Let’s be clear. There is no glory in prolonged grief. There is no reward for the one who grieves the hardest or longest. Even when you are grieving over your own sin there is no crown for skipping the dance and remaining in your mourning clothes.
Jesus is well acquainted with grief and is a sweet comfort in our time of mourning. But grief can also be a powerful tool in the enemy’s hands. With it he can shroud me in shame, weigh me down with remorse, stop me dead in my tracks, fuel my fury and keep my feet from dancing.
Worse yet, prolonged grief keeps me from truly and wholeheartedly worshiping my God. Yes, my grief can become an idol that keeps me bowed down in homage to my pain.
So David arose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he came into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he came to his own house, and when he requested, they set food before him and he ate. (2 Samuel 12:20)
In my own time of heartache, there came a day when I had to determine that I was through with mourning and ready for healing. I had to lift my head and seek my Healer rather than focus on the throbbing of my broken heart. It was a choice.
I would soon discover that there was more grief ahead for me, but it was of a different nature. When I stopped reeling from my wounds (and stopped licking them in self-pity), I discovered that much of my pain had been caused by my own sin. I discovered I had allowed my heart to wrap tightly around a gift God had given me, to the point that I was no longer standing in the freedom Christ had purchased for me. But Christ, my bondage-breaker, had stubbornly refused to allow me to remain chained, so He had charged in to save me from my bondage…and my heart had been broken in the rescue…needfully so. He never wastes our pain.
My heart broke again, but this time for my own sin.
But here’s what I found in my brokenness: In our repentance God wipes away our sins and bring seasons of refreshing (Acts 3:19). This is where the healing begins.
Your own healing could hinge on your repentance. Have you
- grown bitter toward someone who hurt you
- shaken your fist at God with contempt
- questioned His goodness
- denied His faithfulness
- withheld your worship and obedience in resentment
- refused to count your blessings
- decided to take matters into your own hands
- stubbornly clung to that which has been taken
- demanded that God “fix this” or else?
If, even in your grief, you have sinned against God, you will find that healing begins with repentance.
In 2 Samuel 12, David is mourning the impending loss of his precious son, the one he fathered with Bathsheba. But he’s also most assuredly mourning his sins of adultery, murder and lying that precipitated his son’s death. And he’s not just grieving over his sin because he got caught or because his son will now die. David’s heart-song in Psalm 51, written during the same time frame, reveals that he was indeed mourning most passionately over his own sin against a holy and loving God.
David prayed fervently for forgiveness and restoration with God. But he also begged God for his child’s life. He fasted and lay all night on the ground.
Then God answered David’s prayers. He took David’s son as originally planned, but He granted David forgiveness.
The way I see it David had a choice to make at that point. He could stay on the ground in anger or deep sadness or throbbing hurt or confusion. Or he could get up and acknowledge God’s gift of grace by worshiping Him.
David got up and worshiped God. He bowed to God’s sovereign reply to his fervent prayers. He said “yes” to God’s no and yes alike.
David also went through the motions, because quite honestly, sometimes that’s all we can do. He got up and he washed. He dressed and he got decent. He hightailed it over to the house of God. Then he came back home and ate. He did the necessary things. He put one foot in front of another. Because all of that, sweet sister, is part of saying “yes” to God and letting the healing begin, too.
If you’ve been hurt and you’re reading this post hoping for some encouragement, I do so hope you’ve found some…even in these stern words of hard truth. I concede that you may not yet be at a point where you can “get up.” I’ve been there. But please know that there must come a day when you can choose to trust God enough to “get up,” put one foot in front of another and, most importantly, worship your good and gracious God with all you’ve got. That’s where the healing begins.
This devotional is part of a series called Healing Words. If you’d like to read other words that bring healing to your wounded heart, click on the image below.
If your heart has been wounded and you are struggling to find healing, I’d like to suggest you try my Bible study, Joseph – Keeping a Soft Heart in a Hard Place. You’ll find more information here.