Are you hurting? Mourning a loss? Grieving over a tragedy in your life? There are some critical truths you need to know:
1. God sees your grief. Sometimes the whole world knows a person is grieving—a tragedy such as a diagnosis or a death has made her pain common knowledge. But other times grief is private, kept secret and hidden away. Maybe it’s tucked behind a false smile and an “I’m fine” persona—but underneath the façade, “the grief remains.” Know that the Lord who is “close to the brokenhearted” sees your sorrow. It isn’t hidden from his eyes. Maybe it’s the lingering pain from the break-up of a romantic relationship. Or maybe it’s a deeper, hidden trauma such as the pain of abuse or grief over an abortion. In “Does the Pain of Abortion Ever Go Away?” counselor Julie Woodley offers encouragement from her own story of recovery from abortion and shares hope for women who are suffering through this private grief. If you are hurting because of post-abortion trauma or another secret sorrow, Julie encourages you to hear God’s call: “Experience my grace and my extravagant love.”
2. God gets it—even when others don’t. Well-meaning people can say all sorts of stupid things in a clumsy effort to comfort someone who’s hurting. Rather than bring hope, these shallow euphemisms and empty clichés can magnify a grieving person’s sense of isolation. If you don’t want to be one of the bumblers who ends up hurting rather than helping, consider the insights in Vaneetha Rendall’s “What Not to Say to Someone Who’s Suffering.” And if you’ve been the recipient of similar hurtful comments, ask God to give you the grace you need to deal with your well-meaning friends—and know that he understands even when others don’t.
3. There’s no need to rush. Our culture—so uncomfortable with sorrow—often pressures grieving people to quickly “get over it.” This pressure is often magnified for the Christian; long faces and downheartedness seem to have no place in a church subculture emphasizing joy, praise, and hope. In “Impatient with Grief,” Jen Pollock Michel explores the reality that some hurts linger for a long, long time—and challenges us, both those in grief and those who love them—to allow for the reality of grief rather than rush through in a frantic effort to be happy again. Scripture assures us that we can take heart in the knowledge that God understands the devastating reality of grief. There is no rush with him. He is the God of Jeremiah, who cried out, “My grief is beyond healing; my heart is broken” (Jeremiah 8:18), and of the psalmists who bemoaned in desolation, “Darkness is my closest friend” (Psalm 88:18). Yes, God does turn our mourning into dancing, but he does it on his timeline.
4. Grieving is part of growing. Grief may knock us off our feet—or it may be simply a gradual realization, a stirring sadness, when we realize we need to say goodbye to one season of life and move on to the next. Perhaps it’s facing an empty nest and grieving the end of the child-rearing years. Or maybe it’s sadness when a close friendship slowly transitions from BFFs to a more distant acquaintanceship. For Maggie Johnson, her grief came during the transition from singleness to marriage. In “A Newlywed’s Grief” she explores the surprising grief she experienced as she embarked on a very different stage of life. Whatever the reason for the change in our lives, grief often accompanies that growth and change—and when we acknowledge the loss rather than stuff it down, we grow even more.
5. Despite how it feels right now, there is healing. It can be hard to accept that healing
from your grief or your sorrow or your suffering may not take the form you most hope. It may not mean the cancer is gone or the broken relationship is restored or the past is somehow magically rewound. But, ultimately, there is an inner healing that we can find in our God of amazing grace and abundant love. In “Waiting for Healing,” Joni Eareckson Tada explores the compassion of Jesus for the disabled man in John 5 and points us toward the hope we can find in Christ as we face suffering or sorrow. The healing Jesus offers may not come easily or
quickly, but it is the deeper healing your soul most needs.
Are you hurting? Turn to the “man of sorrows [who is] acquainted with the deepest grief” (Isaiah 53:3). Whether you turn to him in weeping, in combative questioning, or in a pain too deep for words, he is there. Whatever shape you’re in, no matter how hard it hurts, he still
beckons, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Hope for the Heartbroken
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