A year or so ago I went to visit a friend who had just lost her son. I felt like I was to share two things with her. One was private, just for her ears. The other was “We all grieve differently. You can grieve any way you want so long as you don’t sin.”
I saw her a few months later. She told me – with a grin – that I’d ruined grief for her. Everything she wanted to do was sin – yell at her husband, throw things, isolate, stop caring for her other children. We both laughed. I completely understood.
Then she thanked me. She said many times she’d stopped to think about how she was grieving. She had asked herself, “Am I choosing sin? Or am I glorifying God?” It was not always easy to do the next right thing, but she had tried to do just that. And in the choosing, she had begun to experience healing.
No, we do not choose this journey; no one would choose to experience the death of their child or other loved one. No one would choose cancer. No one would choose to lose a parent to Alzheimer’s. We don’t choose our trial, but we can choose how we will act while going through it.
We can choose to practice sin, to be slaves to sin. Or we can choose to behave in ways that glorify God and bring healing to ourselves and those around us. We can choose to rejoice in our suffering, knowing that suffering will bring about a hope that does not fail.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”