In Chapter One of Jill Briscoe’s (JB) book, Heart Strings: Finding a Song When You’ve Lost your Joy, we are introduced to the Grief Tree. It is the first of many “trees” in this book. The foundation of Heartstrings is Psalm 137. Chapter One focuses on the feeling of grief that was experienced in that psalm, by the Israelites, as they were taken captive and brought out of the Promised Land. By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. Upon the willows in the midst of it, we hung our harps (vs. 1-2). The people grieved for all they had lost and, in their grief, they lost their joy. It is easy to lose your joy when you are grieving. It seems impossible to both grieve and be joyful at the same time. The Grief Tree is the place where our hope, and sometimes our faith, is trampled by bitter disappointments and insurmountable difficulties. Under the Grief Tree, we are deflated, crushed, devastated. The passing of a loved one, a painful relationship, loss of job or home or health can destroy our joy. Throughout the book, the harp symbolizes the joy of God’s people and the tree symbolizes various threats to our joy.
But what is joy? This definition is the crux of our study. For me, joy creates the desire to praise God and a feeling of connection to Him. Joy is the hope that we have through our relationship with Him. Joy is knowing that we are securely provided for, regardless of what circumstances may arise. Joy is not pasting on a smile and dying on the inside. Joy is not laughing in the face of tragedy rather, it is facing tragedy with an eternal perspective. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love (Romans 5:3-5).
I know there are many books and experts who can teach us how to deal with grief, and I am definitely not more qualified than any of these. I would just like to share some things I have learned from my own heartaches. Afterward, maybe you can share your thoughts – I would love to hear from you! I have learned three things to keep in mind when we have lost something precious and we are grieving:
1. We cannot trust in anything more than we can trust in the character of God. He is who is He says He is:
- He is eternal (Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God – Psalm 90:1-2; “I am the Alpha and the Omega the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the One who is, who always was, and who is still to come the Almighty One.” – Rev 1:8)
- He is good (For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to each generation – Psalm 100:5)
- He loves us (For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life – John 3:16; but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us – Romans 5:8)
- He knows best for us (For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope – Jeremiah 29:11; “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts – Isaiah 55:8-9)
2. This life is not what we see and feel and touch – these things are temporary (while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal Cor 4:18). This life, in Christ, is eternal. God’s plans for us are eternal. God’s vision for our improvement is focused on making us more and more into His image rather than being focused on achieving our earthly comfort (But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you – Peter 5:10).
3. God loves us dearly and because of His great love for us, He longs to comfort us when we are in pain. God created us to be in relationship with Him. We are lost without God and only He provides the real healing and comfort we need. Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD (Lam 3:22-25).
How can a person find “joy” in time of their grief? What does “joy” mean to you?
JustaGirl…just like you!