We arrive at the chapel at sunset. A gorgeous orange and pink palette spread out across the sky, reminding us that God continues what he set in motion. Tonight, the Spirit compels us to pause and lay everything down at the feet of Jesus. In faith, we gather to pray, worship, and plead with God for divine intervention and healing. We fervently cling to the hope that God can do miraculous work for my friend battling cancer. A week later, at the age of 17, my friend completed “with perseverance the race marked out for [him]” (Hebrews 12:1) and met Jesus face to face in the magnificent glory of heaven.
In my mind, I know he is at peace in the fullness of God. Even still, my troubled heart struggles with the seemingly incomprehensible injustice of it all. It’s all so overwhelming. I mean, everything—sin, death, this fallen world—has so many questions. Did we not have enough faith? Why would God allow a son, a brother, a dear friend, to die so young?
If you are hurting from an unimaginable loss, this is for you.
Many of us know the deep, God-given ache that longs for restoration and wholeness in a broken world. With our limited human capacity, it is difficult to reconcile pain, suffering, and sin with a good, loving, sovereign God. In a world with unbearable pain and loss, disease and division, addiction and enmity, I want to encourage your heart to hold onto faith, even when the healing doesn’t come.
Allow yourself to feel. God created us in His image to be in a relationship with Him. Likewise, we are relational beings with a desire for human connection. Loss is supposed to hurt. Having faith does not mean turning a blind eye to suffering. Rather, we know that God is with us even still. It is ok to tune into the pain.
Psalm 147:3 promises us, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
By opening ourselves up to fully acknowledge the pain, we allow a relational God to meet us intimately in our suffering. Pray, cry, talk about your loss, or write it all down. Do whatever you need to do to courageously attend to your feelings of grief.
Acknowledge the injustice of sin. God is acutely aware of the impact of brokenness on his creation. When the world is not as it should be, he compels those in grief to cry out in intercession. In Jeremiah 9:17, the prophet laments about the fall of Jerusalem and says to the kingdom of Judah,
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Consider and call for the mourning women, that they may come; And send for the wailing women, that they may come!”
When God calls us into mourning, He calls us to intimately know the pain inextricable from love. His heart, broken by the injustice of sin that separates us from God, compels His mercy. The spotless lamb came to sanctify us, despite our brokenness, and bring us back to himself with his atoning blood. Therefore, we hold onto faith because death isn’t the end of the story.
Keep sight of eternity. His kingdom is coming to make all things new, so let us not forsake the pregnant pause. In the midst of our grief, it can be easy to allow ourselves to get lost in the no longer instead of focusing on the not yet. Indeed, the God who cares immensely will never abandon us.
Matthew 10:28-29, 31 tells us,
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care…So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Not only does God know and see us, He makes a way for us. God’s sovereignty reassures our faith.
I got a glimpse of eternity that night. As the vivid oranges and pinks surrender to the deep purples and grays of twilight, I notice something peculiar in the sky–the shadow of a cross cast across the clouds. I may never know all the answers to suffering, but I am reassured God meets us in the darkness and “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28).
If you are in a time of grieving, I pray you can hold on to faith and feel the nearness of God.