Good Grief

“When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his robes … ‘Go inquire of the Lord for me and for the people, and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because our fathers have not obeyed the words of the book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us'” (2 Kings 22:11,13).
Charlie Brown in the beloved cartoon strip Peanuts would always meet his many misfortunes with that great oxymoron, “Good grief.”
If it was “grief,” how could it be “good”?
One pictures a husband at the grave of his beloved wife of fifty years. This is not “good” grief; it’s heartbreak.
But there is some grief that is good. It’s good to mourn over our sins. Often we speak in terms of mild regret that we might have made a mistake. That’s probably why so many fail to substantially change their lifestyles. What they needed was “good grief.”
It’s good to mourn over lost souls. Often we are concerned about the lost in Africa, or Asia, or our own community, but more often we don’t think about the lost at all. Perhaps our mission work and evangelism would be more substantial if we grieved over the lost. God does!
We often feel a secret sense of pride in our sophisticated knowledge of immorality and sexual sin. The Corinthians, to Paul’s astonishment, did. But they should have grieved.
“Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?” (1 Corinthians 5:2).
We feel sentimental at times when we hear of the death of Jesus on the cross, but what we should feel is grief. Good grief that comes from the realization that it was we who made that death necessary.
We need to sorrow over the right things. That’s good grief.

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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2 thoughts on “Good Grief

  1. I thought you did a good job of explaining the grief that is good as the grief over our sins. Thank you for the insight of this subject.

  2. I loved this article. Truly if we go about our days in prayerful thought and about our Father’s business we will not find the time to be caught up in gossip, looking into the affairs of others and finding fault in the others and the church leadership.

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