Bible Study Opportunities
By Jon W. Quinn
It does not stop when one becomes a Christian. One might think that God would show His pleasure when one of His creatures come to Him in faith by blessing him or her with a life without grief. So why doesn't He?
God desires good for us. Because we live in a fallen world, and because there are things we need to learn, and because we are not perfect, and because we are prone to forget; because of all these things we are permitted to experience grief temporarily. Paul wrote: “knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:14-18).
There are good things coming. Grief will one day pass, but for now, it still has its good work to do.
Grief and Hope
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:18-20).
We live in a fallen world, but we are not without hope. For every tear a child of God sheds there is an echo of hope. Our day is coming!
Grief and Redemption
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28).
It did not look as if things had gone well. Nails had been driven into His hands and feet. He groaned and cried out. He called upon God. He felt forsaken. He breathed His last. The spear had torn a hole into His flesh. He had been taken down and buried in a tomb. There was deep grief and confusion among His friends.
Paul is referring to these things when he wrote of “all things working together for good to those who love God.” He was talking of the things God had done to save us. Some of those things included His Son dying on the cross. The prophet Isaiah has prophesied these things. “He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:3,4). Without grief, there would be no redemption. Without grief, we could not become like Christ (Romans 8:29-30; 1 Peter 2:19-25).
Grief and Testimony
Satan had accused Job of serving God only for the rewards and blessings of God. “And the Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.' Then Satan answered the Lord, 'Does Job fear God for nothing? Hast Thou not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.'” (Job 1:8-10).
Perhaps it is in how we deal with grief and trials that we have the opportunity to let our lights shine the brightest. A light shining on a dark day is more noticeable than a light shining on a sunny day. Do we maintain our faith and confidence during evil days?
Does not God deserve our devotion regardless of present circumstances, whether good or bad... happiness or grief? Or does He only deserve our loyalty when we prosper? Peter wrote: “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:11,12).
When grief comes your way, you have an opportunity to show the unbeliever what your faith is made of. Show them it is strong. It may be that your strength during dark times will break through their doubts and unbelief and start the seed of faith to grow in their hearts.
Grief and Learning
“It is better to go to a house of mourning Than to go to a house of feasting, Because that is the end of every man, And the living takes it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, For when a face is sad a heart may be happy. The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning, While the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure.” (Ecclesiastes 7:2-4).
Most of us would rather go to a house of feasting than to a house of mourning. But, truth be told, we often learn more and profit more in times of mourning. When we lose a loved one, we may think of how we had taken them for granted and wish we had spent more time with them. We may resolve to build our relationships with others. We may look at our own mortality and the need to grow spiritually. We may be motivated to draw closer to God. Many times, these and other valuable insights are gained not in the house of feasting, but in the house of mourning.
And, this is the point. “Good grief.” Sometimes it is good. If it gets us closer to God and heaven, then it is quite good, isn't it?
Reprinted From the Bradley Banner Bradley Church of Christ Bradley, Illinois June 6, 2000