A habit is a mental structure that characterizes who you are, what you do, how you feel, and what you think about. It becomes a regularity in your life after frequent repetition of some act or behavior. It starts as something you choose to do and soon becomes a habitual, almost second-nature, even an involuntary thing that you do. Habits are also known as addictions. And it is very hard to break a habit, – an addiction – because it is something you depend on, something you crave and obsess over, though you may not even realize it. My habit is cutting. I am compelled to cut when I feel intense emotions or when upset or even tired, hopeless, or numb. Now you must be thinking, “well I don’t have an addiction like that,” but let me tell you: everyone has an addiction of some kind. Some habits are less intense than my have manifested themselves. But I believe every person has at least one addiction or habit that is ingrained in them; something that they do automatically without thinking, some thought or action they take and depend on everyday of their lives. If you think you don’t, I challenge you to take a closer look at your life and figure out what you have some kind of dependence on or perhaps a compulsion, urge, or impulse to do. I promise you there is something.
For you Christians, I would hope your obsession is Jesus Christ. That is what I am striving towards as I break my habit. The ultimate goal is to be so passionate for Christ that nothing else matters except Him. And I pray that you realize this too. I dare you to find your habit, your own personal addiction, whatever it may be, and change it. Change your heart and mind (which I realize is a long, slow, and arduous process that will definitely take time and lots of effort but it will be so worth it) to focus on Christ and the ultimate sacrifice he has taken to give us salvation and a personal relationship with him and the Father. It will be worth it. I know it. And don’t worry I’m doing it too, so you are not alone. It is a process but we can do it because Jesus gives us strength far greater than we have on our own. He will be there every step of the way, if you only turn to him – depend on him – for every hardship and roadblock in your way.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – that I may know him and the power of his resurrection and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. –Philippians 3:8-11
Last time I talked a lot about grief and what it means in a Biblical sense. But I realized the title I chose was despairing grief, not just grief. So I decided to make a second part to this post, and talk more about despair and what that means.
Despair is a feeling of hopelessness. And often we feel like there is no hope to continue on because your boyfriend broke up with you, you lost your job, or your cat died. But there is always hope, hope in Jesus Christ because he has saved us from the wrath of God. You may feel despair once, a few, or many times in your life, but remember there is always hope. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” This is a message of hope for all the people because in Jesus’ death we may have life and though you may be afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down, I want you to not despair, because you have a loving Savior who will comfort you in your grief, and he will take away your pain and suffering when you turn to him. This does not mean you will have a perfect life; there will always be trials and tribulations, but know that your God watches over you and that you are not crushed, forsaken by him, nor destroyed by death because you have Christ in you. Jesus endured the ultimate punishment; he was crushed for your iniquities, forsaken by all, even his Father, and destroyed by death. But he rose again because of his great power and love for you. Jesus knew the ultimate despair and did not give up hope because he knew he would be victorious over death. Take heart in this today and remember you have hope in Christ.
“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” -Isaiah 53:3-5
It is okay to grieve things. This may come as a shock, a surprise, or an offense to you. But it is true. According to Webster’s, the definition of grief is: suffering, a deep and poignant (emotional) distress cause by or as if by bereavement (mourning, sorrow). By this definition, you can see that to grieve is to be sad or sorrowful as a result of some deep suffering or pain experienced. And it okay to do this – to mourn over something or someone you have lost, or over an intense pain you’ve experienced. The Bible has a lot to say on this subject, so let’s take a look. In Matthew 5:4 Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Jesus is saying that it is okay and even good to mourn, be sorrowful and be grieved, because He is the One who comforts them. Jesus loves his children and only wishes to comfort them in their sorrows and hurts. He says those who grieve and mourn are blessed because only those who have suffered can be comforted. Again, in Jeremiah 31:13b, the Lord says, “I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.” The Lord promises over and over again the both the Old and New Testaments that he will turn mourning into joy, because he loves and cares about those who grieve.
The Bible does have some things to say against grieving certain things or in certain ways, such as grieving the coming of the Lord, as in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, which says, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” Paul is saying that he doesn’t want those who know the Truth of the Gospel to grieve death (because those who have accepted Christ are saved and thus go to Heaven), like people who do not have the hope of Christ in which to take heart grieves their deaths. Again, Paul comments on grief in 2 Corinthians 7:10. It says, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” The Bible also makes a distinction between Godly grief and worldly grief. There is a difference between the two, so grief is not always okay, of course. But know that it is not always wrong to grieve. Paul remarks that if you grieve in the world or for the world, it produces death. There is a right way to grieve, according to Paul, and that is to grieve in a godly way that leads to repentance (feeling regret, asking God for forgiveness, and making a clean U-turn in the opposite direction). This repentance will lead to your salvation in Christ, without having any remorse or guilt. See, it is okay to grieve things in a godly manner, just do not grieve worldly things.