2 Peter 3:18
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever.
One of the most encouraging and strengthening verses in the New Testament is found in 2 Peter 3:18 which encourages and instructs believers to grow in the grace which has been given to us from God Almighty. Grace is a gift from God that enables us to receive and live during the variety of life’s changing circumstances … including grief.
Grief: the deep sorrow of heart and soul we feel when we have suffered loss. Nobody plans for grief to strike, though we know it will, but even thinking of it brings its own anxiety and stressful pressures. We realize that it is impractical to live with our head in the sand, but we have to learn to face hardships as they arise and deal with the aftermath of negativity when it is presented to our life.
We are built to grieve. God gave us the created capacity to accept the challenges and changes of life, whether they have a positive or negative impact. We exuberate with joy when an event of happiness comes into our life. We are shocked and feel the pains of despair as we are taken off-guard by sudden tragedy or down-turn in our life. Because of original sin and the results of its lingering curse in every human being on planet Earth, we all have and will grieve throughout our mortal lives. None of us have been or will be immune to suffering loss and experiencing grief. God offers us help and healing for those times when we just can’t go on another step, or when the grief is just too unbearable!
Grief has a power that can control us and even redefine us (if you’ve never grieved, you do not know this … but you will.) Grief does not have to continue downward; there is a power and a positive direction for grief. The peace and comfort can only be found when you trust the Lord and surrender to the grace of God. He then can work His divine healing and help in your heart and keep you from becoming a life-long victim of your own grief.
Jesus Himself knows what it feels like to grieve and in His grief. He taught us the lessons of grace I hope we will all learn. Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, called by Christ Himself “the greatest man born of a woman,” was brutally and senselessly murdered for preaching against sin. (John the Baptist was doing right, being right, and standing for right, when he was cut down by wrong.)
We see it all the time. Why do bad things happen to good people?
Why did my “__________” have to suffer?
Why did my “__________” have to die?
When there’s so many evil people that keep on living and prospering, why do I have to suffer like this?
Jesus lived out the grace of God and perfectly displayed this grace (which He also offers to us.) Grace: the power of Christ living His Divine life through my weak and mortal existence.
In Matthew chapter 14, Jesus turned the energy of his grief into grace and service for others. We look at His example and learn from His life so that we too can move on and live, even though we face such trying times of grief.
Notice how Jesus went to spend time alone (which is the natural response we all feel in a time of grief) three times in chapter 14. We find Him “apart” or in a “desert place,” yet He reached out in grace to meet the needs of others and taught us how to grow in grace, even while grieving.
• Matthew 14:13-14 – He healed their sick
• Matthew 14:15-21 – He fed the 5,000
• Matthew 14:22-27 – He calmed their fears
Our “Christ-likeness” doesn’t end, just because we are facing difficult and trying times.
May God’s grace be seen through our life as we grieve for His glory. May someone see Jesus’ love and life shining through the fog of our personal grief and be drawn to Him for their own soul’s salvation and restoration. When a Christian grieves, we ought to follow Christ’s example and get up, don’t sit in solitude, and let God use us to show His love and grace through us in a most genuine time of testing.
What God can accomplish in us while in a time of grief is nothing short of miraculous. God has the power and the grace to work in our life and use the heaviness and brokenness brought by sorrow and grief to allow us the opportunity to be used by God to bring comfort and healing to those He brings into our lives. No wonder the New Testament teaches us to give thanks in everything. God surely has a plan and a purpose to fulfill in your life, even in a time of grief.
It is during the most difficult days of our mortal existence, that Christ can be clearly seen through our life, when we receive His grace in our grief.
(Pastor Jones can be reached by email email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PastorTonyJones or visit an upcoming service at Faith Baptist Church … “The Church on the Hill.”)