How to Grieve Offenses

God's Good Grief

When someone offends, hurts or victimizes us, we experience loss and pain, and our emotions need God’s “good grief” to heal that wound.

The reason it is “good grief” is because God meets us at our point of need. He brings comfort like only He can and begins the process of redeeming any harm done in our lives (Rom. 8:31-32, Phlp. 1:6).

We may find some closure through the releasing of our painful emotions even when we don’t turn to God and His “good grief.” But when we rely solely on human strategies, we miss out on so many blessings that God can bring to us in our grief—chief among them, His closeness.

Consider this  …

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” –Psalm 34:17-18 (NIV)

Today I’m offering a simple way to begin with a grief exercise below. First off, find a private place to pray and express your emotions. In your emotional expression, focus on only one offender at a time and one event related to that person at a time. You can move on to other offenses as time permits.

Pray for God’s protection and comfort as you engage with the emotion—recalling the hurtful event in your mind’s eye. Let the tears flow and sadness to come to the surface. Express your anger, but refrain from extreme expressions of anger. If you begin to feel extreme anger, take a break and come back after you’ve calmed down. If you allow your emotions to reach a fevered pitch, you make it more difficult to replace them—which is one of the main goals as we continue in the forgiveness process. Use the questions below to facilitate this process. (I find that “writing out” your responses is very helpful and important to gaining clarity and perspective.)

Prayerfully Process the Pain

  1. What happened in this hurtful event? Describe it detail for detail through writing a prayer or directly telling it to God.
  2. What did you want from this person or the situation that you feel you did not get or that you feel was not fair or hurtful?
  3. What do you feel you lost and/or continue to lose as a result this conflict? List them.
  4. What do you feel about the losses your offender caused in your life? (Be as specific as possible, referring to “Negative Feelings List” for further help in description.)

Forgiveness through grieving the hurts done to us is not a one time shot …

It’s a continual leaning into the mercies, grace and comfort of God!

Remember, you wouldn’t take a shower one time and declare yourself clean for the rest of your life, would you? In the same way, we must be vigilant to keep our hearts clean, by the exercising of grief and forgiveness.

We may not always have time to grieve on the spot, so learning to pray a prayer similar to what the Psalmist prayed, like …

“Yet I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay.” –Psalm 70:5 (NIV)

… can bring God’s immediate comfort and strength in your moment of pain and need.* Later, we then can grieve and release this hurt to God during our daily time with Him—committing to this practice on a regular and ongoing basis. As we weave this into the fabric of our lives, our hearts become softer and more compassionate—less offendable. I will discuss that blessed result in a later post in our forgiveness series.

Our next step in our series is “The Pursuit of Perspective,” where I will discuss how to release our offenders and their offenses against us to God.

 

How serious are you about grieving the hurts in your life and finding God’s comfort in your time of need?

 

What hurts do you need to grieve more intentionally and completely?

 

This is #4 in the Forgiveness Series. Click link to access previous post #3 – 3 Reasons Grief is Necessary to Forgiveness

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Linking up with – Marriage MondaysMaking Your Home Sing Monday, Living Proverbs 31, Monday’s Musings, and Playdates with God

*Other Psalms you may want to use – Ps. 10:14, Ps. 40:1-2, Ps. 55:16, Ps. 94:18-19, Ps. 119:151.

  • Amy Joe

    Great post… I’ll put this to use in my life and when helping others grieve their losses. Thank you for posting! Visiting here for the first time from the Living Proverbs 31 link up. Blessings,
    Amy Joe

    • Thanks, Amy Joe! It’s nice to meet you and I’ll have to keep up with what you’re doing over at your place. I think we’re of like-mind on this marriage blogging adventure!

  • So I’ll choose an offense and do this today, Beth. You’re so right when you equate forgiveness to taking a shower; one time isn’t enough. I need to keep that in mind so I won’t be so hard on myself when I’m slower to forgive than I’d like to be.

    Continuing to pray for you during your time of waiting for the results from your Oncotype test. I echo your desire to keep your focus on Christ and his grace, comfort and strength–me, too. Love you, friend!

    • I’m so glad you’ve been influenced by this post, Lisa. I can tell from your blog and your comments here that you take so seriously your spiritual walk and daily disciplines! Kudos to you! And thank you for your continued encouragement and prayers, my friend! They mean so very much to my heart and ability to “fight” this disease!

