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01.01.1970 01:0000    Comments: 0    Categories: You Asked (Text Files)      Tags:
Dear Dr. Smith, Question One: I am somewhat confused as to what you meant when you discussed the issue of grief in the Basic Seminar Manual. It seemed like you were communicating that God does not want us to feel sadness or pain related to losses we have experienced. I took it that you meant even in the case of the death of a child or parent that theophostic ministry (Jesus) would remove any sense of painful loss to the point where all that would remain were the pleasant memories. It didn't seem right. I have always considered grief a healthy and normal and even God ordained response to loss. Ed Smith's response: This is a very good question. However, if the reader lacks personal experience in the Lord resolving pain in this area, he or she may have difficulty in accepting what I am about to say. I know that I would have before my own personal experience. I ask you to be patient and consider the possibility of a different perspective than the one you have stated. Prior to TPM I had always assumed grief was a long-term ordeal that people had to process and eventually learn to cope with. I have even said that the loss of a child is something from which you can fully recover. I am a parent that lost a child and did feel deep pain, but since having encountered the Lord in that painful place, I now have a residing peace where the pain once devastated me. What I wrote in the manual comes from doing ministry with people suffering deep loss and also from my own personal experience of my own grief. The pain of the death of my little girl was the deepest pain that I had ever experienced in my life's journey. I watched my little girl take her last breath on this earth and stood by helplessly as she passed on to be with the Lord. I experienced deep pain and carried this pain for almost ten years before the Lord lifted it ALL off me. I believe that grief and loss are usually rooted in both lies and in the truth one harbors. It is the truth that it is a sorrowful thing to lose a loved one. I miss my children today when they go on a two-week mission trip. When we are separated from those we love it does not feel good. When someone we love dies it feels very bad. However, the question is, how long are we to carry this grief? At what point are we to embrace the truth about death and the truth about eternal life that supercedes death. Paul declared, “Oh, death where is your sting!…” (1 Cor. 15:54-55) as he spoke of the imperishable place we will be with Christ in eternity. Is it true that we can never come to a place of complete peace concerning the home going of a loved one? I believe that there is a period of time for grief but there is also a place of complete resolution and peace. Genuine grief is rooted in the truth that something that was held dear has been removed. The Apostle Paul said “I have suffered the loss of all things that I might know him.” (Phil. 3:8). In this passage he acknowledges his grief that was based upon the truth, but ultimately rejoices in its outcome. Grief can draw us close to the Lord to seek His comfort (2 Cor. 1:3-5). Grief can result in our repentance for “the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance.” (1 Cor. 7:10). However, please notice that this sorrow and grief are temporary and result in an outcome that glorifies God. When I carry grief for years, there is something wrong. It was not a noble thing that I carried the deep pain for over ten years concerning my child’s death, but it was all I knew to do. Based upon my own doing, I have come to the conclusion that for many people, (as for myself), the steps of grief are actually steps of suppression. Suppression of pain is not profitable, it is destructive and not God’s way to freedom. I have never experienced the presence of Christ any more than I did during the ordeal with what I believed was an untimely death of my child. His presence was very real and His comfort was uplifting. I hurt very deeply following her death and He carried me lovingly in Him arms. Sharon and I both commented often about this reality during that time in our journey. However, regardless of the truth-based sadness and sorrow found in grief, I do not believe that the Lord intends for us to carry this burden of grief for life. However, in the context of grief the enemy likes to sow seeds of deception. Following the loss experience what comes forward in time are both lies and the truth. When I provide ministry to someone grieving I am never surprised to hear lie-based statements surface in the grievous memory such as, "I can never be happy again with him gone." "The reason that this happen was because I..." "I have lost my future." "I cannot make it without him/her." "I should have/shouldn't have...” These lie-based beliefs are often incorrectly identified as grief when in fact they are not. Lie-based pain is not grief. Grief is based upon the truth that what I had I no longer have. Lies can be very subtle and almost logical in their presentation. I recall ministering to a woman