Western Theological Seminary

Joy Comes in the Mourning

Grief often enters our lives in painful ways.  And it seems that during the holidays, although touted as being the “most, wonderful time of the year,” although all images suggest that glitter and joy abound, the reality is that sadness often lives close to our hearts and dims the joy we feel.  The sadness sometime gets drowned out by LED lights and jingly music, but  it is still there.

I participated in a conference which was led by Jako Hamman, PhD*  from Western Theological Seminary who spoke on the subject of grief. Eloquently.  Sensitively.

He spoke, not only on the grief of the death of a loved one, but of other griefs we all share – sometimes on a daily basis – griefs which affect us on our journey in small and gargantuan ways.

Sometimes it’s the loss of things – either money, investments, a trinket to which we have some emotional attachment, down-sizing, a wedding ring, a favorite chair which gets tossed in the remodeling…whatever. 

Sometimes it’s the loss of a significant relationship  -  a misunderstanding, a thoughtless comment, a hurtful act which changes everything between two people - break-ups in business, families, marriages, friendships.

Sometimes it’s the loss of a dream – perhaps one you’ve had since childhood – that either never materialized or has been dashed to small bits.

Losses can be gut-wrenching when we realize we’re not quite as healthy as we once were.   We just can’t do what we once could.  Or we’re not as relevant as we’ve been in the past.  The phone doesn’t ring anymore with someone asking for our input.  Someone new is at the hub of all the activity and we are relegated to the sidelines – marginalized.

Losses hurt.  We grieve. And we grieve again. And we grieve some more.

Grief is a normal response to loss and change.

But somehow, it seems that our natural inclination is to not move toward our grief.  Who wants to go to the place our heart hurts the worst. The idea of running to grief is counter-intuitive.  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather avoid grief.  Because grief just plain hurts!

Somewhere along the journey, through the grace of God, someone may come along and help us walk straight into our grief.  Someone may listen and assist us in lamenting our loss.  Someone may help us mourn. Really mourn.  Because mourning – acknowledging the loss – admitting to the despair – accepting that the way it was will never be again – can lead to a glimmer of hope. Someone may say just the right word.  Someone may share a Scripture that speaks directly to us.  Someone may say nothing, just be there.  And little by little, a light can break in at the end of a very long tunnel with, as we take one small step after another, a new, albeit different, possibility.

And maybe, just maybe, joy may come in the mourning.

Love, Ruth

Ruth Vander Zee
Journey of Faith

*author of When Steeples Cry




Ruth Vander Zee

Ruth Vander Zee
On our journey, I believe Jesus desires us to be our authentic, child-of-God selves.

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