When it rains, it pours. This is how people feel when they lose someone or something they care about.
With wars and conflict becoming commonplace, the world is becoming more dangerous. People are losing their family and friends. It is common in the modern world to have lost loved ones to dangerous situations. Feelings of grief and loss are being experienced more and more, leading people to find ways to cope. The bible is rife with stories full of struggles, grief, loss, and death that some people may relate to.
The Story of Job
One significant example of grief and loss would be the story of Job. He was perfect and upright. He feared God and hated evil. He was so faithful, that Satan asked God if Job was truly a perfect servant. He questioned whether Job actually feared God, or just thanked him for his many blessings. Satan suggested to God that he should test Job’s faithfulness. By God allowing Satan to challenge Job, Job experienced large amounts of grief, pain, and loss. He is a man who lost everything he had: his wealth, his children, and his health.
His wealth of seven thousand sheep were burned, his three thousand camels stolen by the Chaldeans, and his five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred female donkeys were taken by the Sabeans. His children, seven sons and three daughters, were killed by a strong wind that collapsed the roof on their heads. His large household was murdered, with only four messengers to tell the tale. He lost his wealth and his children in a single day, and tore his clothes in his grief. He searched for answers and fell into despair when he didn’t find any. As he fell ill, the people around him began to talk. His wife was angry at their suffering, and spoke out in grief and told him to curse God and die. His friends, though starting out comforting him, began to harm him with their words.
Despite all his grief and loss, and the words told to him by his wife and friends, he did not curse God. Instead, he defended God saying that just as God has blessed him, God will give him troubles. Job refused to sin against him. By his unfailing faithfulness through his grief, he was accepted by the Lord. Job was rewarded more than he had originally, with fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand oxen and a thousand female donkeys, and another seven sons and three daughters. He lived a hundred and forty years.
Dealing with Grief in a Godly Way
Job has shown through his trial of suffering, grief, and faithfulness, some key concepts about dealing with grief.
Grief causes people to do uncharacteristic things
Grief can cause many feelings, such as anger, sadness, and shock. In Jewish culture, tearing clothes was a tangible expression of suffering and anger. The tearing of his clothes when hearing the news was an expression that was uncharacteristic for him, but culturally acceptable at the time.
Cursing God in your heart can be forgiven
Sometimes our faith slips, and we curse God for the grief he has caused us. In Job 1:5, Job gave sacrifices for forgiveness in the name of his children. In a similar manner, through prayer, we can ask for forgiveness from God as well.
God is with us through our grief
Not a single verse throughout the chapter of Job has stated that God was not with Job. Despite testing Job, God was with him. In fact, the Lord directly speaks to Job and his friends to remind them that he is with them. He has had a plan for his suffering and grief.
It is acceptable to grieve
Job was not ashamed to grieve. He lost much in a short amount of time, and was not able to recover from one before receiving another. In the bible, there are many examples of people who have grieved openly as well. David, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Jesus are some notable examples. If we are overwhelmed with loss, we are allowed to grieve without feeling shame.
Our grief, loss, and troubles will not last forever, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17). We are not alone, because “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalms 34:18). This is a promise, for “Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love” (Lamentations 3:32).