“Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5b)
Death has visited. It’s always a shock. It never feels natural. Something inside all of us knows this wasn’t how the world was meant to be. Something inside remembers eternity and groans in the face of an end. There are unanswerable questions, many what-ifs. Many unhelpful thoughts and words, many volatile emotions. How can we find hope in a time of grief?
There are no rules for grief.
People grieve how they grieve. There is no appropriate timeline or required steps. Some weep and weep, but others don’t. Some need to talk and laugh and share memories with loved ones, but others can’t right away. Some recover quickly, but others need years to heal. Some need to rest, but others need to work to find the new normal.
Don’t isolate yourself. However you grieve, let others in—to be with you, to pray for you, to share the burden with you. There’s no shame in grief. It’s the only right response to death. If you are with a friend who is grieving, there are so many unhelpful things to say. Think carefully before speaking. Your presence is more needed than your words.
Feel what you feel.
Feelings of guilt, anger, despair, sadness, pain, helplessness, confusion, and numbness are common. These feelings may come and go. Emotions can be overwhelming at times, but there’s nothing sinful or inappropriate about emotion. Strong feelings are just an indication of what’s going on in your heart. When Jesus visited the tomb of his friend, Lazarus, who had died, he wept, and the people saw how much he loved his friend (John 11).
God isn’t afraid of your emotion. But he wants you to bring it to him. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1Pe 5:7) God is big enough to take your anger and pain. I believe he shares much of our emotion toward death (or more accurately, we share HIS emotion toward death). Don’t suppress your feelings but remember, you will not always feel how you feel right now. Joy will come again.
Don’t lose your hope.
Hope is such a beautiful aspect of human nature. Hope is the belief that something good will happen in the future. Hope trusts in what is unseen in the present. People are such hopeful creatures. But hope is naturally unrealistic. Why? If this world is a result only of natural forces, what hope could we have beyond death? However, hope is supernaturally reasonable. As Jesus taught, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” If God is infinitely wise, powerful, and good, then, of course, he could bring good out of even the worst tragedy. This doesn’t change a moment of grief into something else. But it’s the promise that God can bring redemption to even the worst of circumstances. In fact, he’s done this before…
In the beginning, death was never God’s intention for his creation—life was always meant to be eternal. But because of the destructive power of sin, death is now part of this broken world. The good news is that God is bringing resurrection life into this world through the person and work of his son, Jesus Christ. Jesus died and rose from the dead in order to break the power of death.
Trust in him for he is with you in your grief. Trust in him because he isn’t afraid or offended by your emotions. Trust in him, and you will find hope.