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MAKE disciples. That was Jesus’ final command. Our first task, however, is to allow the Holy Spirit to make a disciple of us. Grief is pivotal along that journey.
Grief often brings people to belief. A crisis causes us to reflect on the important things in life, besides, when we fall vulnerable to that which we simply cannot reconcile, all that’s left is God. Loss shrouds us in that place where nothing else works. See how the worst can elicit the best?
Grief makes belief better. It forces us to test everything. Whatever belief we had will need to endure the flame of deep pain to survive and continue being held as our belief. In this way, for belief to survive it must help us thrive through our darkest day. Belief that survives is full of real hope.
Grief makes responding in faith better. Having done wrong, the only way we please God is by experiencing godly sorrow. Through confession and repentance, we have applied grieving. And only through such processes of going deeply into God do we and others see the fruit of our repentance — a true faith that obeys and honours God through loving people. Grief refines honesty and humility.
Grief is an example to follow. Making disciples is our aim, and we can use words, but far more powerful and sustainable is the salience of example. Iron sharpens iron, as Proverbs 27:17 puts it, and this is not about word as much as it is about the witness of deed, the impression of action. When we prove our faith by grieving well, those who are following behind, even those who are perhaps ahead, stop and take notice. Example is not easy to ignore, but words go in one ear and out the other.
Grief is a teacher and loss is the curriculum. The school is one that educates in what is eternally valuable. It is a hard school with many who fail to run the course. The school of brokenness, however, will improve us more than any other institution or program. Now we can see how becoming a follower of Jesus is all-encompassing of life, where life is the learning ground.
Loss either pulls us close to God or pushes us away, but God uses grief to bring us closer to Him.