My earliest memory is sitting on the ground screaming and crying clutching my favorite skirt as my mother pried it from my hands to give it away. I loved that skirt. I wore it everyday. It was the closest thing to a security blanket I ever owned. In my little toddler mind I understood that letting go of that skirt meant something I loved was going away forever. I am sure that the adults who were standing around laughing thought my screams were a fit of rage. But this was not a temper tantrum. It was loss.
God used this small loss early in my life to prepare me for losses in my future. The loss of all of my clothes in a house fire when I was five. The loss of my father to cancer when I was seven. The loss of my marriage when it ended in divorce. The unexpected loss of a job. The loss of two of my beautiful sisters. The loss of my wonderful mother. The loss of a ministry that I dearly loved. The loss of my precious daughter.
Loss is a part of life. Grieving is the God-given, healthy way we cope with loss. The Bible addresses grief and loss with gentle, sensitive comfort and wisdom.
Below are six of the many verses that address grief and loss.
And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.
It is normal for Christians to experience deep grief over the death of a loved one. It is said that we grieve to the extent that we love. Here, we see a touching glimpse of the private love-filled grief of Abraham. In Kiriath-arba, one of the strongest and most faith-filled men in the Bible is grieving the death of his wife. Abraham did not mourn for Sarah with a tough-faced exterior telling everyone he was doing okay. Abraham “went in and wept for her.” Because of his faith, Abraham knew that he would see Sarah again; yet, this godly man was filled with grief over her death. The grief Abraham expressed over the death Sarah was significant. Moses was aware of it even though he lived many generations after Abraham. God inspired Moses to record Abraham’s intense expression of grief in the Bible so that His people then, and in every age to come, would understand that grieving loss is acceptable and normal.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4
We can rest in the promise that we will be comforted. In Matthew 5:4 Jesus pronounces a blessing on those who mourn…perhaps they mourn over their sin; or they mourn for someone who died; maybe, they mourn for the many losses and sufferings in life: whatever the source of the mourning, they are blessed and “they shall be comforted.” In Revelation 21:4 God promises that “He will wipe away every tear…” Some of our pain is so deep that our tears will continue as long as we live. It will be in heaven that God wipes the tears from our eyes. God’s promise is explicit. We will be comforted.
I do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
A believer in Jesus Christ doesn’t mourn like the world. We have the hope that we will see our loved ones who have trusted in Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
There is something special about someone who has grieved a great loss. They are able to comfort others with a special measure of compassion and wisdom. Maybe the “affliction” to which Paul refers in the above verse is the death of a loved one, a wayward child who has turned away from God, a close friend who has betrayed a trust, the loss of health, job, marriage, or as Paul says “any affliction.” When someone is hurting, who better qualified to comfort than someone who has experienced the same thing? It makes perfect sense to comfort others who have been hurt from a similar loss or betrayal.
And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.
There is sometimes great wisdom in saying nothing. When Job’s friends came to comfort him they didn’t understand exactly what he was going through. So what was their response? “No one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.” The point is when we don’t know what to say, perhaps we should just be there, and say nothing. When we are at a loss for words, it is most helpful to remain silent and grieve with the hurting person. Words are not always necessary and are sometimes harmful. This is the example we see from Job’s friends in this verse. They saw how much he was suffering, and “No one spoke a word.”
He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
If there is anyone that completely understands suffering, it is the Lord Jesus Christ. It is said of Him that He is “acquainted with grief” because He was “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows” so he was very familiar with grief. Who suffered more in all of human history than our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ? He suffered and died for the salvation of each of us.