"James* collapsed this morning while running a marathon, and he passed away."
Those are the words my husband whispered to me in disbelief as he pulled the phone away from his ear.
The man who had stood with us in our wedding, the man who had enlisted in the Marines, the man who had promised to visit us the next weekend—he was gone.
We got this news on our way to church.
Carrying the heavy weight of grief, we walked into the worship service.
The message was—in what felt like a cosmic joke—on God’s goodness. I wondered, God, can I thank you for your goodness as I sit in this season of grief? Why do I still believe that you’re trustworthy when you’ve allowed me—us—to experience this loss?
Sitting in Sadness
These questions are difficult to navigate. Some of my friends and acquaintances have tried to provide answers and have tried to “help” by distracting me with lighthearted activities and inspirational quotes.
But the people who have helped the most have been the ones who have just sat in a room with me, saying little to nothing at all and having no simple answers.
You know who is really good at being with me and being sad with me? Jesus.
It sounds like a churchy answer, but it’s honest. In this period of mourning, Christ is good—not because he’s changed everything to be happy and positive from my perspective but because he has been in the thick of the sorrow with me.
He’s there with you too. And he gets it on a deep level. The Bible says Jesus was acquainted with grief and suffered many things (Isaiah 53:3–4 and Luke 9:22, GNTD). Jesus felt deep pain and sorrow. Because he loves us, he empathizes with us and laments with us in our struggles too.
Although the Bible contains stories about loss, struggle, and heartache, its message is one of hope and healing. As you navigate your own loss, consider the messages of these passages:
- Before the shortest verse in the Bible—"Jesus wept" in John 11:35—Jesus arrives to his friends' house and sees them grieving the loss of their brother, Lazarus. This impacts him. "Jesus saw [Mary] weeping, and he saw how the people with her were weeping also; his heart was touched, and he was deeply moved." Christ was moved to tears by his friends' grief. Likewise, our pain moves him, and he weeps with us too.
- Psalm 34:18 says, "The Lord is near to those who are discouraged; he saves those who have lost all hope." Rest in the knowledge that God is near to you in your distress.
- Know that God will give you what you need to face each new day. You can pray as Christ said to pray: "'Our Father in heaven: May your holy name be honored; may your Kingdom come; may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need. Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us. Do not bring us to hard testing, but keep us safe from the Evil One'" (Matthew 6:9–13, GNTD).
- Christ is with you through it all. Romans 8:38–39 reminds us, "For I am certain that nothing can separate us from his love: neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, neither the world above nor the world below—there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord."
*name changed out of respect for the family
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