I love the story of Job—how a man is tested in such a dramatic, traumatic way, yet refuses to recant his faith in God. After losing his children, his wealth, his home, Job says, “‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.’” The next verse goes on to say, “Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God” (Job 1:21-22).
I just love this picture, as long as it stays in the land of Uz and as long as it happens to those unconnected with me. But as much as hope and truth are motivating from afar, when they rush up upon us, like a storm in the night, it can be difficult to remain faithful, to maintain hope, to find joy.
The old “when the going gets tough . . .” quote surely plays, but when grief strikes our lives, no cliché can overcome the denseness of the pain.
And it comes for all of us, at some point: A “routine” check-up turns into cancer; A Sunday afternoon drive becomes a devastating wreck; Death steals in coldly through a barred door. We cannot avoid it—with this life comes grief, stomping destructively about and leaving us different in its wake.
But just as pain, hurt, and death come like waves, we must remember, at the toughest of times that the shore itself is steady and unchanging — it is our hope. Evil recedes but hope resides. In Christ, it is a constant thing, and, in the end it wins. We catch glimpses of that victory here on earth—through love and friendship and all the good things of life—but ultimately our fate passes through the ultimate pain of death before entering a lasting eternal hope.
When Job is prompted by his wife to curse God and give up on this promise, he rightly responds how we must: “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” The Lord, in our earthly lives, gives and takes away, but we must always cling tightly to the truth that in the end the only thing He takes away is pain: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:4-5).
It is this hope that we walk in through grief, and in doing so, we become able to supernaturally comfort others: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
“Life happens,” is the euphemism we always hear when bad things occur. And it is true: Life does happen. It happens all the time. When the happening hits—when we are bombarded with pain in this world—we must hold each other close. We must cry great, big tears and give great, big hugs. We must comfort and encourage. We must walk hand-in-hand out of the fog of grief. But as we do all this and in order to stay afloat when the waves crash around us, we must engage our hope. We must take hold of the precious promises we’ve been given even when it hurts the most . . . especially when it hurts the most.