Our grief work is not really complete until we have found some meaning in our grief. It is true that our emotions need healing, but so does our belief system or theology.
H. Norman Wright, Recovering from the Losses of Life
Once, when I asked an elderly friend if she regretted not having had children, she responded in her characteristically forthright manner. "It was the great tragedy of my life." Each life must hold one, I think: one pain that overarches and obscures all others, one haunting irreversible fault for which one can never atone.
Nancy Mairs, Ordinary Time
To regard grief as somehow unworthy of a Christian who believes in the resurrection is to forget the example of Christ who was so often "moved with compassion," who wept at his loss of Lazarus and prayed the longer in his agony. We cannot short-circuit human processes; we have to give the experience time to come home to us before it can become a motive for hope and a promise of fuller life . …Grief is only unchristian if it is wholly self-centered or if we never emerge from it.
Maria Boulding, Prayer: Our Journey Home
One might argue that our task as priests is not primarily to condemn sinners but to facilitate the work of the Spirit so that all suffering, merited and unmerited, may be redeemed.
Father Jon Darrow in Susan Howatch's novel, Absolute Truths
It is not enough to cure the plague; we must learn to weep for it. Yes, we must learn to weep! Perhaps that is the supreme wisdom.
Miguel de Unamuno, The Tragic Sense of Life
It is impossible for one to live without tears who considers things exactly as they are.
Gregory of Nyssa, De Beatitudine
The principle is simple: when words are most empty, tears are most apt.
Max Lucado, No Wonder They Call Him the Savior
God does not make our lives all shipshape, clear and comfortable. Never try to get things too clear. Religion can't be clear. In this mixed-up life there is always an element of unclearness. I believe God wills it so. There is always an element of tragedy. How can it be otherwise if Christianity is our ideal?
Baron Friedrich von Hügel, Letters to a Niece
Suffering is surely good or bad only according to the results it produces. Had it been a bad thing in itself, the Son of God would not have taken it for his chosen instrument for the cure of the world . …I do not mean by this that we should lessen our attempts to alleviate pain and remove the causes of distress, for such is the simple duty of charity; I only mean that what we cannot remove is not wasted.
R. Somerset Ward, To Jerusalem: Studies in Mystical Religion
And who's to say which is more incredible—a man who raises the dead … or a God who weeps?
Ken Gire on Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, Incredible Moments with the Savior
Copyright © 2002 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
See last September's Reflections on Suffering.
Christianity Today has tackled questions about the nature of God and how we respond to him in times of pain in articles like "The God Who Suffers" and "The Benefit of the Doubt."
Last year, Christianity Today sister publication Men of Integrity featured a Bible study on suffering, based on Isaiah 42-61.
Another Christianity Today sister publication, Today's Christian Woman, detailed five ways to convey God's comfort in a crisis.
Within a three-month period, Marshall and Susan Shelley saw two of their children die. Marshall, Leadership's senior editor, reflects on how these losses have affected his relationship with God in "My New View of God."
Another Christianity Today sister publication Books and Culture reviewed a book that argues "at its core spiritual life involves being overwhelmed, by both the good and the bad." CT reviewed Yet Will I Trust Him, in which John Mark Hicks describes his own crucible and refines his own faith and the theological debate on suffering.
After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, America was a nation suffering. Christianity Today articles on coping after the tragedy included:
Where Was God on 9/11?Philip Yancey's reflections from Ground Zero and beyond. (Oct. 23, 2001)
To Embrace the EnemyIs reconciliation possible in the wake of such evil? (Sept. 21, 2001)
After the Grave in the AirTrue reconciliation comes not by ignoring justice nor by putting justice first, but by unconditional embrace. (Sept. 21, 2001)
Taking It PersonallyWhat do we do with all this anger? (Sept. 14, 2001)
Fear and HateIn times like this, as in all other times, Christians have a responsibility to love above all else. (Sept. 11, 2001)
Experts Say Spiritual Roots Will Aid in Coping With Catastrophe | Pray and connect with others, advise nation's chaplains. (Sept. 11, 2001)
God's Message in the Language of EventsIn the face of evil, we must focus on keeping our hearts right. (Sept. 11, 2001)
Past Reflections columns include:
Writers and Words (April 18, 2002)
Crucifixion (March 28, 2002)
God's Mission (February 13, 2002)
On Enemies (January 8, 2002)
Life After Christmas (December 26, 2001)
Love & Marriage (November 13, 2001)
The Word of God (October 22, 2001)
Leadership (October 11, 2001)
Suffering (September 13, 2001)
Change (August 14, 2001)
Living Tradition (July 18, 2001)
Sacred Spaces (June 11, 2001)
Friendship (May 17, 2001)
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