I recently heard about the sudden and unexpected death of a seemingly healthy young lady. She was a wife and mother of 4 young girls. From what I’ve heard, her heart stopped. At 39-years-old it just stopped beating. Two days prior she was at a celebration with all of her extended family being loved on as she and her immediate family of 6 prepared to relocate to another state to take advantage of a great career opportunity. And four days later those same family members were standing around her casket celebrating a life well lived all while grieving and trying to understand why this life that was so “well lived” was taken so soon.
It is in moments like these that many ask “if God is so good, why does He allow something so bad and painful to happen?”
My response is this: ask Him. Psalm 34:17 says, “the righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.” God allows our questions. He can handle them and he will answer them.
In the face of the loss of a loved one it is ok to not be ok with it. Be angry. Be sad. Be confused. And simultaneously, with tears streaming, anger fuming, sadness gripping, and confusion dominating, respectfully take all of those emotions to the Lord and allow Him to help you navigate through the grieving process.
This “deliverance” or “comfort” and “moving past” comes after a time that can be dictated by no one. We all grieve differently and at a pace unique to us as individuals. The important thing is to not short circuit the process.
In addition to taking our grief to the Lord, it is also necessary to share it with others. The Bible encourages us to “carry each other’s burdens . . .” (Galatians 6:2a) and to “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15).
It is in the presence of God and His people that we are graciously reminded that “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). It is here that we are reminded that our loved one, if he or she was a Christian, is not dead, but rather “asleep” so we “do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13) for “we are confident . . . and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). If the individual was not a believer to our knowledge, it is in this place that we can be encouraged to not spend time speculating on his or her destination, as only God knows the soul condition of any person and where he or she is spending eternity. We can instead place our focus upon the good news that Jesus has for the survivors.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “it doesn’t feel like ‘the Lord is close’” or “Saved and all, I feel as hopeless as the next guy!” That, my friend, is grief. It seems to be the “who,” the “how,” and the “when” of death that we don’t agree with. Why her? Why so tragically? Who so soon? God’s response is this: the degree to which you love me and appreciate me when life feels good, is the degree to which you can trust me and lean on me when life hurts.
Through it all, God is sovereign. His ways are indeed far above ours. Through it all, God is faithful. He will never leave us or forsake us. And God is so good and so good at being God that He can make something as hard, unwanted, and painful as grief, good!