How do you Grieve? A Lesson about Anguish

Several months ago, a friend said, “I read the Bible to get to know the author.”

And it was like this huge light bulb went off in my head.

That may be the biggest DUH-epiphany I’ve ever shared on this blog, but stick with me for a moment.

I am a selfish person.

Let’s get that right out there in the open.

I have a tendency to think in terms of me.

Which means I’ve always read the Bible with the mindset of, “How does this apply to me?”

Don’t get me wrong. That question isn’t bad. In fact, it’s a good one to ask.

I just think it was time for me to step back and approach the Bible a little differently.

Since then, every morning when I dig into Scripture, I do so with the mindset of, “What can I learn about God?”

There’s rarely a dull moment.

Especially when I read things like Psalm 88.

Can we take a minute and talk about Psalm 88? Can I encourage you, if you have a Bible handy, to open it up and give that puppy a read?

Cheery, isn’t it?

This is one of the few psalms that offers no expression of hope. The psalmist, most likely a dude called Heman (for all you fellow children of the 80’s, I dare you to tell me that isn’t cool), is in complete, full-throttle anguish.

He’s basically crying out to God, “Why are these bad things happening? Why am I in such agony? Why haven’t you showed up yet?”

Only unlike other anguish-soaked psalms, this one does not end in a revelation of God’s greatness or goodness.

Heman declares, “Darkness is my closest friend.”

And the curtains close. Cue the music. Show is over.

I sat there, curled up on my couch, wondering, “Now how in the world did this get in there?”

What did God want to teach me about Himself from this psalm? Why was it a part of Scripture?

As I sat with those questions, a couple faces came to mind. Dear friends, who as of late, have gone through the ringer of suffering. Friends who are weary and beat-down and could easily ask, “Where are you God? Why is this happening?”

Can you relate, loved one? Do you find yourself feeling like a bag of dry bones?

Then perhaps Psalm 88 can offer some comfort after all.

Because the one clear answer that kept coming to mind from this God who doesn’t always put a stop to the pain was this:

We are allowed to grieve.

We do not have to put on that blasted happy face and tell the world we’re okay when we aren’t.

Friends, we are allowed to grieve.

But as sons and daughters of the Most High, He wants us to grieve with Him, not apart from Him.

Let’s take a page from Martha and Mary’s book.

When their brother, Lazarus, fell ill, they sent word to Jesus to come quick because his friend was dying.

Mary and Martha knew Jesus could heal Lazarus. They knew it with every fiber of their being.

But what did Jesus do?

Did he drop everything and rush to Lazarus’ bedside?


He stayed where he was for two more days.

Can you imagine being Mary and Martha? Waiting with heavy, desperate hearts. Watching the door for the first sign of Jesus as their brother grew sicker and sicker and eventually….died.

These sisters grieved.

But then we read this verse:

When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him.

She didn’t avoid Jesus or refuse to see Him, because forget Him.

As soon as she found out He was coming, she went to Him. And she said, “Lord, if only you had been here….”

Then Mary arrives and she falls at Jesus’ feet and she cries, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Can you hear it? The desperation?


These sisters were troubled. But they took their troubled hearts to the man they knew as Lord.

And here comes the most beautiful part of the story. The shortest, but perhaps one of the most profound verses in the Bible.

Jesus wept.

What can psalm 88 and this story teach us about God?

He grieves with us.

Even though He knows the entire story, even though He knows the insane, off-the-hook hope in store for those who trust Him, He grieves with us in our moments.

Even though He knew that in two seconds, He would roll that stone aside and breathe life into Lazarus’ dry bones, He wept with these sisters.

And when all hope seemed lost, He shouted, “Lazarus, come out!”

And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes….

And this Jesus who could heal the sick became a Jesus who could raise the dead.

Let’s Talk: Are you hurting with Jesus, or are you hurting away from Him?

If you’d like to read a story about God’s ability to breathe hope and beauty into our broken lives, check out the first three chapters of my debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter.

18 thoughts on “How do you Grieve? A Lesson about Anguish

  1. Sandy

    I just recently lost my daughter to a drug overdose. I clearly am grieving in the deepest way. Never could I have imagined being in this boat out in the sea. I have God with me. But sometimes there are no humans. Only God and I. I don’t always feel Him here. I’m like a wounded one laying on the battlefield bleeding. Or like a person bleeding internally and externally. I still have God’s peace and joy, but it is not happiness or external where people can see.

