I am dying from grief; my years are shortened by sadness. Psalm 31:10 NLT
I opened his email and read the sad news.
Santhosh’s a missionary in India who works with orphans and widows. His latest request had grief written all over it. A cyclone and sea waves had made life miserable for many in parts of his hometown. Two hundred fishermen were missing. Thirty-two dead bodies had been found. Hundreds lost their homes—swept away by the sea. The catastrophe made more orphans and widows for him to care for. Temporary shelters housed more than 10,000. I imagined the grief the survivors experienced. He asked for my prayers, and of course, I agreed.
The psalmist experienced grief. So intense he felt as if he would die from it. Sadness would surely shorten his years. I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced grief so penetrating, but I have grieved and watched others grieve also.
Grief’s existence is undeniable, but the forms it takes are as variegated as the people who experience it. Surely, none of the survivors in India will grieve the exact same way or for the same period of time. Some will pull themselves up quickly and go on with life while others will feel crippling effects for much longer.
Life is a mixture of grief and joy. Neither one consistently characterizes our existence. We’ll feel both numerous times during life. Expecting one or the other consistently is unrealistic.
Interceding for those who grieve—regardless of which way they do it—is our duty. We may not understand the nature of their grief, but we aren’t in their shoes. We simply need to pray for God to strengthen them so they won’t die from their grief—physically or emotionally.
Assisting them is important also. They may not know what they need, so asking might not give us the answer we seek. Common sense—along with spending time with them—should reveal practical ways we can help.
Taking time to understand the stages of grief and the various ways people experience it helps us not to be judgmental when people grieve in ways we may think are unhealthy. Grief looks differently for everyone.
Regardless of the nature of your grief, God’s Spirit can guide you through—and He will also enable you to help others through as well.
Tweetable: Is grief overwhelming you?
Prayer: Father, we know healthy grief is from You. Guide us through our periods of grief, reminding us to trust You for each of our needs.