A Devotional Bible Study
Grief is something everyone deals with at some point in their lives. We may grieve something as heavy and choking as the loss of a loved one or merely as stinging as a disappointment. We sometimes must wrestle with anguish at the gaping hole left in our hearts and lives, and other times we might just need a good cry to feel all better.
We all grieve in different ways and about different things, but grief is a process that can’t be skipped or hurried without doing further damage. And for those of us who know the Lord, grief can bring us closer to him and teach us to rely on him, to trust him. We don’t have to go through it alone, for he has promised to walk with us in those dark times.
Several years ago a friend of mine lost her husband of many happy years. Her grief was deep and debilitating. I wrote this little devotional study for her to help her find the comfort that’s in God’s Word.
I’ve made some modifications to make it more general, but I share it with you now, written as if to a friend. May God bless it to speak to your heart or to share with someone you know who is hurting, when you don’t know the words to say.
If your grief is from something other than the loss of a person—a job, a pet, a dream, or any other situation that leaves you hurting—just substitute that any place I’ve written “loved one.” You will still benefit from this time in the Word, sharing your burden with the Lord, and seeking his face.
I will post it in three parts. Take your time and sit with the message the Lord gives you, meditate on the verses, and allow the Holy Spirit to comfort and minister to you. This devotional uses God’s Word to remind us of his promises.
If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, skip down to Day 6 and learn how to ask his forgiveness for your sins and invite him to be the Lord of your life.
My heart is so heavy for you. I cannot begin to understand what you are going through. I wish so much I could take it away. I wish I could say some magic words that would soothe and comfort you, but those do not exist from human lips.
People mean well when they use platitudes; they don’t know what else to say and feel the need to say something. Those words sound nice until we are the ones going through the pain. I won’t repeat platitudes to you now.
Besides you probably already know in your head everything that people say about how your loved one is in heaven with Jesus or how they aren’t in pain anymore. What is impossible is to get your heart to be comforted by that. Sure, they aren’t in pain anymore, but you are! You are the one left to live here without your loved one and try to figure out how to create a new life that doesn’t include that person.
I know these blatant words are probably making you cry. It’s not my desire to cause you more pain, but it is okay to cry. And cry. Get it out. There are times when, for the sake of others, you hold it in, put on a brave face. But as you read this letter, as you talk to God, cry! It is part of the healing.
Only God and time can heal you and oh how we all wish we could shorten that time and skip to the part where the pain ceases to be so acute and retching. Alas, God doesn’t allow us to do that, does he? Pain is part of this cursed world we live in. However, he does lend us his presence and his soothing grace to spread over our hurts. His Word shares comfort and provides strength and guidance during dark times.
Maybe I’m being presumptuous to write to you like this. Who am I to give advice?
I was twenty-four when my mom died. So young—the both of us. Someone marveled that I was “such a rock.” But just because someone looks together on the outside, doesn’t mean they’re not a drippy, gelatinous puddle on the inside…or that they’re even mentally present.
I don’t have wisdom or special insight into grief. But through the trials I’ve had in my life, I have found comfort in certain passages of Scripture. So, I hope my attempt at ministering to you isn’t offensive. I want to give you some verses to look up and meditate upon that have ministered to me during times when I felt like the Lord was far away.
I’ve written them in this daily devotional format so you can read a couple each day and think about what God is saying and how it applies to or influences you. Keep a journal or notebook with you so if you feel him saying something special, you can write it down. It will bless you later to recall his message and see how your healing progressed.
I have forgotten so much of what happened during my times of loss and pain, how the Lord ministered to me, how he used his people to be his voice and hands and feet. I wish I had kept a journal, so I’m encouraging you to.
I know it can be hard to go on every day. I’m sure at times it may feel pointless. There may be times you want to give up. But neither your loved one, nor the Lord, nor your family and friends want that for you. If you are having those types of thoughts persistently, seek help. Don’t let the thoughts grow and take you over.
I humbly offer you these scriptures with the hope that they will bring you comfort, renew your strength, and turn your focus toward the God of All Comfort, for they are breathed directly from his heart.
Read Isaiah 40:28-31. This was my mom’s favorite verse. For many years after her death, I still choked up when I read it, not only because it reminded me of her, but also because it is such a beautiful and powerful passage.
Note v. 28. In contrast to us humans, God does not grow _______ or _______. Instead (v. 29), he gives _______ to the _______ and increases the _______ of the _______. How can we renew our strength (v. 31)?
The Hebrew word translated hope means to expect, tarry, patiently wait. But there’s another meaning that, based on the context of the verse, seems like it would fit as well, maybe better. The other meaning is to bind together by twisting. If we are bound together tightly with the Lord, our strength can be renewed as he does the work for us by lifting us up on eagle’s wings. We can run and not be weary because he is carrying us in his strength.
One writer likened it to the games kids play where they grab onto a parent’s leg and the parent continues to walk, carrying the child along for a free ride. The child is twisted onto the parent’s leg and can “run” and not be weary and “walk” and not faint. What a beautiful picture!
Sometimes when we are hurting or weary, praying is difficult. We can then rest in the prayers of others on our behalf. This is my prayer for you today: Psalm 20. You can read it now and substitute “me”s for the “you”s to make it your own prayer to God.
Psalm 119:81–82 says, “My soul _______ with longing for your _______, but I have put my hope in your word. My eyes fail, looking for your promise; I say, ‘When will you _______ me?’”
Several years ago I suffered a health crisis. I was in the hospital four times within a year, and in between, I was so sick I could barely walk or eat or be with my family. As I lay in bed all day every day I would stare out the window at the beautiful green and blue world the Creator blessed us with, and I would feel like life was passing me by. Everything went on without me, and I so wanted to be a part of it, not to ever miss anything ever again.
Read Psalm 142.
Notice verse 4. When we are in the depths of despair it is sometimes easy to feel alone and isolated from those we love. I had a wonderful support network in my family and in other Christians who prayed for me, brought food, or took care of my kids or drove them places.
If you have a support network, pray right now and thank God for them. Ask his blessings on them. Share your burdens with them and allow them to minister to you in his name. If you don’t have anyone, reach out to a local church or civic organization who will be eager and willing to walk arm in arm with you through this valley.
Verse 6 asks for rescue from “those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.” In the case of someone in the midst of grief, sadness and despair pursue you and they can be too strong to resist alone. But the Lord is able to set you free from your prison that you may praise his name (v. 7).
Now, my prayer for you today is Ephesians 3:14–21. Read it more than once and meditate on the parts that particularly speak to you. I pray that he will “strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” Be sure to focus on the section of praise in verse 21.
Very often praising the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ through the precious Holy Spirit can retrain our focus off of the trouble of the moment and back onto him, for, like Peter when he tried to walk on the water, we lose sight of Jesus and begin to notice the storm all around us. That’s when we sink.
But he is faithful when we are faithless. He will not allow us to drown. He will pick us up from the miry clay and set our feet on a rock and establish our going and place a new song in our heart, a song of praise to our God (see Psalm 40:2).