Grief: Friend and Foe by Katherine Elizabeth Clark

Excerpt from the book Where I End: A Story of Tragedy, Truth, and Rebellious Hope

I have perceived two pervasive responses in our culture that seem to influence and dominate how we react to grief. The first treats grief as an unwelcome, uninvited trespasser to be shunned or dismissed.

The gospel of John tells a story with which many are familiar. Lazarus, a dear friend of Jesus, becomes sick. Jesus does not immediately travel to see His ailing friend, but instead arrives several days later. He knows by this time Lazarus is dead. Lazarus’s sisters, Mary and Martha, have buried their brother in a tomb and after mourning for four days, are worn and weary.

When Jesus arrives, He is first met outside the village by Martha. And when Mary is summoned, she falls, rife with grief, at the feet of Jesus, weeping. How does her Lord respond? Does He tell her, “Don’t worry. No need to cry. I purposely came late so that Lazarus could die and be raised, so you could see My awesome power, so you would know that I am the One”?

Jesus knows exactly what He’s come to do. And, indeed, it’s going to be good; it’s going to stagger and stun; it’s going to usher in incalculable joy. In just a few moments with just a few words, He will impel a rotting corpse back to life. Tears of mourning will be turned to tears of jubilance.

But don’t miss this. The apostle John grants us passage to something of the utmost importance. He remembers that upon seeing Mary, Jesus was, “deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled” (John 11:33). And then John tells us that Jesus began to weep (v. 35). We would be wise to linger over these sweet words. Dear reader, we must see and taste and feel the tears falling down Jesus’ face. We must hear the guttural cry of our Lord. He suffers His heart to bleed and break. And so must we.

In just a few minutes, Jesus is going to turn death on its head. Couldn’t He have skipped the tears? But He doesn’t, does He? Jesus weeps. He enters into their grief because they are entering His grief. Here Jesus Christ, the life and light of the world, is affronted by death and darkness. Mary and Martha have swallowed back the bitter dregs of death and in doing so have tasted the sorrow of their Lord, the One who made them for His glory but are living under the crushing weight of the sin-filled world. Jesus’ disciple shows us that not only are we are joined to one another in our grief, we are united to Jesus in His.

I mentioned that there were two responses to grief that I wanted to sift. The second response is to treat grief not as a foe but as a friend, a codependent lover. In this case, the griever does not shun grief, but instead coddles it, dotes on it, gives it a position of authority in his life. Grief is indulged at every opportunity. I cannot do my schoolwork because I am grieving. I cannot see your pain because I am so enamored with my own. I cannot be held responsible to complete this task because I am going through a hard time.

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Source: Christian Post