It's Not a Lack of Faith to Express Human Grief
“Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground…” Job 1:20a
It is not wrong to express your grief and even to do so profoundly. In fact, it’s healthy. One of the best things I did after my wife of thirty-four years, Lynette, died, was to weep deeply. It was not planned especially, but it happened often. Unknown to me at the time, I came to see that this was one of the most powerful and helpful things I could have done to move through the valley of death. Job rent his mantle. Do not bypass grief. Do not try to go around it, or go over it, and don’t neglect it or forget it…enter into it deeply (friend, if you’re going to cry, then really cry; if you’re going to wail, then make good work of it).
“Lamenting” is a Bible doctrine. There’s even a whole book in Scripture dedicated to lamenting (Lamentations). We have forgotten how to mourn in today’s world. The modern church is all about happiness and joy, but lamenting should be part of the Christian life at times. How can we see the sin and misery that’s going on in the world today and not lament? How can we not be brokenhearted over people dropping into a Christ-less eternity and not lament? How can we not lament over our own failures?
Honestly, I often wonder how it is that we could ever have joy. The great revivalist, Leonard Ravenhall said about Jesus, “If you saw Him you would’ve thought he was an older man.” In fact, the common word on the streets during the ministry of Jesus was that He was fifty or sixty (John 8:57).
Grief has an emotional, mental, spiritual and even physical effect on us. But it is normal and even necessary. Job was a great and godly man who praised God, but at the same time he “rent his mantle.” He wept bitterly and deeply before God. Jesus also wept (John 11:35). Weeping is something so human and yet so divine. It is healthy when it’s done right. It should never be done in self-pity, but because you are grieved in your spirit.
When a death takes place, you may experience a wide range of emotions, even when the death is expected. Lynette’s four-year battle with breast cancer had many up’s and downs. For the great majority of the time I felt as though we would just get through this trial, and she would be healed as she always had been before.
There was a point however, at about four or five months before her death, where God seemed to tell me that she was not going to get better. Even with that divine “heads up”, I felt numbness at first, then denial, deep sadness, confusion and even despair after her death. I’m convinced that it is very important to allow yourself to express those feelings. For us emotional humans, death and deep financial loss are subjects that we like to avoid, ignore or even deny. At first it may seem helpful to separate yourself from the pain or ignore your feelings, but you cannot avoid grieving forever. Someday those buried feelings will need to be resolved God’s way, or they may cause physical and emotional illness or even worse – spiritual weakness.
It’s good to know that it is alright to pour out your heart to God. David wrote, “I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble” (Psalm 142:2). It is reassuring for me to remember that Jesus cares and is touched by my heartaches, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities…” (Hebrews 4:15). May I encourage you not to be embarrassed by your emotions then, just let it go. It is a necessary human emotion and not a lack of faith to lament.