As a Pastor I encounter people going through all kinds of trials and difficulties. None of us are immune to grief – sometimes life just brings us tough challenges. Yet it’s not something we hear spoken about all that often. I want to share from my heart, the Lord’s heart, and the care and love we find in the Bible.
Ps 6:7 We all love talking about the ‘mountain-top’ experiences, but as a pastor, I also need to address the ‘valley’ experiences, such as grief. They are hard to deal with, and even though we all go through these times we find it hard to talk about them. In these times, your vision seems limited, and you feel alone and isolated.
Even raising this kind of subject might seem to be at odds with our message of faith, hope and encouragement; but avoiding the more difficult issues like these can actually breed a very destructive Christian culture where people don’t know how to handle the realities of life. We need help dealing with times of grief and loss.
Grief can arise out of a broad range of experiences: Loss of a loved one, illness or injury, job loss or retirement, infertility, miscarriage, family or relationship breakdown or change such as the onset of ‘empty nest’ phase, loss of freedom or possessions and even the process of ageing.
We all ask ‘why’ in times of difficulty and loss, but often there is no answer to this question. The book of Job raises the question of ‘why’ – why did a good man go through such great trials? Faith points us back to this conclusion: we may not have answers to the “why’, but we do have the ‘Who’ – the one we can always turn to for help.
Psalm 77 speaks of real life – raw emotion at its lowest; inconsolable grief. It is sometimes called the ‘Dusk to Dawn’ Psalm. In it the writer describes some of the effects of grief: feeling overwhelmed, confusion, anger, sleeplessness, restlessness, having no words to say, re-living the past.
Ps 77:2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted.
It concludes with a ray of light penetrating into a time of darkness as the author recalls God’s power to work great miracles.
Some of the reactions to grief we find in other Bible passages include: shock, denial, anger, trying to bargain with God, depression, and eventual acceptance and resignation.
Many people ask “If God is a loving God, why is there such pain and hardship?” I explain that there’s an enemy who’s out to kill, steal and destroy, and that sin has brought suffering along with it. We live in a fallen, messed-up world – we can see this everyday. And yes, we are all in need of help ourselves. As Christians, our spirits are redeemed, but our bodies and souls need daily renewal – we are ‘works in progress’ undergoing a process that happens over time. Jesus was subject to human pain and grief, and He took on all of ours when He went to the cross.
Grief may last for a season, but it’s not something we should remain in permanently, even though it will change our lives forever. When you don’t have the answers to ‘Why?’ remember the ‘Who’ – hold onto God. His love is always there for you. Ask Him to walk with you – and keep walking. The dawn is coming. God is always with you and He is able to lead you through the darkest hour.