Responding to lament


When Esther’s eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them.
- Esther 4:4

In today’s passage, Esther hears about Mordecai’s distress and moves quickly to cleaning him up. Her actions are well-meaning and well-intended. Those who push us to too quickly abandon our grief often do so with good motives.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever had someone try to “fix you” or move you on before you’ve finished grieving?

Why did Esther respond this way? Looking at the context of the passage, it’s possible that Esther felt embarrassed, that she felt concerned for Mordecai’s dignity or that she saw that his lamenting was making others uncomfortable. It’s also possible that Esther tried to get Mordecai cleaned up enough so he could come into the palace and she could find out why he was so upset. The distance between her and Mordecai in such an emotional time caused her great distress.

Our situations are different from Esther’s, of course. Why do we hustle people through the grieving process? Some of it has to do with social comfort and a desire to keep things “normal.” We can’t handle those emotions.

On top of that, as Alex said on Sunday, moments of crisis reveal what we believe about God. Our hushing response might say something about whether we think God can handle those emotions. (Good news: he can!)

We’ve each been gifted with a God-given impulse to bring help and healing to the hurting. This good impulse can be misapplied. Afraid of pain and death, we’re tempted to knee-jerk and escapist responses whenever they rear their heads.

Can you trust that God is in control enough that you don’t have to tell a grieving person (who already knows it) that God is in control? What would it look like for you to be present without “fixing” the grieving person?

1 Comment

Good word! In fact, I have found that sometimes--armed with this kind of message--we can actually be the one who invites the griever to take his time, since our culture is already geared towards making grief something to hurry through, or not experience at all! Silly Americans!!

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