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Overcoming Grief: God's Power in Your Life

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Do you feel overwhelmed by grief and sorrow? Perhaps a loved one has died, or your spouse has left you, or you are dealing with some sort of trauma. No matter how deep your pain, God can help you find comfort and hope.


Understanding the nature of grief can help us better cope with loss. Grief is a natural, healthy process that enables us to recover from terrible emotional wounds. People may say, “Don’t cry; your loved one is in heaven.” That may be true, but it’s important to deal with the very real pain of loss. We should not feel guilty for grieving because it is a necessary part of God’s pathway to healing.


SHOCK: In the days and weeks immediately following a devastating loss, common feelings include numbness and unreality, like being trapped in a very bad dream.

REALITY: As the fact of the loss takes hold, deep sorrow sets in, accompanied by weeping and other forms of emotional release.

REACTION: Anger, brought on by feelings of abandonment and helplessness, may be directed toward family, friends, doctors, the one who died or deserted us, or even God.

RECOVERY: Finally, there is a gradual, almost imperceptible return to normalcy. This is a time of adjustment to the new circumstances in life.

These phases vary in duration for each person, so we should not impose a timetable upon anyone. Some people need a year or two, while others may take less time. Rushing the process can actually hinder our long-term recovery, like removing a cast before the bone is strong enough to bear weight. Grief that is left unresolved may trigger depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, or other serious problems.


says, "There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance" (NASB).

Many Bible stories demonstrate how God comforts His people in times of sorrow and loss. Job clung desperately to God, despite catastrophic loss and unhelpful friends. David, a man after God’s own heart, openly grieved the death of his son.

Jesus is our best role model for combining faith and grief, as revealed in . When He saw Mary and Martha in anguish over the death of their brother Lazarus, He wept and groaned. Although Jesus knew He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, He still allowed Himself to feel—and express—the depths of human sorrow.

We can take comfort in knowing that Jesus has experienced all of our pain, including loss, rejection, betrayal and dying. As our Savior and Redeemer, He took all our sins to the cross and forgives us when we ask. As our Good Shepherd, He leads us safely through "the valley of the shadow of death" ().

Remember, a shadow indicates that there is a light on the other side! Deep faith in Christ does not prevent grief when a believer dies, but it infuses grief with hope! For Christians, death is a passageway to eternal life (). Paul said, "To live is Christ and to die is gain" (). He also said, "We do not want you to be uninformed ... about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus" ().

If we don’t know whether our loved one believed in Jesus, we must simply trust God. The Bible says, "The Lord ... is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance" ().

The thief on the cross turned to Christ in the last hours of life (). We do not know what happens in a person’s final moments between life and death, but God does—and He decides who enters His heaven.

The Holy Spirit—also called the Comforter—can give us God’s peace, even in the midst of suffering. tells us, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

The peace of God does not come from our circumstances, but from drawing close to Him. Jesus promised, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted ” ().

God beckons us into His loving arms so He can heal our wounded hearts.


One of the most difficult tasks for a bereaved person is adjusting to the new environment without the loved one who has died or moved away. When is it appropriate to put away a loved one’s things, make lifestyle changes, or form new relationships? We will find the answers as time passes and recovery progresses. God will show us His timing and His direction as we seek Him.


GRIEVE: Though grief is bitter, we must let sorrow run its natural course. describes Jesus as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Denying or repressing pain can lead to emotional problems.

BELIEVE: We need to put our faith in God’s promises, trusting that our heavenly Father knows best and that His understanding is perfect. says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

RECEIVE: God desires to give us comfort, but we must reach out and accept it. Through prayer and meditation on His Word, we can find a place in God’s presence where He will wrap His arms around us.


The Bible says, "Blessed be the God ... of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" ().

A silver lining in sorrow’s dark cloud is that God can use our experiences to reach out to others with compassion and comfort.

Everyone grieves differently—depending on personality, religious beliefs, maturity, emotional stability, and cultural traditions. Here are some general counseling guidelines:

  • Ask God for guidance about when to speak and what to say. Encourage the bereaved person to share his or her feelings, then be a good listener and don’t judge what is said. says, Weep with those who weep.
  • Avoid platitudes. Let the person feel sorrow without implying that he or she should “cheer up” or “be joyful in the Lord,” as this could give the impression you are questioning the person’s spirituality.
  • Don’t push or preach, but if the person indicates an openness, pray and share meaningful Scripture verses.
  • Do simple things without being asked, such as bringing a meal or mowing the lawn.

Grief will visit our lives many times because we love others, but the Lord promises to be with us forever, even in the midst of our darkest hours. God bless you.

Scripture is quoted from the NASB.

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