What does the Bible say about Christians experiencing grief and loss?

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Answered by: Becky, An Expert in the Christianity - General Category
Unfortunately for many in Christianity there is little sympathy for those suffering the pain of grief and loss. Augustine did Christianity no favors in misinterpreting Paul's writing in 1 Thessalonians 4:13. In Christian tradition there seems to be a silent rule that crying and grieving and being sad is somehow wrong. Traditional interpretations on this passage cause many Christians to feel guilty for their grief, and mistakenly assumes that there is no sadness in Christ because of resurrection.



Guilt complicates grief, and can cause frustrated believers to seek elsewhere for solace and guidance when in reality scripture gives the Christian brotherhood solid guidelines for dealing with grief and loss. It is important to note that Paul did not say, "do not grieve." What he said is, "do not grieve as those who have no hope." In a later verse he instructs his readers to comfort one another with the knowledge that the dead in Christ will be resurrected. Paul's readers were having difficulty coping with the sadness and distress of their losses. Paul's words were written to offer comfort, not to insinuate that Christians should not mourn the loss of loved ones. Contrast the idea that Christians should not grieve with what Jesus did in John 11.

His friend, Lazarus, had died. Before anything else happened, Jesus wept. Jesus certainly knew that Lazarus would come back to life, and yet He wept. The separation we experience when loved ones die is painful. It hurts. Romans 12:15 tells Christians to weep with those who weep. There is no assumption that accepting Christianity as a lifestyle exempts Christians from suffering. The opposite is true. Christianith acknowledges suffering, and provides a brotherhood for the sharing of the burdens associated with suffering. Those burdens may include poverty, illness, financieal difficulties, emotional distress, and the various forms of grief and loss that are part of each painful experience.



In all forms of suffering we see different kinds of loss associated with the experience of the sufferer. There may be loss of a home, a career, financial well-being, or relationships. Each loss that causes pain includes grief. However no grief is more painful or poignant than the grief we feel when someone we love dies. Note that Paul does not tell his readers that there is no pain, or that they will not suffer losses, or that they should not weep. Instead he acknowledges pain and loss and offers the resurrection as a way of comforting and encouraging those within the Christian brotherhood who are experiencing grief.

Often those in the throes of grief and loss have no words to express their pain. Paul offers comfort for this problem as well. In Romans 8:26 Paul writes that the Holy Spirit intercedes for the saints, interpreting what is in the heart into groans and sighs that only God can understand. The role of Christianity is not to proceed blindly as if no sadness is present, but rather to look at grief and loss head-on and offer a safe haven for grief within the arms of those who will not judge, but rather will feel the hurt and literally weep with the weeper when the immensity of pain causes words to fail.

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