Monday, August 31, 2015

The Loneliness of Grief: Crying Out to God








            Grief stuns and unravels us from the inside out. Loneliness seeps in, sometimes immediately; sometimes only after the busy days of funeral preparations, and the funeral, and after the friends and family have filtered away and returned to their normal routines. It’s that feeling you get when you know the person you said goodbye to is gone from your present earthly life forever and is not coming back, and life here will never be the same. And crying out to God is often the first thing we do.

            The reflexive cry erupts from the gut. Even atheists who deny the presence of an intelligent, creative being (outside of themselves, of course), cry out in anger, hate and disbelief to a God they deny exits. Even Stephen Hawking, the famed wheelchair-bound British theoretical physicist suffering from disabling and deadly amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), doesn’t seem entirely comfortable with his atheistic faith; he and Russian investor Yuri Milner have launched “Breakthrough Listen”, a 100 million-dollar research program aimed at locating intelligent extraterrestrial life in the universe. Hmmm… Even though Hawking says he believes life on Earth arose spontaneously, it makes me think of the saying “There are no atheists in foxholes.” (And when you’re grieving and a little unnerved about the future, you might feel as though you’re cornered in a foxhole.)
           
            You don’t have to read too far in the Bible to find people crying out to God. You find it in the Book of Genesis. In Exodus, the second book of the Bible, in Chapter 2, verse 23, you find the Israelites crying out to God because of their captivity in Egypt:
           
            “Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the     
            children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and
            their cry came up to God because of their bondage.”

           
            Later, in verse 4 of Chapter 17, you read about Moses doing some yelling out to the heavens, too. “So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.”
           
            In Numbers 12:13, we again hear Moses beseeching God: “So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, ‘Please hear, O God, I pray.’”
           
            In Deuteronomy 26:7 and Joshua 24:7, the Israelites and Joshua reminisce about their crying out to God.
           
            And so it goes. In nearly every book of the Bible you find someone crying out to the creator of the universe. There’s a lot of crying out by King David and other Psalm writers. The Apostles cried out to God during the genesis of the church, while under persecution. Paul cried out to God when he got knocked off his horse and lost his eyesight—in the process of becoming a believer and turning his life to Christ. Even Jesus, God’s son, cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” while he was hanging on the cross.
           
            The point here is: It’s natural to cry out. And the most natural person to cry out to is God.
           
            Are you angry with Him? He understands and can take your ranting. (Check out the books of Job and Psalms if you want to know how much ranting God can take.)
           
            Does your grief cause you to cry out because you want to know if He’s there? If He actually exits? If He’s even listening, or cares?
           
            Crying out in grief is the most natural response I can think of. In the short run, it helps you feel as though you are sharing your burden with someone else, or at least hope you can. Or, if you’re angry, you might feel that you’re helping to unload some of your grief by pointing fingers of blame at someone, which is also a natural response.
           
            So go ahead and cry out. Loudly, if you want. Stand out in the middle of a forest and scream in agony.
           
            And next week we’ll take a look at how God responds when we do.


Until next week,

Thanks for joining me!

May you find blessings in your week,

Andrea

(All Scripture passages in this post were taken from the New King James Version Bible.)

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/31169339@N07/4253056121">Mouth (2)</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>