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The holiday season is upon us and although this can magnify joy in our lives, it also has the tendency to magnify grief. Grief that is recent, grief that is distant and even grief we thought was in the past. Some of us dread this season and can’t wait to flip the calendar to the new year when we have a break from holidays and the painful reminders. Some of us even dread the new year as we wonder how we can start another year with such intense pain in our hearts.

If you are reading this and nodding your head, my heart is with you dear brother or sister. I want to encourage you in this: You can trust God with your grief.

Grief is so powerful and intense that it leaves us completely exposed. Grief can feel like nothing and everything at the same time. Grief can consume us like a black hole that keeps sucking us inward. Because of this, we have a tendency to want to hide from others and even from the Lord. However, as believers, our lives are marked by faith and trust, even in grief. So, what does it look like to trust God with my grief?

Trusting God starts by knowing him.

Does He care?

Psalm 56:8 “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle, Are they not in your book?

There is no one else who has been there for every tear, not even a dear friend or a spouse. Not only has he been there, but he has also kept track of each tear. This is his posture toward the broken-hearted. He can take your tears as you turn to him. He catches every single one.

Will He listen?

Psalm 34:15,18 “The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

He listens intently. He does not shrink back from the depth of our pain. He has a special place in his heart for the downtrodden. His ears are specially tuned towards the brokenhearted.

Does He answer? We look for specific answers to our questions. However, the Lord answers in a way we may not expect. The answers to the hard questions in our grief are found in who he is.

  • Why did this happen? Exodus 34:6 “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” I am always good and I love you. This is what's true. You may not get the “why” but you can trust me.
  • Can I handle this? Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” I am your strength and will help you endure this pain. Turn to me.
  • How can I go on? Psalm 18:28 “For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness.” I bring light into the darkest of places. I will light your path.
  • Do you see? Psalm 31:7 “I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul” I see you. I see what you are enduring. I’m present in all of it and you are fully known by the King of Heaven.
  • What is the point? Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” I won’t waste this grief. It isn’t random. It has a purpose and I am redeeming it for your good.

The Lord answers our questions in the midst of our grief with who he is. The most glorious display of who God is is found in Christ. As we stare at Christ we know the Father. Loving, compassionate, full of mercy, grace toward sinners, selfless, humble, present, trustworthy, and on. Christ is the fullest expression of why we can trust God with our grief and our hope that one day all of our tears will be wiped away.

Where to go from here?

Trusting God with our grief means we speak our grief to him and with him. Trusting God with our grief means more than just speaking to God about our grief. But it certainly doesn’t mean less. This is where we must start.

We learn to bring the Lord into our grief. We learn to bring who the Lord is into our grief. We learn to lament with the psalmists. We learn to cling to who God says he is and what he promises in his Word. We learn a little more about Christ, the suffering servant, who experienced unbearable grief as his Father forsook him.

This becomes a beautiful expression of faith that anchors our hearts in living water. Over time we see the fruit that comes from grieving with the Lord. No, the grief doesn’t magically leave but it no longer controls us the way it used to. It doesn’t seem as dark and dangerous. Yes, it is always part of us, but it doesn’t define us. We learn instead to be controlled by the Spirit, to walk by the Spirit. We find ourselves as those who are sorrowful yet always rejoicing (2 Cor 6:10). We become those who have learned firsthand that God truly is the God of comfort so we can in turn help to comfort others (2 Cor 1:3-5).

I want to encourage you to begin speaking to the Lord about your grief and to bring him into the depths of your pain. My friend, trust God with your grief.