The unpleasant feeling of grief is not very appealing to many of us. Distress and tears are burrowing into any little left energy we have to move on. In the state of grief, so much of life whorls around in slow motion. The vitality of life losses its spirit. We feel like we have fallen to the bottom of the pit.
Even faithful Christians have known grief. And no, it is not sinful to feel grief and pay attention to it. God cares about our well-being and He has compassion for us. He understands our grief so we can be honest with him on how we truly feel. Joseph knew grief in his lifetime. Daniel faced distress. The prophets, like Isaiah and Jeremiah, have felt grief. David, the man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), knew grief and distress. Apostle Paul was well-acquainted with grief in his ministries. The Israelite, God’s chosen people, were no stranger to grief and distress. Most importantly, Jesus Christ himself, our God and Savior, has been acquainted with the very grief we feel. Jesus “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.” – Isaiah 53:3. The grief and distress we experience are so relatable to our God. He felt it so He knows how we feel. That means we could approach him with confidence that he cares and he understands what we go through in times of grief. It means that we will not be cast down or be ashamed when we go to him in honesty of how we truly feel. It means our God can be trusted to carry us and sympathize with us even in distress. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” – Hebrews 4:15.
We can be honest with God about our grief. Grief is one of the realities of this pandemic. The most painful thing we experience in the COVID-19 pandemic is the loss of loved ones and friends. The loss of a dear person in one’s life can leave a hollowed feeling. A feeling that something has been lost and would be permanently missing. And there are so many people around the world who grieve for this reason. This grief of a loss loved one is deeply wounding that it can affect how we view life and how we start living again. It washes away all other trivialities in our life and puts the focus on what matters most.
The loss of jobs has also taken a painful toll to many families because of the economic downfall caused by the pandemic. Suddenly, we are confronted with inability to provide for the basic needs of the family. The economic part is as devastating as the blow to self-esteem and self-worth. The inability to have a job that could sufficiently provide for the needs of the family can cause both mental and emotional distress. The harsh reality that there is little that we can do because we are limited by the COVID-19 pandemic brings great frustration that grinds grief further. There is real and raw grief in many lives today.
Whatever the reason for grieving, God remains the only reason to rise out of grief. There may be different reasons for grief, but the same emotion flows. While we grieve for different reasons with different circumstances, the feelings in the process of grieving remain the same even for different people. The same feelings of loneliness, frustration, confusion, and despondency flood us. The same hopelessness and loss consume our vitality. Grieving people can relate with one another and can understand the feelings of one another. No race, age, or gender determine the type of grieving. Just as love is universal, so is grief. Whatever is the reason for our grief, it is important that we have emotional, mental, and spiritual support of a family or a close friend. It is very important, above all, to know that there is always hope. And that hope is in God alone. When David was in anguish and he felt like God left Him, still he called on to God, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,” – Psalm 13:1-3. There is no one else to whom we can turn to and put confidence without disappointment. “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” –Psalm 118:9. It is only in God that we can hope with confidence. For the Word of God says, “whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” – 1 Peter 2:6. It is this hope in God that spurs us on to rise from our grief and distress.