Lent Day 10: Blessed Are You Who Weep
Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall be comforted.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
Grief and loss are hard on anyone. Whether it is a family member, a pet, a job, a relationship, moving to a new neighborhood or school, retirement, empty nest, major health issues, financial changes and the list could go on.
Grief as defined by John W. James and Russell Friedman in the book, “The Grief Recovery Handbook states, “Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.” Any time we lose someone or something there can be grief associated with that event.
Dr. Peter Scazzero in his book, “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” writes, “There is no greater disaster in the spiritual life than to be immersed in unreality. In fact, the true spiritual life is not an escape from reality, but an absolute commitment to it. Loss marks the place where self-knowledge and powerful transformation happen- if we have the courage to participate fully in the process.”
With this understanding we know at some point in our life we will experience grief and loss, whether it be large or small. It is for this reason that we should not run from it, but embrace the loss, and allow Jesus to walk us through it. The Bible says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Please note the word “through”, meaning we won’t be there forever, but we will experience it at some point. And during this pandemic I am sure we have experienced some form of grief or loss.
As the scriptures below illustrate for us, we will have seasons of both, joy and sadness. Brueggemann states, “Moaning and grieving and weeping have to do with relinquishment, about which we are always reluctant...The church is that body of disciples who have relinquished enough of that old world of death-that is, greed, violence, anxiety, exploitation-that we can watch and notice the coming of God’s new rule that is an Easter arrangement.”
Psalm 30:5 ESV
5 For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Ecclesiastes 3:4 ESV
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance
In order to relinquish the old to experience the new, Dr. Scazzero encourages us to remove some of our common defenses in this process such as, “denial, minimizing, blaming others, blaming yourself, rationalizing, intellectualizing, distracting, and becoming hostile.” He encourages us that the way forward is to, “pay attention to our feelings, wait in the confusing in between, embrace our limits, and let the old birth the new.” In this short devotional, time and space will not allow me to unpack each one, so I would encourage you to read his book to experience each one and find new hope and healing.
As we allow the old to birth the new, we will find new hope and real joy in Christ, in, through and beyond our challenges. This process of transformation is possible as the people of God come together to experience this new birth. Brueggemann proposes a very tantalizing option for us all to consider, to allow this to become a reality, in our lives, the life of the church, along with the watching world.
“What if the church becomes the venue for processing loss and acknowledging grief for a world that is gone. It is precisely such processing of grief that permits hope.”
The world that we once knew pre-COVID is gone, but out of the ashes we can and will rise, if we allow grief, not to consume us, but catapult us to the future God has for us in His kingdom through Christ.
Brueggemann prays, “Strengthen us to relinquish the old world. O God, that we might receive the gift of hope and joy on the other side of grief. Amen.”
Brueggemann, Walter. A Way Other Than Our Own: Devotions for Lent. Kentucky: Westminster John Know Press, 2017.
James, John w. And Friedman Russell. The Grief Recovery Handbook: The Action Program For Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses. New York: Harper Collins, 1998.
Scazzero, Peter. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash a Revolution In Your Life In Christ. Nashville: Integrity Publishing, 2006.