On May 14, 2020 I was called to my father's nursing home because I had COVID and the nurse said I was having trouble breathing. When I got there, I found him confused and writhing in excruciating pain as he waited for painkillers. All I could say was, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, please help him." Then a nurse came in with a war zone look of wonder and handed me a card with the Lord's Prayer on it. I had no idea where he stood in regards to the Lord, although we had many conversations about Him. But as soon as I started reading the prayer, he stopped moving and said the prayer with me. When we finished, he began to suffer again. God gave him a moment of respite and connection at the most terrible moment of his life. He died a few hours later.
My six siblings and I dealt with the pain of his death in very different ways. Since I was the only follower of Jesus in my family, it didn't hurt that he was gone, but I didn't know if God had brought him home. I had no right to question or judge his salvation, but I never knew if Jesus was his savior, which haunted me. My other siblings overcame their grief with the pain of missing their dad, with the peace that he no longer suffered, and for a brother it was a relief not having to take care of him anymore.
Does the Bible say it's okay to weep and lament?
First, we must know the difference between pain and lamentation. AccordingMerriam Webster,to afflict means "to cause suffering", while to lament means "to lament or moan aloud". Does the Bible allow one over the other? If we cry in silence, is it more sacred?
If you look up the words "mourn" and "mourn" and how many times they appear in the Bible in different translations, you'll find nearly 150 references. Look up "Lamentations" and you'll find it about 75 times; there is a whole book called Lamentations.
Clearly, there are many examples of people suffering deeply. And it is not surprising because Jesus promised us that we will have problems in this world. But he also said in Histhe sermon on the mountthat "blessed are the mourners, for they will be comforted" (Mateo 5:4).
We don't just have direct confirmation that grieving is okay with God. We also have the promise that God will do something about it. There is no need to add condemnation on top of the pain. God sees, knows, understands and comforts.
There are countless examples of people in the Bible having significant grief in the Bible. When I suffer, I am drawn to those who have suffered more than most.
First, I can relate to Job and how painful it was to lose his children, possessions, and health. I can also trace what it must have been like to question God and then repent in sackcloth and ashes. God's answer to Job's question may seem harsh to us, and scholars debate whether it really sounds harsh in context. But even if God criticized Job for questioning him, the Bible makes it clear that God does not criticize Job's lamentation. I am encouraged to see the immensity of God's mercy in allowing Job to express his pain and give Job back double what he had lost.
Also, I think Jesus is our greatest example of lamentation and what to say about him. In the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus turned his face towards the physical, mental and spiritual torments that his Father presented to him, he was so disturbed that he sweated blood.
Here, too, God does not hold Jesus responsible for his stomachache. From this side of heaven, we can't know what God said or showed him in those final moments, but we do know that while Jesus could have given in to Satan, he didn't. He could have given up the plan to sacrifice himself for our sins. Instead, he said, "Not my will, but yours be done."(Lucas 22:42).
God clearly says in the Bible that it is okay to grieve. While we may argue, bargain, be sad or angry, we all need to pray for the strength to say, “It's up to you, God. Do what you want in my life.”
Does the Bible say how long the pain will last?
Annette Griffinreminds us that mourning is long but not infinite. God will end our pain and suffering in his perfect timing.
While we wait, we can cry out to our Savior as He cried out to His Father. We can grieve as Jesus did for his friendLazaruswho died. We can stand at the foot of the cross and mourn our loss, knowing that our spirit will be resurrected and that one day the pain will become memories of God's sustaining grace.
5 instructions the Bible gives to those who are grieving
When we're grieving, it's hard to remember anything, let alone how God's word can comfort us. Here are five simple instructions from God's word: trust in his love, come and rest, remember all he has done, stay in his word, and thank him for the millions of blessings he brings each day.
1. Trust: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not trust your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."(Proverbs 3:5-6)
2. Ven:“Come to me, all of you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden is light."(Mateo 11:28-30)
3. Remember: "God parted the Red Sea and led them through it. He made the water stand still like a wall.By day he led them with a cloud. He led them to the light of the fire all night.He broke the rocks in the desert. He gave them as much water as there is in the oceans.(Salmo 78:13-15)
4. Lee: “Guide me with your truth and teach me, because you are the God of my salvation.(Salmo 25:5)
5. gracias: “Be grateful in all circumstances; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus."(1 Thessalonians 5:18)
5 Comforting Things the Bible Says to Those Who Are Afflicted
1. "For I know the plans I have for you," says Yahweh, "plans to help you and not to hurt you, plans to give you hope and a future.(Jeremiah 29:11)
2. "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not fear, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will support you with my right hand."(Isaiah 41:10)
3. "My body and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."(Salmo 73:26)
4. "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flame will not burn you.For I am Yahweh, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. . .”(Isaiah 43:2-3)
5. "The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after having suffered a little, he himself will restore you and make you strong, firm and constant."(1 Pedro 5:10)
Despite the pain and suffering our sadness causes, we can either draw closer to God or let Him drive a wedge between us. I can honestly say that I have done both, and there is nothing but a greater sadness that drives me further away from God in my pain. But withmy father Abba, "there is fullness of joy" and constant reminders that He understands and loves me. He gets all the glory when I can run to Him in my pain and remind myself that He works all things for good.
Photo credit: Getty Images/PeopleImages
Mary Oelerich-Meyer is a freelance writer and editor in the Chicago area who has prayed for years for a way to write about and for the Lord. She has spent 20 years writing for regional health care organizations, interviewing physicians and clinical experts, and writing more than 1,500 articles along with marketing materials. Important work, but not what she felt called to do. She is grateful for every opportunity to share the Lord in his writing and editing, and she believes that life is too short to write about anything else. She previously worked as a director of marketing communications at a large healthcare system. She has a B.A. in International Business and Marketing from Cornell College (the original Cornell!) When she's not researching or writing, she enjoys spending time with her writer daughter, her granddaughter, their rescue dog, and her husband (not always in that order).
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