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Hope for the Hurting

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I am passionate about writing spiritual insights and thought-provoking articles and sharing encouragement with people. Be encouraged!


Pain and Hope at the Same Time

As believers, we grieve when a loved one dies. Death hurts—a lot! The testimony of Scripture and of Christians during the last 2,000-plus years is that believing in Jesus does not eliminate grief. Death is an enemy.

In some ways perhaps grief is even more painful for the believer. God’s love has softened our hearts to the point that we care and love more, so the pain of death is especially excruciating. Deep grief is the price of great love.

Yes, we grieve. But we grieve differently.

That difference is not the absence of pain. It’s that we experience excruciating pain and irrepressible hope at the same time. For the Christian, this journey is about doing the human work of grief while giving God the full opportunity to bring real healing.

It’s about embracing the “not OK-ness” of death and eventually choosing to go on living anyway.

Sometimes the waves of pain and the waves of hope will chase each other as they crash on the shores of your soul. Only a believer who is grieving can understand how it can be possible to feel such excruciating pain and still have such indestructible hope.

It’s OK to hurt. And it’s OK to hope.

1 Thessalonians 4:13
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.


Embracing God’s Compassion

God sees you with compassion as you are grieving. Jesus understands your human limitations.

Your grief affects every part of you. Physically you may be affected by changes in sleep patterns, loss of appetite, and physical pain. You may struggle to think clearly, and your emotions may seem confusing and difficult to control. You may feel overwhelming exhaustion.

Give yourself the kind of grace God extends to you as you journey through grief. You are a human being, with physical, emotional, and mental limitations. Take care of yourself in simple areas such as drinking water, eating reasonably good food daily, getting exercise, and getting rest.

Your relationships are also affected by grief. When a loved one dies, family and friends may gather around during the early days to offer support. Sooner or later, however, those who were there initially will likely be going on with their own lives. But you’re still grieving!

Know that in God’s eyes your loved one’s death is important. It matters to Him. He sees you and understands you. Even when others may forget, He never forgets. When others are busy or preoccupied, He’s always available.

When it seems you’re all alone in your grief, remember that God is there, whether or not you can see and feel Him.

Psalms 103:13-14
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, and he remembers that we are dust.


Taking Jesus With You

God does not rain down healing or comfort from “on high.” Instead, He comes to be with us.

A friend experienced the death of her husband about three years before my husband Al passed away. When she learned of my grief, she wrote me a surprisingly short note: “Nobody but Jesus can help you now.” It was perhaps the kindest thing she could have said.

While it’s vital that you reach out and accept support from others on your journey through grief, pain is perhaps the loneliest thing in the world. No human being can fully “go there” with you. But Jesus can. He’s the only One who truly can. And He wants to.

While here on earth, Jesus wept with those who mourned, such as Mary and Martha, whose brother Lazarus had died.

Jesus is not simply up in heaven doing other important business in the universe; YOU are His business. And through His Holy Spirit, He is right there with you this very minute.

You may not always feel Him with you. Grief can cloud your ability to sense His presence just like the clouds obscure your view of the sun. But He is still there.

In your darkest moments, simply pause and invite Him to be with you right then.


Asking God Questions

The death of a loved one usually brings up questions about God, faith, life, death, heaven, hell, eternity, and more. Whatever your previous relationship with God was like, walking through grief may challenge aspects of your faith.

Asking WHY doesn’t mean you have lost your faith. God’s best friends throughout the Bible asked WHY in various ways.

It’s possible to question God with a rebellious heart, trying to tell Him what to do. That’s not what I’m saying.

But bringing your questions to God as a child would to a loving parent is exactly what you should be doing with them. Don’t pretend they are not there. (And no need to manufacture questions you don’t feel.)

Bring your questions to God. You won’t make Him mad at you. Doing so can often lead you into an even deeper relationship with Him going forward.

1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.


Your Loved One’s Salvation

Many people wonder whether their loved one was saved at the time of their death. If you face that uncertainty, your grief may be especially painful. You may wrestle with even more questions about God as a result.

Remember that God is not looking for a reason to keep your loved one out of heaven; He’s looking for any possible reason to bring him or her in. He desires for your loved one to spend eternity with Him even more than you do.

Your loved one’s eternal destiny was decided at the time of his or her death. But you don’t know what may have transpired between your loved one and God during the last moments of his or her life on earth.

It only takes a moment for a person to say yes to Jesus. And as with the thief on the cross, when a person calls out to Him, Jesus always says yes. That yes is the only thing that decides your loved one’s eternal destiny. And when you get to heaven and are able to ask Jesus all your remaining questions, you will be able to say, “He has done all things well.” Your loved one’s eternal destiny is safe with Him.

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.


Family Relationships

In some families, the death of a loved one brings skeletons out of the closet. Relatives end up fighting about inheritance, money, and possessions. You may discover things you wish you didn’t know.

In other families, a loved one’s death brings out the best in people. Family members step up and support each other in important ways, helping each other through the painful journey of grief.

Jesus’ statement to the person who asked Him about inheritance does not mean such things are unimportant. It just means they are not the most important things. Memories of your loved one, and who you became as a result of your relationship with the person, matter more.

Relationships with family members may change after the death of your loved one. You cannot control how other family members respond, but you can choose how to respond on your end.

Choose to be responsible for your own grief work, and also be open to deeper connections with family if they are open to such. Choose to value people and your memories of your loved one more than things. And where possible, stay connected with family; they are the ones most likely to be near you at the end of your own life.


Bible Verses

Luke 7:13
When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”

Hebrews 4:14-16
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,4:14 Greek has gone through the heavens Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Luke 23:42-43
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

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