While worshipping one morning, I was reminded of an important aspect to survival during grief: It matters where you focus your eyes. It matters where you fix your gaze. Looking to Jesus is for good times and for hard times.
“And I will rise among the saints, my gaze transfixed on Jesus’ face…” Dean Ussher, Marty Sampson, and Benjamin Hastings, “O Praise the Name”
Your attention is diverted. It’s unavoidable. Your mind is consumed. Again, it’s unavoidable. However, you can employ the discipline of looking to Christ. Repeatedly. Over and over fighting the battle. And it is a battle.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2
Sometimes, you need an eye lift. Perspective matters in grief. Again, it’s unavoidable for your eyes to be diverted and drawn to your immediate circumstances. But it is possible to lift your eyes to look upon Christ. It’s entirely possible to train your eyes.
The nature of grace becomes consuming. I thought through a great statement made in one book I read. Granger E. Westberg says, “It would be stranger still if we could easily put aside our grief for routine matters.” I agree with him completely. However, Christ is not a routine matter. Training your eyes to look upon Christ will overwhelm grief with gospel hope. Grief may consume you, but your gaze will be transfixed by the face of Christ.
Train your eyes of faith.
“If we think only of what lies in the little dusty circle about our feet we miss the glory for which we were made.” J. R. Miller, The Ministry of Comfort
Life during loss is a constant battle to focus your eyes on the object of your faith and away from loss or even other crutches. You have many choices to make. You can turn to any would-be relief. But eyes trained by faith can have their gaze transfixed on Jesus’ face.
“…the most important thing about you is your mind, and the most important thing about your mind is what it is fixed upon.” Dallas Willard, Life Without Lack
This is no simple task. One author, H. Norman Wright, calls the unavoidable impact of loss “grief spasms.” He further describes it as being “ambushed by grief.” He explains it further:
“Some refer to it as being ambushed by grief. When it happens, stop what you’re doing and deal with your feelings until some level of calm is restored. The more you try to put these feelings on hold the more pain you will experience.” H. Norman Wright, Experiencing Grief
Note the intentionality Wright describes. I agree. A repeated lesson I have addressed is the discipline to acknowledge loss, face it head on, and deal with it within a gospel perspective. A truth perspective. And as J. R. Miller has said in his book, The Ministry of Comfort, “There is in Jesus Christ an infinite resource of consolation, and we have only to open our heart to receive it.”
And there could not be a more appropriate response to a grief spasm or a grief ambush than to train our eyes upon the Creator and Savior of all the world for all of time.
Who transfixes your gaze during times of disappointment or loss?
“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. John 16:20