The crib in our room mocks me. Since we put it together several months ago we have only faced delays in our efforts to bring home an adopted son.
Adoption is a yes to suffering. The only children in need of families are those that have experienced the tragic loss of their own biological one. We knew what we were saying yes to. But it doesn’t make the waiting any easier. It’s one thing to know there are millions of family-less children in the world, it’s another to love one of them and call them your own. The dirty floors in the pictures suddenly transform from facts of life to heartache and grief.
Grief is the recognition that something has been lost forever. It forces us into an awareness that we have no control to change or fix the situation. What is gone is gone and can never be regained, at least not fully. Grief is an emotion we don’t gladly welcome. We keep it at arms length pretending it will go away if we wait long enough. And sometimes it does, but are we really better off for avoiding it?
We grieve the loss of people we love, yes, but also the loss of circumstances. I had longed to celebrate our son’s 2nd birthday, but this day came and went with no boy in my arms. I had longed to see him in that crib in our room soon after it was assembled, but months have passed and empty it remains. Each day he is not here is a day he lives without a family. Without someone fighting for him, caring for him, and loving on him. I cannot change this. There is nothing I could have done to prevent these losses. They have happened. And so I grieve. And in grieving, face the reality of how utterly helpless I am to protect myself or others from heartache and suffering.
It’s easy to see why we avoid grief like a contagious disease.
But what good can grief do? Are there any benefits? While I think there are many, I present one to you today for your consideration. Grief can glorify God.
The shattering of a $10 wine glass doesn’t evoke as much emotion as the breaking of your great-grandmother’s crystal stemware from Europe. Our emotions are a barometer of what is important to us. If the glass was superfluous, the loss of it doesn’t upset us.
We live in a world that celebrates the discarding of babies. So when a miscarrying women grieves the loss of her unborn child, it magnifies the value of life. When the world is celebrating new ways to undo the traditional family, grieving over your parents’ divorce shouts the value of marriage. When the celebration of personal autonomy shoves the responsibility of caring for the next generation aside, stepping into the grief of foster care screams that children matter.
Our grief sends a message about what is truly valuable. The question is, do we grieve the right things? Do we grieve the loss of life? Do we grieve the loss of family? Do we grieve presence and celebration of God-defaming, self-exalting sin? Do we grieve our own sin? Our own self-exaltation? These griefs glorify God because they testify about what is truly valuable.
Don’t avoid grief. Embrace it and welcome it. And pray that your grieving would tell the truth about God to a world that refuses to see Him.