Most history books record past events and interpret them, but so little space is ever given to human heartbreak. The Bible’s history books are different. Amongst the ten thousand things, for example, in the Book of Samuel which are not included in Chronicles is a ghastly coup d’Ètat. The entire civil war period, when King David’s rule was for a time ousted and all but destroyed by his own son Absalom, when the uprising was eventually smashed and Absalom executed by Joab, David’s ruthless Commander in Chief, David grieved for his son so much that all the nation was made to feel the gloom. It hung like a pall over the nation. Instead of acting like a king delivered from de-thronement, danger and death, he acted like a father whose own private grief overwhelmed him.
Joab was told “The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom”. And for the whole army the victory that day was turned into mourning, because on that day the troops heard it said “The king is grieving for his son”. The men stole into the city that day as men steal in who are ashamed when they flee from battle. The king covered his face and cried aloud: “O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!”. II Samuel 19:1-4
until Joab “cuffed” the king into the effects of his grieving. You read the whole story in II Samuel Chapter 19. Joab had a point, but was, as usual, brutal.
We are told that Queen Victoria’s grief fell upon the whole nation, and hung there like a black cloud, for decades.
Grieving is heartbreaking. Grief is PAIN. Grief is loneliness. Grief is regretting, it is a black blanket which, when it falls, covers our entire horizons.We now know that grief must be expressed. Even big men do cry – or they develop duodenal ulcers. Grief must be born – there are no short cuts. But, when you do walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you need fear no evil, for the Lord walks with you. But remember, so do other people who need you. These are wise words from the Celtic Night Prayers of the Northumbrian Community on “Walking with Grief”. Let them lead our prayers.
Do not hurry as you walk with grief, it does not help the journey. Walk slowly, pausing often: do not hurry as you walk with grief. Be not disturbed by memories that come unbidden. Swiftly forgive, and let Christ speak for you unspoken words. Unfinished conversation will be resolved in Him. Be not disturbed.Be gentle with the one who walks with grief. If it is you, be gentle with yourself. Swiftly forgive, walk slowly, pausing often. Take time, be gentle as you walk with grief.
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. John 14: 1-2
Deliver us Lord from wallowing in a grief we cannot shed, and condemning a grief we have never known.
Now read Lamentations Chapter 3.