who had lost her husband several years prior to her coming to me for prayer. Prior to his death she was vibrant, filled with life, a worker in the church, and a source of strength to those around her. Since her husband’s death she became depressed, despondent, rarely getting outside of her house. Her pastor grew concerned and brought her to me. I simply lead her through TPM and asked her to let her deep pain take her to the memory where it was harbored. She went immediately to the death of her husband. As she wept she stated these words, “I can never be happy without him.” I asked her what it was that she believed that was behind these words. She said, “If I ever allowed myself to move on and feel happy again then it would mean that I was disloyal to him and would mean that I really did not love him.” I asked the Lord what He wanted her to know about this belief. She reported that the Lord said, “He’s moved on and he is happy so why aren’t you happy?” With receiving this message her countenance immediately brightened and she smiled and said, “That’s right! What was I thinking?” From that moment forward she returned to life with joy. She could have carried this depression for life as long as she held to this false thinking. It is never God’s will that we carry any pain that is rooted in lies. He wants us to walk in truth that can result in perpetual joy and peace. Jesus Himself said that grief was temporary when He said, "you have grief for now, but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you." (John 16:22). The Apostle Paul prayed that the "Lord of peace might grant you peace in EVERY circumstance." We are called to "cast ALL of our burdens upon Him.." (1 Pet. 5:7). Did it hurt to see my child die? Absolutely! Does the Lord expect or even desire that I remain sad for a long time? I do not think so. How long should this grief remain following the losses we experience? I am not sure. I only have the experiences that I have. I was doing ministry with a mother of a child that killed himself. She told how she came upon his body and experienced deep agony over his death. A few years after the event she came to me for ministry. The pain that surfaced in this session was still fresh, deep and excruciating. Even though she had succeeded in burying the pain from her day-to-day conscious awareness it was just beneath the surface. As we did ministry together she went to many places in the memory story. There was deep pain running throughout. However, it is important to point out that not any of the pain she surfaced was related to the truth of losing her son. All the pain was rooted in lie-based thinking such as, “I am a bad mother.” “It was my fault that this happened.” “I should have known something.” “I should have prevented this from happening.” “I am a failure.” As each of these beliefs were held up to the Lord she found His truth in every case. As each lie was dispelled she entered into His peace. It was miraculous to watch her resting in His peace after only 45 minutes of ministry. When we concluded the session she could not find any trace of the emotional pain in the memory. All she could report was the peace and joy of the Lord. Unless you witness an experience such as this it may seem illogical and defy reason and human understanding. The Apostle Paul talks about such a peace when he proclaims the "peace that surpasses comprehension..." (Phil. 4:7). Peace in these situations does not make sense but it is nevertheless real. In the Basic Seminar I teach that there appears to be a necessity for a time of grieving when we experience losses in life. King David laid face down upon the ground when his newborn son died. However, after a week of grieving he rose up and washed himself and went to the temple and worshiped the Lord. (2 Sam. 12:18-20). I am not suggesting that one week is the time frame we should expect. Every person will be different. However, I do not believe that suffering years in grievous pain is God’s will. I ministered TPM with a young mother whose child had been killed by a drunk driver. It had been about four months since the accident and she was still very distraught in her grief. She was the first person that had asked me to do TPM that was grieving. I actually tried to discourage her from doing TPM so soon after the loss since I had no experience in what might happen. I told her that it was truth that was at the source of her pain (her daughter was dead and she missed her) and that she would need to grieve 18-24 months through the expected steps and someday she should feel better. However, she was persistent and I reluctantly agreed. During the course of the session I watched her move completely out of her grief and enter into the joy and peace of the Lord. I have talked with her several times over the years (it has been 8 or more since the session) and she still testifies that the pain never returned. She still reports that in all the memories concerning her daughter she feels the peace of Christ and rejoices with what she believes her daughter is experiencing with the Lord. “The peace that surpasses understanding…” In the basic seminar manual I