, I learned it comes from Old French and literally means together + strong. Grief often brings us to a point of weakness, but together with God, when we welcome Him into our sadness, He brings strength. Comfort also means “a state of physical and mental ease accompanied by quiet enjoyment, encouragement, assistance, contentment, satisfaction, and freedom” (The Winston Dictionary, College Edition, 1946). 

To those who choose to express grief, God promises to bring comfort, healing, and liberty. God has seen my pain, but He has guided me out of the dark depths of it, not just to a satisfactory place, but a place of abundance where I can indeed praise Him again. Even though I am still broken and in need of my Savior, I find myself smiling more these days. Because His word holds true: it’s both a time to mourn AND a time to dance!

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