Horatio Spafford’s two-year-old son passed away, he was financially ruined due to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and then, in 1873, he suffered the loss of all four daughters aboard a vessel heading to Europe that sunk. As he traveled to be with his grieving wife, it is said he penned the words to the famous hymn “It Is Well with My Soul” as he passed the spot where the ship carrying his daughters sank.
“When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know
It is well, it is well, with my soul.”
This powerful hymn has been sung since the 1870s because it reminds us that even as we face hardships, we have hope in our Savior, Jesus Christ. Today, Bethel Music sings an updated version of this song:
“And through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
And it is well
It is well”
We live in a broken world, and as a result, we suffer losses. When we lose someone we love, it is easy for grief to overtake us. While it is important and healthy to grieve these losses, we must remember the hope we have in Jesus as the song suggests. Even when sorrows threaten to overtake us, we can remember who we belong to and who He is, and we can trust that it is well.
Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, death has lost its victory and sting (1 Corinthians 15:55). When grief is overtaking us, focusing on Christ and his resurrection brings encouragement and new hope. Even in the midst of our suffering, we have eternal hope.
You are Not Alone
Grief is incredibly isolating. When we are hurting, it is tempting to believe we are the only ones who have suffered a loss of this magnitude. And, while every loss is different, we can look toward others who have also suffered to see how they overcame.
Throughout the Bible, we are introduced to people who have suffered tremendous losses. We read about Naomi losing her family, Job losing everything, and David losing a child. We even see Jesus grieving. In John 11:35, we read, “Jesus wept” when he grieves the death of his good friend Lazarus before he restores him to life.
The Stages of Grief Should Move You Towards Hope Instead of Hopelessness
Unfortunately, there are many people who give grief power over them. For instance, the world views the loss of someone you love much differently than believers. They do not have the hope of Jesus Christ or an understanding of the power of His resurrection. Therefore, while their grief will often lead to a sense of hopelessness, we can move from hurt to hope.
While the world embraces the stages of grief, Christians should recognize the stages of grief they experience will differ. For instance, it is natural to grieve and hurt. The stages will vary from one person to the next. However, after some time has passed, a believer should have a sense of hope rather than a sense of hopelessness.
“… weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
– Psalm 30:5
Run to the Father, Not Away from Him
When you suffer the loss of a loved one, it important to run to your Heavenly Father instead of from Him. Sometimes people turn away from God because they’re angry at Him, but God is big enough to understand our grief. When we have a relationship with God, we should go to Him with our grief, our pleas, and our heartbreak. He is the only one who has the power to restore us and give us true peace.
Look Towards Jesus
Moreover, we run to the Father because this is the example given to us by Jesus Christ. In the Gospel, we read about how Jesus ran to His Father. When he was tired or hurting, he purposely went out alone to spend time in prayer with his Father. He had a relationship with his Father, and he trusted Him with His life, His death, and His resurrection.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel
from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more
earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
- Luke 22:42-44
The Bible tells us that Jesus pleaded with God before the crucifixion and asked him if there was any other way. Yet, even in his grief and suffering, He trusted His Father. When we hesitate to be honest with God about how we are feeling, we’ll do well to remember that communication is essential to any relationship. Just like Jesus, we should be honest with the Lord about our suffering.
Remember God’s Faithfulness
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus remembers God’s promises. He trusts what God is doing because He knows God is faithful. Even when he was facing the cross, He continued to trust His Father.
In our suffering, we should remember God’s faithfulness as well. It may be hard in the moment to see past your grief, but you can trust that God will never leave you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:8). We have a record of God’s faithfulness in the Bible. Our lives are living testimonies of God’s faithfulness too. Think about all the times God has kept His promises in your life. Don’t lose sight of who He is when you are hurting. Keep your eyes firmly fixed on Him.
Look for Ways to Focus Outward Rather Than Inward
Finally, when we lose someone we love, it’s hard to take care of ourselves – let alone someone else. But, Jesus focused outward. When he was suffering, He continued to focus on others instead of His own pain. Of course, no one expects you not to take time to grieve. However, we should not become so inwardly focused so as to stop treating others with compassion. Rather than allowing ourselves to be led by self-pity or anger, we should strive to follow Jesus’ example of love.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall
there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”