say this concerning grief, "Not all emotional pain is lie-based. When a person is still feeling pain in a memory, but there appears to be no lie-based thinking present, and there is peace where the lie-based pain was before, it is possible that the residual pain in the memory is coming from the truth as opposed to falsehood. A common example of this is the presence of deep sadness, regret, grief or disappointment. These emotions tend to be rooted in what was true and not false. These emotions usually surface following the exposure of lie-based thinking and receiving truth... Truth based emotion is often hidden beneath or behind lie-based emotion and may surface only after the lies are exposed and replaced with truth. As I just stated, truth-based emotions such as sadness, grief, disappointment etc. usually surface following renewal from lie-based emotions. Sometimes this deeper truth-based pain surfaces long after (months and years) the lie-based pain has been removed from the memory event, as was true in my experience. One of the reasons for this delay is the power of denial and the refusal to allow oneself to feel what was really felt during the time of a painful event. In my own experience, I had much renewal in several particular memories but only years later did the deep truth-based pain surface." When my daughter died, I felt deep loss and grief. I worked on this for about 18-24 months before it finally began to ease some. I assumed that I was processing the grief according to the steps that I knew (Elisabeth Kubler Ross's steps of grief). However, ten years later when I received ministry around this memory a flooding of deep pain surfaced that was much to my surprise. However, as I worked through this memory I discovered that the deep pain I was carrying was suppressed and rooted in lies that I was harboring. As these lies were dispelled with His truth I watched the pain be lifted. What remained was a sadness that was truth based. The truth is, I will not see my child again until glory and that was a sad thought. However, the Lord desires to carry our truth-based burdens if we will allow Him. I gave the sadness to Him and He took it. However, when we harbor lies, lie-based pain will only be resolved with truth. It also seems that the truth-based pain is difficult to identify when other lie-based pain accompanies it. It seems that the truth-based pain becomes evident once the lies are dispelled. When I identify truth-based pain in others or myself seeking ministry, I simply asked the Lord to carry it. I have not felt any sadness about my daughter’s death since that session. Before this ministry session I had an under ridding depression that would surface each year around the date of her death. However, this too is now gone. For those who have difficulty with what I am saying please be patient with your final analysis until you have an experience such as I have described. I have witnessed others and myself find freedom, peace and joy where there was deep pain. My wife Sharon, would give this testimony that the pain was all lifted around the grief she carried concerning our daughter. I was present when she received ministry. I watched her weeping in deep pain and suddenly transformed by joy as she encountered the Lord in her grief. She would say that the pain has not returned and the memories of this loss are filled with His peace. Question two: It appears that you do not leave room for the pain of living this side of the fall of man. The groaning of being fallen, separate from God. I see God using pain - dissatisfaction with our non-heavenly existence - to bring others or me to repentance, to a greater reliance on God, to a greater thirst for God and heaven. Is this a sadness based on truth that draws us to God and keeps us from becoming complacent and content? Ed Smith’s response: I believe that the pain of grief and loss and the “groaning” for our eternal home are two separate issues. The Apostle Paul says in 2 Cor. 5:2 that "indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven..." This is true. I do long for my heavenly body. I am tired of this earthly existence. This groaning is based upon the truth; I am not yet all that I hope to become. I have hope of an eternal dwelling in an eternal body that will feel no pain, will not suffer, and will not grow tired and weary. However, this pain is different from the pain of grief. Grief is based upon a mental reality not a physical one. Grief is about what was, the groaning is about what is. The person is physically gone but my pain is in my perception of this and not on my physical condition. My groaning for my eternal existence is based upon the physical reality that I am here in a physical body that is growing old, wearing down, feeling physical aches and pains and suffering from time to time. In contrast, my grief over the loss of a loved one is a mental reality (memory) that can be superceded by a truth reality. I grieve the loss of a loved one, but there is also a present truth about an eternal reality that supercedes this loss. My child is with Jesus and that is the truth. I miss her but I also know where