“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3.
There are many things in this world to celebrate, but there are also moments that cause us to pause and ask, “is this pain and grief really necessary Lord?” One way or another, grief will take up temporary residence in our lives: A relationship gone awry. Abuse. Financial troubles. But none compare to losing a child. Horatio Spafford, the writer of It Is Well With My Soul lost five children. Five. Can you imagine? There are people in our church that have experienced losing a child. One of them talks about the experience of losing a child.
“I was born and raised in the church by strong Christian parents. So you would think that someone who has been a believer for as long as I have would never lose sight of the realness of God’s love and grace for us. Yet the tragedy of losing a child made me struggle to think straight, and the lies that Satan was feeding me made it worse. But it is times like this where you learn the value of the church body and small groups. People rallied around me and helped me to remember to cling to God and rest in the assurance of His love and grace.”
“The Bible was a source of hope. ‘Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? …No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.’ (Romans 8:35,37)”
“It seems counterintuitive, but grief and grace co-mingle pretty well together. The impatience, anger and variety of struggles I faced dealing with the loss of a child did not cause God to throw up His hands and say, ‘I’m done with Him. Where is his faith?’ I imagine God saw me as His son who had lost a child, and said, ‘I love him. I will not run out of grace for Him. Psalm 94:18-19 reminds us, ‘I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.’”
This is speculation, but I think Horatio Spafford, like the person who lost a child in our church, found that the journey towards re-grounding himself in God’s grace was truly incredible. The lyrics in the song seem to indicate that God’s grace encouraged him. It gave him reason to put pen to paper and provided healing for his grief. The reality is that God’s grace is there for each one of us, no matter what we are grieving about. “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV)
In the midst of grief, it is critical for us to remember that God does not sit aloof in Heaven. He does not leave us to figure out how to handle grief on our own or how to cast about for resources to get through it. He walks every step of the journey with us.
- How can you tell your grief is affecting you more than you thought it was?
- Have other people suggested that you need “to get on it” and move on? Is this good advice? What do you need to say to them when they tell you this?
- What does it mean to lean into God in your grief? How do we effectively do that?