Q&A: Is all grief sinful?

Is all grief sinful?

Question

I understand that some grief could be sin as with someone feeling sorry for themselves and such. However, my uncle died and some have told me it is not biblical to grieve and I should rather only rejoice because my uncle is now in heaven. Is this true?

Answer

I am sorry your uncle passed away. While I would hope these folks mean well with their advice, it is, however, biblical to grieve in this circumstances (as well as several others).

In Ecclesiastes The Preacher says: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: ... a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance" (Eccl. 3:1, 4). In the New Testament Paul teaches that we are to "mourn with those who mourn" (Rom. 12:15).

There is such a thing as biblical grief. However, for the Christian, grief is not like it would be for mere man without a sovereign God, but a grief with hope. Paul, when speaking of the "now but not yet" reality of eschatology states, "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope" (1 Thess. 4:13). The Christian's biblical grief is that with true hope: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28). The Christian's grief actually becomes a source of comfort to others: "...the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God" (2 Cor. 1:3-4).

We must remember that Christ was "a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering" (Isa. 53:3). Christ our Savior grieved, therefore Christians should grieve also. This "is right," as Paul stated to the Philippians: "...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things" (Phil. 4:8). There is a time for everything under the heaven.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).