Let’s talk about a time when I almost lost my mind in a church parking lot and what that has to do with Jesus letting his friend die.
Recently I wanted to surprise a friend with a housewarming gift. I drove to her workplace and put the huge gift bag together while in my car in the parking lot of the church where she worked. Then I jumped out, grabbed the bag, and instantly one side of the handle snapped, causing the bag to tower sideways and dump the contents onto the hot pavement. In a panic, I began chasing down the tissue paper, not realizing the bag was flying in the opposite direction. Finally, I had gathered up everything. Then dripping with sweat and panting into my mask, I awkwardly carried the torn bag into the church, muttering, “GOOD GRIEF,” which got me thinking, what does good grief even mean? Can you have bad grief? And if so, why are we not yelling that out in our frustrations?
A friend of mine is in the middle of a very long and painful divorce. She shared with me that the biggest surprise through all of it was the grief that she was feeling. She assumed that because the marriage was so toxic and painful that when the marriage finally ended she would feel no grief. Boy was she wrong. She had to grieve the loss of what she thought marriage would be and the loss of a life she had lived for ten years, even though it was bad. She said to me, “Grief snuck up on me, but once I identified it I was able to handle it so much better.” I imagine this could be called good grief. It’s this idea that we can still have grief over the past even though our current situation is good or better. It’s a freedom we can find knowing that it’s ok to feel grief, regardless of how we got there.
To an extent, I can currently relate. I’m feeling some sort of good grief at the moment. As I write this I’m transitioning from one job to another. I’m leaving a job I’ve spent the last nine years pouring my life into. I worked with some of my dearest friends, under a boss that loved me so well, and for a church that I greatly believe is doing momentous things for the Kingdom. But I must walk away. Grieving, yes, but knowing that what I’m walking into is good and right and exactly where I am supposed to be. Starting work at Arise feels somewhat like I did that day in the parking lot. Exhausted but excited knowing that what I am doing is the right thing.
I have heard it said that “Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.” It’s all good grief, and we have to call it what it is and keep moving forward. What I’ve learned from grieving good things and bad things is that I will not survive this without a truth that never dies—the truth that reminds me I have to trust in the Savior who might have to let something die to resurrect it again.
In John chapter eleven we find Jesus causing a little necessary grief. He took his time making his way to the home of his friend Lazarus. Approaching the home, he found two desperate sisters who were trying to understand why a Savior they believed in let their brother die. The story gets messy with tears and anger, and then we are reminded of the truth! Jesus didn’t keep Lazarus from dying, but he did raise him from the dead, which was a catalyst for a much-needed revival. It’s right there where we find good grief. It’s the place where we’re reminded that maybe things have to die so Jesus can resurrect something greater.
So feel all of your feelings and grieve your grief, but don’t forget that Jesus is on his way to raise all of it from the dead!