Jesus, God in the flesh, shows us real, human emotions of grief and lament throughout the Gospels. He weeps over Jerusalem. He grieves when his friend, Lazarus, is dead. He is moved with compassion for those suffering around him. And, Jesus shares those emotions with God. Let's journey in our minds to the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus knows he is about to be crucified, so he goes to the garden and expresses real, genuine grief in prayer. Some Bibles call this story "Agony in the Garden" because in the story Jesus says, "I am deeply grieved, even to death" (Mark 14:34, NRSV).
An old hymn, "Man of Sorrows" describes the nature of Jesus's life. Its first stanza says "man of sorrows, what a name, for the son of God who came." Our present day lives are filled with picture-perfect social media posts, phrases like "man up" or "don't be a cry baby," and constant pressure to exude cheeriness. It's no wonder we forget that our God calls us into holistic and deep shared life. God, embodied in Jesus, shows us that a commitment to truth and compassion means we are allowed to respond to the hard realities of life with grief. In fact, if the Psalms of lament show us anything, it is that God even encourages it.
Grieving on your own
Grieving with others
If you are interested in this spiritual practice and you would like to explore more and with greater depth, here are some resources you might like to utilize:
- Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times, by Soong-Chan Rah and Brenda Salter McNeil (forward)
- Spirituality of the Psalms, by Walter Brueggemann
- Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved, by Kate Bowler
- The Fire of the Word: Meeting God on Holy Ground,
by Chris Webb and Richard J. Foster (foreward)
- One Day at a Time: Discovering the Freedom of 12-Step Spirituality, by Trevor Hudson
- Healing Our Broken Humanity, by Grace Ji-Sun Kim & Graham Hill
Practice, not Perfect
"The darker the night, the brighter the stars, the deeper the grief, the closer is God."