Grief and Faith

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Like many people in our area of Northern Colorado, I was so deeply broken to hear the tragic news of a little boy passing away following a tragic accident during a Labor Day parade in Windsor. 

Like many of you, I have prayed and prayed for the family, for those who witnessed this tragedy, for those who responded and for all those impacted. The sudden loss of a precious child is a grief so very deep.  

As I prayed I felt led to write a few posts that I pray will help someone who is hurting and wrestling searching for hope in the midst of such loss. 

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I thought I would try and offer some thoughts on the 5 stages of grief and Psalm 13. 

The five basic stages of grief are: 

  • Shock and Denial - “this can’t be - I can’t believe this”
  • Anger - bargaining - “where was God - why couldn’t it have been someone else”
  • Depression - “life is pointless and hopeless” 
  • Seeking a new normal - “will I ever feel ‘normal again” 
  • Living with a new normal - living with grief 

These stages are not fixed points. People often share how they go back and forth between these stages. It’s been said that there are no “rules” with grief. This is true as every person and every situation is unique. 

That said there is hope, strength, and wisdom to be found even in the times of deepest pain, but there are no quick fixes and there are no easy answers. In times like these, we need something more than platitudes. 

A few years ago I spent a week at St Judes Children’s Hospital in Memphis. If you've ever been on the campus of St Jude's hospital you will know that you can't be there without being impacted in many ways. As you walk around this miracle making care facility you see grief and pain but you also see faith and hope.  It's a place of tremendous hope. The staff are amazing and the families that go there find all kinds of unique care options.  As I spent a week there I saw parents connecting with other parents who are walking the same path. I saw children with cancer playing with other children with cancer. 

But there is also the very real understanding of the seriousness of cancer in children. A nurse told me a statistic that helps us understand this amazing place. The average pediatric doctor will see a handful of cancer diagnosis during the length of their career. If you walk the campus of St Jude's you see literally hundreds of cancer patients. They are from all ages, from babies to teens. They come from all backgrounds. There are families with really nice cars and those with cars that tell you they are just glad to have made it here. Hundreds of stories played out every moment of every day 

As people of faith who experience and witness suffering, we have some deep wrestling to do.  The primary question many must ask is simply “why?"

Many ask why as a first response - 

Why do little children suffer?

I have found there are two parts to the reality of suffering - 

There is the human aspect 

Life has times of grief - pain - suffering. 

As Christians, I don't think God wants us or expects us to deny or hide that part of our lives.

If you've ever heard the piercing cry of a grieving heart you know what I mean. 

If you've ever walked through the valley of the shadow of death you know what I mean.

There is the spiritual aspect  

We know what we know about God.

We know that God is love. 

We know that God is good. 

We know that God is all powerful.

During these posts, I want to consider with you the tension between faith and grief. Grief and faith aren’t disconnected or contradictory. To tell you the truth I'm still working on this. But I hope my words and prayers help one person reading this.

Life is a gift, life is precious and life is brief. Trust Jesus today and hug those you love a little longer before you say good night!