Can God Handle my Grief?



Nobody likes to grieve or be sad. Aren’t Christians supposed to “put on a happy face?” And just “trust God?” So often, we can feel a failure when we can’t muster up any joy.

And we are all too familiar with what the world says to do with our grief- we are told to self indulge to make us feel better.

Many well meaning Christians might encourage us to deny our grief and go through the motions of being happy, but the Bible tells us that there is a time to weep and to mourn (Eccl. 3:4), and one of Jesus’s Kingdom principles states “Blessed are those that mourn" (Matthew 5:4).

God’s Word gives us the pathway of lament to help us process our grief and brokenness. The Hebrew word for “lament” means “to wail.” Very often, our culture does not allow for us ways to express our sorrow or regret so demonstratively, but the Bible actually encourages it (James 4:9, Isaiah 22:12)! Other evidence of God’s concern for our burdens is the fact that over a third of the Psalms are laments, and there is even a book of the Bible called Lamentations. Our sorrows are sacred to God (Psalm 56:8, Psalm 51:17).

But lament isn’t about complaining to God, blaming Him, or getting stuck in our misery. Godly lament is a vehicle to release us from sorrow and make room for hope and praise. Just as it is vital that physicians drain an infected wound for our physical health, it is also vital to our mental and spiritual health to release the pent up stress and sorrow that forms in our times of loss. Lament allows us to do just that. It is not meant to be a continuous state of wailing but a pathway to promise and healing,

In the Bible study When You Pray, Jennifer Rothschild writes how the Psalm of lament often begins with the psalmist’s distress but ends with praise or affirmation of God’s goodness and character. Psalm 13 is a good example of this. She identifies five elements to lament that can help us too as we bring our heavy loads to God. I have summarized them in this way:

  • Just begin by first addressing God directly. This simple act reminds us that He is the one who truly hears and answers your concerns (Psalm 18:6, Isaiah 59:1).
  • Bring him ALL your concerns- don’t hold back! He wants us to pour out our hearts to Him (Psalm 62:8, I Peter 5:7).
  • Make your requests known to Him. What do you need from Him? Talk to Him about it (1 John 5:14).
  • Declare the truth of His promises and the rightness of His character. He is a good God who is all powerful and wise (Hebrews 11:6, Matthew 5:4).
  • Finally, praise Him not because you feel happy, but because He is worthy of praise and He is the God of Hope (Psalm 145:1 and Romans 15:5-6)

God knows we face all kinds of challenges and pain in our world (John 16:33). To help us cope, He’s provided the gift of lament. It’s not the lie of health, wealth, and prosperity that eliminates our sufferings. Our solutions are found in the intimacy of His Presence, His Promises, and in our lament.

“Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”
    ~ Matthew 5:4

Rothschild, J (2023) When you Pray, Lifeway Christian Resources 

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