Finding Hope in the Middle of Grief
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, English Standard Version).
Life is filled with changing seasons. Throughout each of our lives we will experience many different seasons of ups and downs, gain and loss. All of us will inevitably experience grief at some point in our lives. Scripture speaks of grief as a guaranteed part of life over and over and pop culture even regularly uses the phrase, “Death is just a part of life.”
For some, grief is something that they fear because they have yet to experience it. For others, grief is something that they fear because they personally know it all too well.
I fall into the latter category.
When I was sixteen years old my family began pioneering a church in a small town in central Kentucky. We had been renovating a storefront for weeks and were all set to have our first service on Sunday, July 11th, 2010. That Friday, July 9th, my parents went to make sure that everything was ready to go, my Dad finished up some plumbing work and my Mom shampooed the carpets. On their drive home that night, a drunk driver swerved across the road into their lane and hit them head-on. They were both killed instantly. As you can imagine, in the seven years since their passing I have become closely acquainted with grief. Its presence is more evident some days than others, but it is always closely following me, and I think it always will.
Maybe you’re going through grief yourself and right now you feel like you won’t make it until tomorrow. I understand that feeling all too well. You might be wondering how I am still standing after what I have experienced. And my answer is always the same: Jesus. He is the only way that I have survived the loss of my parents. He is the only way that I have been healed and delivered from depression, loneliness, and anxiety. And He is the answer to your survival as well.
I’m no expert on how everyone can and should get through grief, but I do know that the only way I have survived is through the Love of Jesus and the healing power of His Word. My loss could have taken me into a deep pit of despair from which I could never escape, but Jesus has continuously kept me from falling.
Grief sometimes becomes overwhelming and feels like it will both figuratively and literally kill you, but I have come to know Jesus more than ever before through the last seven years of loss, grief, and loneliness.
I can’t give you a perfect formula to instantly heal you or change your circumstances, but I can share some of the promises from the Word of God that have kept me afloat when I have felt like I would drown in my own tears.
One of the most life-giving Scriptures for me has been Ecclesiastes 3, listed above. I have returned to these words countless times over the years, always holding on to the promise of good seasons intertwined with the bad. At times when you feel like there is nothing but death, weeping, and mourning, find hope in God’s promise of a time of life, laughter, and dancing.
“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Ps. 30:5, ESV).
A second lifesaving verse for me has been Psalm 32:18: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (ESV). I had known this verse for years, but I had never experienced until I experienced a truly broken heart and crushed spirit.
There is no joy to be found in pain and loss, but there is an extraordinary joy to be found in the presence and comfort of God. When you feel the worst that you have ever felt and like you will never survive this painful season, simply whisper the name of Jesus. He is faithful to rescue those who are crushed and to comfort and heal those who are broken. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Ps. 147:3, ESV).
And finally, I have been so comforted by an extremely familiar Scripture: “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, Holman Christian Study Bible).
I have found such hope in the strongest stages of grief in believing that all things work together for good. No matter how painful, no matter how unbelievable, God is working every part of your story into good, into purpose, into a part of your testimony. This doesn’t mean that God causes bad things to happen in your life in order to give you a testimony, it means that He takes the bad and uses it for good. He gives you the strength and opportunity to help someone who is going through the same thing. He uses your times of pain to show you that He is your comfort and healer. And He uses times of loneliness to become your constant companion and friend.
Wherever you are, whatever you’re facing, I hope that you can find strength and courage in knowing that you are never alone. The One Who created you, the One who loves and knows you more than anyone else ever can or will, walks with you every step of the way. He promises,”I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, HCSB). You are never alone. You are never forgotten. You are never without hope. The Lord is close to you when you’re brokenhearted and He is holding out His hand of rescue. You can take hold and trust His strength to carry you.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.