When Grief is Part of God’s Plan

From the backseat, a bevy of fat tears roll down my son’s face. We are surrounded by commute traffic. There is nowhere for me to pull over so I can comfort him.

I know his pain because it is my pain. I know his loss because it is my loss. I know his anger because it is my anger too.

And even before he utters the words I am thinking at that moment, I know it will be months before we find our way back to normal, whatever that is.

“Why does God hate us?”

Deep down, I know God does not hate us. But the raw anger gnaws at me from the inside. I am furious for being so blind to what others warned me about. I am mad that I must find a way to tell my son that our grief is part of God’s perfect plan. I laugh out loud at the absurdity. And then I cry harder.

When we face trouble, our first natural response is to ask God, “Why?” We often blame Him for the turmoil that touches our lives and wonder why He doesn’t change the outcome.

Being angry at God is something we all wrestle with – believers and unbelievers alike – but what we’re really saying when we ask “why, God?” is “Why me, God?”

This represents several flaws in how we think and behave.

We operate with the sense that our life as a Christian should be easy, and that because we belong to Him, God should prevent tragedy from happening to us. We live as if we should be immune to unpleasant things.

This was especially true for me during my ordeal last year when I was cornered, threatened and attacked in an unlikely place. For months, I languished in a painful depression and believed that what happened reflected God’s true feelings about me, because clearly if I was His, then He would have protected me.

Instead, I was hurt, humiliated, yelled at and removed from the organization – by people who witnessed the incident. By June, I believed God didn’t need me anymore. He fired me; a ‘take a hike and don’t let the door hit you on the way out’ kind of good-bye.

In the car that day a year ago, I asked, “why me, God?”

I wanted to take charge. I wanted to erase Matthew’s memories of all that was painful and ugly. I wanted to turn back time and make him 5 again, not 8. I wanted to be able to tell Matthew what God’s perfect plan was. But all I could whisper was that God did not hate us. And He did not leave us.

In one of the most painful places of my life, I learned that when it’s hardest to get back up is when I have to keep my faith. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed” (Psalm 34:18).

When we allow ourselves to grow closer to Him and strengthen our faith during hard times, we are restored and become more complete. And we become a testimony to others.

When we begin to understand that God works through all things together for our good (Romans 8:28), we can see our trials in a different light.

The whole time, I felt I had lost something. But He never “fired” me or abandoned me. He didn’t have second thoughts about my salvation or change His mind about His love for me.

God wasn’t “demoting me” as much as He was preparing me. He wants me to surrender my will to Him, be a faithful student to His word and apply what I’ve learned. By humbly following in His steps, it makes it easier to trust Him through the next trial.

It makes it possible to live the life we were designed for.