I will never forget this awful time,
as I grieve over my loss.
– Lamentations 3:20
Among encouraging things and words praising God, this verse is highlighted in my Bible app. Because there are times when life is just sad.
There are Christians who insist trusting God means they’re happy all the time. They never feel discouraged. Every day can be a good day.
But when your child is dying, or your friend has decided you can’t be friends anymore, or a flood has destroyed your home, or you’ve been fired for refusing to lie for your boss, or insurance won’t pay for your anxiety meds, or any other of the uncountable painful things that happen worldwide every day, and you DON’T ever feel crushed by the weight of how utterly awful life can be… I don’t know, that sounds more like unhealthy denial than faith to me.
Because you know what’s part of faith? Believing what God has told us about the world. And he has told us the world isn’t right.
He made the world as a very good place. But now there’s sin, and sin is such a problem the solution involved Jesus himself coming to die. Sin hurts us, and hurts those around us, sometimes in waves that spread out farther than we can see. And sin produced death, and death hurts. And sin inserted pain into our work and our childbearing. I think it’s likely more things than we realize about life that we consider normal weren’t meant to be that way at all.
When we mourn and we ache, we acknowledge to God, consciously or not, “This isn’t right. Life shouldn’t hurt like this. You are right that the world isn’t meant to be this way.”
God offers his children peace beyond understanding among the horrors of life. But there is a difference between plastering on false “this is fine” smiles as your world burns down around you and resting in your trust that God is with you through the fire and he will be with you still at the end of it.
Because there will be an end. He has promised to fix things. Our grief reminds him of that promise, begs him for it.
Sometimes we see pieces of healing in this life. Pain eases. Cancer goes into remission. Relationships are reconciled. In the gospels, we never see someone ask Jesus for healing and not receive it. Never.
But those healed people still eventually died. More hurt comes. We grieve again and we remind God again that this hurt is wrong and that he has promised to fix it. Jesus came back to life, and he is still alive, the firstfruits of that promise. So we wait for the new heaven and new earth, when, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Revelation 21:3-4).
Gone forever. He will make everything new. But he hasn’t yet, and while we wait, sometimes grief is faith.