  • bluecottonmemory

    Beth – you are so right – it is a lifetime process of leaning into HIm – and in the leaning,He absorbs it until finally we have given it all to him. Another point you are so spot-on is that we have to recognize the anger and the hurt – but as you so gracefully point out – to do it carefully and not let it escalate. It’s like lancing a wound. I learned this process you talk about when God worked with me to learn how to forgive my dad who walked out on us. He never met my boys, except two of them when they were 1 and 3 and he was 56 years old in a nursing home dying. The first step was forgiveness – the second step was Him healing me, filling that void – to recognize He was my adopted Father. When it’s hard, not having a real father down here- I just tell Him – and somehow, He manages to comfort me! So glady ou did this post Beth!

    • Yes, when God gave me those words, I smiled because they are the daily experience I have with Him lately. Thank you so much for your encouragement to me, Maryleigh! And I’m so sorry you’ve had an earthly father that failed you and abandoned you and your boys. I have some father issues too, but not to the degree you’ve had to struggle. But God has strengthened you and I’m sure given you more grace and compassion through this forgiveness journey. So glad we share the same God of comfort!

  • As always, as ever, He is the Redeemer. A Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. No wonder He ‘gets’ the hurt, pain, and rejection we have had to deal with. This post is rich with hope and practical steps. Thank you, Beth …

    • Yes, yes, Linda! He “gets” that hurt and pain so much more than I do–especially when I’m on my “pity pot!” Thank you for coming by and bringing a smile and word of encouragement to me my friend! Looking forward to chatting in person in May! Yay!

  • Great words and exercises here, Beth. Just got off the phone with a friend who is walking through divorce. Forwarding the link…Thank you.

    • Thank you so much for sharing about Messy Marriage, my friend! And you know I always smile when I see your face in the comments section! Thank you for being an encourager in my life, Sheila!

  • Mia

    Dear Beth
    Today as I was contemplating the Christmas season, I suddenly filled with so much pain for
    I told my husband that I don’t have the courage to go into the new year that will be another year for us Fibromyalgia/CFS/ME sufferers. We are trying to make plans for our vacation, but we need to keep my Fm/ CFS in mind to see how far we can travel. But I am looking so forward to see my family again.
    Blessings XX

    • I’m so sorry that you’re feeling that discouraged and weighed down by chronic pain, Mia! I’m going to begin to pray daily for you in this burden, my friend. I had no idea it was impacting you so severely. And yes, this is definitely another area that must be grieved, and if you’re like me, grieved over and over again. Hugs to you!

  • Beth thank you for this series. It reminds me of Justin and Trisha Davis’ “Beyond ordinary” book, where they talk about the process of forgiveness.

    I love what you’ve said about the benefit of grieving God’s way (versus the human-effort way); His closeness and comfort. We so often fear or find it too difficult to process hurts God’s way. I know that sometimes I’d rather take the shortcut – which ends up being no shortcut at all!. I am learning the importance of slowing down, walking out the journey and taking that daily “shower” on some areas of life 🙂 Thanks for this encouragement today.

    • I have the Davis’ book, Ngina, but have yet to read it. Now that you’ve mentioned this tidbit about their book, I’m more excited to pick it up again! I too have difficulty slowing down, but this is an area, that if left unattended, will certainly force a slowing as we hit a “wall!” Our hearts and hurts must be attended to and I’m grateful God draws close to us in the healing we so desperately need. Hugs to you!

  • Kim Adams Morgan

    Beth, Great post. We are talking about forgiveness and grieving loss in our lifegroup and at church; this is a great addition to the sermons. It is important to grieve when we are hurt and ask God in prayer for help and strength. Blessings to you.

  • rboerner

    I love that you are breaking this whole forgiveness down into bite size pieces. Forgiveness is truly a process and typically is not a one shot deal. This concept took me a while to figure out. Forgiving offers me a freedom from guilt and shame and when I forgive, I am encouraged to continue doing so because a burden is lifted from my shoulders that I don’t have to carry anymore. Grieving my hurts can be challenging for me because I was taught to put on a happy face and just keep going. I am learning that grieving is painful but so important for my spiritual and emotional health!

  • Mary

    I continue to grieve the loss of my job a year ago that totally blind-sided me. I was given another job or basically told that this is the job we are giving you-the choice is yours. The beautiful part is the absolute blessing the new job has become. I was reading this morning from Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift and she spoke of forgiveness. Her words were: “If God can transform the greatest evil in to the Greatest Gift, then He intends to turn whatever you’re experiencing now into a gift. You cannot be undone.” These words remind me that out of this horrible job change process God continues to guide me and provide me with His love and strength. As I grieve the pain, I will hold onto her words and also use your wisdom to work through the pain that still hovers and needs to be processed. As always, thank you for your insight and keep it coming my friend!