I confess, I’ve been having a hard time sitting with grief’s familiar whisper once again. This grief that we as a nation are holding, after what has seemed like one horrific tragedy and trauma after another. It’s been a confusing, painful, and overwhelming few years.
In my quietest moments, I am struggling to “be still and know.” My mind wanders off into the recesses and remnants of recent destruction: from the devastating war in Ukraine to unsuspecting shoppers met with gunfire on a supermarket-Saturday in Buffalo.
And how can we ever forget the beautiful fourth-grade faces of Uvalde, anticipating summer’s coming when in came a shooter instead. As a former elementary school teacher, I imagine the helpless terror and disbelief on the faces of their brave teachers as they met his face. And as a parent, I feel the desperate, nauseating, unspeakable panic of their pleas for help, for answers, for relief from this never-ending nightmare.
Then there’s the unspeakable loss for a precious family of five, three of whom were a mother and father’s only sons. Five beautiful lives taken in a senseless, unimaginable act of evil on a loving grandfather’s ranch in Texas.
And, as I am writing this, just days ago in my own backyard, three precious souls were lost during a small church gathering when one among them opened fire.
There is no category deep or wide enough to hold all the loss. It’s beyond comprehension and too much for human words to comfort.
I want to help.
I want to give a long, tearful, I’m-so-sorry kind of hug.
I want to gently offer a hint of unstoppable Hope to their shattered hearts.
I know I’m not alone, and I still believe the whole of humanity is good.
Even more so, I still believe God is good.
I wish I could look you in the eye and tell you how I’ve wrestled this truth down (or maybe it’s wrestling me down), especially as my own family has walked through grievous loss, pain, and betrayal. It’s the kind of soul-wrangling that, on a Sunday morning in March, kept my lips pursed together and my brow wrinkled as the words to one of my favorite worship songs filled the air around me. The pleading voices inside my head anxiously deliberating the praising voices surrounding me.
Where is the goodness of God in the brutal, unfair, and perhaps preventable realities of life?
My good-girl, raised-in-church, truth-seeking, Jesus-adoring heart didn’t anticipate such a fierce battle over one of the basic tenets of my faith:
God is good.
But I’ve had to confront this truth-riddled-with-questions, especially over the last two years of what has felt like an endless series of horrible news and hard punches.
The Goodness of Grief
I recently came across these words by C.S. Lewis, a man familiar with deep loss and defending faith:
“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures … but shouts to us in our pain. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
May I tenderly submit (and surrender my own heavy heart to the upside-down-Kingdom belief) that grief is synonymous with the goodness of God?
Because it is here, by the gift of the Holy Spirit with us and filling us, that we awaken to:
** The fatherly comfort of God. (2 Cor. 1:3-4, Psalm 34:18)
** The perfect power of God. (2 Cor. 12:9)
** The ever-present help of God. (Psalm 46:1; Isaiah 41:10)
** The enduring counsel of God. (John 14:16)
** The unmistakable joy and beauty of a God-tested and worn-brutiful life. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
** A God who is intimately familiar with grief. (Isaiah 53:3)
** A God who is with us, collecting our tears and holding us close with an unseen plan of glory in the free-fall aftermath. (Psalm 23:4, 56:8; 1Peter 4:13)
** A God who gets the final word in our stories. (1 Peter 3:22)
** A God who wins. (1 Cor 15:57)
Good-grief paces us through the horribly-hard, graciously keeping us from reliving the same crushing day over and over again. Because we live and move and press on for the coming Day when we will hear,
“‘Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.’ The Enthroned [will declare], ‘Look! I’m making everything new. …’” Revelation 21:4, MSG
So be brave my friend and sing of the goodness of God, sing until your breathless heart beats good again.
Jodie Frye has a passion for weaving God’s Word together with her words to create a place for grace. Her hope and prayer is to empower you to see your problems in light of the Promises and your brutal in hope of the Beautiful.