Finding Focus in a Church’s Grief

January 10, 2012

Tuesday Re-mix – 

“Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.” Hebrews 3:1

I have been blessed with only a limited amount of genuine grieving in my life.  Frankly, I’ve done a whole lot more consoling of others than I have needed consoling myself.  But you don’t have to be an expert on grief to know that it has a profound effect on our ability to see truth.  In fact, a part of the healing process is learning to look through the pain to some larger truth which, difficult as it may be to grasp in spite of the pain, still has a way of guiding us.

But did you know that the grief process is not reserved only for individuals?  Churches grieve also.  They grieve the loss of a much-loved leader, the loss of a ministry or program, the loss of a “way of doing things”, the loss of unity…all of these can cause a type of grieving process for a church.  And like the grieving process for an individual, a church’s grief can be unpredictable and unrelenting.  It can last a few days or a few years, perhaps even an entire generation.  It can cause the church to do and say things it doesn’t mean to do and say.  But most of all, just like the grief process for anyone else, it is painful…unbearably so.

Moreover, grief has a way of disorienting us, both as individuals and as congregations.  It turns up into down and right into left.  It leaves us not even knowing which way to look for direction.  It is chaotic and complex and confounding.

So, it is in the pain of real grief where we are often left with little orientation other than to fall back onto whatever “safe harbor” we have established ahead of time.  For me, that would be God’s Word.  Whether in my individual grief or in my corporate grief, I have already long since decided where I will turn.  I have placed my most childlike faith in God’s Word, so that, even through the unspeakable pain of emptiness and loss, I can at least find some general sense of my bearings.

Of course, hearing the truth–perhaps even knowing the truth–does not take the pain away.  It does not bypass the grief process.  We must still go through all the pain which grief brings, for however long the process may be for us.  But fixing our eyes on eternal truth at least serves to give us direction, it reminds us to breathe, and then to breathe again.  It walks before us every day of the journey, calling us one more step forward…not around the grief, but through it.

It gives us the only thing we can trust during the otherwise mixed-up season of emptiness and loss.  There is nothing else trustworthy, nothing else which is not capable of leading us astray.  We must fix our eyes on Jesus and cling to His Word…and crawl forward, and then do it again.  And at some point a long way down that road, clarity begins to come again.  And though the loss is still there and has carved out a new normal for us, we still have the one thing worth holding onto through it all…God’s love.  And isn’t that exactly what your church needs most?

© Blake Coffee
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on this website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Blake Coffee.  Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: © Blake Coffee. Website:

One thought on “Finding Focus in a Church’s Grief

  1. phariseeinrecovery

    As Henry Cloud and John Townsend reminds us,” God gave us tear ducts because there would be sorrow in our lives along with mourning.” I personally believe the danger comes when we wallow in our sorrows and stay in them too long. We can take a lesson from Kind David

    2 Samuel 12:19 David noticed that his servants were whispering among themselves and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked. “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.” 20 Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *