Joy Comes in the Mourning #2 In the Middle of the Night

 


Joy Comes in the Mourning #2  In the Middle of the Night

We started a series of messages dealing with grief entitled Joy Come in the Mourning with mourning spelled m.o.u.r.n.i.n.g. It might be wise that if you missed the first teaching that you go to our website www.hbcc.life or our YouTube channel HBCC Life and consider that material.  It deals with what we experience when our dark night of loss befalls. Also, the teaching supplies suggestions on how you can help a friend in their suffering.  Everything that was presented slips into this teaching too.

 Psalms 30:5 (NLT)                                                                                   

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.

I wish the writer of that verse meant just from dusk till dawn, but there is no timeline you can place on this darkest of nights.  Mourning is all about letting the pain inside out.  The pain inside we call grief.  Whenever there is a loss in your life the natural response is to grieve.  When that loss is someone you dearly love the grief is most acute (Job 30:17).  You wonder if the hurting will never end (Psalm 13:1).  Grief is a long journey into a situation you never wanted.  Hang on friend, joy comes in the mourning.

 “You may have lost your grandparent, parent, brother or sister, or spouse… You may have lost a child… you’re not supposed to outlive your child.”  “A miscarriage or stillbirth is the death of a child.  ” It may be a dear friend that has died.  “Close friendships that last have been a great investment in trust, openness, vulnerability, affection, and warmth.  When your friend dies, something has been ripped away.”  (H. Norman Wright, Experiencing Grief, pp.15-16).  Your companion all these years is gone, this too needs to be grieved.  You have to go on living even though someone you love has died.

 [If your loss is of a business, a plan, a dream, an expectation, an identity, you must get out of the ash heap and go on living.]  

You’ve been experiencing some intense emotions, they are draining, exhausting (Psalm 6:6).  You may have bouts with anxiety, depression, anger, and maybe even guilt.  You experience anxiety, “What am I supposed to do now?”  You’ve experienced that depression, like your not living, not breathing, just going through the absolutely necessary motions.  You experienced anger, you’ve lashed out at the injustice, protesting how wrong the situation is; according to what happened you may be angry with the person you lost; you may be angry at yourself for not seeing what was happening.   You may have experienced guilt, “if only I would have done this instead.”  You may wonder if these feelings and their ilk are normal.  Look through your bloodshot eyes and see the people around you, people at work, at the store, at church, you’re the only one that is normal.  So that answer is yes, the feelings and the struggles and the sufferings are normal. 

 Silvia Purdie paraphrased Psalm 31 while she was dealing with emotional exhaustion.  She writes:

Lord – where are you?!

I seek refuge in you.

I need you now more than ever.

Lord – can you hear me?!

 

I am slipping, Lord,

the ground beneath my feet has crumbled away….

 

I am exhausted!

My eyes struggle to see

my strength fails

my bones waste away.

 

I am losing myself in this misery.

I am sinking into a deathly emptiness.

 

Yes, your feelings are normal.

 God’s Word will comfort you if God resides in you.  God will hold you together when you are falling apart.  Call out to Him in your time of trouble (Psalm 46:1).  Acknowledge your need.  Believe that Jesus can meet that need.  Commit yourself to follow Jesus and ask God to fill the hole in your soul with Himself.  He is an anchor, a shelter in the time of the storm, a light in the darkest of nights.

Those feelings which have been unbearably intense are now gradually receding.  Your heart is still heavy with sorrow (Psalm 119:28 TLB).  But no longer do those emotions body slam you into the dirt and stomp on your face when they attack.  Still, you’re hurting.  Those feelings need to be dealt with.  Your ability to think clearly and logically is returning; you may not feel like answering the question “What do I do now?” but that is the task.  You’ve entered into the middle of your night.  You can’t even imagine it yet but joy will come through the mourning.

 Grief is painful, we tend to do all we can to avoid pain.  But with this kind of suffering, you must embrace all those hurtful emotions.  Grant and I were white water rafting on the American River, we took an unexpected bounce and were both tossed over the side.  In white water, you will almost instantly exhaust yourself if you try to swim against the current.  You stick your feet out in front of you, arch your back, and use your arms to help steer in the current to the safety of the shore.  It is much the same with grief, you have to embrace the pain or you will drown. 

 You embrace pain by acknowledging you’re loaded down with it.  To embrace your pain the first thing you need to do is breathe (Job 27:3-4).  When you begin to feel overwhelmed, just stop and take deep breaths, inhale to the full capacity of your lungs, hold it for 10 to 30 seconds and then let it out slowly.  It’s amazing how doing this several times will help you deal with the pain.  After breathing you will be able to recognize what you are feeling; name it (Psalm 32:3).  “I’m angry, I’m sad, I’m distressed.  Be honest with what you are feeling, bring it out into the open.  That’s mourning, bringing your soul ache out into the open, you let that pain be expressed.  Give yourself a time limit.  “I’m going to cry for the next 5 minutes;” “I’m going to yell into my pillow for five minutes to express my sadness;”  “I am going to hit this punching bag for the next five minute;” “I am going to smash aluminum cans to express my anger;” “I am going to watch the grass grow for five minutes:” watch the clouds go bye to let my feelings of depression out;” “ I am going to have a pity party for myself;” “I am going to take 5 minutes and ask all the “what if’s” to get my guilt expressed.”  Then after your 5 minutes, take those deep breaths again.

 To embrace your pain, go with the flow, don’t fight against it, breath, name your pain, create a time limit to express what you are feeling, and then breath again.  What you don’t want to do is bury your pain.  Buried pain rises from its grave to wreak havoc creating unnecessary suffering. What you don’t want to do is self-medicate.  All you will do is dull the pain for a short while, dulling is not dealing with it.  Embrace your pain. As you embrace the pain it losses its power to incapacitate you. 

