Acquaintance with Grief

There is so much grief running through our souls these days. Although it is sometimes individual and personal to our lives and circumstances, grief is also collective. In her book, Daring Greatly, Brene Brown finds in her research that “the past decade has been traumatic for so many people that it’s made changes in our culture.” To name a few, she reminds us of 9/11, multiple wars, recession, unemployment, catastrophic natural disasters, increase in random violence and school shootings. Brown explains that “we’ve survived and are surviving events that have torn at our sense of safety with such force that we’ve experienced them as trauma even if we weren’t directly involved.” When I read and thought about her research and conclusions, I felt it. It’s a fine-lined, but burdensome grief, that comes and goes, but shapes and impacts our person, impacts our soul.

Like personal pain or grief, you usually don’t see collective grief coming. You pick it up on the morning news, it gets passed to you over phone conversations. And then it stays with you as you think about trauma in relation to your own life. The pain catches you as you consciously drop off your kids to school, where we all have learned that there could be a shooting. The heavy catches you when you watch a family come out of an underground shelter to see that their home was shredded by a tornado. I worry about steady income. I worry about violence. Collective grief becomes pretty personal.

I came across Isaiah 53 this week where the prophet is describing Jesus to us. “A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Isaiah 53:3. I have thought so much about all the good Jesus did in His life. Healing and saving and making new. But you can only heal someone who is broken. You can only save someone who is lost and make new what is worn out. I think about the great need of people that Jesus encountered. I think about all the stories, trauma and pain He took in through His encounters. And, since He is God and at that time, man too, it is hard for me to imagine how His soul knew the real truth of a person’s pain and hurting (multiplied by humanity) . . . and He went on without breaking.

The bible says that “He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” Isaiah 53:4. I can’t tell you that I am speechless, but my heart is silent at the thought of what He carried. “And by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5. He has to take our grief for us to be healed. I don’t know exactly how you give pain away to Him. I don’t know why the act of giving grief away is awkward for the human heart. But I see that He suffered to heal us. I see that He has already completed something that feels like a stretch for us. If my heart can’t see, my mind is able to reason that it only makes sense to let go of the grief to the One who has already bore it.

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