A little about grief

I have been thinking about suffering this past week, partly because of this post by Kimberly Phinney

(I think she’s doing something great at her Substack). I’ve also been struggling with some crippling anxiety lately, and when my mind wanders into the terrifying “what-ifs,” I sometimes entertain them. If the suffering I envision were to come to pass, what would it mean about God, life, and the point of it all?

Oftentimes, the Christian response to suffering is to tell the sufferer that “everything happens for a reason.” While that does feel true if you’re on the other side of a difficult season, I think it misses the mark. I’ve certainly been tempted to look at past seasons of suffering with that lens. Maybe God intended for me to experience that grief, so He could teach me this valuable lesson I’ve learned! Wouldn’t that be so great? But I think the truth of this feeling is not quite “everything happens for a reason.”

The truth is that terrible things happen for no reason at all, but we have a Creator who can work His purposes out in even the most difficult situations, and redeem any pain for His glory and good. When you experience this redemption it might be easy to say “well, if I’d never lost X, I’d never have learned X, and that feels invaluable.” But that is the miraculous work of God, not proof that He intended you to suffer.

Suffering and grief oftentimes feel senseless. They oftentimes are senseless. Why is my aunt fighting the battle with breast cancer again, why did my friend lose their baby, why does anything terrible happen? The most difficult part of being a Christian sometimes is the senselessness of suffering. The best part, however, is a God who can give us meaning and purpose even in our darkest hours. That has been a comfort to me in difficult times. And it’s a much better way to sit with a grieving friend. Hold them in their grief, acknowledge the suffering, and assure them that there is a God who longs to demonstrate His love even in the pain. 


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