The Unique Gift of Grief
AUGUST 17, 2023
How can something so painful be of any benefit...ever? This is a legitimate question.
It doesn’t square well with the fragility of our hearts or make sense on paper. The idea that what may very well be the most painful reality/season in our life actually comes bearing gifts can seem very foreign.
It was probably a year ago I found myself watching YouTube video after YouTube video; not of cats playing pianos or dogs speaking (I knew that’s what you were thinking) but of blind people receiving eye transplants and experiencing vision for the first time. It was amazing to witness the raw emotion and overwhelming, speechless joy of these individuals. As tears streamed down their face it didn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that their lives were forever changed. They had new insight (literally) that they never had before. Certain experiences that were once out of their grasp, for the first time encompassed a new awe inspiring reality.
As we journey through grief; whatever the circumstance may be, our vision has been forever altered. There are things you are now able to see and process that you were never able to before. There are ways in which you will be able to interact with and care for others experiencing suffering that is uniquely insightful, helpful, and healing that others cannot.
Believe it or not, this unique gift of grief is born out of appreciation. No, not an appreciation for the pain. As Tony Evans once said, “God never asks us to thank Him FOR the pain, but IN the pain.” No, a different kind of appreciation; somewhat similar to how certain animals with poor eyesight have a heightened sense of smell. When we experience seasons of grief, we have a heightened sense of appreciation born out of the painful circumstance or unmet desire in our lives. Where we see others take certain relationships, realities, benefits or health for granted, we resolve never to take these things for granted; they’re far too valuable to us because in the waiting and wandering through the desert of grief, a unique appreciation has been building and maturing.
Let’s use an example. In a vast majority of the United States clean drinking water isn’t something we are concerned about; and lacking water isn’t even a blip on our mental radar. In my 30 plus years of stumbling into the kitchen half asleep at midnight and turning on the faucet, I’ve never once thought, “what if there’s no water?!?” I never been emotional at the sight of water, I’ve never prayed prayers thanking God for water. But imagine for a minute you were dropped in the Sahara desert for a week without any water in sight and no time table for availability or rescue. All of a sudden, everything changes. Imagine journeying over hill after hill of sandy landscape as the dry desert wind paints the side of our face; mouth dry and lips chapped. As your eyes red from the sand and wind struggle to stay open. You’re not sure how much longer you can keep going but with your eyes barely able to make out the path ahead you see something. There in the distance; it’s a town! You see people which means they must have water. You muster one last physical push and run toward the people where you’re greeted with a cool cup of water fresh from a well. As the water hits your lips you fall to your wind worn knees, tears well up in your eyes; you thank God for this drink. You are completely overjoyed and overwhelmed. You realize in that moment that you will never look at a glass of water the same; that for every day after this, there will be a new found appreciation for what you once took for granted.
Although I wrestle with many doubts during hard seasons one thing I’m sure of is that God is at work, and one of the ways He’s working is to give you new insight, a new appreciation, a new ability to connect, to care, to relate with other wounded sheep at the right time and right place. In the discouragement be encouraged; this isn’t a wasted season in your life. God doesn’t waste a drop of your pain. In His hands, nothing is a wash. Yes, even grief brings gifts.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” – James 1:2-4
Read more from Drew Hensley here