CBN TEACHING SHEETS
you feel overwhelmed by grief and sorrow? Perhaps a loved one has died
... or your spouse has left you ... or you are dealing with the trauma
of an abortion ... or you have lost something very precious, such as
your job, your health, your home, or a relationship. No matter how deep
your pain, God can help you find comfort and hope. As you read this
booklet, pray that He will bring healing to your broken heart.
The Facts on Grief
Understanding the nature of grief can help us better cope with loss.
Grief is a natural, healthy process that enables us to recover from
terrible emotional wounds. William Cowper, the English hymn writer,
said, “Grief is itself medicine.” People may say, “Don’t
cry; your loved one is in heaven.” That may be true, but it’s
important to deal with the very real pain of loss. We should not feel
guilty for grieving because it is a necessary part of God’s pathway
The grief process is like sailing across a stormy sea. When we first
experience a great loss, we are launched into a tempest of emotions.
We feel surrounded by darkness and heavy waves of anguish. Comforting
words are drowned out by howling winds of sorrow. We feel lonely and
out of control as we are swept toward a new destination in life.
This journey through grief has four phases:
- Shock – In the days and weeks immediately following a devastating
loss, common feelings include numbness and unreality, like being trapped
in a bad dream.
- Reality – As the fact of the loss takes hold, deep sorrow
sets in, accompanied by weeping and other forms of emotional release.
Loneliness and depression may also occur.
- Reaction – Anger, brought on by feelings of abandonment and
helplessness, may be directed toward family, friends, doctors, the
one who died or deserted us, or even God. Other typical feelings include
listlessness, apathy, and guilt over perceived failures or unresolved
- Recovery – Finally, there is a gradual, almost imperceptible
return to normalcy. This is a time of adjustment to the new circumstances
These phases vary in duration for each person, so we should not impose
a timetable upon anyone. Some people need a year or two, while others
may take less time. Holidays, anniversaries and birthdays can trigger
intense grief, especially the first year.
Healing a broken heart is similar to healing a broken leg. Rushing
the process can actually hinder our long-term recovery, like removing
a cast before the bone is strong enough to bear weight. Grief that is
left unresolved may trigger depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, or other
Ecclesiastes 3:1,4 says “To everything there is a season, a time
for every purpose under heaven: a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Many Bible stories demonstrate
how God comforts His people in times of sorrow and loss. Job clung desperately
to God, despite catastrophic loss and unhelpful friends. David, a man
after God’s own heart, openly grieved the death of his son.
Jesus is our best role model for combining faith and grief, as revealed
in John 11:1-45. When He saw Mary and Martha in anguish over the death
of their brother Lazarus, He wept and groaned. Although Jesus knew He
was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, He still allowed Himself to
feel – and express – the depths of human sorrow.
We can take comfort in knowing that Jesus has experienced all of our
pain, including loss, rejection, betrayal, and dying. As our Savior
and Redeemer, He took all our sins to the cross and forgives us when
we ask. As our Good Shepherd, He leads us safely through “the
valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4b). Remember, a shadow
indicates that there is a light on the other side!
Deep faith in Christ does not prevent grief when a believer dies, but
it infuses grief with hope! For Christians, death is a passageway to
eternal life (see John 5:24). Paul said, “To live is Christ, and
to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21b). He also said, “I want
you to know what will happen to the Christians who have died so you
will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope. For since we
believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe
that when Jesus comes, God will bring back with Jesus all the Christians
who have died” (1 Thessalonians 4:13b-14, NLT).
Well-meaning people may say, “Jesus took your loved one away,”
but that can cause people – especially children – to be
angry at God. 1 Corinthians 15:26 says death is our last enemy. Therefore,
we can say, “Death took our loved one away from us, but Jesus
took our loved one away from death!”
If we don’t know whether our loved one believed in Jesus, we
must simply trust God. The Bible says, “The Lord ... is longsuffering
toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come
to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). The thief on the cross turned to
Christ in the last hours of life (see Luke 23:39-43). We do not know
what happens in a person’s final moments between life and death,
but God does – and He decides who enters His heaven.
The Holy Spirit – also called the Comforter (see John 14:26,
KJV) – can give us God’s peace, even in the midst of suffering.
Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything
by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be
made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” The peace
of God does not come from our circumstances, but from drawing close
Jesus promised, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall
be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). God beckons us into His loving arms
so He can heal our wounded hearts.
Grief can affect our thinking, behavior, emotions, relationships, and
health. People may experience sleeplessness, exhaustion, indigestion,
lack of appetite, or memory lapses. Recognizing that these are common
reactions to grief can help us minimize them by reaching out to friends,
joining a prayer group, or asking a pastor or Christian counselor for
One of the most difficult tasks for a bereaved person is adjusting
to the new environment without the loved one who has died or moved away.
When is it appropriate to put away a loved one’s things, make
lifestyle changes, or form new relationships? We will find the answers
as time passes and recovery progresses. God will show us His timing
and His direction as we seek Him.
Here are three steps to recovery
- Grieve – Though grief is bitter, we must let sorrow run its
natural course. Isaiah 53:3b describes Jesus as “a Man of sorrows
and acquainted with grief.” Denying or repressing pain can lead
to emotional problems.
- Believe – We need to put our faith in God’s promises,
trusting that our Heavenly Father knows best and that His understanding
is perfect. Isaiah 55:9 says, “For as the heavens are higher
than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts
than your thoughts.”
- Receive – God desires to give us comfort, but we must reach
out and accept it. Through prayer and meditation on His Word, we can
find a place in God’s presence where He will wrap His arms around
us as a loving father would console a hurting child.
These are some Scriptures that can bring hope, strength
Psalms 16, 23, 34, 91
2 Corinthians 5:1-9
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Helping Others Through Grief
The Bible says, “Blessed be the God ... of all comfort, who comforts
us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who
are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted
by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). A silver lining in sorrow’s
dark cloud is that God can use our experiences to reach out to others
with compassion and comfort.
Everyone grieves differently – depending on personality, religious
beliefs, maturity, emotional stability, and cultural traditions. Here
are some general counseling guidelines:
- Ask God for guidance about when to speak and what to say. Use this
booklet as a guide.
- Encourage the bereaved person to share his or her feelings, then
be a good listener and don’t judge what is said. Romans 12:15b
says, “Weep with those who weep.”
- Avoid platitudes. Let the person feel sorrow without implying that
he or she should “cheer up” or “be joyful in the
Lord,” as this could give the impression you are questioning
the person’s spirituality.
- Don’t push or preach, but if the person indicates an openness,
pray and share meaningful Scriptures.
- Do simple things without being asked, such as bringing a meal or
mowing the lawn.
Grief will visit our lives many times because we love others, but the
Lord promises to be with us forever, even in the midst of our darkest
hours. God bless you.
All Scripture is quoted from the NKJV except as noted.
A Grief Observed, by C.S. Lewis
Beyond Heartache, by Mari Hanes
I’ll Hold You in Heaven, by Jack Hayford (for grieving parents)
Don’t Take My Grief Away, by Doug Manning
Helping People Through Grief, by Dolores Kuenning (for counselors)
Death and the Life After, by Billy Graham
Experiencing Grief, by H. Norman Wright
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