Grieving with hope

The deeper healing of our grief is in God’s hands.

All cures are temporary.

Healing is eternal in character.

Cure is particular, focused on a specific issue.

Healing is comprehensive.

That is why therapeutic approaches to any of our struggles — grief included — lack the power to address some of our needs at the deepest level.  Therapy can teach us to “cope” with our losses or “manage” them (and that’s a good thing), but the losses remain — and they await a resolution that lies entirely in God’s hands.

But Christian understandings of the spiritual life are not entirely future-oriented.  Eternal life — life lived out in God’s presence — is described using the present tense as well as the future.  Our spiritual lives are present possession, awaiting fulfillment.  Perhaps the best image is of the rising sun at dawn — the light breaks across the landscape.  There are still places where darkness and mist still remain.  But the light is on the way and there will be a point when the landscape will be filled with it.

So, we grieve, but not without hope.  We are living with the dawning light and — even in our grief — we continue to live, laugh, and love, confident that our lives belong to God.

We can stay involved in the lives of others.

We can learn to re-invest ourselves in life.

We can practice being present to one another.

About Frederick Schmidt

The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Rueben Job Institute for Spiritual Formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and consulting editor at Church Publishing in New York. He is the author of numerous published articles and reviews, as well as several books: A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009), and The Dave Test (Abingdon, 2013). He and his wife, Natalie (who is also an Episcopal priest), live in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, with their Gordon Setter, Hilda of Whitby. They have four children and five grandchildren: Henry, Addie, Heidi, Sophie, and Drew, with a sixth on the way.