Hello everyone. Rob here.
There is a sense right now that the world is grieving. We are seeing the stages of grief being played out in the public sphere – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – as we come to grips with a world being shaped everyday by a global pandemic and all its associated consequences.
Here in New Zealand we have gotten off very lightly and yet the impact of the pandemic is still real. The grief is real. I was reminded in a podcast today that the initial human reaction to change is to experience it as loss. There is a grief to every change. How much more so when there is real loss to contend with? The losses may be small like missing out on sports games or your annual overseas holiday. Or they may be much more soul-affecting like not being able to farewell a lost one properly or losing your job or business. Whether they are big or small, the losses all add up. We tend to minimise these losses knowing that people are in much worse situations or we dramatise the losses as if we’re the only ones to have suffered such a fate. I suggest a much better action is to name the losses, big and small, take them to Jesus and invite the Holy Spirit to bring comfort and counsel to us. We also need to collectivise the losses; that is to acknowledge that we are feeling loss as a community as our normal communal acts are, out of necessity, removed.
Paul writes in Romans 12:14-16,
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
This is a call to empathy for the people of God. It’s a reminder that we wear masks to protect the vulnerable and we keep our distance for the same reason. It also reminds us that people who are participating in lockdown protests and voice their displeasure online are grieving too. It’s coming out as anger and denial but it’s still grief. It’s also a warning against cursing others, pride and conceit. If that’s your attitude you are standing against God’s purposes for community. We see that when leaders adopt those attitudes they create and enable a divided society and no longer work for the common good. Paul puts out a different call for God’s people. He calls us to humility, empathy, harmony and love. These are the attitudes that enable people to flourish and communities to thrive.
So, what will you do with your grief? Can you put a name to it? What is it that you are grieving? Human touch? Church meetings? Inability to travel? Financial security? Feeling in control? The more specific you can be the better. Ask the Spirit to help you name your grief. Then take it to God. Father, Son and Spirit welcome you into their intimate life of loving unity. It’s a safe place, the best place for a grieving soul. You will find much healing there, maybe some correction, maybe some interpretation, but always love.
What stage of grief are you in? There is no right or wrong answer here. It’s only a question of what you’re doing with it. Lockdown protests, online trolling and unfounded rumour spreading is no place for your grief and it only adds to the grief of others. Being stoic and silent with your grief is no good either. Find someone you can be safe with and let it out. Not just for your sake but for us all. We’re in it together and if we all grieve well, with empathy and love, then we can get through it and even thrive a little.
Grace and peace everyone.