Good Grief

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
    but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
    but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
    Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
    there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
    you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.
Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
    Why are you silent while the wicked
    swallow up those more righteous than themselves?

  • Habakkuk 1:2-3, 13

My spirit is broken,
    my days are cut short,
    the grave awaits me.
Surely mockers surround me;
    my eyes must dwell on their hostility.

  • Job 17:1-2

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

  • 1 Corinthians 10:11-13

The past couple of weeks have been some of the toughest of my life. My emotions have spanned the spectrum; shock, sorrow, horror, intense anger, betrayal, disillusionment, disappointment, and utter bewilderment. I have prayed—without much benefit. I have read the Scriptures from the Psalms and Proverbs to the words of Jesus and various sections of the letters from Paul, Peter, James—without much peace.
“When something terrible happens that you can’t understand, grief wraps its tentacles around you, squeezing and sucking every little bit of energy and joy you may have been holding in reserve. In the most unexpected moments, tears well up within me. Can’t seem to shake it—this deep grief.”

  • Charles R. Swindoll, The Finishing Touch

Do not worry, at the time this was written, we had no deaths in the family or unresolved serious illnesses or other things we might lament.  Maybe by the time this is posted, but not while writing.

If I have grief in any way right now, it is for others.  My wife went grocery shopping and because my back had been in spasms, she did the shopping while I waited impatiently in the SUV.  I saw a few people going to and from handicap parking spaces.  The first old lady had knuckles that were the size of golf balls, permanently curled as claws.  It was probably rheumatoid arthritis, and she had to have been in pain.

When I had finished my prayers for her, I looked up and another lady had parked in the spot where the first lady had left.  She looked like I feel much of the time.  I try to stand erect and limp.  This lady was hunched over, barely placing one foot in front of the other.  She slowly made it to the pushcarts, and she pushed the cart into the grocery store.  Even with the pain, she was determined to shop on her own power.  I wondered if my wife had gotten an electric cart or a pushcart.

Quite some time later, my wife came out, having pushed a cart through the store.  Along with her was a young family.  They climbed into the SUV next to ours with a little toddler.  I wondered if they had faked a handicap to get a handicap tag, but my wife said that there are a number of injuries that are not evident by a casual glance.

Sometimes, the things that bring us to a moment of grief have nothing to do with the loss of a loved one.  There is so much pain in this life.  Some of that pain is self-inflicted.  Rev. Swindoll suggested reading the Scripture from 1 Corinthians and he quoted the other two Scriptures above.

We can be tempted and cause our own grief by not resisting that temptation with the tools and abilities God gives us.  I have often wondered if I should get one of those “I’m with stupid” T-shirts and then stand in the corner, all alone.

But then we are the victims of treachery in our midst.  Treachery faces us all.  Again, the T-shirt is apropos when we get suckered at times.  At other times, I have walked away saying, “You know, your technique had a new wrinkle.  It almost tricked me.”  I am thinking that some of these tricksters think that what they do is simply the way business is done, rather than the fact that they cheat people.

But what is worse comes from Job 17.  Sometimes, our good Christian friends mock us saying that if we are faithful to God, He treats us better than we are being treated.  Job had three friends, then a fourth, chide him for having sin in his life.

But can we be like Charlie Brown, and honestly speak of “Good grief?”

By the way, the photo is of a pair of socks that I got several months ago.  I have yet to wear them, although the Snoopy and Woodstock socks have been worn many times.  My Christmas socks were both featuring Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick.  Hey, my style may not be your style, but it is a style.  Please, do not mock.

No, why was Rev. Swindoll’s grief good grief?  How did he respond?  He read the Psalms.  He read the Proverbs, the teachings of Jesus, and the letters written by Paul, Peter, and James.

Whether our grief is of our own doing or circumstances overwhelm us, when our grief causes us to turn to God and get closer to Him, we have the right to call that “Good Grief.”

Thank you, Charlie Brown, and the writer and cartoonist Charles Schultz.

God, we turn to You, because things do not make sense just now.  And maybe that is just why You let them happen.  Thank You.  Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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