Grief and faith can be very complex subjects to dissect. Our faith is something we typically cling to through challenging times, and it gives us the courage to persevere as the above quote said. At times this can be applicable in times of grief, however, it is not as straightforward.
Grief can leave us in a rubble and leave us unsure of where we are in our faith. Navigating through grief can be a challenging and overwhelming process.
Is there space for grieving in faith? What does it look like to grieve as a Christian? There are many questions but it’s firstly important to note that showing emotions is not a sign of weakness, it’s a healthy part of grieving – even Jesus wept, right?
Showing emotions also doesn’t signify a loss of faith. You can know that a lost loved one has gone on to a better place (Heaven) and still grieve the loss of them not being physically present.
Here are some things to remember as Christians processing grief:
1. God never leaves you alone amid problems
You may never have the answers as to why what happened occurred – but know that God is right with you through everything – and that is more than enough. You may not know what lies ahead, but one thing you can be sure of is that God is still present.
2. Healing is a process
Healing can be painful; healing also takes time – but most importantly healing can be found in God. You can heal through the Bible – and find assurance in the very words that God spoke. There are thousands of promises in the Bible, meaning that there are an innumerable amount of promises for you to cling to when grieving. God’s word can bring comfort and peace during what may be a very dark time.
The more you meditate on something, the more you start to believe it. Grieving is not a sign of weakness; it also does not serve as a sign that you’ve lost your faith either. Bible verses on grief and pain can help to articulate the distress you may be feeling, as well as console you through a time of uncertainty and confusion.
Here are some below:
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6
“Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” – Psalm 61:1-2
“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10
“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” – Psalm 34:18
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27
3. Be open
Be honest about your feelings with people, but most importantly with God – He’s your Father, so He knows what you’re thinking anyway! Feeling upset, tell Him, feel like He’s disappointed you – express that to Him. Have the events following the death of your loved one left you angry? Communicate that to Him. Yes, God is Almighty, but He also shares in our pain. He cares about our feelings and emotions more than we ever do.
God also wants to hear from us. Don’t be afraid to ask Him questions, you may not get the exact answers you need or the answers you would like – but that’s what makes God omniscient. He chooses to share as he wishes. Some things may never make sense to us, but that shouldn’t stop you from coming bare before God.
4. Seek professional help
There is no shame in going to see a counsellor or therapist as a Christian. There was some stigma around Christians going to counsellors some years back, but since then that stigma has somewhat lessened. Counselling (in particular Christian counselling) can give hope and lead you on a journey toward healing. Don’t let shame or embarrassment deter you from getting the help that you need.
5. Avoid Christian cliches
This point is more so for family and friends that surround bereaved individuals. You may not have the right words to say and that’s okay! However, some statements should completely be avoided.
“It is well”
“They’re in a better place now”
“God will never give you more than you can handle”
“Those who believe need to not grieve”
“God knows best”
“We’re all going to die at some point”
Some of these statements may technically be correct, but it is not a time to be insensitive. We know God does know best, and we have the assurance that our loved ones may be in a better place (Heaven), but it does not take away from the pain experienced at that moment.
Likewise, overemphasising scriptural references to a person that is mourning may not be the best approach to help them either. They are most likely to be confused, overwhelmed, or maybe going through a rough patch with their faith; therefore, this may do more harm than good.
The best thing you can do for them during those times is to be present, help them in any way you can and most importantly pray for them.
Over the last few years, we here at The Balanced Wheel have compiled a few resources on grief and faith – including a Spotify music playlist. We have also included some external resources for you. We hope you find them useful along your journey.
Lastly, no one is exempt from the pain of bereavement – whether it’s the loss of a person or a thing! God didn’t promise us a life void of difficulties, even John 16:33, says:
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
So even amid the difficult times God has assured us that we will have peace, it sounds strange, right? But I guess this is the “peace that surpasses all understanding” that is referred to in Philippians 4:6.
There are unfortunately no shortcuts in grief, and most people will go through the following stages of grief: shock, denial, isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, and hope. However, we have the hope that death is not the end of the human story but (in fact) the beginning!