"It is very mortifying and painful to find how weak one is."
"That is true. But our mortifications are some of God's best physicians and do much toward healing our pride and self conceit."
The above quote is taken from a wonderful book I am currently reading, called Stepping Heavenward: Once Woman's Journey to Godliness by Mrs. Elizabeth Prentiss. The book is written in the style of a journal, at the pen of a young girl named Katherine Mortimer, and begins in the year of 1831. I won't extrapolate exceedingly regarding the qualities of the book at the moment, as I haven't finished it yet, but it has been very encouraging to me so far. I am learning a lot about my Heavenly Father through it, as I read of Kate's own journey as she learns and grows closer to God.
But back to the subject at hand: grief.
In my first post on grief, I quoted a few verses from Psalm 119. If anyone knew about grief, it was King David, and he experienced it throughout his life in almost every way imaginable. Pay attention to the way he describes the state of his soul, of his spirit in these verses. "My soul cleaves to the dust.....My soul weeps because of grief."
Have you ever gone through something in your life where you felt like you couldn't get back up? Like you'd been pushed down too many times? Was there ever a pain so strong you could hardly bear it? That is the picture David is painting here; he knew what it was like to have that kind of pain.
Like David, every single person on the planet goes through grief and hard times. Some experience it more than others it's true, but I have learned that there is more than one way that grief can appear in a persons life. A lot of the time, it happens through situations we can't control, like the loss of someone we care about, or through the workings of our Enemy as he tries to get our eyes of our Father. Just think about Job. He was a Godly man, and loved the LORD, but God still permitted a lot of horrible things to happen to Him. Did this mean that God did not love Job? Of course not. I think He loved Job enough to let them happen, because they ultimately brought Job even closer to his Father, and brought him more understanding. Look to Psalm 119 again; what does David say, right after expressing the pain in his soul? "My soul cleaves to the dust; Revive me according to Your Word....My soul weeps because of grief; Strengthen me according to Your word." David knew that what he needed was not for the pain to go away, but for God's will to be done, which always, no matter the circumstance, is that we draw closer to the Father, that we trust His commandments, trust His Word, and only look to Him and His truth for sustinance.
So what does the quote at the beginning of this post have to do with all this? I think it illustrates another way people can experience grief in their lives, as well as how God wants to teach us through these experiences. Just as we can experience "mortification" at areas in our lives not matching up to God's will for us, we can experience grief for deliberately going against the perfect plan our Heavenly Father has set up for our lives. Yes, Satan will constantly be doing his absolute best to minimize our usefullness for God, but when we fall for his temptations, when we make the choice to choose the temptation over God's will, it is no one's fault but our own.
Just like everything regarding what God wants to give us, from salvation to the moment by moment way we live our lives, it will always involve a choice on our part. There are so many blessings God wants to heap onto our plates, even in the midst of trials, but He can't give them to us unless we make the choice to receive them. Just as we are saved by making the choice that what God said regarding His Son is true, we are daily sanctified by making the choice to simply continue trusting Him to see us through anything. Look with me at the last few verses from the passage I quoted before. "I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Your ordinances before me. I cling to Your testimonies...I shall run the way of Your commandments."
Simply put, when we choose our own way over God's way, no matter how much pleasure it might bring us at first, it will always end in grief. God can allow us to run the way of emotional destruction, and we hit obstacles and trials as consequences of our sin. For me, God knew that I needed to hit rock bottom, and then continue to dig my pit deeper, before I would realize what I needed in Him. A lot of the grief I experienced in my life was simply me reaping the fruit of the seeds of neglecting the Spirit within me. I kept on turning away from Him, so He chose to let me hit hard and fast, thankfully, before I did any more damage to myself or anyone else.
That is a worst case scenario, but our Father won't always use grief that way; it simply depends on how soft or hard the heart is of the person experiencing the grief. If our hearts are soft, God can allow us to experience simple inner grief, instead of situational grief, when we can quickly realize our folly, and repent over it before our hearts grow hard. When this is the case, that is when God can use our "mortifications" as "physicians", and accomplish much "healing [of] pride and self-conceit."
Our God is a merciful, and loving God, and knows exactly what is best for His children. Just as He is not willing that any should perish, He is not willing that any of His children live a life they think as independent of Him. He loves us, no matter what, and His greatest joy is seeing joy and fruit and peace in our own lives. Our only part in all of that is making the choice to trust that He truly does know what is best, trust that He can fulfill us completely, and trust that He will soften our hearts and mold us to accomplish that end.