Grief With Hope
A Ministry to and with the Grieving
by James Alexander
Grief produces powerful streams of emotive force. Often this deep emotion will manifest itself as sinful anger. Sinful anger can quickly lead to bitterness, hatred and a desire for vengeance. When such anger takes control of you, the lives of many are shattered and many relationships are ruptured. Instead of these destructive expressions of anger, you may be seeking to restrain anger by leaving it smoldering dangerously beneath the surface. This internalized anger eventually leads to self-destruction through various forms of sinful, irrational, or morbid behavior.
Every form of sinful anger has as its source anger toward God. The unexpressed thoughts of your mind may be, “How could God do this to me? Why did He allow this to happen? If He is going to treat me this way, then I will not serve Him.” In fact, some turn openly upon the God whom they once professed to love. This anger toward God cuts off the very source of help that comes in the living God. When this occurs, the comfort of the gospel no longer brings strength and hope to the broken-hearted griever. You must repent of sinful anger. God does not owe you anything. God has a right to govern His world in the way that pleases Him. The Scripture says, “He brings down to the grave and brings up.” (1 Samuel 2:6) Were mistakes made and sins committed by others in relationship to the deceased loved one? Yes! But that will always be true as long as we live in this sinful, fallen imperfect world. Yet God did not surrender his authority to secondary causes. He is the primary and ultimate ruler of all things. You will have no peace until you confess to God your sinful anger, seek forgiveness from those whom you have sinned against, trust Christ for forgiveness and seek His help to submit to the sovereign God who disposes all things for His own glory.
Grief’s Righteous Anger
The Bible says, “Be angry and do not sin…” (Eph. 4:26) The powerful emotive force associated with grief does not have to be sinful. As Jesus approached the tomb of Lazarus, He groaned with deep inner emotion. Anger may well have been an element of that emotion. Death is an enemy because it is the ultimate temporal misery brought on by sin. You ought to be angry with death, and that anger must drive you to the remedy provided in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This anger must lead you to believe, proclaim and live the gospel which overcomes death and will soon, once and for all, bring God’s world back into order and harmony. Do not reject the blessing that lies on the backside of grief, and do not deny that blessing to others.
Furthermore, the gospel is not contrary to justice, but the gospel demands justice. Righteous anger must become a motivating power for achieving social and civil justice. Personal vengeance is wrong, but civil justice is a blessing to any society. In the case of a wrongful death there should be accountability and justice rendered. Under the grace of Christ’s forgiving love, you may benefit your society by seeking to bring about just accountability not only in your personal case but for others who may suffer from the wrongs of society. So, dear grieving one, “be angry and do not sin.” Give your life to Christ for the gospel and for making this world a better place for all.
Scripture for meditation: Ephesians 4:25-32
The Griever’s Question
How can I become free from thinking constantly about the wrong that I have suffered in the death of my loved one? The desire for justice is not wrong, but when that desire begins to consume your life, it is sinful, idolatrous and destructive. Confess your sin to God and seek forgiveness through Christ. Christ has promised to send the Holy Spirit to help you become free. As you ask for the Spirit’s help, remember that God is not enslaved to secondary causes, but He rules over every event to bring glory to Christ and blessing to His people. Often in this present world justice will not be done, but the day will soon come when He will correct all injustices. In the meantime, you must set your mind on the “things of the Spirit.” Vengefulness and bitterness are contrary to the Spirit. Think upon the sovereign goodness of God, begin to love those who sinned against you, and then you will have peace.
Being Dead They Still Speak
“But, when we resist Him with our brass necks and will not bow for the corrections which He sends us, we do nothing but continually double His strokes. On the contrary, then, if we feel our sins, so that we ask pardon for them and He knows that we are rightly touched by them; then He makes our afflictions to turn into a wholesome medicine for us, and there upon, He delivers us from them…. So then, let us not murmur any longer when we see that God sends such troubles into the world; neither let us be offended as it as if He has His eyes closed. For He well knows what He is doing, and He has an infinite wisdom which does not appear to us at first sight; but, in the end, we surely see that He has disposed things in good order and measure.” (J. Calvin)
– In memory of Matthew James Alexander by his father, James Julian Alexander
Grief with Hope is a ministry established by James Alexander in memory of his son Matthew James Alexander, who died in the crash of TWA Flight #800, July 1996. Grief with Hope ministers to and with the grieving through the Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship.