JR. Forasteros - October 29, 2017

Sitting with Grief

Good Grief

Grief is uncomfortable. In the face of tragedy, no words are sufficient to salve our pain. Yet in the face of others’ pain, we find ourselves offering platitudes and speaking for God so we can avoid their pain. But Lamentations 1 is a funeral dirge. We hear the woman’s honest, unflinching cries of pain and see the prophet join her, offering nothing but his presence. How can we learn to be honest about pain so we can begin the process of reorientation?

From Series: "Good Grief"

We avoid pain and grief as much as possible. When faced with someone else's grief, we avoid or offer platitudes. But the book of Lamentations invites us to sit with grief, to enter into the prophetic process of Lament. In this series, we'll explore how to grieve and how to be a friend to the grieving. Ultimately, we'll see how the process of lament invites us to be agents of healing in the larger world.

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More From "Good Grief"

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In the years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans, I went to the city to do relief work several times. It was during those trips I learned that what victims of disasters want most isn’t necessarily the relief work. Every trip went more-or-less the same:

A big group of us would show up and get to work. Maybe we were gutting a home so it could be cleansed of mold and rebuilt. Maybe we were cleaning up vacant lots to beautify a city block for the other residents. Mostly we were gutting homes – tearing out sheetrock and ripping up flooring. It was brutal, exhausting work, particularly in the New Orleans summers.

The residents would always be nearby, helping if they could or in their FEMA trailers making lemonade for us workers.

And inevitably, over the three or four days we were there, each of us would end up just sitting and talking with that resident. Despite the fact that we were on a schedule. Even though we were working hard to get their home finished.

What they needed most wasn’t a new home (though, obviously, that was important).

What they needed most wasn’t our strong backs and hard work. What they needed most, every time, was human interaction. They needed to tell their story, to be seen and heard, to know they’re not alone in their grief.

Again and again, what gave them hope was not the pounding hammers and loaded wheelbarrows, but a person sitting with them, being present with them.

What does it means to be WITH someone in times of grief? The final movement of Lament is hope, an anticipation that grief is not the final word.

That hope is grounded in our common faith in the God who promised never to leave or forsake us.

Join us Sunday as we see where the journey of Lament takes us!

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