Understanding Your Grief
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. — Isaiah 40:31
Grief is not an enemy or a sign of weakness. It is a sign of being human.
Grief is the cost of loving someone.
Since grief comes to everyone, why do some people seem to work through it better than others?
“Some people think that going through the losses or crises of life are the exceptional times,” says Dr. H. Norman Wright.
“I see it differently. I see the times of calm as the exceptions. Life really is going through one loss after another, one crisis after another. Instead of avoiding talking about these times, let’s do our homework. When you know what to expect, you’re not thrown by them as much, and you’re going to be better able to recover.”
Lord God, teach me to embrace my grief and not fight it, so that I may experience the true healing that comes from You.
Grief Is a Unique Experience
O LORD, You have examined my heart and know everything about me… Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex… You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. — Psalm 139:1,14,16 (NLT)
You may feel it is useless to talk about your grief because no one truly understands what you are going through.
“You sometimes feel after an experience like this that you’re talking a foreign language,” says Dora, whose daughter died. “You feel like there’s no way anybody can know what you’re feeling. There is absolutely no way anyone can know the depth of your pain. So you feel like it’s futile to talk about it because words can’t express the pain.”
Although countless people have experienced grief before you, each person’s response to grief is different. Your path of grief will be uniquely your own.
Be encouraged that regardless of how your grief appears to you or others, it has a precious uniqueness to the One who created you.
God, who knows intimately your personality, your relationships, and the experiences of your life, knows your grief and isn’t shocked or surprised by your responses.
Father, thank You that my way of grieving is distinctly my own, reflective of all You have sovereignly created me to be and experience.
Grief Runs Deep: Where Is the Hope?
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD. — Psalm 31:24
Dr. Joseph Stowell says, “Even though your heart is breaking and tears are clouding your eyes and staining your cheeks, God does give us something worth trusting in tough times. And that’s Him, and Him alone.”
When your heart is breaking, you can place your hope and trust in the Lord.
Anne Graham Lotz defines hope: “Biblical hope is absolute confidence in something you haven’t seen or received yet, but you’re absolutely confident that whatever God has said is going to come to pass.”
She also declares that “Jesus is your hope for the future. One day Jesus Christ will come back, and He will set all of the wrong right. Good will triumph over the bad. Love will triumph over hate. Righteousness will triumph over evil. He’s going to make it all right, and you can have absolute confidence that that’s going to take place. That’s your hope.”
Sovereign God, I choose hope. I choose faith. I choose life. Give me an unshakable faith in You.
Grief Lasts Longer Than Expected
Grief ’s unexpected turns will throw you again and again. You may feel that for every step forward, you take at least one step back.
The grieving process generally takes longer than you ever imagined. Please don’t rush this process. Remember, what you are feeling is not only normal, it is necessary.
“It’s been seven years, and I’m still going through it,” says Dr. Larry Crabb, whose brother died in a plane crash. “I don’t know if it’s a very holy thing to admit, but when someone says, ‘Well, it’s been a week, a month, a year — Larry, for you it’s been seven years. Get a grip. Where’s your faith in Christ, for goodness’ sake?’ I get really angry.
“Knowing the Lord and His comfort does not take away the ache; instead, it supports you in the middle of the ache. Until I get home to heaven, there’s going to be an ache that won’t quit. The grieving process for me is not so much a matter of getting rid of the pain, but not being controlled by the pain.”
We read in the Psalms that David grew weary with the process of grief and cried out to the Lord. Then he left the timing in God’s hands.
Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long? Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of Your unfailing love. — Psalm 6:2-4
I am weary with my sighing; Every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears. My eye has wasted away with grief. — Psalm 6:6-7
Heavenly God, I cannot even begin to put my grief in a time frame. Thank You that I don’t have to. Comfort me and support me as I lean on You.
He Will Carry You
Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to You, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. — Psalm 61:1-3
The Lord will carry you if you ask Him. When you are feeling so weak you cannot take another step, ask Him to lift you high into His loving arms. Then rest in Him with an open and listening heart. This does not mean your problems will disappear, but it does mean you will have Someone to share them with.
“If you are someone who does not know Jesus Christ as your Savior and you have just been widowed or bereaved, you have a tremendous burden,” says Elisabeth Elliot. “You are tired, and it is too big a burden to carry. The Lord says, ‘Come to Me, you who are tired and over-burdened, and I will give you rest.’”
To receive peace and rest in Christ, the instructions are clear. Jesus says, “Come to Me.” You must first approach Him and then talk to Him and quietly listen.
Lord, I come to You. My heart is worn out, and I need You. Take my heavy burden today. Amen.
Excerpted from Through a Season of Grief by Bill Dunn and Kathy Leonard, copyright Thomas Nelson.
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Are you in a season of grief? Perhaps a long season of grief? Are you leaning on God who understands you and has compassion on you for comfort? Are you taking your shock, pain, anger, and heartbreak to Him? Can we pray for you?