Grief is probably the hardest part of life in a broken world. We all grieve whenever someone close to us dies. However, grief can also come from other significant events, such as a divorce, a breakup, the loss of your job, or the loss of your home. We grieve something that’s lost, whatever that might be.
So, how can you stay faithful while experiencing the pain of grief?
It’s OK to Grieve
Sadness is a natural, God-given emotion. It’s OK to feel any of the emotions that God created us with; it is part of His design. Although it is possible for emotions to occasionally lead to unwise or sinful actions, the emotions themselves are not sinful.
Grieving is biblical; the Bible is full of godly people who grieve, and there’s even an entire book of Lamentations (a “lamentation” is an expression of grief or mourning).
When grief feels overwhelming, know that it’s OK to not be OK. You don’t have to have it all together. Lean on others if you need help (Galatians 6:2); we are here for you (Romans 12:15).
It’s OK to Be Honest
If you’re hurting, upset at God, or questioning His goodness, you might be tempted to censor yourself and not admit what you are feeling, even to God. However, God already knows your thoughts, regardless of whether you say them out loud. There is no reason to edit your prayers or try to hide what you really think or feel.
The Bible again shows us that it is OK to have such feelings, and to express those feelings out loud. For example, the Psalms are shockingly honest in how they cry out to God, question Him, and admit to depression or grief. Many such Psalms were written by King David, “a man after (God’s) own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). Such a man is honest with God and is not afraid to come to Him with questions.
God is not afraid of our questions, even though His ways are so much higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9) that we might not be able to fully understand the answers.
Remember That God Is Good
Even when you find it hard to understand, you can trust that God is always good.
That doesn’t mean that your current situation is good. The fallen world we live in is marked by trials and troubles (John 16:33). However, Christ has overcome the world, and in the long run, He works all things out for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
When your circumstances cause you to doubt God’s goodness, try to focus on and acknowledge what is true. Go to faithful friends who will remind you of the truth. Surround yourself with things that remind you of Christ’s goodness, such as Scripture, community, and worship at church.
God Cares About Your Grief
Because God is good, He cares about you and what you are going through. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18); “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). He is the “God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5) who says that those who mourn will be comforted (Matthew 5:4).
Jesus is also grieved by our pain. He mourns along with us. When Jesus was confronted with death and grieving in John 11:33-35, He was “deeply moved in his spirit” and “wept” along with the other mourners. He knew that Lazarus’s death wasn’t permanent (John 11:11); Jesus was on His way to raise him from the dead (John 11:38-44). Yet Jesus was still deeply saddened by people’s grief.
Grieving With Hope
As followers of Christ, we grieve, but we do not grieve like others who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). We can have hope even in grief, because we know how the story ends. We know that, eventually, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
Our good God, through His Son, has made a way for sorrow, pain, and even death to be temporary. Although we grieve now, trust that grief will not last forever.