It is possible to experience God’s healing power in the midst of sorrow.
For those who have longed to feel His comfort but have been disappointed when it seemed absent, I can relate. I’ve been there; and I stayed there unnecessarily for far too long. My disappointment over the lack of comfort I felt from God was on a subconscious level, so it was easy to just keep shoving it down, stuffing it away where I didn’t have to look at it. I think I had expectations of what it should look like for God to comfort me; maybe Him speaking to me in an internal audible voice or through angelic visit. I had to lay those expectations down. While God does sometimes comforts in these ways, this wasn’t my experience at that time. When God didn’t comfort in the way I thought He should, I assumed He didn’t care enough to help me. I hope the hard lessons I’ve learned over the years will help others who may be grieving and in need of God’s comfort.
Probably one of the most important things I’ve learned about receiving God’s comfort is that I have to step into it. So what does that look like in practical terms? First of all, it means stepping into it when the time is right. Grief is like the waves on the sea; the pain of it swells and subsides, swells and subsides. When that grief begins to swell, that is the time to step into God’s presence. Picture a surfer catching a wave. The person grieving can use that swelling tide of grief to ride into the comforting presence of God. This is the time to find a place to be alone with Him. Tell Him that you’ve come to Him because you need Him and are asking Him to comfort you. He wants to be your refuge when you are in pain! Tell Him how you feel, naming as many emotions as you can think of until you’ve exhausted them all. Even if you’re angry with God, tell Him that. He already knows anyway, and it’s healing to admit it. He understands. He knows the loss you’re experiencing and He has compassion for your pain because He too has experienced sorrow. He can handle it. It is also very healing to bring any negative feelings toward God full circle by ending the conversation with renewed declarations of faith in Him even in the midst of the pain.
Another way to step into God’s healing presence is to read His written word: the Bible; after all, hearing what God has to say to ME in the midst of MY pain is what we all long for, isn’t it? For years I didn’t understand how personal and intimate God’s word is. It is His living word, as relevant to our pain today as it was to the first people who ever read it. When we long to hear from Him, His voice is no further away than the nearest Bible.
It can also be helpful to turn on music when we step into God’s presence. I have a playlist on my phone now that I turn on when I need God to heal my heart, whether it’s because of grief, discouragement, disappointment or whatever the situation might be. On it I have songs like Rescue Me by Jeff Deyo, First and Only by Elevation Worship, Joy is Coming by River Valley worship and Abba Father by Klaus. Music is a great catalyst to releasing painful emotions so that God can restore them. These times in God’s presence give Him the opportunity to pour healing and comfort into us.
Another way to experience comfort during times of grief is to ask God to protect us and those who are grieving with us. Satan is no gentleman, and He loves to kick us when we’re down. It is all too common for grief to become compounded during funerals as relationships become strained and damaged. Now when I know someone has experienced the loss of a loved one I take a moment to ask for God’s protection during the grief process.
If you’re already in the midst of grief that is compounded by strained relationships, take time to process the pain. Whether it’s healing from grief or strained relationships, stepping into God’s comfort works the same way. Tell Him how you feel. The next step is to tell those you are in conflict with how you feel. “I” messages are very effective and the least likely to make others feel defensive: i.e., “When you say (or do)___________, it makes me feel__________.” Getting things out on the table without attacking others allows the healing to begin. Forgiveness is another door-opener to healing.
I want to end this post by offering some of the Bible verses that have brought comfort and healing to me when grieving. I hope they encourage you as well…
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:1-4
“He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 25:8
“In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” Exodus 15:13
“O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you.” Isaiah 30:19
“Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Revelation 1:17-18
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die…” John 11:25-26
“The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.” Isaiah 57:1-2
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles…” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
“This is what the LORD says, ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more.’ This is what the LORD says, ‘Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded’, declares the LORD. ‘They will return from the land of the enemy. So there is hope for your future,’ declares the LORD. ‘Your children will return to their own land.” Jeremiah 31:15-17
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’” John 11:25-26
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” Psalm 145:8
“As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you…” Isaiah 66:13a
“Thy lovingkindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens, Thy faithfulness reaches to the skies. Thy righteousness is like the mountains of God; Thy judgments are like a great deep. O LORD, Thou preservest man and beast. How precious is Thy lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Thy wings.” Psalm 36:5-7
“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:3-5