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The New Character of Grief

Aug 17, 2007
When Lorelle and I first wrote this grief devotional, Mourning Glory, the world of grief, as well as the world at large, seemed much smaller. We had not been through 9/11, the war in Iraq or Afghanistan the tsunami in Asia or Hurricane Katrina. Mourning was that small, black blob within us, the ashes in the fireplace, the personal despair, the internal hopelessness about our own lives. Indeed grief is always that, but now it has metamorphosed, mutated like bird flu to a dense, viscous, bloody-colored, smelly fog which overhangs the world with its impermeability to light and love. I am tempted to say that it has become a grief without comfort, a dark with only shapes and shadows, Plato's phantoms and shadows on the wall, and sometimes an iniquitous night of both unrelieved terror and mourning.

For the family of a dead soldier; or an Afghan or Iraqi or their children slain by the forces of evil; for the people who have lost their homes, all their money and possessions in Katrina or Rita, the idea of a good, righteous and loving God must be nearly impossible to comprehend much less to embrace. There is sorrow, so deep that many, as I do, must ask,
"Why, Lord, why?"

I don't know the answer to this. I have heard that we are in the last days, and I can buy that; I have heard that God's judgment and righteousness is abroad in all the lands, and I can buy that; I have heard that mankind's spiritually diseased condition must be
addressed, and I can buy that; I have heard that God will not abridge man's free will, whether suicidal or homicidal binge by individuals or nations, and I can buy that; I have heard that Satan is raging because his time is short, and that our Lord Jesus' time is at hand, and I can certainly buy that. I can accept at least part of all these construals.

What I cannot accept and never will is that death and destruction, a culture of hate, lovelessness and lawlessness are not only the Godly outcome but the ultimate spiritual purpose of our triune God. It flies in the face, like a bat out of hell, of every aspect, of every attribute, of every fiber of the being and character of my God, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We know that an all-powerful, God, a God who is the alpha and omega of the universe, who is the creator and creator of the destroyer did one of two things. He either orchestrated every disaster from 9/11 to Katrina, or he permitted the calamitous, catastrophic event to occur. Those are the only two choices as I see it. Or is there a third option?

Is there a way of seeing the world's disasters which indeed begins to comprehend a God who is love and who wants to share his kingdom, heavenly and earthly, with his beloved, all of mankind? If I look to God's Holy Word, the Bible, and to the Garden of Eden, I see an idyllic existence where man walked and talked in complete and joyous intimacy with God, where our destiny with our king was sealed in an ideal of spiritual excellence, perfection and beauty with never a pin prick of pain to trouble our utopia. Ok, how long did this idyllic romp last? Well maybe two, three weeks tops, and then there's the rest of the
Bible. When Adam and Eve were ousted from Eden, that was the end, the living end, the dead end, the rest of the road around Eden barred with the usual signs,- "no entrance," "forbidden," "all mankind stay out forever or until further notice."

So for 40 books of the Old Testament and 28 of the new we get life as we know it, in all its messy, nasty, sullied, blood-stained agonizing truth; that life is difficult and sometimes nigh to impossible; that Adam and Eve's ejection from the Garden was not the spiritual death of mankind, it was the beginning of a struggle so real it pales most so called realistic novels. A cursory review of the plot reveals blood and guts, sex and violence, death and
devastation stories to rival any of a Clive Cussler page turner. We have murder, Cain and Abel; Flood, Noah and the Ark; cities wiped out, Sodom and Gomorrah; the killing of children and entire civil populations, Jericho; exile to the Wilderness and Babylon; Herod's killing of two year olds when Jesus was that age; the oppressive occupation of Israel by the Romans; and the excruciating death of our Lord and Savior, Jesus.

So we are back to the question, "Why, Lord, why?" Can we actually become closer to God after our eviction from Eden? Can we be molded into people who not only survive but spiritually surmount, conquer and prevail whatever our earthly circumstances? So many Biblical examples exist. Out of the dread wilderness journey a stuttering murderer and a wayward nation transformed into Moses, the leader and prophet, and a nation who taught us the meaning and depth of worship; from a young upstart in the wilderness and a jaded harlot
of Jericho came Joshua, a seasoned general and man of God and Rahab, the alien whore transformed into a woman of God; out of the exile to Babylon came Daniel, the prophet, and Nehemiah, the leader returned from exile, who rebuilt the city of Jerusalem and restored the worship of God; last and foremost our God, our Logos, Jesus, without whose atoning and excruciating death we, all of humanity, would have no hope at all of reconciliation with
God, the Father.

I am not saying let us welcome death and destruction whether by man or natural disaster. I am not saying that we should not mourn. But the very hostile truth is that life is demanding and often unsparing, at best, and frequently unbearable at worst. God may not test us beyond our limits, but we are certainly sometimes at the edge of the abyss hanging on by our fingernails. So what is the comfort for our mourning here in the Zion of our hearts? For an answer I came across, not a joyful passage, but a meaningful one for the circumstances. It is contended that Solomon, in his debauched and extreme eld, penned the pessimism of Ecclesiastes. Perhaps that's why he could say something about mourning that resonates with me as a closing commentary, and I hope with you.

It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure. It is better to heed a wise man's rebuke than to listen to the song of fools. Like the crackling of thorns under the pot, so is the laughter of fools. This too is meaningless.
Ecclesiastes 7:2thru6 NIV
About the Author
Diana Burg is an author with several books. She writes novels, short stories, plays, screenplays and poetry. Her passion is writing.

Mourning Glory - A Devotional for Grieving is a book for those struggling through a loss and looking for support and comfort. http://www.amourningdevotional.com
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