Grief and Suffering in 2020
We have all lost something as a result of COVID–19, whether it be our jobs, time with loved ones, or fellowship with our church families.
From natural disasters to a global pandemic, and senseless violence to an economic downfall, the year 2020 has inflicted various levels of suffering upon each and every individual living through it.
The aftereffects of suffering and loss can be quite difficult to deal with in a Christian manner. As we reach our most emotional and vulnerable points, we may be tempted to place blame on God for the way things have turned out. We may begin to hold grievances against Him as we wonder why such things have continued to happen under His attentive care.
Pastor Colin S. Smith addresses grievance in his recent book, For All Who Grieve: Navigating the Valley of Sorrow and Loss (10Publishing, 2020). He devotes chapter 4 entirely to discussing this emotion. “Grievance,” he writes, “ relates to what other people did or failed to do and sometimes to what God did or failed to do.” He surveys others in the Bible who have experienced grievance towards God, looking to John 11:21 and the words of Martha when Jesus arrived only after Lazarus had succumbed to sickness. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died!”
We may feel like God is absent when we are suffering, because if He were with us, why would He be allowing us to feel such pain? In his book, Colin recalls the words spoken by a lady, Joyce, in a small group which he and his wife led for grieving families. “Did God cause this, or did He let it happen?” She found her answer in Lamentations 3:32. “Though he cause grief, he will have compassion.”
This was assuring to her, because as she put it, “If God wanted this to happen, maybe I could accept it better, because I could say it was God’s will. But if it was just a random accident, that would be even harder to bear.” Colin agreed with her, concluding that it is easier to know that God allows all things—good and bad—to happen as opposed to having no control over their occurrence.
We cannot understand how or why God takes from us the things we love—our jobs, our health, our friends and loved ones. This is so because we are not meant to understand. We will never know why He takes because we don’t know what He plans to give, and His plans are perfect, ordained, and always provide exactly what we need. Never a flaw can be found in His ways.
How do we surrender our grievances to Him? Looking to the book of Lamentations, Colin concludes that we must share with God how we feel. Lament to Him. Share your heart with Him. Confess your grievances, even though He already knows them.
Though we may suffer and lose much in our lives (as we have this year), For All Who Grieve and the wise words of Colin S. Smith point us to Scripture passages and the testimonies of others to show us that nothing happens in vain. God allows it. He ordains it. And so, we can trust it is for our good.
Are you struggling to work through your grief and grievances on your own? Consider gathering a group of brothers and sisters in Christ together, as Colin and his wife did, to heal alongside them. Read through Colin’s book and turn to the discussion questions at the end of each chapter to reflect upon what you’ve learned.
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