She sat solemnly with no expression. He wailed loudly. He was a local; she wasn’t. But there was no comfort for either.
Marital problems and alcohol haunted their relationship. She headed to her home state for the weekend, leaving him alone. The accident happened on the return trip. A deer? Too much to drink? Perhaps no one will ever know, but the collision took their child’s life. Now they sat at the funeral-her in shock, him crushed and me wondering what I could say to soothe their pain.
The mom eventually went to jail and I never heard from her again. The dad began coming to church, rededicated his life to God and was serving him and the church faithfully when I left the area. A horrible event with polar responses to tragedy and its accompanying grief.
Solomon proposes grief has redeeming effects: Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. (Ecclesiastes 7:3)
I’ve never been a fan of grief or the circumstances preceding it. After all, who grieves when there’s nothing to grieve over? So I attempt to avoid grief creating circumstances. But my best efforts fail. Making wise decisions, planning for the future, being a good community example and parent, obeying my boss, loving my wife, tending to my health and caring for aging parents cannot prevent tragedies or change other’s actions. And when these impact my life negatively, grief follows.
But grief correctly processed contains potential for gain. Healthy grief accepts the reality of adversity and tragedy. The world’s not perfect nor anyone in it. Life can be made brief by bad decisions, criminal actions, and a decrepit world, but redeeming grief will refine character. What doesn’t destroy us makes us stronger. I know; I watched it mold a dad into more than he ever was or imagined he would be.
When grief strikes, let God bring you gain from it instead of loss.
Prayer: Merciful Lord, in times of grief, when we are tempted to give up on You and ourselves, rekindle our faith in grief’s redeeming power.
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