My first husband was killed instantly in a head-on collision, leaving me with a two-year-old son and a three-month-old nursing baby girl. I was devastated. We were madly in love when it happened and living on top of the world. He had just started his dream job, feeling confident and excited, and our family was healthy, happy, and eagerly anticipating our unfolding prosperity.
After his death, my soul bled profusely like a severed limb, and I needed a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. I grasped at anything that would bring comfort. I read many wonderful books about grief, heaven, and peace, and they were all excellent material, but none of these seemed to address the wound.
It occurred to me that the Bible, the unadulterated Word of God, had always been the book I turned to for problems in my life. But I found hesitancy in my heart. I felt like a wounded lamb, helpless, hurting, and mistrusting of anything, even the shepherd. Part of me was afraid of God. I knew that this tragedy had happened under His sovereign will. How could I trust Him if He would allow such a thing? If I trusted my life with Him, would He let something like this happen again? Did He really care about me? Those dark fears battled me internally for a few extremely hard weeks.
But awareness of my own sinful nature made me more afraid of myself. God had been faithful to me my whole life. He had shown Himself to me many times and many ways. Would I be like the children of Israel who praised Him after miracles and then built idols when faced with trials? I prayed that He would increase my faith and give me back the trust that I so longed to embrace. I was like the man who said to Jesus, “Lord I believe, only help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).
The Holy Spirit responded with a reminder of two promises: “The Word was God.” (John 1:1), and “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
If I wanted to know God in a new way, if I wanted to see His purposes, if I wanted the faith to believe, I knew the only way I could be transformed was to renew my mind with His word (Romans 12:2).
Renewing My Mind
I started by re-reading the book of John—a book that emphasizes life. For too long my mind and heart had been filled with stories of death, and I needed to be reminded that there is something more powerful than death. There is eternal life.
The first night I opened the Bible and began to read it, I could not get enough. It was a soothing balm of healing and mercy flowing throughout my soul. The words reached beyond my grief to even the faintest traces of bitterness and hurt. God’s love embraced my heart, and I could not stop weeping, overwhelmed by His grace, mercy, power, and purpose. All of it—the wreck, the suffering, and even life as a whole—came back into clear focus. The words of Christ rescued me from drowning in self-pity, lifting me out of the pit where I was wallowing. I remembered what this life (and death) are all about—The Gospel.
The fact is we will all face death—not one of us will escape it. But the good news is that Christ has overcome death, and when we put our hope in him, we will share in His life. The purpose of this life is to spread that message to every living creature!
Getting Ready for Battle
Grief is a battleground, and the Word of God is a weapon. It’s a sword (Ephesians 6:17) meant to help us fight the spiritual battles, of which grief, in my opinion, is the greatest.
Looking back at some of my doubts and fears, I can see a very real battle of the principalities of darkness. The Bible tells us that we will go through tests of faith, something that all true believers will face. There are different kinds of battles for different people. Perhaps it will come through a miscarriage or divorce or a mid-life crisis. However it is accomplished, we will battle. And you cannot fight without the appropriate weaponry.
When Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted by Satan himself, notice the weapon of choice (see Matthew 4:1-11). Even Satan uses scripture to tempt Christ! You must fight fire with fire. In the spiritual realm, the scriptures are your weaponry. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
As I read the Bible, every question I had, every fear, every hope of purpose was answered. It gave me comfort and understanding. I had a renewed hope and peace that came from no where else.
Apparently, I’m not the only one to feel this way. According to GriefShare.org, a ministry that helps people who have lost a loved one, there are others:
“I know there are a lot of books, and people gave me a lot of books, but I think the best book is God’s word,” says Bruce, a widower.
And Dr. Norman Peart, “During a time of grief and difficulty, spending time in God’s word is really more significant; it’s at a higher level because you are more open to what He is saying and what you may not have heard before. You are in a situation where every word means something; every word could be life or death in just how you feel.”
Especially in a time when death is so prevalent in a person’s mind, it’s important to be filled with words of life and light. The Bible is the book of life, and Jesus is the light of men. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
A Plan of Action
If you don’t know how to wield the sword of the spirit, it is time to learn. Perhaps you’ve never read the Bible and you don’t know how to begin. If you’re reading to stop the bleeding of grief, start with the book of John and continue reading the New Testament through Third John. After that, read Psalms and Proverbs. And then start at the beginning with Genesis. If you find a passage that particularly ministers to you, read it over for several nights in a row. This is how you meditate on scripture.
Or perhaps you are like I was. You’ve read the Bible, and you are familiar with its passages. Even so, read them again. God’s word is living (Hebrews 4:12) and your eyes will be opened to new truths each time you read it. Don’t forget to find passages that particularly minister to you and meditate on them. You might even consider memorizing some of them.
If you find yourself bitter or angry at God, that’s okay. Read the Bible to find the answers that you seek. God is willing to hear your questions. Consider the words of His very own Son as He died a torturous death. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Jesus was crying out in anguish, just as those of us who are grieving experience the pains of death. The Bible says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). Don’t be afraid to look for the answers. You will find them in the Bible.
Copyright © 2012 by Sabrina Beasley McDonald