When Grief Comes — by Pastor Pam Sutherland

NOTE: This is a reprise an article Pastor Pam wrote last year. It is equally relevant today. Read on…

Every day we are inundated with tragic news. Weather -related losses. Gun violence. Devastation from wars. Our own personal tragedies and those of the people we care about. We grieve and wonder why these kinds of things continue to happen. The words of Revelation 6:10 come to mind. “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth….” Oh how we long for Jesus to return to set things right in this sin-sick world and put an end to the things that cause us to grieve.

Grief is an emotion we have all felt, probably more times than we can count. Loss of a loved one (human or animal), loss of a relationship, loss of our health, loss of a job, loss of a home or other material possessions that were dear to us. It’s safe to say we have all grieved over many different losses in our lives. 

In her 1969 book, On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kübler- Ross first proposed the 5 stages of grief and loss that are widely accepted as being universally experienced by people. They are: 1. Denial and isolation; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance.

When we grieve we do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order or even experience all of them. Everyone grieves in their own way and no one should tell another person how to grieve or how long to grieve a loss. Some of you have experienced significant losses recently and my prayers go up for you as you travel that very personal and painful road to healing. 

In my own times of grief, being able to both name and recognize the stage of grief I am experiencing on any given day is an incredible gift. Understanding that these feelings are normal and a process we all go through when experiencing loss helps us walk that path in a healthy, healing way. Grief is not a lack of faith in God, it is simply a human emotion that can draw us closer to God if we allow it. 

In Psalm 34:17-19 we read: “The righteous cry and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and rescues those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

I am thankful that God hears us, He is near to us, He rescues us, and promises deliverance from our afflictions. So, while I am feeling what I feel today, I will continue to trust the promises in God’s Word, knowing that these feelings will pass in due time. However, rather than just sit by and wait for the feelings to pass, it is important to take steps to move forward rather than being stuck in one phase of grief or another. My “go to” verse from Scripture whenever I am dealing with feelings of depression, or in this case – grief, is from Genesis 4:7 (paraphrased): If you do right, you will feel right. 

What is the “right” thing to do? Maybe it’s calling someone to encourage them today. Maybe it’s praying for those you know are struggling right now. Maybe it’s offering to help someone who is overwhelmed. Maybe it’s taking a break from social media. Maybe it’s doing that task you’ve been putting off. Only you (with the help of the Holy Spirit) can know what the next “right thing” is for you to move forward.

Whether you are grieving a personal situation, grieved over recent tragic events, or just grieved over the state of our world, as believers we must hold onto to the hope we have in Christ. As Titus 2:13 reminds us, “we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” 

Grace and peace,

Pastor Pam

Pastor Pam Sutherlands charges include Fort Gibson United Methodist Church, Castlewood, VA and St. Paul United Methodist Church, St. Paul, VA.

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