I once led a seminar for pastors called “Keeping a Healthy Soul.” As the day progressed I noticed that the discussion times kept leading back to the theme of grief. More specifically, experiences where the pastors had been grieved by losses and cruelty in their ministry. Most pastors who have been in ministry any length of time had been wounded in the house of their friends. These experiences lead to grieving.
Grief is a powerful thing. It weighs our souls down and gives a heaviness to our lives and ministry. Many of us are walking around with weighted souls, hearts that are missing the buoyancy of a joyful spirit. At another gathering of clergy one made a statement that startled us. “I’m happy,” he said. It was a startling statement because it’s a rare one among clergy. Many of us find our work meaningful, and wouldn’t choose a different career but are not happy, we are grieving.
Not only does grief weight our spirits it also blinds us to the life of God. We see this in the story of Mary Magdalene in John 20. Mary was blinded by her grief to the extent that she could not see the life of Jesus. To Mary, Jesus sent dramatic signs: a stone rolled away, and brilliant angels, Jesus even stood right before her. Yet even these dramatic signs did not break through her grief. It wasn’t until Jesus spoke her name that the spell of grief was broken.
So it sometimes is with us. We miss the life of God in and around us because we are blinded by grief. Even dramatic acts of God go unrecognized because our hearts have concluded that Jesus is missing from the scene.
So let us be thankful that Jesus persists in convincing us that he is alive. If a stone rolled away isn’t enough he sends angels, if angels are not enough he stands before us, if his presence isn’t enough he speaks our name. How gracious of him!
As you face the losses and cruelty of ministry you will grieve. You will grieve things that shouldn’t happen in church, losses of dreams and godly visions for your church and life. You will grieve and the grief at times will blind you to the life of Jesus. If your heart is marked by heaviness and you don’t see the life of Jesus around you be assured that Christ is working to open your eyes to his life.