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Spiritual Formation

What is God like in our grief?

The “G” word. Who’s uncomfortable?

I’ll say it again… GRIEF.

[This is the best graphic I could find to describe my experience of grief.]

Remembering experiences of grief…

Using the words of the psalmist as a guide, we can remember our grieving, and see how God has met us in our grief.

Get your tissues ready: this may be a difficult, but beautiful, ride.

Psalm 30

1 I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me.

When have you experienced the hurt of others laughing at your expense?

2 O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.

When have you cried out to God for help? How did the LORD respond to you? When have you experienced healing?

3 O LORD, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.

When have you “hit bottom”? – Remember the lowest points of your life – How did God restore you to life?

4 Sing praises to the LORD, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name.

Our appropriate response to the Lord meeting us in our grief is in bold.

5 For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

This introduces a movement we will explore further. The movement from weeping to dancing… it’s a heart issue.

6 As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.”

Who has been there? In a season of joy and well-being, deceiving yourself to think that life will always be so good.

7 By your favor, O LORD, you had established me as a strong mountain; you hid your face; I was dismayed.

How quickly our strength can vanish…

8 To you, O LORD, I cried, and to the LORD I made supplication: 9 “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?

Even in our lowest moments, we can praise God and tell of his faithfulness.

10 Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me! O LORD, be my helper!”

When have you cried out to God like this?

11 You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, 12 so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever.

Again, our response to God having met us in our grief, give praise and thanks to God.

Moving from Weeping to Dancing

Henri Nouwen tells of his experience watching a rock-cutter at work. As he watches the pieces of rock being chipped and cut, his heart goes out to the piece of rock for the pain that it might be feeling each time a piece of rock falls away.

After watching the artist work, the shape of a beautiful dancer is revealed at the heart of the rock. The rock-cutter started with a large piece of rough-edged, hard rock. After hours of hard (and perhaps painful) work, a figure of grace and beauty emerges.

Try this physical exercise with me:

Make a fist and shake it in the air, or throw a punch out in front of you.

Describe your movement. It should be quick and tense. How are your muscles? Probably tight and hard.

Now extend your arms and make a smooth movement in an arch across your body. (Make a rainbow shape in front of you with one arm.)

Describe that movement. It should be smooth and long. How are your muscles? Probably soft and you might be feeling a stretch as your arm moves across your body.

This exercise demonstrates the difference between weeping and dancing. They use the same muscles, but one makes the muscles hard and tight, the other opens the muscles in a smooth stretch.

In our grief, we have a faithful God who comes near to us. He treats us with grace and care. He wipes the tears from our eyes and holds us close. God turns our weeping into dancing, our desolation into consolation, our pain into joy.

And so, we give the Lord our thanks and praise.

(April 2022) Tammy Lundell, Europe

More Spiritual Formation Resources

We are One Challenge mission workers serving the whole body of Christ by developing a new generation of leaders. The Holy Spirit is always inviting us to know God more and do the work of becoming who God has designed us to be.

These resources include blog postsoriginal worship musicimages accompanied by Scriptureprayer exercises, and much more. Whatever the Lord gives us, we want to offer to you so you can be blessed in your walk with Jesus.

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