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July 25, 2012

Grief is a human emotion that all of us can experience at one time or another. It is an intense feeling, usually of loss of a loved one – a parent, a child, a friend. It can also result from a misfortune or injury. It is very personal. The word grief comes from the Latin word gravis, meaning “weighty.” Grief is indeed weighty. It can weigh us down. It creates a sadness, and can even cause depression. It hurts. And for some people, it can last a long time. We probably never “get over” our grief, although in time, the intensity of it can diminish as we “move on” with our lives.

Grief is part of being human. Since it is caused by the loss of a relationship, the most effective solace probably comes from other relationships, from friends and family especially. And since grief is closely related to memories, new relationships and new experiences that create new memories can often help to assuage the hurt. We proceed to live with loss, with grief. It is a human experience.

This raises a question. Does God feel grief? Does God grieve? Does God feel sadness?

In spite of God’s transcendence – his total “otherness” – we are compelled to describe God in human terms, to give him human attributes. The early Bible stories tell of his walking and talking to humans. We hear of his anger, of his jealousy. We describe his actions as being from the hand of God. We even tend to picture him as Charleton Heston! Later stories tell of God’s love for us. He is to be thought of as a father. Can we also describe God as grieving?

A grieving God! Are we just giving him another human attribute? Or is it not the other way around! Grief is an attribute of God that he has also implanted into us. There is evidence that animals also show grief. It is a part of the relationships that are a part of life itself. As living creatures we are bound up in relationships to others, and it is in relationships that we can see and feel and understand God. For God’s relationship to us is all tied up in our relationships with those around us. And when any relationship is broken, there is grief. Even our relationship with God is too easily broken by our own thoughts and actions. So God too must be grieving at all broken relationships. My own grief must pale against the grief that God feels.

When a child dies, we still hear the expression, “It was God’s will!” Nonsense! God’s natural laws are at work, but God doesn’t “will” that child to die. God grieves along with me. I am not alone in my grief. That makes all the difference to me as I deal with my grief. God shares my grief!

Grief comes because of relationships, and love is the ultimate expression of relationship. Grief, then, is a companion to love. They go together. Without love, there would be no grief. It is only through grief, therefore, that we can fully understand love. And by recognizing God’s grief, we can also begin to understand the amazing mystery of God’s love.

Loren Bullock
December 19, 2003

From → Beliefs

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