Words of Hope: Gratitude in Grief
Growing up my family had a daily ritual of reading Our Daily Bread every morning at the table. No matter who was staying or living at our home at the time, everyone participated. Dad or Mom made it fun by leaving out words that we would try and guess. Now, Mom shares the Our Daily Bread devotional in a group chat with my daughters and dear friend. She puts little messages of love and kindness along with the link. Recently, one of the devotionals she sent was on grief. The contemplation question asked was, “Have you experienced gratitude even during grief?” It referenced the life of Job and his immediate response to worship God after learning of his life-altering, devastating news.
I consider this question. I consider how grief for my dad has surprised me. I am surprised how it sneaks up on me like a hammer blow, smiting my heart and taking the wind out of me. I am surprised at the suffering of grief, how the loss of someone so profound reverberates throughout the year, each day a reminder of something important and valuable missing. I liken it to the loss of a limb. You feel it is there and yet the void is real and shocking and never quite becomes normal.
I am also surprised by joy and feelings of peace in grief. I am surprised by gratitude. I know that God resides in praise, and I feel God near when I praise Him even in my grief, even though it seems so counterintuitive. It is one of the biggest surprises of my life. Here I can be so down, angry, fearful, resentful, bitter, or apathetic—whatever the difficult emotion, and then I decide to quote Psalms or to sing, or just listen to CeCe Winans sing “Goodness of God,” or I just practice the simple discipline of breathing in and out repeating, “God is so good.” It can take some time; I can fight against it. But if I stay with gratitude and praise, I am healed. I am changed. I experience the resurrection of hope. This is the experience of gratitude I have found in grief. The decision to worship even in the suffering knowing that God will come and bring me joy.
“After Job heard all these reports, he got up and tore his robe. He shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground and worshiped the Lord.” – Job 1:20