July 9, 2012

The Hermeneutics of Grief: Part 3

Sorry, folks, but I have to begin with a bit of a rant at some of those who would call themselves brethren.

Has John 13: 34,35 been removed from the Bible? Why does it seem to be doctrinal tenet for many Christians to spend so much time and energy telling other Christians that they're going to hell? If that's what they call "loving one another", then no wonder much of America wants nothing to do with church or Christ. We shoot our wounded in the street, then say to the passers-by, "Come on in, and getcha some of this 'love'!"

What precipitated this rant was a letter received by a minister and writer that I've recently come to know. He is also currently battling an aggressive form of brain cancer.

It's too easy for us to simply try and dismiss these modern day doom prophets as crackpots or haters without doing anything to expose their hypocrisy to the world. What in the world kind of person tells someone that is dying that they're going to hell, simply because they disagree with someone on points of doctrine? A person that doesn't understand the immense importance and worth of grief.

Grief is pure pain. Whether the loss is impending, or has already occurred, the pain of grief hits us all. How we deal with that pain radically shapes us as human beings. We tend to want to be stoic, and put on a good face to show our strength through this adversity, but what usually happens is that we simply avoid the depth of the grief process. Going about our business as usual, that scar hardens and leaves us insensitive in other areas of life and relationships. We might even wind up calloused enough to tell a dying Christian that he's going to hell.

Psychologists have written volumes on proper grieving and its benefits (and I'm convinced that psychologists are the only people that can come close to producing the amount of words theologians do.) But, Jesus spoke of grief as producing a blessing.

3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
A blessing of comfort. Lessons from Him on how to receive and give comfort. Properly healed wounds that let our sensitivity to others grow. The blessing of being in a position to gain and appreciate the other blessings of the Beatitudes.

Many people speak of the Beatitudes as ideals for which to strive, but I see them as how to gracefully accept and grow from the inevitable times that will occur in each of our lives. Enduring and growing through one opens our hearts to accept the others more easily when they come. Ignoring them, or trying to avoid the pain that comes with each of them gives us some strange ideas of what "love" really is. Avoiding these pains turns our hearts inward on themselves; embracing and accepting them turns our heart's views outwards. Instead of the points of the Beatitudes being an ideal to reach, they become realities in our hearts and lives.

We become fellow mourners with the Man of sorrows, deeply acquainted with grief.

And our love becomes more like His.

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