It was Thanksgiving Day in 1999 and little did I know the impact the decision I was making would have on my future. I was forty-one years old and life was busy, challenging and oftentimes rewarding. My marriage and career seemed to be going well, but it was strangely unfulfilling. Do you know what it’s like to feel a strange hole in your heart? Like something big was missing? That’s where I was at the time and no amount of success, toys, food, parties, vacations or any number of other distractions seemed to fill the hole.
I had stopped attending church in my late teens and through an encounter with a friend, decided it was time to take a serious look at how I understood God and reflect on our “relationship.” This journey led me to take a fresh look at the concept of religion vs. faith, which up to that point I’d considered to be one in the same. After digging a little and separating the two, faith seemed to be about having a friendship with God; like He was there to talk to and know personally. That was an amazing revelation to me (who knew?!) And after much research, prayer, and reflection, I professed Jesus as my Lord and Savior with a house full of family at the Thanksgiving dinner table. It was impossible to envision the role God would play years later when I would face unimaginable loss and heartbreak.
The point and goal here is to share a bit of my story in order to explore what role faith plays while experiencing loss and navigating the grief journey. In a word, the answer is that Faith is Everything. Obviously, that’s a big statement and one that warrants a deeper dive, so let’s dig in. “Worldview,” or our foundational belief system, is how we see the world, what we believe, and the filter through which we perceive our place in the journey through life. This is different than our “backstory,” which includes how we were raised, our relationships and the patchwork of experiences that make up our life stories. In effect, our faith is the foundational basis of our worldview. In other words, it’s what we believe as opposed to what’s happened to us.
In that context, when your life has been turned upside down by loss and grief your faith and worldview are no longer hypothetical concepts. These are the times we lose someone we love, receive a serious medical diagnosis, struggle with stress or mental health issues, lose a job or have a financial crisis—and there are many more examples. They are all painful and it’s at these moments we most desperately need comfort and support. Where we turn and what options and assurances our faith and worldviews provide is critical. If you’re currently going through it, I’ve been where you are right now. Pain is real, and it is so very, very difficult. It can sit on your chest like a boulder, stealing your breath and trying to crush your spirit. There will be days when you can’t move, when making it from morning to night may seem like a miracle.
If that’s where you are right now, I don’t want to provide trite words of comfort. Rather, I want to encourage you and provide the assurances and promises that God has made for us to embrace and trust in our times of greatest need. Faith in a God that loves us, trust in His son Jesus who suffered and died for us, and their promises are the foundational rock upon which we can depend, even in the midnight hours of grief. When the Lord promises that He “will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deut 31:6, NIV), faith in God provides comfort and companionship when we need it the most.
When Jesus said; “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:3, NIV), His promise is that trusting your faith and turning to Him is an action step you can take and count on the results. What more could we ask for in these circumstances?