 I use a journal, like a diary.  In the middle of my night, I expressed my pain in writing.  Thoughts untangle when you move them from your head through a pen onto paper.  For some reason when feelings are on paper they are easier to deal with.  They don’t seem so foreboding.  For me it was therapeutic.  Maybe you will find it helpful also.

 To embrace your pain, go with the flow, don’t fight against it, breath, name your pain, create a time limit to express what you are feeling, and then breath again.  Untangle your thoughts by writing them down.

 In the middle of your night you will be confronted with emptiness, loneliness and isolation, and the sad ache of missing your loved one; especially during the time between sunset and sunrise.  Everywhere you look there are reminders that someone is not there, a place is empty.  You have been deprived of the company of someone dear; dreams, plans, expectations are in ashes around your feet.  There are holes in your life.  How are you going to positively deal with emptiness, loneliness, and isolation?  The answer lies in engagement.  Spend time connecting with new people, new activities, new outlets, learning, doing, experiencing something new, develop new concerns.  You may find comfort in a grief recovery group.  With a good group, you will find support, people who understand what you are going through.  You need to engage.

 Engage—it’s not easy.  You most likely will not want to do it.  But it is medicine for your soul.  Engagement moves you back into living life instead of enduring it. To assist you in this task of engagement you might ask yourself:  “What would the one I lost want me to do?”  I know I found comfort in the answers to the many times I asked it.  Engage—it’s not easy but now you will find there is enough emotional energy to try new things, to venture out on your own.  It is incredibly satisfying to overcome the fear of being alone by discovering that you are OK alone, that you are OK in new surroundings, that you’re OK with encountering new people. 

 To embrace your pain, go with the flow, don’t fight against it, breath, name your pain, create a time limit to express what you are feeling, and then breath again.  Untangle your thoughts by writing them down.  Now is also the time to begin to engage, to take those tentative steps into the new.

 One thing that will help as you journey through this time, fill your mind up with the good things that the Apostle Paul told disciples of Jesus to concentrate upon. 

 Philippians 4:8 (MSG)

I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

Involve yourself with what is uplifting.  Read encouraging books.  Watch movies that warm your heart.  Get out in nature, walk the mountain trail, enjoy the sun at the beach.  Eat well, exercise.  These are all things that will fill up your mind with good things.  “Few things will have more impact on your life than what you allow to occupy your mind” (Matthew Kelly, Rediscover Jesus p. 148-49)

To embrace your pain, go with the flow, don’t fight against it, breath, name your pain, create a time limit to express what you are feeling, and then breath again.  Untangle your thoughts by writing them down.  Your gaining strength, it’s time to venture out, now is the time to begin finding yourself, engagement helps create a new sense of who you are.  Do things that lift you, that gives you hope, that encourages your soul. Allow your thinking to gravitate towards the positive.  Do the smart things, you know what they are, just get out there and do it.

 In the middle of my own night, one thing I particularly struggled with was my relationship with God.  I was angry with God.

 Jeremiah 20:7

O Lord, You have deceived me and I was deceived; You have overcome me and prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; Everyone mocks me.

Everything I thought I knew mocked me.  Christian music and I were not on listening terms, the sugary sweet praises left me sick to my stomach.  In my mind, I had done everything God wanted me to do.  I felt betrayed.  How could

He who is called Father desert me, abandon me, take so much from me (Job 23:8-9).  I was angry with God.  I doubted His protection, I doubted His goodness, I doubted His love.  I quoted at Him His Word in accusation.  I recall yelling one night, “If this is your plan to prosper me, I don’t want it or You!”  I presented my case as to why He was not only uncaring but unjust (Psalm 13:1).  How could He allow this nightmare to happen?!  Tantrums and complaints poured out of me. In the pain of my grief, I didn’t realize I was mourning.  But God did, God hadn’t left me (Job 23:8-9) He was holding me while I was kicking and screaming. 

 I did not realize this Truth at the time.  But I eventually experienced it and could say with the apostles and the prophets: “He is faithful even when we are faithless”  (2 Timothy 2:13 & Deuteronomy 31:8).

 During this time it is very helpful to have someone you can confide in.  My rantings against God, I shared in detail, more than once, with a close friend.  He did not correct me, he did not try to fix me, he listened, he acknowledged, he made himself available.  I know he prayed for me after our sessions.  You need that kind of support (Proverbs 17:17).

 To embrace your pain, go with the flow, don’t fight against it, breath, name your pain, create a time limit to express what you are feeling, and then breath again.  Untangle your thoughts by writing them down.  Your gaining strength, use that strength to engage in new experiences, new people.  Engagement helps you creates a new understanding of who you are.  Do things that lift you, things that nurture your soul, take care of yourself, treat yourself, be good to you by filling your mind on what is best and promising.  Most likely you will still need someone to talk with, to share your secret struggles.  May I suggest, someone you will not get romantically attached to? 


 Night has fallen, and now in the middle of your night, the pain of your loss is still acute but no longer incapacitating.  Yes, it still hurts.  Your task is to embrace the pain, own your emotions, mourn your feelings letting what is inside out.  You are starting to think clearly.  Continue to untangle your thoughts.  Get the support you need.  You are discovering that you are capable.  You have the emotional wherewithal to start to engage, to discover who you are now, you can venture out on your own.  Fill your life with what is uplifting.  You may need to wrestle with God, have a confidant in your corner if you do.  Hold on, don’t give up, joy comes through the mourning.

My prayer for you who are in the middle of your night is Psalm 27:13

“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

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