Katrina and that River in Egypt

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina I thought that it might be helpful to talk about the grieving process and how to minister to grieving people. Grief is a process that we go through as a result of loss ... life, relationship and property are a few things that we can grieve over.

The book of Job is a biblical story of a man navigating through the grieving process. The grieving process has many steps but I'd like to just briefly discuss Job and 'denial', the first step of grief. Here is a brief description of what denial looks like:

Denial [Numbness]. The body protects us from what is really happening. The experience does not seem real. We can go through the motions at the time of loss and sometimes through the time of the funeral as through we are spectators watching from a distance. This can be a stage of bargaining as well, telling God we will do or change anything if the person can be brought back. Over a period of time, reality is faced. It is important to talk about it , not to keep it at a distance with frantic activity, pills or alcohol.

We often miss this step when we read Job's story. The first two chapters of are basically ones of denial. Job's reactions are very much entrenched in numbness. All of his children die in an instant, he loses his animals and possessions and here what he has to say:

"I was born with nothing, and I will die with nothing. The LORD gave, and now he has taken away. May his name be praised!"

He is covered with boils all over his body and is in intense pain and says:

"When God sends us something good, we welcome it. How can we complain when he sends us trouble?"

These are all statements from a very numb person. I am surprised how many of us, myself included, have used these statements as examples of correct responses to pain and suffering. People in pain need our understanding. Understanding that this denial phase is a necessary for coping and emotional survival is key to helping a person navigate through grief. At the beginning of chapter 3 it says:

"Finally Job broke the silence and cursed the day on which he had been born."

It is uncertain how long it was before Job came to this point but one thing is certain - he was passing out of denial and entering into the next phase, 'Anger'. Perhaps we'll talk about that on a later date.

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