Those three little letters. That one burning question. All of us who have grieved the loss of someone we loved have asked it: WHY?
The question in and of itself is not conterintuitive to our faith. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. If the “why” drives us to Jesus, it becomes a submission to his sovereignty. In fact, we see Jesus himself cry out to his Father in his final moments on the cross:
“ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?”
Lamenting is defined as the passionate expression of grief or sorrow. And it’s something Jesus wants us to do – to trust him enough to cry out to him in our pain, hurt, confusion and anger. Tonight, in studying Psalm 22 I read this:
“This cry to God should not be confused with despair. In despair, we give up on our relationship to God and let it go… Lamenting is not a failure of faith but an act of faith.”
By crying out to Jesus we acknowldging our reliance on him, recognizing His authority, and submitting to His will.
But…..but. Our “why” can also lead us amiss if prior to (or during) our grief we have created false expectations or assumptions about God and who He is. This goes back to Week 2 when we talked about Faith ≠ Happiness. Assumptions like “those who believe in God will not suffer” or “if we are faithful to Him, then the plans we have for our own lives will be fulfilled by God” can be devastating to the grief experience. This kind of preconception adds an extra layer to the grieving process, as we have to relearn who God is and reconcile our relationship with Him.
I feel very fortunate that even in the earliest days, when we weren’t sure what was wrong with Emmy (but we were quite certain there was something) my grief drove me to my knees. I never asked God for a particular outcome, but rather that He would prepare my heart for His plan. That does not mean I was never angry. It does not mean I never questioned God. It does not mean I never wished it wasn’t me. But even in those times, I chose to trust Him.
Whatever place you find yourself in, remember this – God sees you there.
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”
– Psalm 56:8