Grief, it has been said, is the price we pay for love. All of us will face it. Some of you are facing it right now. Our western culture does not handle grief well. We push it away, press it down, or ignore it. While Kubler-Ross has her stages of grief, I want to share with you 3 arenas of grief.
Job was a proud man with much to be thankful for in his life. He had a good wife, many kids, and wealth beyond our knowledge. On one fateful day it all was lost. Even his wife turned sour and encouraged him to curse God and die. Shortly after, he lost his health. We read in God’s Word that “Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship.”
When we face loss and grief it plays out in 3 arenas all at the same time. To ignore one of those arenas is dangerous and possibly harmful to your survival.
He tore his robe.
The emotional arena of grief is quite complex and I will not try to delineate it here. I will say that it is extremely common. The eastern peoples have great expressions of emotion and this is one of them. Job stood up and tore his robes. He was grieving. For those who wish to think that grief can be handled coolly and logically are not living in reality. There are tears. There is weeping. There is pain.
He shaved his head.
The physical arena of grief is necessary to understand. Here, Job shaves his head. A sign of submission. Job is submitting to the sovereignty of God. He is not happy but he is honorable. Often, people today will make serious changes to the physical during grief. From new workouts, to weight loss, to hair styles, to tattoos, there is a physical side to the grief process. The problem today is that it fancies itself more akin to ancestral worship than it does to submission to a holy God. Job’s next action proves this point.
He fell down and worshipped.
The spiritual arena of grief is often overlooked in the West. Our Judeo-Christian system we have established provides answers for the deceased. In these answers we have often made the incorrect judgment about God. Because we believe in the sovereignty of God we easily move to the attempt to hold God accountable. “If He is all good and all-powerful then” kind of thinking settles in. Job just worshipped. He fell down before a holy God spent emotionally, affected physically, and in need spiritually. His near instant reaction was to open his hands before God and cry for help. Instead, we tend to ball up our fists and shake them before God!
When the 3 friends arrive, they too tore their robes. They also spread ashes on their heads as a sign with his shaven head. However, they did not assist him spiritually, they accused. You may have friends. They may sit with you. They might cry with you. They might get a tattoo with you. However, if these people do not ascend the hill to the throne of God with you they are not what you need. May we ever be sensitive to all 3 arenas of need during times of grief.