By Michael Risley
In 1990, my mom died of colon cancer at the age of 62. I remember one poignant moment during a visit only days before she went to heaven: I was encouraging my two-year-old daughter, Lisa, to come and talk with her grandmother. But Lisa got distracted and ran out of the room. In that moment, I remember thinking, That will probably be the last time Lisa has a chance to express love to her amazing and godly grandmother. I felt grief for her missed opportunity on top of my own grief when my mom finally closed her eyes for the last time.
Grief is a powerful emotion caused by the loss of someone or something we loved very much. Grief is part of the cost of loving and engaging with life. Each of us will experience times of grief because death and loss are part of this transitory life. Most of us relate grief to the death of a loved one. However, we can also experience grief over the loss of a job, a pet’s death, betrayal by a spouse, our own loss of health or mobility… the list goes on and on. Sin’s presence in the world makes grief a common experience for us all.
Though God never intended for our hearts to suffer grief, He gave us His Word to help us through it. Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” God understands our grief and promises to be with us, to comfort us with His Word, and give us a “peace that transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
Numerous characters in the Bible experienced deep loss and sadness, including Job, Naomi, Hannah, and David – even Jesus mourned. John 11 explains that after Lazarus died, Jesus went to where he was buried and wept with the other mourners. Even though Jesus knew He would soon raise Lazarus from the dead, He nonetheless felt the immense grief of losing a friend. He knew our Father never intended death for us, and to see it ravage those He loved broke His heart. Jesus truly is a high priest who “empathizes with our weaknesses” and who desires our prayers in times of need (Hebrews 4:15–16).
So, pour out your heart to the Lord and tell Him all that grieves you. Ask Him for His healing touch and the ability to look at your pain with the right perspective.
In addition to looking to God and His Word for comfort and perspective, we should share our pain with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Fellow believers have the ability to “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). Cultivate strong spiritual relationships. Be involved in a small group of believers where they will listen, love, and provide camaraderie and guidance.
When we share our stories with God and others, our grief is weakened. Jesus says to us, “Place who you are and all that you have in My hands. Your broken life. Your story. Your fragility and failure, your pain and distress. Put it in My hands. You’ll be astonished what I can do with it.”