The Bible & Grief
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, therefore I will hope in him.” Lam 3:21-24
Lamentations is not an easy book of the Bible to read. It is filled with sorrow upon sorrow- grief unimaginable. The author mourns the loss of life, the destruction of a city, and the fierce judgement of God. It depicts utter catastrophe and the author’s struggle to make sense of it all. In a word, the book is filled with “laments.” I suppose the short book is so hard to read because 21st century American Christians don’t really have a category for suffering- let alone, suffering well. Some of us forbid tears thinking that “being strong” means not allowing ourselves to grieve. Others come completely unhinged and foundational truths are set aside as merely theoretical.
I certainly don’t have all of the answers on dealing with grief. Nevertheless, Scripture does offer some insight on the subject of suffering. I offer these to hurting hearts in the hope that you might be able to rest in King Jesus.
- It’s ok to cry. Jeremiah, the probable author of Lamentations, writes, “My eyes are spent with weeping; my stomach churns; my bile is poured out to the ground…” (Lam 2:11). It is not weakness, nor is it a lack of faith to mourn in the midst of despair. Even Jesus mourned the deaths of John the Baptist and Lazarus (cf. Matt 14:13, John 11:35). Despite whatever false constructs of manhood or strength passed on to you from parents or grandparents, Scripture- Jesus Himself- gives us permission to mourn. Very often, we want to bypass the grieving process and jump to how “God is going to use this situation” or “think of all the good that might come from this.” Friend, for everything there is a season, including a time to weep and mourn (Ecc 3:4).
- There is hope even in the darkest night. Despite the intense sorrow expressed in Lamentations, the center of the book contains a golden truth, a moment of lucidity. Jeremiah writes, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, therefore I will hope in him.” (Lam 3:21-24). Jeremiah is reminded of God’s “steadfast love” or covenantal faithfulness. This flower blooms at midnight and becomes precious when the Spirit of God plants it into the fertile soil of despair. Yes, we are allowed to mourn, but we mourn as those who have hope (cf. 1 Thess 4:13). Here, we must be careful and pastoral. Biblical truth does not replace someone’s right to mourn. Conversely, mourning should never be void of biblical truth.
- God Himself is our comfort. Lastly, the “Lord is my portion” (Lam 3:24). If you are a believer, never doubt God’s love for you. Never doubt his “covenantal faithfulness.” It was ordained for Jesus to die on a cross (physical suffering) bearing the sins of the world (spiritual suffering). Clearly, there is a category for grief in the mind of God that brings him glory. Your despair is not un-felt by your creator. Your grief is filled with purpose. Your heartache does not nullify God’s love for you. In other words, his character does not change with your circumstances. The cross is where love and justice combine in a display of glorious impassibility. All of this is to simply say that God is a very present help in times of trouble. Rest in his unchanging character. The LORD is my portion.
Soli Deo Gloria