On Grief, Forgiveness and Peace - Olivia Reid
Olivia writes a moving article on the purpose of pain in her life. She reflects on God's goodness and grace in the midst of her difficult circumstances, and shares truths she learnt through those experiences.
Grief is practically unavoidable in life on earth, yet we so rarely talk about it outside of experiencing the death of a loved one.
We can feel grief through the loss of a platonic or romantic relationship, loss of a job, loss of security, or even the inevitability of growing up and losing parts of your childhood.
“Though He brings grief, He also shows compassion because of the greatness of His unfailing love.”- Lamentations 3:32
I believe that grief can often be viewed as shameful within Christianity because we should be able to simply give our pain to God. Yet, that can be a massive journey for many people. God isn’t punishing us by allowing us to experience pain, yet He uses it so He can bring us to the right places, to strengthen us, and to bring us closer to Him.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”- Romans 8:18
Particularly after 2020, I’m sure we all felt some grief. Grief is a longer process than we expect and can take up a vast portion of our lives and severely affect our mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, grief isn’t something we can block out or avoid, and therefore we must learn to journey through it, and we can do that through Christ.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed”- Psalms 34:18
The stage of grief I believe is so often misinterpreted is the stage of anger. Anger, in my experience, causes more hurt than satisfaction. But through God, we can have the strength to forgive those who we believe have hurt us.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”- Colossians 3:13
Although I always assumed that the anger stage was purely anger at others, the worst anger I have felt is at myself. I wondered what I could have done differently to prevent the loss. This kind of anger is the most difficult to resolve because you are always hardest on yourself.
Despite often being unable to see where God is leading me within the pain, I can still believe that He is a good God with a good plan.
Furthermore, when a thought is purely internal, it is hard to overcome because you have no outside perspectives to help mediate your thoughts. This is when it is essential to look to God, to be reminded of His grace and forgiveness. How can we allow God to forgive us if we can’t do it ourselves? It draws us away from God because we believe we don’t deserve His forgiveness. Yet if the creator of the universe can forgive us, why can’t we forgive ourselves?
“For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from, sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret in that kind of sorrow.”- 2 Corinthians 7:10
“The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him”- Daniel 9:9
The acceptance stage of grief doesn’t mean the grieving is over. Acceptance is still painful. Finally understanding that something is over and that blaming other things doesn’t help hurts.
This stage is simultaneously so peaceful and yet so painful. You can’t help but wish that that stage of your life isn’t over, yet you can understand that things coming to an end can be right. Losing something doesn’t change the importance or significance that the thing once had. When we can learn to shift our perspective to the gratefulness of having something in our lives for a short period, we can look back on lost things with fondness rather than anger or regret.
One of the thoughts that helped me come to terms with the painful situations in my life was to remind myself of God’s goodness and grace. And that within that goodness and grace, He has a plan for my life.
One of my favourite worship songs (New Wine, Hillsong Worship) says, “In the crushing, in the pressing, You are making new wine.” God can make us renewed through the pain and struggles we face. God uses difficult situations in our lives to bring you physically and mentally into the places we need to be.
Despite often being unable to see where God is leading me within the pain, I can still believe that He is a good God with a good plan. The song also says “When I trust You I don’t need to understand.”
The best outcome of grief is the feeling of peace, which is precisely why God is so important in our journey through grief. The song Peace/Afio Mai says, “He never told me that it would be easy, He said suffering will come. But, He promised peace.” God provides the peace we need to overcome our grieving.
“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, Because I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33
Olivia is studying a conjoint degree in film and global politics at the University of Auckland. She is a youth leader at Windsor Park and has been attending the church her whole life. She loves to connect to God through worship music and writing. // Photo: Caleb Van Essen
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