she is. Her joy is complete; her existence is free of all sorrow, suffering, sadness and pain. I have an experiential knowledge of this since the ministry session I had concerning her death. Before the ministry session this was knowledge I cognitively possessed, but not something that I knew experientially. Other people that I have offered ministry who were suffering grief have had this similar experience. Their grief was lifted as they came to "know" experientially the truth of the loved one's place with Christ. We can quickly tell someone who has experienced a loss that his or her loved one is in a better place. However, this knowledge is not always easily embraced and realized. When I realized this truth experientially, the grief was lifted as it was overtaken by the joy of this truth. However, the pain I carry in this aging body that is longing to be transformed into its eternal state is perpetual and ever present. I can ask the Lord to carry this groaning, but the physical reality never changes. I am still in-house in an earthly dwelling. If the Lord were to lift this groaning it would just come right back since the physical state would be the same. Grief is about what was whereas this “groaning” is about what is. My daughter is gone, but she is with the Lord and knows His joy fully. As I have come to know this belief experientially (I already knew it cognitively) my grief has subsided. However, I live in a body that longs to be replaced with an eternal one. It is an ongoing reality that I am growing weary and tired and wearing out. This never changes from day to day so I groan day-to-day. However, in this “groaning” state I am being renewed in my thinking and thus experiencing more joy and peace. My painful physical reality is actual a means by which God is exposing my lie-based thinking and renewing my mind. My faith/belief is being refined by the fire as Peter describes in 1 Peter 4-5. The Apostle Paul says, “…we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18). This could also be said concerning the suffering that we have been called to endure. Suffering is ongoing. It is a truth that in this life we will suffer much. I have taught much on this issue of and necessity of suffering so I will not address it further but to say that it is an essential part of God's plan and purpose for every believer. Suffering builds character and establishes us in Christ. Suffering exposes our lie-based thinking and refines our faith/belief. However, the emotional pain that surfaces during suffering is more than not lie-based thinking and not truth-based. If I am being burned at the stake, the physical heat and my scorching flesh is truth-based. However, the feelings of abandonment, fear and shame are lie-based. I have read much about the early reformers and the persecution they suffered. A common report that was written about many of them as they were tied to the stake and being consumed by the executor’s fire was the presence of peace. We are promised peace at all times where it says, “Now may the Lord of peace Himself grant you peace in every circumstance” (2 Thess. 3:16). The place where I struggle the most with this type of bible verses are when they do not line up with my reality and life experience. I want to cry out, “But this is just not so! I do not have peace in every circumstance!” Nevertheless, if I am going to be consistent with the Word of God I must then ask the question, “Why don’t I have peace?” “What is it in me that is contrary to peace?” Too often we want to interpret the Word of God from the perspective of our experience rather than allowing the Word of God interpret our experience. Truth-based pain can draw us to God and keep us heavenly focused. Truth-based pain can refine our lie-based thinking. God will usually lift and carry our truth-based pain if we will ask Him. However, there is also some truth-based pain that God will not remove even if we ask Him to do so. The Apostle Paul asked the Lord three times to remove the “thorn” but the Lord denied his request. However, in this suffering the Apostle discover the truth of his own person weakness and his desperate need for reliance upon the Lord. I am convinced that the Lord will carry our grief and sorrow. I also believe that there is a period of time when we experience truth-based pain in our losses. However, I do not believe it is God’s intent that we carry this pain for a long time. I do not know how long this initial pain of loss should be expected. I will deal with each case as it comes. I do believe that God will lift off the truth-based pain we carry unless it has purpose in the refining and maturing process God has planned for us. I believe that what we sometimes call grief can be both lie and truth-based and that both have to be addressed. Any part of grief that is based upon lies is not God's will or plan for the person. It has been my experience that He also is very willing to reveal the truth of the loss from a heavenly eternal perspective and replace this pain with His joy. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor. 1:3-4).
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