Based on Living Compass “Practicing Courage with all your heart, soul, strength and mind”

Thursday, March 5

“We may not ever understand why we suffer or be able to control the forces that cause our suffering, but we can have a lot to say about what the suffering does to us, and what sort of people we become because of it.”
Harold S. Kushner

Have you ever felt lost in the wilderness? Few things feel more like being lost in the wildness than the grief that we experience after the death of a loved one. Grief is not just an emotional wilderness but can be a time of disruption to a person’s spiritual well-being. In the initial experience of grief, it is not uncommon for people to feel angry at God, and to feel that their faith is being tested.

I often pray for those experiencing grief that God will keep them from unending despair. Sadly, we all know people who after loss, get stuck in the wilderness of their pain and grief. Perhaps this is why Psalm 23 is so comforting to those who are grieving. It says, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil.” Note the emphasis on movement. It acknowledges that the valley of grief is real, and it is deep, but it describes it as something that is walked through, not a place to stay.

The profound spiritual questions that get raised in the early experiences of grief can feel like we are experiencing a breakdown in our faith. With time, spiritual guidance, and the support of a faith community, many who are grieving can make it through the wilderness. Some even experience a breakthrough in their faith life. A new place opens up to them in which they develop a deeper, more intimate faith in God, one that embraces and sustains them in their time of vulnerability.

Have you ever had your faith tested in the midst of grief and loss? Are you experiencing this right now? Looking back, can you remember a time when your faith grew as a result of spending time in the wilderness of grief? Do you know someone right now who is in the wilderness of grief and needs your friendship and love?