Wednesday, April 8, 2015

G is for "Good Grief"

What is so Good about Grief? The phrase seems to be conflicted; an oxymoron. On the one hand, “good” is that which is warm and fuzzy. It is comfortable and enjoyable. It satisfies our desires. “Grief”, on the other hand, is that which we dread and try to avoid. It brings heartache, pain, anguish, and misery.

We often think of the Gospel as being good (which it is). The word, “gospel” means “good news.” At its origin is the root word from which we get the word, “evangelize,” which means to proclaim or announce the good news.

But we will miss the true meaning of the good news of the Gospel if we neglect the grief, or the bad news, of the Gospel. You may have heard it said that, a person cannot be saved until he realizes he is lost. That was commonly understood three decades ago but it is largely neglected in modern evangelicalism.

The Gospel is Good News but to understand it we must first understand the Bad News. In chapter 3 of his letter to the church at Rome, the apostle Paul makes that very clear from several quotes from the Old Testament: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt. They have done abominable works. There is none who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside. They have together become corrupt. There is none who does good, no, not one.”

So there is the bad news.  It is a blanket indictment against all flesh, all people, everyone. There are NO EXCEPTIONS!

We need to know how grievous our sin is before we can appreciate how good God’s grace is.

In our modern culture we practice too much self-worship and self-esteem. We tend to minimize our horrible, disgusting sinful nature. Instead, we use terms such as “missing the mark,” “shortcomings,” or “mistakes.” We avoid telling our children how bad they are. We use phrases like “acting out” to describe their undesirable behavior. Instead of punishing them for their willful disobedience, we give them “time out” and send them to their rooms. We generally excuse our sin as “just being human.”

God says of the unregenerate, they are abominable, they are corrupt, and they are dead.  They are as unclean things and their good works are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). There is no faithfulness in their mouths; in their body is destruction; their throat is an open tomb. Their mouths are full of cursing and deceit and oppression; under their tongue is trouble and iniquity (Romans 3:13-14).

A few years ago my family got some really “good news.” My granddaughter’s visit to her doctor revealed that she had grown three-quarters of an inch and gained six pounds in two months. "So what?" you might ask, "Why is that good news?"  Well, it is only good news when you understand the grief of the bad news that had preceded it.

The bad news was that, because of her cancer treatments, she had not grown in over two years. There was a possibility of permanent pituitary gland damage from the radiation. Her doctors were cautiously concerned that the use of growth hormone therapy might accelerate the growth of cancer cells. And then there was a very high probability of permanent cessation of growth without hormone therapy. The cessation of growth would likely cause the early onset of puberty and menstruation. All that was BAD NEWS for a nine-year-old girl. So then, the growth and weight gain was GOOD NEWS.

Good news doesn’t really mean anything until we are faced with bad news. And the Good News of God’s love doesn’t make sense apart from the grief we face with the full knowledge of our sin.  So then Grief really is Good if it brings us to repentance for our sin and turns us to our Savior.


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