Understanding Complex Grief to Ongoing Bad News

Daniel 10:1-3 – In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a word was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. And the word was true, and it was a great conflict. And he understood the word and had understanding of the vision. In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks.

You probably feel exactly as Daniel did. He got bad news that was completely beyond his control. Around the world, houses of worship have been closed for some weeks. In Daniel’s day, their version of the church was the Temple and it had been closed for some seventy years.

Image that, for a moment, the word of God, worship of God, and witness of God was closed down not for weeks but rather decades?

The backdrop for Daniel 10 is found in Ezra 1-4 where some of God’s people make the 700-mile journey home to try and get their church open. But they were met with human and spirit beings united to stop the house of God from being opened.

If all of this sounds eerily familiar, it is because, though times change, the work of the Enemy does not. He is always seeking to take human life, cause fear, and close houses of worship.

In hearing all of this, Daniel, who is now in his eighties, is so overwhelmed that he takes three weeks to fast, mourn, and process. What he is dealing with is something counselors call “complex grief”. In life, we get bad news fairly regularly. But we often have time to process, grieve, learn, and heal from it. In some seasons, the negative news is like an avalanche that keeps crashing over us, burying us in a sense of being completely overwhelmed.

This same thing happened to the godly man Job when couriers kept bringing him devastating news one after the other, lining up to crush his soul. Lately, everyone is experiencing what Daniel did. We live in an age where we get more scary news, fake and real, more instantly, constantly, and globally that at any other point in human history. Like Daniel, it is okay for you to not be okay for a while as the world is not okay. It is a good time to fast, pray, mourn, and process all that you are hearing and feeling. Daniel was not ungodly, did not lack faith, and was not in sin. He was just overwhelmed as you likely are.

Lastly, as a pastor I would encourage you to manage the negative news in your life. You cannot deny reality, but you can decide a time each day to check the news and your phone without being tied to media and social media obsessively, which will make you unhealthy. Pray before you look at the negative news to prepare yourself and then take some time after finding out the latest to pray and process. Your soul, like your body, needs some recovery time to remain healthy.

What time(s) would be best for you to turn on and turn off your phone and the television news?

In addition to this introduction to and overview of Daniel, you can find the corresponding sermons, daily devotions, men’s ministry resources, and hundreds of additional sermons and Bible teaching resources for free at markdriscoll.org or on the Mark Driscoll Ministries app.

To visit the Trinity Church in Scottsdale, Arizona, you can plan your visit at thetrinitychurch.com.

Leave a Comment