Everyone on the planet knows we've been going through both political and health-related crises. What I find interesting though is that no one is talking about the grief we are all experiencing. No matter what state or country you live in, wide-spread grief has spread more intently than any virus, bio-weapon, political upheaval or the threat of war. That's because the world we live in is changing. Rapidly. Thanks to a plethora of news availability, we can literally see on our TVs, computer screens, phones, or even live out in real life, we are witnessing nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom, famine, pestilence and earthquakes as Jesus predicted in Matthew 24:7. It's a frightening time.
Most Christians are familiar with Jesus' prophecy in Matthew 24, but we always looked at this as applicable to sometime in the future, not really applying to us. Something somebody else would have to endure. But again, thanks to international news coverage, we see it all happening around us. Our world has shrunk. And, in the last two years, it's become very personal, affecting even our children in school. Gone is most of the innocence of childhood. Gone is our ability to bury our head in the sand. Death is all around us in the form of more than physical death. There is death due to a loss of hope, vision, plans for the future and life as we've always known it. Only a year ago people were talking about and looking forward to life getting back to "normal." Today, it's all about a "new" normal and there are plenty of people who want to define what the new normal for us will be.
The result is GRIEF.
Classic grief has been studied, talked about, written about and experienced. But the grief that the nations of the world are currently experiencing is new because it is so wide-spread and things keep happening that cause grief. So much tragedy happening in such a short amount of time has taken us all by surprise. Can we apply the hard-learned principles of how to deal with "normal" grief to the current pandemic of grief? I believe we can. So, not to minimize anything else, including the pandemic of fear, let's look at grief as it applies to us personally as well as to our culture and nation.
The first stage of grief is shock. We often hear the words, "I can't believe it" or "I can't believe it is happening." We hope we will wake up and find that "it" (whatever "it" is) isn't true. Some become numb. Others emotionally remove themselves. Still others jump immediately to the next stage: Anger. And aren't we seeing a lot of anger in America and other nations today? As of today, anger as merely a stage in the grief process has gotten out of hand because it is deep-seated in other issues. We see and experience first-hand anger by . . .
· Lies against truth
· The vaxed against the unvaxed
· The unvaxed against the vaxed
· Democrat versus Republican
· Republican versus Democrat
· Racial division
· Ethnic division
· Gender division
· Economic division
· Educational division
· Nation against nation
When we realize that the grief-caused anger we all feel because our world is changing with anger from these other issues it can be overwhelming and seem unsurpassable. And so we hang onto our anger while still moving to the next phase which is suffering. This is when the shock of it all wears off and our emotions become rampant. A person can do one little thing and we fall apart or become physically inactive even when our mind is racing. We become disorganized, even disoriented. This is when we begin to deal with all the abstract thoughts we have had all long but never really dealt with.
· What do I really believe and why do I believe it?
· I'm guilty. What am I guilty of?
· Is this my fault?
This is the stage of grief where we really need each other. We need to talk it out - with God and with other people. If you have had faith in the past, you need to draw on it. If you haven't, you need to seek it. Now that you know that it's grief you're dealing with, "dig in" and do the hard work you've put off and pushed to the back burner in order to convince yourself that you've been getting on with your life. Put the necessary work of growing in faith on the front burner.
As I've talked to and heard from people from all sides of each of the anger-causing issues listed above, I've discovered that people with a deep-seated faith in the Creator of the Universe and have a foundational knowledge of the Word of God are not only solid but are optimistic and looking forward to the future. Those without that deep faith or knowledge are the ones who are asking the "why?" questions. (Why isn't he, she, it doing something? Why aren't "they" [whoever "they" are] getting punished? Why did this have to happen?) Those without faith are just angrily blaming others and working hard to justify themselves.
Our beliefs greatly affect our grief and level of mourning. Faith and trust in a loving, merciful, all-knowing God enables a person to endure hardship and suffering. This has proven true since time began. It is still true today.
God is calling us to be. To be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). To trust the fact that He's got this.
This is a time to come together for one another. Recognize our collective grief and deal with it in patience, letting it have its perfect work in us (James 1:4). Then get about praying and doing whatever our God-given part is to be during this season of uneasy change. As the American Cancer Society, Texas Division says in one of their brochures, "Grief has Ragged Edges." We are all a bit ragged these days. But we are not without a loving, guiding Hand Who has gone before us. Take a good look at what you're truthfully dealing with. Then grab that Hand and don't let go.
Some verses to "sit down" in:
For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall guide me; He shall set me high upon a rock (Psalm 27:5).
Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance (Psalm 42:11).
This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life (Psalm 119:50).
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever (Psalm 138:7-8).
Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you (Isaiah 46:4).
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4).
Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me (John 14:1).