grief observed


I’ve borrowed this title from C.S. Lewis and his book A Grief Observed, but I have left off the “a”. In his book, Lewis relays the story of a specific grief, a specific loss. I want to speak in a bit more general terms about season changes, loss, grief, lament, and sorrow.

I mentioned in my previous post that this has been a time of hopelessness for me. I shared how the Father, through His hesed love, has pulled me to hope. Recently, I read about Satan’s use of despair in our lives. It has given me a lot of pause and pondering. In speaking about the life of Job:

“Could it be that Satan, having seen that death and disease would not be enough to force Job to let go of God, sent Job’s “friends” armed with an even more insidious weapon to attack him? Despair?”

The author I was reading, Michael Card, challenged me to grieve and lament as a remedy for despair.

I hope to share a bit of how learning to lament has been deepening my appreciation for God’s faithfulness, calling me towards hope, and working itself out in thankfulness. A tall order for a couple pages of text!

Years ago, Beth Moore taught me (she’s been such a discipler to me through her books) that (my paraphrase)

“season changes come often without warning into our lives and they always bring a sense of loss, of sorrow, or grieving.”

And that this is legitimate and necessary in our lives. Even season changes that can seem small, like your child entering full-day kindergarten, your supervisor changing, or turning 40, bring a sense of loss that is healthy to recognize.

Tacked onto Beth’s advice, I would often add “God brings good things into every season,”

In fact, when my husband and I moved from the house we had lived in for fifteen years to our current home, I told myself that twice a day. “God brings good things in every season.”

Press repeat.

Press repeat.

But sometimes that’s hard to swallow. Sometimes I am angry at the season change that snuck up on me and I resent giving thanks.

So often, we move quickly past the hard, crying and confusing times because they are, well, just hard and confusing. Crying makes us feel vulnerable and exhausted. By the time we are ___(insert your age), we feel like we should not be so stinking confused!

But I have found that if I quietly sit in the hard place even for a moment, it gives the Holy Spirit time to sneak in. My vulnerable feelings, when turned towards Him, open my heart to His presence in new ways. I feel His arms around me differently and strongly.

He is so patient with me, so tender.

And then He draws me to thanks. Sometimes it’s actually like He pulls me to thanks—I am not going willingly! If I am willing to sit with Him long enough, He reminds me that He is faithful and the only true healer, that He instills hope, and that His character and ways should move me to thankfulness.

But this only happens as I observe the season change, as I observe the grief, and as I observe the angry feelings. Left unobserved, these feelings either pass away or get stuffed down for later, but they become largely useless. If I can observe my feelings, they can be harnessed for good in my life.

Think of it this way: Have you ever gotten really angry and couldn’t understand where it came from, wondering how such strong rage could be inside of you? What if you stopped in that moment and looked inside?

Several months ago, a friend helped me walk through some feelings that were nagging me. I was amazed at what that quiet reflection produced. Even more amazing is what what the Lord has done as a result of my continued sitting with Him. After all, He’s not surprised at my feelings, He created them and He sees them.

So lament, eh?

David does it so well in the Psalms. Job . . . man, what integrity he laments with. Jeremiah.

All such amazing examples of how God is not only not afraid of our big emotions, but that He actually wants them expressed towards Him. He is enough to see all of me.

So my challenge to you is to allow the Holy Spirit to move you to sorrow and for you to observe well the grief that you feel. Our world teems with sadness.

  • I often write about how LGBTQ people feel hurt and shut out of the local church. This moves me to lament.

  • I recently did a book discussion on a book called Church Forsaken about how the church has abdicated its responsibility in local neighborhoods.

  • I talked to a friend the other day about the lingering effects of her childhood abuse.

  • Another friend has a brother that has shut her out of his life.

  • A student I hang out with at a local high school just told me that he feels “invisible” to his friends.

  • I’ve written recently a whole page of prayer requests that involve something life-threatening: cancer, brain lesions, heart rhythm malfunctions.

There is so much to lament in and around us. I’ve seen the Father pull me to stillness so that I can begin to sorrow.

But as the tears dry up and I sit tired and quiet, He also pulls me to be thankful and write my own psalms of praise. To look for Him amidst hard situations. To see with His lenses, eyes wide open to the world around me and pointed upwards to the only one who can heal the pain.

Susan Titus