What the Lord expects from us at such seasons is not to abandon ourselves to unreasoning sorrow, but trustingly to look sorrow in the face, to scan its features, to search for the help and hope, which, as surely as God is our Father, must be there. In such trials there can be no comfort for us so long as we stand outside weeping. If only we will take the courage to fix our gaze deliberately upon the stern countenance of grief, and enter unafraid into the darkest recesses of our trouble, we shall find the terror gone, because the Lord has been there before us, and, coming out again, has left the place transfigured, making of it by the grace of his resurrection a house of life, the very gate of heaven.
– Geerhardus Vos
God runs his universe in ways that are counterintuitive. There is a surprising door to joy—to face your suffering, to take hold of it instead of seeking to escape it. To stop what you are doing and honestly say to God, “I feel all alone right now. I’m tired. I’m bored. I’m hurt. I’m worried and stressed. But I know you are with me. I know you are my true refuge. Help me!” Worship in the Bible expresses two things to God: our pain and our pleasure. For example, some psalms suffer honestly: “O God, I am in anguish. Deliver me from my sufferings and my sins.” Other psalms delight honestly: “O my God, you are good. I thank you, worship you, and adore you.” In 1 Peter 1, suffering is the context in which you experience “joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1: 8 NASB). In James 1, trial is the context of purpose, endurance, meaning, and joy. In Romans 5: 3, we are told that “we rejoice in our suffering.” In the midst of sorrows, anguish, misery, and pain we come to know that “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5: 5 NASB). Walking into suffering with eyes wide open opens the door to knowing the love of God.
– David Powlison, Breaking the Addictive Cycle
There is nothing wrong with weeping at a time like this. Jesus Christ was the most mature person who ever lived, yet he is falling into grief. It is not a sign of immaturity or weakness. The people who are more like Jesus don’t avoid grief. They find themselves pulled into the grief of those who are hurting. There is something very right about that.
– Timothy J. Keller, Truth, Tears, Anger, and Grace—John 11:20–53
The Bible is honest about the sorrows of life in this fallen world. God welcomes you to be honest as well. The psalms capture examples of such honesty. Psalms 13, 22, 38, 42, 55, 59, 61, 73, and 88 all record God’s people bringing their honest grief, questions, and complaints to the Lord. Perhaps you are in a place where you are confused or even angry with God. You want to complain about His sovereignty. It is an act of faith to speak that complaint to Him in the pattern of these psalms. Your faith in God should never silence you in the dark hours of your grief. Rather, it is in these very moments that we begin to understand how deep, rich, and sturdy God’s love for us really is. He will not turn away from your questions. He will not be surprised by your grief. He will not be repulsed by your anger. He will not turn His back on your pain. He understands the darkest moments of human existence. He enters those moments with boundless mercy, unending love, and amazing grace.
– Paul David Tripp, When Grief Enters Your Door
His sovereignty provides meaning to the losses we grieve. If I lose a loved one apart from knowing the sovereignty of God, then that loved one’s death is a total loss. There is no purpose to life; there is no hope of life after death; there is nothing for me to do but grieve; there is only emptiness, or pain, or whatever I do to numb the pain. Knowing that God is sovereign changes everything. God has a plan and a purpose for everything that happens, even the tragedy and sorrow of death. Nothing surprises God or takes Him off guard. God’s sovereignty brings meaning to loss even when I can’t yet understand what God’s specific purpose behind the loss may be. Faith trusts God’s grace and benevolence—and eventually we understand.
– Paul Randolph, Grief: It’s Not About a Process; It’s About The Person
Our inability to lament is primarily due to the influence of the Greek mind on the early church. Greek Stoicism believed that emotions – anything that interrupted the goal of a calm and balanced life—were bad. The passionate person was the immature person.
A lament grieves that world is unbalanced. It grieves at the gap between reality and God’s promise. It believes in a God who is there, who can act in time and space. It doesn’t drift into cynicism or unbelief, but engages God passionately with what’s wrong.
– Paul Miller, A Loving Life: In a World of Broken Relationships
As [my husband] and I walked away from the grave after burying [our infant daughter], he said to me, “You know, I think we expected that our faith would make this hurt less, but it doesn’t. Our faith gave us an incredible amount of strength and encouragement while we had her, and we are comforted by the knowledge that [our infant daughter] is in heaven. Our faith keeps us from being swallowed by despair. But I don’t think it makes our loss hurt any less.”
In our experience, faith has not taken away the pain, but it has informed our thoughts and our emotions. It has infused our loss with purpose and hope.
– Nancy Guthrie, Hearing Jesus Speak Into Your Sorrow