Acknowledging Grief

One of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Elliott, went to be with the Lord on June 15, 2015. She walked through the pain of losing two husbands and eloquently expressed her feelings through the grieving process in many of her writings. In her book, Loneliness, she labels loneliness and suffering “a wilderness experience” but also relates how God walked with her in every circumstance. During an interview, Elliott said, “People sometimes ask me, ‘How did you get rid of your feelings?’ I tell them I didn’t get rid of them. I offer them to God, and I have to offer them again, and again, and again.”

Our feelings–our emotions–are part of how God made us as humans. To deny them is to reject that part of us that responds to His love and also to the love of a marriage partner. Grief is a natural emotion in any loss, but especially when a spouse goes to be with the Lord. Part of the healing process is to acknowledge to God and even a close friend how we feel.

I’m often amazed at how freely people in Scripture expressed their emotions. In Numbers 11, Moses became so frustrated that he cried out to God, “What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of these people on me?” The Psalmist cried to the Lord because his “bones were in anguish” (Ps. 2), because he felt forsaken (Ps. 22), and because he was “lonely and afflicted” (Ps 25). Jesus expressed His feelings on the Cross when He said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Matt. 27:46).

Honestly expressing your feelings to God does not mark you as a less spiritual person. God already knows your thoughts and feelings. In expressing them and asking for His help, you are following the admonition of Scripture: “Cast all you anxiety on him because he cares for you” (I Peter 5:7). David said, “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (Ps. 62:8).

In a healthy, trusting marriage, the husband and wife openly express their feelings without worry of condemnation. It’s part of developing intimacy. The same is true in a growing relationship with Christ. We can approach Him with confidence because He knows our weakness (Hebrews 4:15-16) and loves us unconditionally (I John 4:16).