10 Bible Verses for Times of Grief

Grief is not an easy thing to feel. We shy away from it, away from this thing that is hurting us. I am not an expert on dealing with grief, by any stretch of the imagination. When you are grieving over the loss of a loved one, you’re never truly going to get over it but by the grace of God, we are able to get through it. As painful as it is to go through, times of grief are when we are best equipped to see God’s truth and promises come to life.

Since December 2013, I have lost five close family members. On Christmas Day in 2013, I lost my dad’s sister to ovarian cancer. Two weeks later in January 2014, we lost my dad’s brother to liver cancer. In September 2015, we lost my maternal grandmother on a Thursday morning and less than 48 hours later, on the same day as my grandmother’s funeral, we lost my mom’s youngest sister to a heart attack. This week, on January 20th we lost my paternal grandmother as well.

Two years ago, I didn’t know what it was like to grieve. I didn’t know what it was like to feel the pain of knowing that I wouldn’t be creating new memories with these special people in my life. Two years ago, I did not know what it meant to praise God in the midst of sorrow. And I certainly didn’t know what it would feel like to rely on God’s strength, rather than attempting to do it all myself.

During this season of loss and grief that my family and I have found ourselves in, there have been ten bible verses that I have found myself repeatedly coming back to and drawing strength and encouragement from. I pray that they might also bring some comfort and peace to you when you need it most.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end // Ecclesiastes 3:11

But he said to me “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness // 2 Corinthians 12:9

For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort // 2 Corinthians 1:5-7

But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress // Psalm 59:16

My comfort in my suffering is this, your promise preserves my life // Psalm 119:50

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world // John 16:33

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. // Romans 8:26

I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” // Psalm 91:2

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” // Isaiah 12:2

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffer produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” // Romans 5:3-5

All Is It, All Is It // A Grateful Heart

If you had told me two years ago that I would know what it would be like to lose five close family members in a two year time frame, I probably would have said that you were crazy. To have that be my family’s reality is heartbreaking. In two years, my Dad’s family went from a family of five to what will soon be a family of two and my mom lost her mother and her baby sister.

The past few days have been spent in a sense of limbo as my Grandmother’s time of Earth draws to a close. It’s not easy to be anticipating a phone call at any moment from your Dad to let you know if your Grandmother is still here. One of the things that I learned from losing my maternal grandmother and aunt is that the only way to get through something like this is learn how to praise God through the storm. Two years ago, I didn’t know how to do that. I’m still learning how to do it, to be honest,

But on Friday evening, after my Dad called to ask if I had anything I wanted to say to my Grandmother while I still had the chance, I rejoiced in our God and praised him as I mourned the loss that would be coming soon. I am not particularly eloquent when it comes to these types of conversations (although I don’t know that anyone really is), the one thing I knew I needed to say to my Grandmother was “I love you, all as it, all as it.” It’s something that my Grandmother always said to all of us throughout the years. She said that my uncle used to say that to her, but I always remember the sweet words coming from her. As I was writing in my journal later, something that I had felt compelled to do after hanging up the phone, I had my Christian playlist on Spotify on in the background and I worshiped God and rejoiced in his hope and truth. We might not see her, or my four other family members, again on this side of Heaven, but I am so grateful for a God that gives us hope in an everlasting life.

On Saturday, I rediscovered a passage from 1 Peter that so perfectly puts into words everything that I have been feeling and rejoicing during this season; particularly since losing my maternal grandmother and aunt in September. I am so grateful for the complete and total truth in these words and what they mean for us.

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire- may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” // 1 Peter 1:6-9
How great is our God that we can rejoice in our sorrow! What are you grateful for this week?

Update: My beautiful grandmother passed away peacefully late on 1/20. We’re so thankful that she is no longer suffering and experiencing true paradise with our Lord!

This post is part of Ember Grey’s Grateful Heart linkup! Click here or on the image below to head over to the blog and read all of the posts in the linkup.

