Good Grief

“Good grief” is an expression of surprise, dismay, alarm or other emotion, usually negative. The term, a euphemism for “good God,” dates from the early 1900s. It appeared frequently in Charles M. Schulz’s comic strip, Peanuts, where various characters would use it in addressing the hapless hero, “Good Grief! Charlie Brown!” Do you ever have cause to apply it to the circumstances of your life? Do you ever experience surprise, dismay, alarm or other emotion, usually negative? The chorus resounds: “I do.” 

Grief isn’t good, but good can come out of it, though sometimes we are slow to recognize it.

The warning Jesus gave His disciples is applicable to each of us, “you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy.” I Thessalonians 4:13-14

Every time we wrestle with the events in the catalog of pain the Bible shows up and offers us hope, such as, “Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8: 18

We are all on the scale of suffering somewhere between life being free and easy, and suffering that seems unbearable. The latter is described in Scripture as groaning. However, this darkness is not going to end in despair, not even death. If you are a follower of Jesus, this groaning will end in God’s glory and your joy.

Grief is a form of pain, physical or emotional. Dr. Braun, director of the former leprosarium near Baton Rouge, was asked if he could give a person suffering from leprosy one gift, what would it be? He said he would give them the gift of pain. Not being sensitive to pain they might put their hand on a hot stove, and not feel the heat injure themself seriously. Pain, like all suffering, is a warning signal something is wrong.

Consider the form of pain: grief. The big three in terms of loss usually involve the death of a spouse, child, and/or close family member, becoming unemployed, and, finally, moving and/or the loss of a home. But there are many other major life changes that can cause grief, too—things like illness, disability, separation, divorce, abuse—all excellent candidates for triggering a grief response. That’s why how you handle grief is so important. 

Grief is love with no place to go. It is the final stage of love. As such it often awakens us to the need of God from which comes all comfort. You don’t have to suffer alone. The same Jesus who wept at the tomb of Lazarus wants to be your companion in time of grief. Overcoming grief takes time. Don’t try to ignore it. Internalizing it can be emotionally harmful. There is an old hymn with a line that offers comfort, “Take it to the Lord and leave it there.” Express it to Him.

Claim these promises.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (I Peter 5: 10)

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”