Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Good Grief

2 Corinthians 7:10 (New International Version)
10Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

2 Corinthians 7:10 (Amplified Bible)
10For godly grief and the pain God is permitted to direct, produce a repentance that leads and contributes to salvation and deliverance from evil, and it never brings regret; but worldly grief (the hopeless sorrow that is characteristic of the pagan world) is deadly [breeding and ending in death].

2 Corinthians 7:10 (The Message)
10Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets; end up on a deathbed of regrets.

Is Charlie Brown's "good grief!" an exclamation of fundamental angst? Does Linus' blanket have a deep symbolic meaning? Such questions may sound like ways to take the fun out of Charles Schulz's famous comic strip Peanuts. But Robert L. Short, 32, a graduate student at the University of Chicago Divinity School, argues not only amusingly but also convincingly that Peanuts indeed has intentional theological significance.

Charlie Brown always seemed to be depressed and getting empty advice from Lucy that he had to pay to get. Often times his best advice came from his closest friends, those who told him the truth out of love. There is such a thing as good grief not just for Charlie Brown but also for us.

When we think of grief we don’t think of it as being good, because grief usually accompanies death, but there is such a thing as good grief. Grief is the realization of a loss of something. When we feel a loss of something we go through the grieving process. In fact, there are seven stages of grief:

1. Shock. This is the body/mind's way of saving you from the devastating pain of the loss, at least initially. It is a blessing at best, but at worst can become a long-term numbness to feelings that resembles a sort of living death. It will pass naturally as long as the other stages of grief are honored.

2. Denial. This is your mind's attempt to protect you from the reality of the loss. You may lie to yourself and think about the person as if they were still alive. A certain period of denial is normal but if prolonged, it can keep you stuck and prevent resolution. There are many forms of denial, as varied as people are different from each other.

3. Anger. When you lose someone you love, it is natural to be angry for a period of time. You may be angry with the person for leaving you, angry with yourself for what you did not do to save them or angry with God for taking them away. You may just be angry at the unfairness and injustice of life. Healthy anger management techniques may be essential here.

4. Guilt. There seems to be a human tendency to blame yourself when something happens to a loved one. In loving someone, you automatically take some degree of responsibility for her or his welfare. It is only natural to question yourself for a period of time after your loved ones die. This is a normal part of the grief stages, but it is extremely important that you move through it and don't get stuck in this stage. Use these healthy grieving techniques to help you through this stage.

5. Pain And Sorrow. These feelings often exist throughout all 7 stages of grief, and are the core feelings of grief. In the early stages, however, you are often distracted from your sorrow by denial, anger, guilt and the resulting confusion.

6. Release And Resolution. This stage of grief process is accompanied by a sense of acceptance of the reality of the loss, a sense of letting go. There may also be a degree of forgiveness that occurs in this phase.

7. Return To the Willingness To Love. This is the final stage of the grieving process. Healing has occurred, and the grieving person is able to laugh again and to get involved in life.

Paul talked about writing a sorrowful letter to the church in Corinth about some internal issues. He had to tell them about themselves. Whenever you share truth a lot of times people are not going to like it. Paul says, “Even if I made you sorry in my letter I do not regret it because I see that it grieved you.” This was good grief.

The reason it was good grief was that it led them to do something about what they were doing wrong. When you are a leader you have to be willing to live with good grief. People are not going to like you at times and stretches because you have to write sorrowful letters, but it is good grief if:

1. It produces repentance. If people turn from bad behavior to good behavior.

2. Leads to salvation. If people are saved from destruction then the grief is good.

3. Brings no regrets. Saving a person’s life soon makes people forget the pain they initially went through.

Bad Grief on the on the other hand is when:

1. People ignore the truth and turn away from God.

2. They internalize their anger instead of dealing with the truth that was shared.

3. Their grief over their perceived loss causes them to walk away from life and into death.

Dear God, help me to write letters and speak words that get people to experience good grief. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you and cause good grief in those I love so that they can experience salvation through repentance.

In Jesus Name,


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