THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS GOOD GRIEF
1 Corinthians 15:51-58
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
When one thinks of the grieving soul, it is usually in dealing with a loss of someone to death. This is of course the most familiar case of grief.
It is however not the only reason many will grieve. The loss of anything that has a value of one may cause that one to enter into grief. Many grieve over the loss of jobs, belongings, children when they’ve grown and moved away, to lose anything of value may begin the grieving process.
In verses 54-56 of our scripture text we find that we are dealing with the spirit of death. The sting of death is sin that sin has a name and it is grief.
Now no-one would readily admit that the grieving person is a sinning person, for we look at sin in the wrong way. In its simplest form it is the “drawing away from God, and the serving of something else.” The grieving person most definitely serves their grief as we will see, therefore they are caught up in sin.
Our intention in this study is to show how grief can be defeated and sin broken, forgiveness comes and victory over the enemy gained, as stated in verse 57.
What’s Grief, What’s Sorrow
Grief is a very destructive spirit and one need to be watchful over the actions that one takes when a loss does occur. When ones loses something there is always a place for sorrow. Sorrow, is a natural emotion. It is defined as: adversity, difficulty, misfortune, trouble, and “leading to repentance.”
Sorrow brings the person to a place of decision, a turning point, causing the person to carefully examine what is happening around them and adjusting the situation to come into line with the Word of God. As the person adjusts, the emotion of the loss should wain, the adjusting of sorrow causes closeness to God to return.
However the person in the midst of their sorrow must watch over the words that they speak. For if they are not watchful, they may inadvertently give Satan the license to enter. Seeding more sorrow on top of sorrow forming what we know to be woe.
Woe is prolonged and inconsolable sorrow. The person then goes about speaking words like “woe is me,” “I can never forget my loss,” “My heart is broken.” Taking possession of yet even more sorrow.
When sorrow after sorrow is heaped upon each, and more words spoken, then grief will enter taking possession of the person in soul. Then if allowed to continue it will enter into the spirit, cf.
1 Sam. 1:1-16. This is the story of Hannah, how she overcame grief.
Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite: 2 And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. 3And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there.4 And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: 5 But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb. 6 And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb. 7 And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat. 8 Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? And why eatest thou not? And why is thy heart grieved? Am not I better to thee than ten sons? 9 So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD. 10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. 11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. 12 And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth. 13 Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. 14 And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? Put away thy wine from thee. 15 And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. 16 Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto. 17 Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him. 18 And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.
Let’s examine how grief came, and comes, then how it is defeated in her life, and in ours.
A) Verses 6-7, the first thing we find is that there is an adversary who will come and provokes, or is constantly at you. An adversary is a: antagonist, a foe, an enemy that fights determinedly, continuously and relentlessly against you. Satan is the adversary of the church. His relentless attacks against the church are designed to bring in grief. Grief is; deep sorrow, mental distress caused by a loss, remorse, or affliction, and spiritual, mental, and physical heaviness. This we will see in the life of Hannah.
B) Verse 7, The grieving person becomes an irrational person, Hannah was not weeping and fasting because of her need, but rather because the adversary and the provocation that she was undergoing. Weeping and fasting will not defeat grief. Fasting is meant to draw you closer to God, not to make you right, but rather to bring righteousness. Hannah was not fasting as to draw unto the Lord she was simply refusing to eat. Grief will bring irrational thoughts, looking for an opportunity to kill. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are mental diseases that attack a person during the grieving process. 1 Sam.30:6. “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.” Grief, attempts through irrational thinking to always bring death.
C) Verse 9, Grief becomes all consuming, when it does, bitterness enters into the soul. That is the area that the adversary wishes to bring into destruction. Psalms 31:9-10 Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.10 For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.”every part of the body becomes consumed with the works of grief.
When grief has taken strong root, it will bring to its assistance another powerful spirit call anguish. Anguishes main purpose is to torture and terrify the spirit. It is even defined as such in the dictionary. Anguish is bitterness, all consuming grief, Grief is by no means a kind spirit, it will take hold of anyone at any age. The old and the young are equally targeted. When grief enters it will tear at the very heart of its prey. The heart is in fact the main target for grief to enter. Many in the grieving process will speak words like “I’ll never love again” or “my heart is broken.” These words will allow the spirit of grief to gain a foot hold and eventually mastery over its victim.
Through the example of Hannah we learn that the grieving process always follows a certain pattern which we will examine. Although the pattern is the same the stages may not always appear in the same order, they will however eventually show themselves.
First a loss occurs. This may be through a death, divorce, employment, self worth, something stolen, whatever may be held important to the victim. This loss begins the chain of events that will follow if the victim is not watchful over his or her words. This is the place to break the chain. This is where grief is the easiest to defeat. If the person enters into a mode of forgiveness here no other strong hold will take foot. Even in a loss caused through death, if the survivor will operate in forgiveness Satan will not gain control.
Second is a denial of the facts. We tend not to believe what is going on around us. Yet we also tend to place ourselves in line with those facts, accepting whatever may go on. We make statements like “I can’t believe what is happening” however we do very little to change it. The reason for this denial is we are experiencing a type of shock making us numb and unbelieving.
Third we begin the confessional stage, meaning we begin to speak things into existence. The shock we are in takes control of our mouths and we speak and say things we would never have dreamed about saying earlier. For example a person who enters this stage after being laid-off from his work will speak things like, “I well I guess I was just no good anyway,” or one who suffers through a divorce says “I suppose I wasn’t worth loving to start with.” The confessional stages of grief will always attack our own self worth. If we are to break the control of grief we MUST get a hold on the words we speak. Being sure that our confession is what the Word of God has to say regarding ourselves only. We see in 1 Sam. 1:15-16 that Hannah’s grief kept her in that state by the words she spoke.
