where is God in our grief?

This post was first shared as issue 10 of These Sacred Words

Sometimes grief hits you unexpectedly. You’re waiting in the fast food line and a rush of it hits you out of nowhere, causing you to rush off to the bathroom to compose yourself. A comment from a friend presses a painful spot in your heart, and you wince and then have to withdraw yourself from the conversation. 

Sometimes grief lingers with you. It sticks to you stubbornly, refusing to leave you. You wake up morning after morning expecting it to be there, and there it is, a cloud of unwanted darkness hovering over your head.

Sometimes grief is a piercing pain, and sometimes long days and months of grieving turn it into a dull ache, not always severe, but always there, always noticeable. 

Grief can feel exceptionally heavy and lonely. It can lead us to question ourselves and to question God. It can make us feel distant from God. It can lead us to cry out in confusion, “God, where are you?”

It can feel natural, and oftentimes easier, to follow this spiral of despair. To allow our grief to drive us into hopelessness and disbelief in the promises and truths we know about God. 

But it’s here that we must turn our lament heavenward. It is here that we must remember that God has not left us alone in our grief.

Because, in an unexpected way, our lament points us to the beauty of Emmanuel, God with us. If we are rooted in Christ and centered on truth, our lament can points us to a God who condescended to a broken and painful world to bring hope and light. Our hurt can remind us that we have a God who is not distant in our grief, but one who gently lifts us and says, “Come to me. I know it hurts. I know you grieve, I am grieving with you. But I’ve come to offer you hope.”

Friend, if you are grieving, know that these truths about God are not meant to diminish or brush over your pain. Rather, they are meant to remind you that Christ is the only one who truly has experienced your pain; he is the only one who could (and has!) truly defeated sin and brokenness and has offered redemption and hope to this weary world. 

Let’s rejoice in that.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Hebrews 4:15-16

May you allow yourself to see and feel the brokenness of this world. May you not rush past your pain, but rather linger in the darkness a moment longer, knowing that God is in that space grieving with you. But may you grieve with hope, knowing that Christ offers redemption to this broken and weary world, that he cares deeply about the suffering of his people, and that he is Emmanuel, God with us.

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