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Dealing With Grief

(Ruth 1:3-8, 14-18)

Lesson 10 -- first quarter 2005
February 6, 2005

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2004, Christian Light Publications

Probing Your Own Heart

Do loss and grief make you bitter?

How do you get on with living despite loss and grief?

Building on Some Foundational Concepts

Grief at loss is natural.

We form attachments to people, things, and even circumstances. When these are taken from us in some fashion, the loss naturally translates to some form of grief. The deeper the attachment, the greater the loss and the accompanying sense of grief. Denying grief upsets our emotional balance and hinders the process of healing.

Grief can lead to isolation and insensitivity.

Grief can cause us to draw away from those whom God would use to bring healing to our souls. Grief can also make us insensitive to others' loss and grief. Naomi, in her purpose to leave Moab without her daughters-in-law, seems to show some degree of this isolationism and insensitivity. She and the young women needed each other's company and comfort, yet Naomi seemingly overlooked that they also had suffered loss and were experiencing grief.

Comfort and courage come in knowing God.

Our response to grief should not be to seize our soul's bootstraps and pull up mightily. We must look upward, depending on God to carry us up and out of grief back into peace, joy, and rest.

God does not deal with us carelessly.

The Shepherd never deals with His sheep with carelessness or insensitivity. Because we are His sheep and in His tender care, goodness and mercy shall surely follow us (Psalm 23:6)!

Questions and Responses

How should grief affect our relationships with others?

Grief should cause us to lean on others more. Loss produces need. Denying that serves only to magnify our loss and hinder our healing. We need others' comfort and balance. They can share in our grief because of their own grief. They can broaden our perspective and objectivity. Grief should add depth and strength to our remaining relationships, particularly with God.

Grief should make us better leaning posts for others. We do not inhabit this world alone; therefore, it follows that we are surrounded by others who also experience loss and grief...and who need our support, comfort, and encouragement. Alas, many times it takes our own grief to make us aware of that reality.

How can grief warp our perspective?

Grief, resulting as it does from loss, can cause that loss to monopolize our focus. As it were, we see only the husband and sons we no longer have while overlooking the God and the daughters-in-law we yet have.

Grief, because of its intense personal nature, can cause us to become extremely self-centered. I have lost so much here! I no longer have my treasure. People have to be gentle and sensitive with me. They must not forget me nor what I have lost. Oh, how much I have lost! How can I possibly go on?

How do we "unwarp" a perspective skewed by grief?

In our grief-induced imbalance we must turn to God. He alone can guide us in seeing the abundance we have in Him as well as in seeing the treasures and blessings which we still have. Only by God's grace and power can we turn away from self-absorption to see the needs around us which we can meet. Such shifts in focus will help restore balance to our perspective and joy to our souls.

Was Naomi entirely insensitive to Orpah's and Ruth's loss and grief?

Not at all! She freed them of any obligation to her, allowing for their return to their own mothers. Beyond that, though, she had this blessing for them: "The LORD deal kindly with you" (Ruth 1:8). This is so amazing because she herself seemed incapable of seeing the kindness of the Lord in His dealings with her.

Even in her own deep sense of loss and bitterness and hopelessness, Naomi knew that these young women could find comfort and healing in the kind, merciful doings of God. If only she could have applied this perception and sensitivity to her own needs!

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