Grief is common in our human experience. So common, in fact, that if we live long enough, we will all experience it. Whether it comes in response to sickness, the death of friends or family members, deep disappointment over personal hurt, and even our own personal failures, not one of us is immune to grief and its effects.
Grief is a normal response to loss. If we deal with it in a healthy way, grief can be a tool that God uses to strengthen us and make us more like Him. But the tragedy of grief is its ability to destroy a life. Our grieving process—how we respond to the grief that we face—will determine whether grief makes or breaks our lives.
The Apostle Paul in his second letter to the church at Corinth described his situation as causing him so much grief that he was in despair even over life itself (2 Corinthians 1.8). Here was a man who, because of his grief, didn’t care to live any longer. Yet, in almost the same breath, he describes God as the “Father of mercies and God of all comfort” who comforted him so that he would be able to comfort others.
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah describes the promised Messiah as “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” Who better to walk with us and comfort us in our grief, than one who knows well what we are experiencing? With His help, and the help of those who care about us, we can learn to deal with our grief in a healthy way that makes us more like Christ. In his book Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas asks the question: “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” We should ask a similar question about our grief: “What if God allows grief, not because he doesn’t care about us, but to make us holy?”