God of My Grief
By: Mallory Ellington
I always thought of God as light, joy, and happiness. And God is certainly all of those things but I was afraid to show God my pain. Afraid to show God my sorrow, my grief, and my anger. I am a person who feels things deeply all of the time. Pain and grief were far more familiar to me than joy and happiness. My heart was heavy and my pain felt unending, how could I approach such a good God like that?
I thought I couldn’t, so I didn’t.
I needed God to sit with me on the floor as I wept. I needed God to stand there and take my screaming and my cursing and my anger with its full force. I needed to be an utter mess. I needed a place to be the furthest thing from joyful and light.
One day I looked up in the midst of my grief to see God sitting with me. In the mess, in the muck, in the hurt. God met me in the lowest of places. God did not ask me to bring only my light and my joy. My grieving heart was welcome too. And if my grieving heart was welcome, then I was fully welcome.
God is the God of my grief.
Not because God causes my grief but because God cares about my grief. In the midst of my breaking and my unraveling, I am held. God does not fear my grief, is not surprised by my grief, is not overwhelmed by my grief. I do not know where I got the idea that my grief and my pain would separate me from God. Somewhere in the depth of darkness shame whispered a lie that nestled it’s way into my heart, taking root, and taking over.
But God speaks a different narrative. One of my favorite things about Jesus is that we know that Jesus weeps and that he weeps with those he loves. For so long I missed this story and missed what it could mean for me.
Jesus’ friend Lazarus dies. Jesus knows that Lazarus will live again and yet he weeps. John 11:33 tells us, “When Jesus saw her [Mary] weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.” And a verse later we see Jesus weep. Jesus and Mary are friends, they know each other well. In the midst of the worst days of her life Jesus sees her and his heart breaks right alongside hers, even though Jesus knows what is to come.
Knowing that a change is coming does not change the pain in the moment. Jesus does not minimize or overlook the grief that Mary is experiencing. Instead, Jesus experiences it with her. Jesus was God of Mary’s grief. And Jesus is God of my grief. I need Jesus to be God of my grief, I need a God who will grieve alongside me. I do not want my grief ignored or belittled, I want it recognized. Ignoring my sorrow, ignoring any emotion has never gone well for me. And I need a God who will sit with me, who will feel what I feel, and who will be there when I am ready to stand up again. God is not going to rush what I feel, God will always give space for my emotions.
God is there when I sit on my floor and sob, my grief is not unknown. God weeps with me as my heart is breaking. God is there when I am screaming in my car. God is there when I am so overcome with joy I laugh until I fall over. God is there when I am so overwhelmed with beauty that I smile and cry. God is there in the midst of all my emotions and God is there in the midst of all of your emotions.