As we head into the holidays, I know many of you are either walking through grief yourselves or helping others walk through their grief. Anyone who has lost loved ones in 2021 will feel the loss particularly hard this season as they face the first Thanksgiving and first Christmas without them.
The “holiday blues” isn’t a myth. It’s a reality for many.
But grief doesn’t need to be the end of the story. In fact, God wants to bless us in the middle of our grief.
Jesus said, “God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4 NLT). That seems like an impossible statement. How can God bless your life while you’re grieving? By comforting your broken heart.
In the Bible, I’ve discovered six ways God helps us with our grief:
God draws us close to himself.
When you grieve, it often feels like God is a million miles away. But not everything you feel is true. God isn’t aloof when you’re in your worst pain. He never leaves you. He is, as the Psalmist writes, “close to the brokenhearted” (Psalm 34:18 NIV).
This is why we can agree with Paul as he writes in 2 Corinthians 6:10: “We have much sadness, but we are always rejoicing” (NCV). That’s the difference Jesus makes in our lives.
God grieves with us.
The only reason we grieve in the first place is because we’re made in the image of God—and he grieves. Jesus showed us this when his friend Lazarus died. He wept and grieved with Lazarus’ sister. The Bible says in John 11:33-35, “Jesus saw her weeping, and he saw how the people with her were weeping also; his heart was touched, and he was deeply moved. ‘Where have you buried him?’ he asked them. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they answered. Jesus wept” (GNT).
Never think that Jesus doesn’t understand your grief. We serve a suffering God. Isaiah 53:3 describes Jesus as a “man of sorrows” (NLT). Jesus wasn’t afraid of showing his emotions. We don’t need to be embarrassed by them either.
God gives us a church family for support.
God doesn’t intend for us to grieve on our own. We might be tempted to keep our pain inside and not share it with others in our church family, but God’s Word says that healing comes in community—within the church. Romans 12 says we’re one body and we belong to one another. We are commanded to “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15 NIV).
God uses grief to help us grow.
Here are three ways God uses pain for our benefit:
- God uses pain to get our attention. Proverbs 20:30 says, “Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways” (GNT). We rarely change when we see the light. We change when we feel the heat.
- God uses pain to grow our character. Paul writes, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 CSB). You can’t control when grief comes your way, but you can control your response. When you choose to be better rather than bitter, you grow.
- God uses pain to help us prepare for eternity. “These little troubles are getting us ready for an eternal glory that will make all our troubles seem like nothing” (2 Corinthians 4:17 CEV). Your life on this planet is preparation for eternity. Everything, even the troubles, prepares you for the glory of God waiting for you in heaven.
God gives us the hope of heaven.
Your faith isn’t tested in the good times. It’s tested by how you handle the tough times. Paul reminds us of this in 1 Thessalonians 4:13: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope” (NLT).
Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can have hope. When a Christian dies, he or she goes to heaven. That means we’re not really grieving the person who dies. We grieve because we will miss the person.
God uses our pain to help others.
God never wastes a hurt. Every time we face pain, God has a purpose in it. There’s no greater use of your pain than to help others with it. “[God] comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT).
Our greatest ministries will come from our deepest hurt. No one can help a person who has lost a child like a parent who has gone through the same experience. It’s our suffering that gives us credibility.
Pastor, I don’t know what you’re going through right now, but I do know this: “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT). That includes both painful and joyful seasons.
There is a time to grieve. And when you do, God will walk through your grief with you—and bless you through it.