Moving From Grief to Hope
Years ago, I walked through a very difficult season. I was diagnosed with a debilitating chronic illness. My infant son was recovering from spinal cord surgery. And my beloved cousin was killed tragically in an accident.
In the midst of my grief, I put unhealthy pressure on myself to pretend like I was fine. For a while, I even put on a fairly good show of bravery. But I learned pretty quickly that pretending never actually heals our hearts.
God does not expect his daughters to act like our pain doesn’t exist. In fact, the Bible teaches that God draws near to those who are brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).
Whether you are facing a new diagnosis, the loss of a loved one, or some other trial, you can actually find real (not pretend) hope. In fact, God has actually given us the biblical language and spiritual practice of lament (crying out to him) as a way to move our heavy hearts back to hope.
But how do we begin to lament?
Look at Psalm 13, a fearless example of lament:
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me? . . .
But I trust in your unfailing love;
My heart rejoices in your salvation.
David, the psalmist, doesn’t run from his sorrow or pretend like it doesn’t exist. He does the opposite. David hurls his most vulnerable feelings at God, repeatedly. You can hear the anguish of David’s soul: Don’t forget me. Don’t disappoint me. How long will this last? Then in the middle of his grief, David shifts his tone: “But I trust in your unfailing love.”
David’s circumstances haven’t changed, so what did?
It’s this: David’s intimacy with God has transformed him. The healing power of God’s presence has reminded David that God is faithful, loving, and in the process of making all things new.
Therefore, David can acknowledge his pain and simultaneously declare that suffering will not have the final word.
The mystery of our relationship with God is this: as we express our laments to him—through prayer, journaling, song, artwork, etc.—God is near. And though it may take time, as our intimacy with God deepens, our grief supernaturally transforms into hope. This certainly doesn’t mean that our grief has disappeared altogether. But it does mean that we can have hope—because we know that God sings a louder song than our grief ever could.
Aubrey Sampson is the director of discipleship and equipping at Renewal Church in the Chicago area. A speaker, writer, and church planter, Aubrey offers an incredible perspective in the midst of trying experiences. She is the author of Overcomer, writes for Propel Women, and is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild. Aubrey enjoys hanging with her family, binge-watching Netflix, and collecting vinyl—mostly because she believes that no matter the difficulty we face, God turns the record over and writes a new song. Aubrey is currently earning her master’s degree in evangelism and leadership.