We may express the emotions we are undergoing but we must never give ourselves over to them. To say how we feel is ok, but always be sure to follow that with the facts of the Word. Example “I feel very lonely now that I’m by myself, but isn’t it great to know that I don’t have to stay alone. God says He’ll never leave me or forsake me. That he sticks closer than a brother, and that I can cast all my loneliness on Him for He cares for me.” This kind of statement will bring much healing to us quickly. We have been given an example of grief taking control of words and the victim being irrational, it is found in 1 Samuel 30:6.
Fourthly grief will work along with another group of assailing spirits, when we recognize their presence we may defeat them. A person who operates in grief will always experience depression. Despair will attempt to bring its control over them. Bitterness is often found in one who is experiencing grief. Cruelty is not uncommon, panic, guilt, anger, resentment, envy, and strife all enter with grief. These all must be overcome in order to bring the person into victory.
Fifthly grief usually will bring the physical evidence of sickness and/or disease. Once Satan has the victim in his grasp, he will sap away their energy in spirit, soul and body, as we saw with Hannah.
To overcome grief we must go first to the Word and receive the truth of it in our lives. We must make the Word more real to ourselves than the problems that grief will attempt to show us. We can have the victory if we will use the Word against the enemy.
Isaiah 53:1-5, “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2
For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
Here we find that Jesus was very familiar with our sorrow and grief. He took it upon himself so that we may not have to undergo the work and stress of Satan.
Isaiah 51:11-16, “Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.12 I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; 13 And forgettest the LORD thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor? 14 The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail. 15 But I am the LORD thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The LORD of hosts is his name. 16 And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.” Sorrow and grief may be overcome by placing the Word of God into our mouths, even as He has already put it there. c\f Isa.35:10
Proverbs 15:13, when one shows a happy disposition the very countenance shows forth the joy.
John 16:20-24, sorrow and grief can be defeat by simply asking in the name of Jesus. Grief must be placed under our feet by continual use of the Word. The same way grief came may, well be the same way it is defeated. It came as a loss, lose it by giving it over to the Lord and not picking it up ever again.
Let us return now and see what Hannah did in defeating grief.
Verse 11, Hannah took hold of faith, then made an offering of faith.
Verse 17. Hannah received the word of the man of God. Today we can receive the Word of God through the man of God, His name is Jesus. We must receive it, rejecting the Word is tantamount to embracing grief. She went in peace, (shalom; be well, happy and friendly, have health and prosperity, be favoured and have safety, enter into rest) she received that peace. Not as just a good word, but rather as a rhema word. A word that came alive in her spirit, settling her down so that she could receive the seed of life in her spirit. Then the seed of life from her husband in her body. Look to God for His word, then receive it.
Verse 17, After you received the word, receive the answer to your petition. But have a petition. Many, while they suffer grief, tend to remain there. They go to God with only weeping and crying out. God has an understanding heart and He desires to relieve the grief, but He is bound to His Word. He must have His word spoken so that it becomes the petition that He answers.
Eli told Hannah that the God of Israel would grant her, her petition. Who is this God of Israel, Jehovah-Elohim, the Supreme God, the Eternal Creator, the God who keeps covenant and fulfills promises. Hannah went knowing that the very Highest Authority in the universe had gotten behind her petition. She now knew that what she had asked for (verse 11) would be so. This is great faith.
Verse 18, Settle in your heart, that’s what God says, He will preform. Hannah simply took the attitude of grace. No longer living in grief, she exchanges it for grace. Grace here means “well favored.” When favor comes upon us, what it is that grief can give us? Nothing, it must leave in a hurry. Grief cannot bear up when the favor is upon a person.
That is why when a person loses something, even another person, they need to surround themselves with others who will give them favour. Others that are of like faith. The ones who will move you from grief and fear in favor and faith. Not those who will get into agreement with how terrible of a loss you are going through, but rather that they will agree in with you in comfort brought through the Spirit of God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7.
Verse 18, Go your way with comfort. Change those things that will bring back memories of the loss. Leave off mourning and take on the spirit of joy, changing your countenance.
The word here for countenance is the word for heaviness. When we place our trust in God there is no longer a reason for grief or heaviness to be upon us. Notice that the word “sad” is italicized, it does not appear in the original text, this line should more accurately read “and her heaviness was no more.”
Verse 19, Finally in defeating grief, change your routine. During the grieving stages we speak and act contrary to the word of God. Change your routine to line up with the word of God. Enter into worship and praise. Look to God for the answer, and at once act upon the answer. Don’t wait for what you think may be the ideal time. Go forth with the promises knowing that what God said, God will honour. Grief becomes defeated. Always speak against the enemy in the name of Jesus, cover yourself with the blood of Jesus, and speak forth the word of God and you will be an Overcomer in grief.
Put on Praise, rejoice, Philippians 4:4-8, to rejoice means: to brighten up, to leap, and to spin around. These are a beginning to bring joy back into our lives. We saw in Isaiah 61 that our direction was to put on a garment of praise which defeats the spirit of heaviness which always accompanies grief. One may leave grief quickly behind when one goes to God in praise with rejoicing.
Finally look to Hebrews 2:14, here Paul reveals that the spirit of death is finished because Jesus Himself defeated on our behalf. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil”