Grief is not sin.
It wasn’t until another grieving mom asked the question that I realized there are some (many?) in the community of believers that think grief is sin.
Not at first, mind you-everyone is “allowed” a certain amount of time to get over the loss of a dream, the loss of a job, the loss of health or the loss of a loved one.
But carry that sadness and wounded heart too publicly for too long and you better be ready for someone to question your faith.
And (heaven forbid!) you drag your limping soul to church on Sunday and sit silent during worship, tears streaming, as the rest of the congregation heartily affirms all the things you now wrestle with every day.
Is God good? ALL the time? Does God protect the ones He loves? ALL the time?
“We bring the sacrifice of praise….” What sacrifice have you made lately? Have you buried a child?
I think anything has the potential to be sin. If I allow my heart, mind and soul to focus exclusively on what I’ve lost instead of what I’m promised through Jesus Christ, that is sin.
But grief itself is not sin.
Paul said, “We do not grieve as those who have no hope” NOT “we do not grieve”. (I Thessalonians 4:13)
Sadness is not sin. Sorrow and missing my son is not sin.
For a time, especially at the beginning, grief occupied most of my field of vision. It’s that huge.
We are made of dust and it cannot be otherwise.
Death is awful and the redemption of what was lost in the Fall cost God His only son. “The whole creation groans” (mourns, grieves) “to be set free from bondage to decay”. (Romans 8:21-22)
Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me?” as He bore the full weight of sin and sorrow of the world.
I believe that grief becomes sin when I choose to turn my face away from God and only toward my sorrow.
If I am holding it and dragging it with me toward the foot of the cross, that’s not sin.
If I turn my heart and face toward the One Who made me and trust that even in this painful place He is carrying me and will care for me, that’s not sin.
The writer of Hebrews speaks of bringing the “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15). It is no sacrifice to praise God for the beautiful blessings.
It is quite the sacrifice to praise God for what Joni Eareckson Tada calls a “bruising of a blessing”.
If I continue to wrestle, like Jacob-clinging and begging for the blessing-I am not sinning when I walk away with the limp the wound leaves behind.
Jesus has opened the way to the throne of grace by His own blood.
I don’t have to hide and I don’t have to be afraid.
He knows my pain. He knows my name.
I keep bringing my broken heart to the altar and lift it up in broken praise.
That’s not sin.
It’s the widow’s mite-it’s everything I’ve got.