By Linda Slusser, Associate Chaplin at Chapel Pointe
As humans, we rarely welcome suffering and grieving. Yet, they are a real part of life. God can redeem even our darkest of seasons for His glory. In a very practical sense, we can also learn much from our suffering, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.
A year ago, I lost my husband. This was an extremely challenging time for me, it felt like half of me was always missing. Since then, God has drawn me closer to Himself.
As you or someone you know grieve, I encourage you to consider some of the lessons I’ve learned over the past year:
- Draw close to God
When we face hardships, we have the choice to turn away from God or run to Him. The best and most powerful thing to do when you are grieving and hurting is to seek God and His comfort. God has become more real to me now than He has ever felt in my life because I chose to run and cling to Him as my helper in times of trouble.
- Spend time in the Word
Bible verses like Psalm 31:24 bring great comfort and peace in challenging times. Spending even more time in the word when you are hurting is beneficial because it can bring peace and joy, and remind us of the goodness of God, even in the lowest of times. The word of God is living and sovereign.
- Find Support
One of the best things you can do when grieving is to join a grief support group or go to Christian counseling. Seeking help and support in this way can provide a place to let everything out and talk to someone who understands and can help you. I felt so loved while enduring my pain because of the people supporting and walking with me through this journey.
Being able to call out and speak to God is life changing and powerful. God hears our prayers and cares. Ask others to join you in praying as well; the more prayers the better. When we pray for others, we share burdens, build community, and show that we care.
- Surround yourself with peace
I learned that, surprising to me, it is more beneficial to keep my schedule light. Even though “keeping busy” may seem like the best way to deal with grieving, it often can cause people to get overwhelmed and not truly deal with their emotions or thoughts. Intentionally keeping your schedule light can help you to slow down, process everything, and find peace.
John 11:35 says “Jesus wept.” This is comforting to know that Jesus, the perfect son of God, also cried. In the past year, I cried all the time, and I’m not embarrassed to say it. While grieving, it is important and helpful to allow yourself to cry. It is a part of the grieving process, and will ultimately help you feel better, even though it may not seem like it would.
Journaling can serve as a way to pour one’s heart out and get out all of the thoughts and feelings. For those who prefer to keep things more private, it is a great way to share without anyone else reading or even knowing. Writing everything down in a journal is also a great way to surrender everything over to God and give it all to Him. It can be freeing to write it down and let it go.
- Seek joy
Experiencing pain and such mourning makes it extremely challenging to find joy in things the same way as you could before. Seeking joy is an active choice you have to make, no matter how difficult it can be. Take time to do things you enjoy like walking, painting, cooking, or anything else that will help you to find even just a little joy.
As life changes our ages and stages, we may lose many of the things we love (hobbies, abilities, people, houses) but we also have the privilege of gaining things in return (care, relationships, people, wisdom, understanding to help others). I hope that you are able to recognize these things and learn in your loss, through the grace of God, like I have.
If you’d like to explore this topic more: