Where Is God In My Grief?
By John Schwiebert, MDiv
“Where was God when my loved one died?”
“What was God thinking when the floods came and we lost everything we had?”
“My partner and I have been praying for a child for 10 years, so why hasn’t God answered our prayers?”
It is neither unusual nor inappropriate for any of us to ask such questions during times of deep grief, even if we think of ourselves as persons of faith. Like Grandy in the storybook, Tear Soup, we may even yell at God, and ask why such things happen, and demand to know where God is when we are feeling so alone. Yet, like Grandy, we can say all of these things without abandoning what faith we have: “Still Grandy trusted God but she didn’t understand God.”
One thoughtful reader of Tear Soup found his answer to the question about where God is in times of loss in the poignant color illustrations in this book. God, she decided, is represented in the faithful dog who appears on almost every page of Tear Soup. Powerless to diminish Grandy’s, suffering yet always present to that suffering, continually showing deep empathy for her in her distress, consistently mirroring her pain and her growth through pain, this companion never leaves her side.
Isn’t that a pretty good description of where God is in our times of grief? God is at our side during our loss, often not speaking yet knowing our pain and sharing in our suffering. God is with us as one who also knows personal pain and loss—the pain and loss of a creator whose human creatures often turn away from God, harming other creatures, human and otherwise, and in general neglecting or abusing the creation that God calls “good.” God also knows the pain of having a child despised and rejected, and killed.
God grieves because God is trying to save/heal the world God loves, and to reduce the causes of suffering even as our collective human behavior seems determined to work against God’s healing activity.
But God is not “all powerful” in the sense that we tend to use the term. God cannot (will not!) force or guarantee specific outcomes just because we think we deserve them or because we want to be spared the pain of loss. God’s power is the power of love. God is exercising that power of love constantly to heal a world that that is in a “world of hurt.” But until the whole world becomes that promised place where “mourning and crying and pain will be no more” (Revelation 21:4), we will still have to deal with loss and the pain that goes with it.
But God’s promise is that we will not have to face this pain alone. For God, like the faithful dog in Tear Soup, is always there to face it with us.
Learn more about Tear Soup here.