  2. That’s beautiful, Katie! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Beautiful post, Katie, and so true. Love it!

  4. Janice Boekhoff

    Oh, Katie, so much for me to say I loved in this one post! Love the perspective shift on how to read the bible. How easy is it to go through my whole day (not just my bible reading) and think “how does this impact me,” when I could be thinking “how is God showing himself in this moment?”

    And I’m struck by what an example Jesus left us when he grieved with Mary and Martha. Like you said, He knew He was going to raise Lazarus but He didn’t say “Oh, ye of little faith, just give me a second.” And that’s our example of how we are to grieve with others. Not with long defenses of God’s goodness or His plan, but with our tears and with our prayers.

  5. Amen!

  6. michele beck

    Alright, Katie, you made me cry today with your post. You are continually using your gift of writing to glorify God and I am one of many grateful recipeints of your insight! Keep on, sista!

  7. Beautiful. I love that you highlighted that it isn’t a sin to grieve. It’s normal. Acceptable. Amen!

  8. Very insightful and perceptive. Thanks for sharing.
    I know my heart is grieving today…thanks for reminding me God’s heart is grieving too. But there’s always hope for my God holds tomorrow!

  9. Such a good post, Katie. I love the thought that we should read the Bible to learn something about God. Great perspective shift for me.

    As for the grieving part…I do struggle with this. I know it’s right, but I still struggle. I remember when my mom was sick, feeling like God was so trite and…almost hypocritical…to tell me to come to Him, lay my head on His chest, cry with Him…when He could heal her. It felt…like betrayal almost.

    But I think the thing I learned, and what I’m still learning, is that God is more interested in teaching us to lean on Him and trust Him, even when it’s hard. It reminds me a little bit of Jesus, when He went to God and asked Him to take the cup from Him, so He wouldn’t have to die. But God knew that it was best He did. Did that mean He didn’t grieve for His son, with His son? No. And yeah, He could have stopped it from happening. But look how much good came from that circumstance: our salvation.

    I still don’t know why He allowed my mom to die, but I do know that once I surrendered to the hurt and feeling of betrayal, brought it to Him, laid it down, cried it out…I felt so much better than I did when standing alone, in the cold, in despair, with no eternal arms encircling me.

    1. Katie Ganshert

      Love this, Lindsay. The honesty. The wisdom. The struggle that so often encompasses the Christian walk. There is so much we don’t understand. And in those moments, we cling to two truths:
      -God is good (even when it doesn’t feel like it)
      -God is sovereign (even when it doesn’t feel like it)

      Thinking about you today!

  10. This post is brilliant. I love that Jesus is not only okay with our grief, our questions, our fears, but he’s with us in them…he sees beyond when we can’t…and he’s just…awesome. Such a good post today, Katie!

    1. Katie Ganshert

      Amen, Melissa! He’s just…awesome. That pretty much sums it up!

  11. Love this! I also love how HONEST Bible folk were–unafraid to ask the big questions, to throw it out there to God. Feels so real to me and relatable.
    ~ Wendy

    1. Katie Ganshert

      I know, right? So incredibly honest! I love that we have the Bible to not only teach us about God and His plan of redemption, but to show us how to interact with Him.

  12. My favorite post of yours so far, and I’ve liked them all. ๐Ÿ™‚ The best advice I got when my husband went home came from an acquaintance, not even a close friend. She said, “Admit what you feel. If you’re having a bad day and feel like crud and someone asks how you are, just look at them and say, ‘I feel like crud.’ It may unbalance them, but that’s better than you putting on the happy face, pretending everything is okay, when it’s not.”

    1. Katie Ganshert

      That is great advice, Nita. We are so conditioned to say “good” or “fine” to that question.

  13. I’ve done both. I’ve found hurting with Jesus brings a comfort I didn’t have when I hurt alone.

    Loved this post today, Katie!

    1. Katie Ganshert

      Thanks Jessica! You don’t know how often I’ve heard this from people. Going through just such difficult trials, and they aren’t okay…they are suffering…yet God gives them a peace in the midst of their un-okayness that truly surpasses understanding.


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