For the past several weeks, I’ve been sharing some excerpts from my first book, Fear No Evil, which releases in about a month. To be honest, Chapter Five, entitled, Disney Doesn’t Do Christianity, is my favorite. I talk about the realities of suffering and what we’ve learned from our season of pain at New Life.
By the way, all the proceeds from this book will support the Dream Centers we are opening here in Colorado Springs. If you want to pre-order, Fear No Evil, click on the title.
Here is a short excerpt from chapter five. I would love to hear your thoughts.
As human beings, you and I both have to learn to confront our pain—to acknowledge it and to grieve. Whether we’re talking about the loss of a loved one or the loss of a career, a bank account, or a dream, it is absolutely critical to stop, to weep, to groan. I think of families who have experienced the sudden loss of a house, either to fire or to a flood. Sure, it was just sheetrock and two-by-fours, but their most precious memories were made inside. It was their first “real” purchase. It was the place where their children were raised. It was their family’s haven, the spot where they would rest and relate and know peace.
Or what about people who have experienced the sudden loss of a marriage? A husband thought the union would last forever, but then one day, divorce papers were served. “But she was my high-school sweetheart,” he laments. “She was everything in my life.” Regardless who is at fault in a split like that, division always hurts.
What do you do when sudden loss occurs? I believe Jesus would say, “You mourn.”
As I said, I’ve been part of a local church since my boyhood years, and yet I can count on one hand the number of sermons I’ve heard on how to grieve well. We talk a lot about the good news but neglect to mention that life sometimes turns bad. For instance, how many times have you been directed to the words of Ecclesiastes 7:3? “Sorrow is better than laughter,” it says, “because a sad face is good for the heart.” In our comfort-seeking society, most people would read those words and come away saying, “Huh? How can sorrow possibly be better than laughter?”
What Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, knew that you and I would do well to remember is that the reason a sad face is good for the heart is because it is in our sadness that pain gets confronted, once and for all. Having pain confront us and choosing to confront that pain ourselves are two very different things. Confronting our pain means saying, “I know that I’ve just taken a hit here, a hit that really hurt.”
“Something terrible did happen.”
“I am hurting as a result.”
“We are hurting as a result.”
“This is hard, but it is real.”
Admitting truths such as these forces the internal protesting to cease. It invites Jesus into the situation so that the process of restoration can begin. “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,” Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 7:4. It’s when we stop to truly grieve a loss that God can intervene.
The alternative of course is denial, in which we utterly resist what is real. We talk ourselves out of believing that something bad has just unfolded and that we were wounded as a result. The approach does nothing for our personal wholeness and keeps God’s healing ways at bay.
March 10, 2011 at 10:30 am
Hi Pastor Brady, This one hits home with the sudden loss of my husband last November. I would rather be in the house of mourning that the house of mirth. There is no masquerading in the house of mourning….It is a place of vulnerability and transparency, where small talk is not welcome, and where friends go to the heart of the matter, even when words are not and should not be spoken. It is the place of identifying with others as we weep with those who weep…..there is a blessing for those who mourn…
March 10, 2011 at 2:25 pm
This is truly a “foreign” concept to the Western Christian mind Pastor Brady. Embracing grief or any other so called negative emotion goes against Charismatic theology.
For me personally, not admitting that life is sometimes less than perfect or that I am a messy person has led to a giant dose of denial and internal suffering in silence. Once I learned (through God’s grace) to be real and admit my human frailties as well as the fact that we live in a fallen world, life has become much more pleasant and tolerable if you will.
A giant key for me to be able to be transparent with my family in the Body of Christ is to recognize and accept that I am a son adopted into His family and not a slave or an orphan. Thanks for preaching on sonship over and over until it finally went from being simply head knowledge to heart reality.
Experiencing pain/hearbreak/hardship is never fun but I really like how you put it into words……”It’s when we stop to truly grieve a loss that God can intervene.”
Thank you for your insight and leadership.