There are seasons in our life where we go through different things, some are good and some are not so good. One of my favorite scriptures on the subject of seasons is in King Solomon’s journal of his life, the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon talks about how we are born and we will also die but in between birth and death there are a whole lot of seasons we go through.
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, (New American Standard Bible or NASB).
King Solomon was a wise man and he saw that life does go through seasons. I want to focus on the season of grief that hits every person at one time or another in their lifetime. Grief is sometimes very hard for a person to endure. Some people avoid grief by remaining as busy as they can almost like grief was chasing them and they had to keep running so that grief won’t catch up with them. Others use external coping methods like drugs and alcohol to dull the pain of grief. But the healthiest way to deal with a season of grief is to meet it head-on and deal with it. As always I go to the Bible to find examples of someone grieving and see how they handled their grief. Would you believe that our God also grieves?
Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. Genesis 6:5-8, (NASB).
For He said, “Surely, they are My people, Sons who will not deal falsely.” So He became their Savior. In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the angel of His presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled And grieved His Holy Spirit; Therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them. Isaiah 63:8-10, (NASB).
When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. “For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:41-44, (NASB).
As you will have noticed one of the first times God grieved is recorded in the very first book of the Bible. He must have been heartbroken when he saw His created human beings being so evil. There are many times that we humans have grieved the heart of God with our sinning. Thankfully He sent Jesus to the cross so that we have a way to salvation rather than destroying us as he did so many in the Old Testament. Jesus grieved too because God’s chosen people refused to acknowledge that He was the Messiah. Grief is an emotion that God gave us and here are some others from the Bible who dealt with grief.
Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel, saying, “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not carried out My commands.” And Samuel was distressed and cried out to the LORD all night. 1 Samuel 15:10-11, (NASB).
Then Samuel went to Ramah, but Saul went up to his house at Gibeah of Saul. Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death; for Samuel grieved over Saul. And the LORD regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel. 1 Samuel 15:34-35, (NASB).
Once again God regrets a human’s sinning. He had anointed Saul as King because the Jewish people saw other cultures being ruled by a man in the form of King and wanted a King as well. Interesting how so many of our sins begin with comparing ourselves to others and wanting what they have. It didn’t take long for pride and arrogance to take control of King Saul and his sins didn’t go unnoticed by God. Poor Samuel, a prophet of God, was tasked with some heavy duties as God’s messenger to King Saul and eventually to David who succeeded King Saul. King David was a powerful king and considered to be a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22) but he did a dastardly deed (2 Samuel 11) and when God sent Nathan the Prophet to confront him for the sins of adultery and murder he grieved deeply. It is widely believed that King David wrote Psalm 51 during this time of repentance and grief, here is a portion of his words.
Hide Your face from my sins And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners will be converted to You. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise. Psalm 51:9-15, (NASB).
There are many more examples of people grieving in the Bible and I hope that you will find comfort in reading passages showing how others have dealt with grief. But there is one more that I want to really concentrate on today and that is the Prophet Samuel. Samuel really felt deep grief over King Saul’s straying away from God. He took it very hard and I can certainly understand his grieving for someone else who once walked with God but now are estranged from Him. If you will take the time to read all of 1 Samuel 15 you will see how Saul justifies his disobedience to God’s instruction and you might see yourself in this passage. It is so easy to justify our sins as not being sin when we are walking away from God. This passage also shows a compassionate Samuel trying to bring Saul back into obedience to God’s word but the prophet failed and I am sure this is the reason for his deep grief. We don’t know how much time passed until the next passage in the beginning of Chapter 16 of 1 Samuel but I suspect it was not an overnight thing. I imagine it was a length of time that had passed. Let’s see what God tells Samuel to do next.
Now the LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have selected a king for Myself among his sons.” But Samuel said, “How can I go? When Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ “You shall invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for Me the one whom I designate to you.” So Samuel did what the LORD said, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and said, “Do you come in peace?” He said, “In peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” He also consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. 1 Samuel 16:1-5, (NASB).
I don’t know about you but I find this passage very encouraging because God doesn’t think less of Samuel for grieving over Saul’s straying away from God. However God does gently remind Samuel that there is work to be done and that life goes on. Life does go on after a season of grief has passed. It may never feel as good as it did before your season of grief came visiting but there can still be some happiness, joy, and contentment coming into your life. The important thing to remember is that God is with you during this season of grief and He will nudge you when the time is right to do the next job He has for you to do. We grieve over so many different things in life, but in every season of grief you are not alone if you belong to Jesus Christ.