A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey

Work With All Your Heart // Colossians 3:23

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,” Colossians 3:23

Okay friends. Candidly, when I first read this verse, I had some trouble with the idea of “working with all your heart.” I mean, isn’t it called work for a reason? By day, I am a special needs and at-risk Pre-K teacher so more often than not, I am somewhere on the corner of overloaded and totally burnt out. Even so, I often stop to ponder what it would actually look like if I really embodied the words in this verse in real life. 
I always feel a twinge of guilt when I speak these words to people but even though I am a teacher, this is not a field that I see myself being in long-term. I suppose the guilt comes from falling into the common side effect of teaching in North Carolina. Our state has a hard time finding new teachers, much less keeping them around, but I’m not going to get into all of that here. I just always feel like I have to quickly follow this admission with some sort of explanation or defense. The truth of the matter is that people change. I have a passion for young children; that much has not changed. But the capacity in which I feel I am going to be used to help children, has. 
When I lost my grandmother and aunt less than 48 hours apart this past September, it changed all of us in my family. Grief and loss can make you begin to reevaluate everything that you believe and know to be true. For me, losing these two important women made me really consider what is important in life in terms of my work. There are countless people out there that stay in careers that make them miserable and unfulfilled simply for the higher paychecks or a particular “perk of the job”. I don’t want to dread going into work each day, but I also don’t want to pursue something just for a particular “perk” or “benefit” and not have my whole heart be in it. 

For much of 2015, I was enrolled in an online master’s degree program and taking courses toward a graduate degree in Mass Communications with a specialization in Social Media. Having been a blogger for over five years, it’s definitely a field that interests me but somewhere along the way something that started as a passion began to fizzle into just that, an interest. As I said above, grief can change your outlook on many things and for me, this career path was one of them. I just truly could not see myself being fulfilled if I continued down that path. 
One of the things that we see over and over in the Bible is Jesus caring for the least and the lost. The more that I pondered those words, the more I began to realize that I was doing that already in my work with special needs and at-risk children. As I began to pray into the decision to withdraw from graduate school and look ahead to what might be on the horizon after teaching, I felt that I was being led to look back at a career path that I had not considered since college. My bachelor’s degree is in Child Development Birth-Kindergarten and we heard often about the various careers that we could pursue with our degree. The main one, of course, was teaching, but the other was Child Life. Certified Child Life Specialists provide emotional support for children and families in the hospital through therapeutic play (more details about Child Life can be found in this awesome video). I had found myself visiting hospitals over the past two years on a couple different occasions and each time, I would have the random thought of oh yeah, I could work in a hospital if I ever wanted a change.

Well, like I said above, when I began to pray into what would be next for me, Child Life came back to mind…and stayed there. I began to look into the process for getting certified and discovered that I already had many of the coursework requirements taken care, thanks to my undergraduate courses.

When I think about this Colossians verse and working as though I am working for the Lord, the image that comes to mind is me doing something that would be pleasing to God and doing it with all of my heart and soul. As much as I love my students and try I as I might, my whole heart is just not in teaching, at least long term. But with this verse as a reminder, I am able to power through the days and be reminded that every thing we do, even work, should be for glorifying God and his truth.

Spark Joy Every Day // A Grateful Heart

Okay, so I may have stolen the idea for this post title from Marie Kondo’s new book, Spark Joy. She is the author of the bestselling book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and Spark Joy is the illustrated companion. I’m talking there are diagrams that teach you how to fold your clothes appropriately, people. Total organizational nerd heaven.

Anyway, when I was thinking about what I wanted to title today’s post, the phrase “spark joy” kept coming to mind. Tidying aside, what a beautiful visual that is! There’s something about the word joy that automatically makes me feel lighter. I even looked up the definition for joy, being the good teacher that I am.

Joy, noun: the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation

One of the things that I love about my walk with Christ, especially lately, is that to seek God is to inherently spark joy. He has carried me through grief, pain, and feeling totally and completely overwhelmed by my own reality. I have seen His promises acted out through the trials of the past two years and as he has gotten me through to the other side, I cannot help but rejoice and feel immense joy.

“My lips shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed” // Psalm 71:23
What are you grateful for this week?

This post is part of Ember Grey’s weekly Grateful Heart linkup! To join the linkup or to read all of the Grateful Heart posts, head on over to the blog!

A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey

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