I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit…You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.” Lamentations 3:55, 57 (NIV)
Is It Grief?
Lamentations expresses the grief of the author at the fate of war-torn Jerusalem. The author cries out to God.When I first read this devotional last week, I felt no connection to the verses. I am not grieving or mourning, I thought. But as I considered further, I realized that grief is probably a good description for what I, and many others, feel during this extended quarantine, even though we may be safe and secure. I am not feeling depressed; however, I have occasional days of unidentifiable malaise. Grief seems an appropriate description.
We are all grieving—grieving the loss of our normal circumstances and freedom. Some are grieving deeply because they have lost loved ones. Their grief is compounded by the lack of usual customs, like funerals and gathering with other loved ones for comforting hugs and sharing of memories. It makes their grief even harder to process. And this kind of grieving takes time.
Loss of Connection
But many are grieving the loss of connection—with family, friends, co-workers, and church families. Others grieve the loss of milestone celebrations like graduations, weddings, and baby showers. I have friends who have missed out on each of these. Parents grieve the loss of education for their children, as well as the non-academic experiences that add richness to their lives—ball games, dance recitals, concerts, proms, and birthday parties.
We are grieving the breakdown of our world as we know it. We feel helpless and out of control. But the truth is, we never had control. We perceive control when things in our world happen as we expect. We realize how little control we have when outside forces intervene.
God Has Lost Control
But the Good News is, God has not lost control. He orders every step we take. Our hope and strength come from Him. Our comfort in grief comes from Him. Our solutions come from Him. Even though the enemy would like to think he has messed up our world, our opportunities, and our joy, we know that is not true. Jesus has already defeated the enemy. And while the enemy is allowed some control on this earth, we can effect change in ourselves and our world through prayer.
Change Your Grief to Joy
We can change our grief to joy with prayer, gratitude, and positive focus. We are not helpless or hopeless. Prayer and gratitude are our weapons in this battle. And I have even seen many who do not subscribe to Christianity share this truth. We know that in all things a positive attitude makes a difference.
Focusing on negativity is destructive. Focusing on what we can change and control and giving thanks for our blessings lifts us out of our grief. Putting our eyes on Jesus and getting our eyes off ourselves lifts our grief. Helping others lifts our grief. And prayer lifts our grief. More than that, these things help guard our minds from depression and despair. They protect us. When I have trouble getting into a positive place, I often find essential oils useful to help adjust my mindset. Citrus oils in particular can support emotional boosts. If you have a diffuser, add a bit of orange or lemon essential oil. If you don’t, explore the possibilities of getting a diffuser and some oils for your home. You can check here.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) are my “go to” verses when I begin to feel stressed or worried. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
When we pray and give thanks, the promise is peace. Speaking this and other similar truths into our lives will protect our minds and help us stay focused on positive things during this challenging time. God has not forgotten us, and He will provide a way of escape. He is faithful. He is and has the answer. When I feel that “unidentifiable malaise” descending upon me, I will acknowledge it and then cast it off by speaking God’s truth to myself. I will cast off my grief and allow God to replace it with joy.
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness. (Psalm 30:11) NKJV