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So the king got up and took his seat in the gateway. When the men were told, “The king is sitting in the gateway,” they all came before him. Meanwhile, the Israelites had fled to their homes.

2 Samuel 19:8

“Your child is dead.” Those words crush the spirit, overwhelming a parent with grief. More than once David heard those words. The death of Bathsheba’s baby, the murder of Amnon and now the loss of Absalom made the shadowy valley of death an all-too-familiar place for David. He was overwhelmed with sorrow.

We don’t know what David was thinking about God in those moments, but Joab confronted David with the need to set his grief alongside his duty to fulfill his God-given role as the king. So David, with tearstained face, walked to the city gate and sat in silent tribute to his men for their courageous defense of his throne. They came to him, not because he was grieving nor because of the great victory, but because they realized he didn’t blame them for his grief.

Grief changes life, but it doesn’t stop it. Grief itself doesn’t even remain the same for long. After the initial blow that turns the world upside down, grief begins to transform into either a series of deep episodes of genuine sorrow over the loss or a series of bouts with self-pity. Grief may affect us in many ways, but one clue that we are not responding to grief in a healthy way can be seen when we try to stop the world and hide away with our pain.

In times of grief we discover just how close we are to God. Death creates a distance that only a vital relationship with God can bridge. Although David was sorrow filled, his grief did not separate him from God.

When you are grieving, keep close to God through worship, prayer and Bible study. Experience God as Lord, so you will know him as your Shepherd when you experience grief.

God, I need you more than ever before because …

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