These words touched a chord in me during a personal season of loss and grief. Shortly after giving birth to my daughter, who was born with permanent disabilities and challenges, I lost both my parents suddenly and within a couple of years of one another. I felt like a magnitude 8 earthquake was ungrounding and cracking open my faith and challenging my views about God.

It was then that I came across this book with the title, “Disappointment with God”—words I’d been afraid to consider or speak—that I was disappointed with God. Was I allowed to think that? And so what if I was disappointed…how was that going to see me through the pain and sorrow and help me face the reality of my situation?

Written by renowned Christian author, Philip Yancey, this book addresses the depths of our emotional pain during times of loss, and how we reconcile our faith in light of the questions we might be afraid to ask. As time and life went on, and as I allowed myself to address my own confusion through reading, praying, sharing, journaling, and other healing practices, I came to experience some peace and acceptance and a great deal of transformation in what I believe and why that matters; leading to an enriched and much more meaningful relationship with God.

But when we are slammed with shocking and sudden losses like the unexpected death of our beloved church member, Pat Drew, so many complex emotions and thoughts might take turns surfacing—shock, anger, denial, confusion, deep sorrow and more, including gratitude for the amazing friendships and gifts she offered so many through the rich life she lived in our church and beyond. 

Going through a time of grief is never easy, but a sudden loss like this reminds us of the fragility of life and our own mortality, and may bring on hard questions: Where are you, God? Why is such suffering and grief part of our human experience? Are you listening to me? Do you care?

Exploring these difficult questions requires something of us, and can lead us to an enriched and more authentic experience of God in our lives. When it comes to grief in particular, which might involve any kind of loss we are going through, here’s some of what rings true for me in the words of David Kessler, co-author of On Grief and Grieving:

·               There is no correct way to grieve. Your loss and the grief that accompanies it are very personal, unique to you, and might be different from someone else’s.  Everyone’s timeline is different, and there is no finish line.

·               Grief shared is grief abated. Find support. Whether it’s a friend, family member, significant other, therapist, grief workshop, bereavement group or counselor—find others you can talk with. Pastor Matt and I are both available and here for you—to be a listening and prayerful presence, or to provide resources that might be helpful.

·               Grief has the power to heal. Many problems in our lives stem from grief that is unresolved and unhealed. When we do not work through our grief, we lose an opportunity to heal our soul, psyche and heart. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

Even as we walk through the reality and pain we are bound to experience in the course of our lives, we can and must remind ourselves that we are loved beyond measure by our loving God. He will walk with us through our pain, and indeed has felt humanity’s suffering through the life and death of Jesus. 

Christ has promised that death is not the end, saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14: 1-3). 

May God bless and keep you all the days of your life.