Note: This is the sixth in a series of posts on Healing for the Holidays. Read Part 1: A Promise, Part 2: Give Sorrow Words, Part 3: Q/A About Holiday Honesty, Part 4: A Lament for Your Loss, and Part 5: Tidings of Comfort and Joy.
For Christians, surviving the holidays is an admirable first goal, especially when memories of loss and separation flood the mind. However, our ultimate goal is not just surviving, but thriving. That’s where healing hope enters the picture.
Paul Tells It Like It Is
The Apostle Paul models the healing process in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11.
“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”
Paul begins by modeling what we discussed in Parts 1-4 of our blog mini-series. He’s candid and honest with himself, God, and others about his suffering. He talks fearlessly about his external suffering—the things that have happened to him, his losses and crosses. He also shares courageously about his internal suffering—his agony of soul.
But Paul doesn’t stop there. Despairing of life and feeling the sentence of death, Paul clings tenaciously to the Author of life.
I’d like to ask you to stop reading. Reread 2 Corinthians 1:8-11.
- Reflect on Paul’s grief and on his hope.
- Reflect on your grief.
- Pray for your healing. Ask for hope. Ask God for the faith to believe that a new beginning is possible—it’s possible to hope, to thrive.
Grieving and Growing
Grieving can produce growth. Spiritual emergencies can produce spiritual emergence. It’s supernatural to grow.
Grief admits, “Life is bad.” Healing says, “God is good — He’s good all the time.” In grief, we candidly enter the smaller earthly, temporal story of hurt. In healing, we enter the larger, heavenly, eternal story of hope.
In grieving, we’re in a casket, the tomb of grief and loss. In healing, God rolls the stone away. We celebrate the resurrection. We trust in our God who raises the dead.
So Heavenly Minded/Great Practical Earthly Good
“Nice,” you think. “Just another batch of platitudes: pie-in-the-sky, sweet-by-and-by, too-heavenly-minded-to-be-of-any-earthly-good!”
Not at all. In fact, biblical hope is so heavenly minded that it is of great practical earthly good.
Think about the fifth and final phase in the world’s grieving process: acceptance. The goal is to face calmly the finality of loss. If it is one’s own impending death, then it’s a time of quiet resignation. If it is the loss of a loved one, or a relationship, or a job, then it’s a time of regrouping. “Life has to go on, somehow. How? What’s next?”
In Christ, loss is never final. Christ’s resurrection is the first-fruit of every resurrection.
“Acceptance” and “resignation” are too earthly minded to be of any earthly or heavenly good! Acceptance can’t halt retreat because it has no hope for advancement, no foundation for growth.
I refuse to accept the hopeless remedy of acceptance. I also refuse to accept simplistic platitudes. I choose to embrace Christ’s healing hope. I choose to embrace the biblical truth that “it’s possible to hope and supernatural to grow.”
How about you?
Are you clinging tenaciously to the Author of life?
The Rest of the Story
Healing celebrates the resurrection by waiting on God (trusting God with faith), wailing to God (groaning to God with hope), weaving in God’s story (perceiving suffering with grace), and worshipping God (engaging God and others with love, even during suffering). In our final installments in our mini-series, we’ll learn how.
Join the Conversation
Do you have the faith to believe that it’s possible for you to hope—that not only can you survive the holidays, you can thrive during the holidays—because of Christ?
Help for Your Healing Journey
For additional help on your healing journey, learn more about God’s Healing for Life’s Losses: How to Find Hope When You’re Hurting.