God, What Is Going On?
It’s not fair that my sister was killed by a drunk driver. She was so young.
My husband was getting ready to retire. Why did he have to suffer and die from cancer?
Why did God allow my child to be murdered?
Does God care about your pain?
It’s a fair question. Does God really understand what you are going through after your loss?
In the Bible, you’ll find assurance that God does understand and wants to help you:
- He is described as “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3).
- He knows what is happening to you: “But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand” (Psalm 10:14a).
- God wants you to talk about your hurts, to “pour out your heart to him” (Psalm 62:8 NLT).
Do you see? He hears your cries for help and He invites you to come to Him for comfort.
God’s plan to end your suffering
Not only does God want to ease your suffering, He actually relates to it. How can God understand a human problem like grief? He can relate because He grieved the unjust execution of His Son, Jesus.
As painful as it was, God allowed Jesus to die as part of His plan to end suffering and death. He wanted to bring comfort, hope, and healing to you. But to appreciate this plan, you have to understand the reason suffering and death exist.
The reason we suffer
All of us have disobeyed God. This is not a new problem. It stretches all the way back to Adam and Eve.
The Bible calls this disobedience “sin” and describes its ultimate consequence:
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
“The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23a)
This creates a seemingly hopeless future for us:
- Because God is pure and holy, He cannot tolerate sin.
- He punishes sin. It’s the only possible response consistent with His righteous character.
- The penalty for our sin is suffering in this life and physical death followed by eternal punishment.
The reason you can have hope
Even in His holiness, God is compassionate. He does not want us to meet our deserved fate. The Bible describes another side of God’s character, one that should encourage you:
- “God is love.” (1 John 4:8b)
- He is patient with us: “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8).
- He is “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4).
God’s love and mercy are so deep that He wants to rescue each of us from the consequences of our disobedience (sin). He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross to pay the penalty for that sin. Jesus experienced death and separation from God, on our behalf, even though He was perfect. It is the ultimate expression of God’s love:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Claiming God’s hope for your life
Ultimately God’s plan will put an end to murder, cancer, tragic accidents, loneliness, sadness, depression, and grief. One day “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4). So even in the sorrow you feel right now, you can look forward with hope to the fulfillment of this plan.
But to benefit from God’s plan, you have to let Him know that you want to be an active part of it.
This involves agreeing that you disobey God and that you need Christ to die in your place to save you from experiencing the full penalty of your sin (eternal punishment and separation from God).
This isn’t very comforting
Right about now, you may feel a bit beat up or perhaps offended that God views you as a sinner. We get that. These truths are tough to process on a good day, even harder when you’re dealing with grief. Quite frankly, that’s why it’s easier to rest in the illusion that sources outside our control are the cause of the problems we face.
But if we’re honest, we have to admit that murderers, terrorists, and white-collar criminals aren’t the only ones causing suffering in this world. Think about it:
- Have you ever lost your temper and said things that hurt someone?
- Was there a time when you slacked off on your responsibilities and caused work to pile up on someone else?
- Have you ever held a grudge that caused you to withhold kindness?
- Was there ever a time when you took pleasure in sharing gossip that hurt someone’s reputation?
And while those acts (or others like them) are small when compared to the big evils of the world, anything you do that God doesn’t like is sin, and the punishment is eternal suffering. That’s why it’s critical to share these truths with you now, even in the midst of your grief. Your eternal destiny is at stake.
Hope for forgiveness and healing
Thankfully the Bible says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). In other words, you’ll be spared from eternal suffering and separation from God. And, one day, you’ll get to see what life is like in a perfect world that’s free of sin and suffering for eternity.
If you have never confessed your need for a savior, you can do it now by praying something like this:
I am grieving, and I need Your help. I know that I am a sinner and that my sin has separated me from You. But I believe that You experienced the punishment that should have been mine by dying on the cross for my sins. I believe You rose from the dead so I could have the hope of living forever with You instead of spending eternity separated from You. Thank you for enduring the grief and the pain to show Your love for me. I place my trust in You to help me heal.
Things really are different now
If you invited Christ into your life, many things have changed. Look at some of the remarkable and comforting things that have occurred:
You know what’s going on: While you may never know all the details concerning why your loved one died (Deuteronomy 29:29), you have a better idea of the big picture: we live in a sin-cursed world, and God is doing something about it. Your suffering only makes sense in the context of that story. But now that you believe in Christ, the best thing is that you’ll see and enjoy the culmination of His plan to rid the world of sin and suffering.
You have a relationship with the God of all comfort: Believing in Christ for the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life in Him is essential to your healing. It allows you to have a personal relationship with the God of all comfort. God loved you enough to go through the death of His Son for you. He is familiar with your suffering and will walk with you through the toughest days of your grief journey, offering comfort for today and hope for the future.
You have reason for hope: There’s more to life than this world. Jesus promised to gather all who trusted Him for salvation into an eternal paradise. There will be no more tears, suffering, or death in that place. Rest your hope on this unshakable promise. Doing so will transform the way you grieve. “And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13 NLT)
God will use your suffering for good: God promises to use all your experiences (good and bad) to help you become more like His Son (Romans 8:28–29). As you grow in your understanding of how wonderful Jesus is, this promise will become increasingly attractive and precious to you.
Your sins were forgiven: “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.” (Ephesians 1:7 NLT)
You no longer have to fear being judged by God (Romans 8:1). And no matter how intense and painful your grief becomes, you can always take solace in the fact that God has lovingly and generously addressed your most pressing need—your need for forgiveness.
You received the gift of eternal life: While we will all experience physical death, Jesus promised that those who believe in Him will never cease to exist. For you have inherited what Jesus calls eternal life (John 3:16).
You can access God’s peace: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6–7)
“He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life ... Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” (Titus 3:5–7 NLT)
Turning control of your life over to Jesus is only the first step in an exciting relationship with God. You’ll want to get to know Him better and learn His plan for your life. To do this, make time to read the Bible and talk with God about what you’re reading. We encourage you to begin attending a GriefShare group; your GriefShare leader and the From Mourning to Joy exercises in your workbook will help guide you in your relationship with God.
It’s also important for you to spend time with people who can help you know Jesus in an even deeper and more intimate way. The best way to do this is to become part of a church that will teach you and guide you in a growing relationship with Jesus. Be sure to tell your GriefShare leader about your decision to follow Christ.