Complicated grief

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Peter was warned that he would deny knowing Jesus. Jesus told him this directly, but Peter denied the denial, emphatically expressing his devotion and dedication.  “Lord, I am ready to go to prison, or even to die with you!” (Luke 22:33). When Jesus is arrested, Peter followed Jesus to the High Priest’s house and lingered in the courtyard at a fire with a group of people. Recognized as one of Jesus’s companions, Peter emphatically denied knowing Jesus (Luke 22:54,ff).

“I do not know him.”

“I am not with him.” 

“I don’t know what you are talking about!” 

The cock crowed three times as forewarned, triggering the memory of what Jesus had told him, and Peter went away from the fire and wept bitterly.

This event and these words are what Peter carried through the next days of the conviction, execution, burial, and absence. He must have been overwhelmed by the pain, guilt, and shame of disowning Jesus, by the words said and those left unsaid. Peter had a complicated grief. 

With this heaviness of heart, carrying the weight of his rejection, Peter listened to the group of women that morning after they returned from the tomb.  The body was gone. They saw a man clothed in white who reminded us of Jesus’s promise: that he would die but he would also rise. Remember? The words Jesus told us have come true. He is alive.

Peter knew firsthand of Jesus speaking words that would later become reality. Could this be another example? 

Hearing the women’s account surely presented many questions, especially for Peter.  He must have wondered: what if this fantastic, unbelievable story the women are telling is another fulfillment of something Jesus told us before he died?  What if I have a chance to see him, speak with him, recover from what I have so foolishly done?

No wonder Peter ran.

Peter may not have believed them when he heard the women’s report, but he was compelled to get up and run to see. Running to the tomb was an act of hope. It was a running toward, not away. 

What do you know about complicated grief? What do you need to experience peace and healing?

Prayer:  God, I am sorry.  I regret my cowardice of faith, my times of denial. Your love is stronger than death, stronger than fear.  May I run to you and be healed, embraced, restored.  Amen. Alleluia.

Photo: Swapnll Dwivedi on Unsplash

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