“You just don’t understand what I’m feeling.”
This pain-filled response often accompanies times of grief. When our souls ache over loss and we don’t know how we’ll ever lift our eyes in joy again. Our friends impart encouraging words, and while we know they mean well, most words don’t help. At least not to the extent of taking away the pain.
While we desire our grieving to end quickly, the fact is, grieving is a part of living. It’s healthy. It’s cleansing. And while grieving is not fun, we can even remain joyful in the midst of our grief.
The meaning of joy
We’ve all heard how we need to go through the stages of grief in order to have a healthy outcome. But do any of those stages matter if we aren’t keeping our eyes on Jesus during this season of hurting?
There are countless Bible verses that talk about joy and contentment through all situations. But you might read those verses and think, “I just don’t get it. How can I possibly remain joyful and happy while I’m grieving?”
By realizing joy in all things does not mean you’ll always have the emotional response that brings laughter or smiles or happiness for your situation. You will certainly not always have the emotion of joy. But pursuing joy in all things means delighting in the Lord in all things.
When we delight in the Lord, we remember the hope we cling to in the Name of Jesus. We remember that one day our joy will be complete. And we remember that the joy we hope in now is but a taste of what we will experience in Christ. So we remain joyful despite our sorrows.
Following the example
The abstract articles and sermons are all well and good, but do you ever get frustrated trying to live out this joy? How do we put into practice the idea of finding hope in God and delighting in Him?
Thankfully, we have the perfect example to look to when we find ourselves overwhelmed with grief. Our God took on not only human flesh, but human emotions. And He did it all without sinning. Looking to Jesus should be our first step when learning how to remain joyful.
Jesus went to be alone
There’s no question that Jesus grieved during His time on earth. He grieved over the hardness of hearts He saw among the people. He grieved over His approaching death. And He grieved over the loss of loved ones.
One of the most consistent ways Jesus delighted in the Father during His times of grieving was through prayer. Prayer and taking time alone with God.
How simple yet powerful is this example! If our joy comes from God, it only makes sense to take time alone with Him. If we ask in earnest for God to renew our hope and strength, joy will quickly follow. Maybe not the joy that means laughter and a light spirit, but the joy that settles deep within our souls, reminding us to embrace our sorrow and embrace the One who will carry us through it all.
Jesus ministered to others
Jesus’ example of grief doesn’t end with Him going off to be alone. He starts His times of grief by going to His Father first, but He doesn’t shut out others or stop His routine.
When He heard His cousin, John the Baptist, had been murdered, Jesus withdrew to be alone. But the crowds found out His location and came to Him nonetheless. And Jesus ministered to them. In the midst of His grief and desire to be alone, He had compassion on the people.
May we follow this example and not bury ourselves in our grief. May we still have eyes to see the needs around us and the opportunities to help others. May we also lean on others for support during our times of grief.
Thinking we can get through periods of grief on our own will cause frustration for our loved ones and loneliness in our hearts. Let’s not play the victim. Let’s not give into self-pity. We can remain joyful while grieving by ministering to others and using our own stories to encourage and uplift those in need.
Jesus trusted the Father
Imagine if Jesus had knelt to pray in the garden and said, “Father, this isn’t fair. Do you understand what I’m going through here? This shouldn’t happen, and I don’t know if I trust You anymore.”
It’s laughable to even entertain the idea that Jesus would talk to God the Father this way. Yet we talk or pray like that quite often when grieving.
Jesus’ example of trusting His Father in all circumstances, even when death was staring Him in the face, should spark our desire to do the same. What better way to delight in God than by trusting Him?
While Jesus did ask God to “take this cup” from Him, He submitted to the Father’s will. He had joy and delighted in God. This certainly wasn’t a laughter-filled joy or even a joy bringing excitement. It was a joy that filled Jesus with the hope of His resurrection. The hope of the glory that was to come.
As we search for ways to remain joyful in the midst of our grief, may we look to the perfect example of Jesus. Our Holy God understands exactly what we’re feeling. He has felt it all. Loss. Rejection. Pain. Abandonment. Yes, He has felt it all. And He did not sin.
Let this be an encouragement to you today as you seek joy, whatever your situation. May you remember joy isn’t necessarily a feeling of happiness about your situation, but rather a delight and hope in God.
Let’s Talk About It: How do you remain joyful in the midst of grief?