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.