All these can seem insurmountable, but with the grace of God, we know that all things work out for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). At the assisted living communities under the Bethesda Senior Living Communities umbrella, we believe the Bible is filled with practical advice on how to cope with some of life's toughest hardships. In fact, the Bible describes many instances where people just like us have had to cope with dreadful loss.
Job faces some of the worst trials and adversity known to man, yet still holds on to the tether of hope that God is still for him. He suffers the loss of financial security, the unnatural loss of his children and the loss of good health and autonomy. In the midst of his grief, his friends make an effort to console him, but instead, it turns into a blame game where he must have angered God to go through such trials.
However, Job knew from the start that God was there, even in the midst of all the ugliness he was going through. He never let go of the hope that God would rescue him from the pits of despair, and his faith and devotion to God were rewarded.
As you get older, there's a good chance you may experience some of these same losses, and when that happens, it's easy to assume you may have angered God in some way because the blessings seem to have disappeared. But the answer to this lies in the restoration of Job. God gives Job back everything he lost, plus more. During those darkest trials, we hold on to the hope of restoration, whether in this life or when we go to be with God.
Naomi faces many years of grief and loss. Her story starts with grief as she, her husband Elimelech and their two sons are forced to leave the home they know in Judea to move to Moab, a neighboring area, during a time of famine. Naomi's husband passes away in Moab. Their sons marry women from Moab, which is considered against the Hebrew law. But tragedy strikes again, and Naomi loses both sons as well.
In this hardship, Naomi finds it hard to take care of herself and decides to return to Judea. She's struggling to come to terms with the magnitude of the situation and decides to change her name to Mara, meaning "bitter," because she feels the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with her.
But in her hardship, her daughter-in-law Ruth decides to make the journey back with her to Judea. She remains a daughter to Naomi. Naomi is instrumental in finding a new husband for Ruth, and through Ruth, she is able to find the peace she has longed for.
Sometimes, when we're caught up in our own loss, it's hard to see the blessing right in front of us. For Naomi, the loss of her husband and sons almost trumped the blessing of her daughter-in-law. But Ruth's devotion to her mother-in-law allowed Naomi to focus on something new instead of her pain, which was trying to secure Ruth's happiness and future. Often, the only way we can find peace and some relief from our grief is by focusing on creating joy for others.
No story of grief is complete without Jesus and Lazarus. The shortest verse in the Bible also happens to be one of the most powerful ones — and one that can save us from the depths of grief.
John 11:35 says, "He wept."
For the Son of God to weep over the loss of his friend, there must have been a profound sense of grief — even knowing he had the power to raise Lazarus from the dead.
That shows that Jesus was more aware of the human condition than we realize. The loss of Lazarus was an unspeakable pain for his sisters Mary and Martha to bear, too. Jesus had to carry the weight of the loss of his friend and the disappointment and grief of Mary and Martha. Jesus had the burden of grieving for others.
This story is a way for us to know that Jesus carries our burdens and shares our deepest pains and that when we are awash with grief and despair, he weeps as well.