A week or so ago, Ron & I spoke to a group of grieving parents about Hope during the Holidays.
I won’t go into the whole message, but here is the gist of it:
Serve others. Yes, in your pain and grief, serve others.
We have HOPE in CHRIST JESUS and as a result, we should share that hope with others. We should serve others and love them as Christ loves us, even as we grieve.
In our grief, it is easy to turn inward, to think only of our pain and our loss. We are hurting. And it is hard to think of others when we are hurting.
Yet, when I look back at my early days of grief, it was other grieving people and recovering people who reached out to me the most. Other parents who had experienced the death of their child. A widow. Folks who had lost parents or siblings. People who were struggling financially. Folks who had lost everything and were on the road to recovery. These people knew pain. And they knew healing and recovery. They knew how others had helped them along the way. They shared their experience, hope, and strength with me. They served me when I was unable to function.
And in time, I was able to help others with the same kind of help given me.
So, may I ask, are you…are we serving others in our grief or only looking out for our own interests and pain?
In our grief, are we taking care of only ourselves and asking others to change their behavior on our behave? Are we expecting others to make allowances for our grief all the while ignoring the fact that many of them are hurting due to their own grief or the cares of this world? Are we buying in to the “me first’ attitude of our culture? Are we allowing grief to define our relationships with others?
Many lists of What Grieving People Want You To Know or New Year’s Resolutions for Grieving People read more like a list of “What I Want You to Do for Me.”
Yes, some lists are helpful for those around us; the lists help others understand what we are going through. I’ve written such a list myself and it helped thousands. It was written because people asked how they can help.
It’s okay to express your needs. Early in grief we are often unable to help anyone else.
But there comes a point when we must get outside of our own heads, our own pain, our own grief and start reaching out to help and serve others.
I think Jesus understood this.
Do you realize that He knew exactly what was coming in the end? From the first moment of His ministry, He knew he was going to be betrayed, beaten, and scorned. He came to earth knowing that He, who knew no sin, would become sin that we might become the righteousness of God! When he healed the sick, He knew how he would die. When He loved the unlovable, He understood that He would be the spotless Lamb slaughtered for their sin. In all His ministry, He loved and served others, knowing what was coming.
Maybe this is why God put verses 3 & 4 of the passage below after the reminder that if we have received any comfort from his love, we are to do the same for others. We are not to be selfish or vain in our grief. We are to have the same mindset as that of Christ Jesus who sacrificed everything for us.
So, my friends, rather than coming up with a list of how others around you must treat you in special ways because of your grief, can you think of ways you can treat those around you in a special way? Can you think of ways you can make this Christmas joyful for your family, despite you common loss? Can you serve others as Christ served you? Can you love your family and those less fortunate as you celebrate the birth of our Savior?
Can you do the hard stuff knowing that you have life in Christ? Can you set aside your desires and in humility value others above yourself?
1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.