Grief: Mercy in the Abyss

“For in grief nothing ‘stays put.’ One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?

But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?

How often–will it be for always?–how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, ‘I never realized my loss till this moment’? The same leg is cut off time after time.”


C.S. Lewis

The Barren Land of Grief

The presence of grief is felt thick and its roots are deep in the hidden places of our soul. It is a spiraling entity that immobilizes us and causes us to ache for what once was…or for that which never had been. Grief spirals us into a land barren and unknown.

Where it is lodged secretly, no one knows of its depths. Not even the most intimate of relationships are aware of its overwhelming presence. We find comfort in the pain. We draw strength from the agony, but our light flickers dim as the darkness overtakes every nook and cranny of our grieving being. The comfort and strength gained wanes and becomes our undoing. The grief paralyzes.

“It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him.”

Daniel 2:22

We hold tight to our comfortable uncomfortable, as grief has become part of our essence. But He who is light brings out the darkness. Nothing is hidden from His embodiment of knowledge. He sees our grief buried–our secret made known. He sees the darkness that has crept in, the grief that has taken hold. He knows what is in the darkness…and He offers us light.

For the grief-burdened soul, there is hope in the Gospel message.

When brokenness entered that once-perfect garden, it also birthed grief into a once joyful and peaceful place. We often speak of our rescue from sin, of a Savior who died bearing the weight of our iniquities. But do we not also share that the day sin and shame were hurled onto the beaten body of Perfection hanging on a cross, so also was the enormous weight of all that is broken dumped heavily and fully onto the Sacrificial Lamb. Grief, in its complete form, crushed He who was Hope and Joy.

For what?

For the sake of mercy…for the sake of hope and joy complete.

Finding Comfort in Jesus

In knowing that Christ carried our grief fully on the cross, we can now find comfort as He walks through waters dark with us. Knowing that He defeated grief through His death and resurrection, we can now find hope in a rescue from its prison. When our vulnerable bodies can fall onto bruised knee and stretch out shaky hands in surrender, He will meet us in our state of fragility and hold us close. He is the balm that heals our broken heart. His love saturates deep as it fills complete.

“When I survey the occurrences of my life, and call into account the finger of God, I can perceive nothing but an abyss and mass of mercies.”

Sir Thomas Browne

Is that, then, the hope in grief? Are the feelings of emptiness and the bone-deep aches drawing us into His place of mercy? It is then that we find all we lost is recovered that much more in His redemption. Do we dare hope to feel again, laugh again…do we dare hope to live again? Is grace so strong that it restores the soul tattered and torn by grief’s long reign? In the mass of mercies given, there is such an amazing grace.

A New Perspective

The grace received brings on new perspective. Our grief buried can be His peace resurrected. Letting go is scary and hard. When the pain does not drench into our pores, we feel as if we might have betrayed. But to live is not to forget. Our life for His glory, our sadness for His joy, our emptiness for His fullness–this is when and how He walks in the grief with us. He beckons us close and He breathes life into our soul. We can ache for that which we grieve, because in the aching we can surrender. We surrender our grief to the One who knew the ultimate grief on the cross. So then, we do not abandon grief itself. Instead, we allow it to be made full through His mass of mercies–allow it to draw us deeper into the heart of God.

“The deepest things that I have learned in my own life have come from the deepest suffering. And out of the deepest waters and the hottest fires have come the deepest things that I know about God.”


Elisabeth Elliot

Comments ( 13 )
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  • Leanne

    Very inspiring post of loss, redemption, grief, and mercy. With Him, there is hope in every struggle. I appreciate your insights-this was a wonderful read. Thank you.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you, Leanne. You said it perfectly, with Him there is hope in every struggle. Thanks for the sharing your thoughts. 🙂

  • Kristi F

    So eloquently written! After my grandfather died, I didn’t cry for two years. I couldn’t handle thinking of him not being there. It was only in surrendering my grief to Christ that made the difference. Even though I knew it wasn’t the end and the next life held all the promises, I couldn’t get past the ache that I felt until I finally released it all.

    I love what you said:

    “We can ache for that which we grieve, because in the aching we can surrender. We surrender the grief to the One who knew grief in its fullest form on the cross. So this is it then, it is not to abandon grief itself, but to allow it to be made full through His mass of mercies – to allow it to draw us deeper into the heart of God.”

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for sharing your experience with grief. It is such a beautiful thing to serve and love a God who makes us full and complete in Him through His mass of mercies. His goodness and grace can and will trump our deepest aches when we surrender. 🙂

  • Rebekah

    “It is in knowing that Christ carried our grief fully on the cross that we can now find comfort as He walks through waters dark with us.” So beautifully put! I have experienced a lot of grief in my life and hav see how this is so true. He is so close to us as we go through trials and tribulations and comforts us all the more! Thank you for these poignant words that speak truth and life.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you, Rebekah. 🙂 You are on point when you say, “He is so close to us as we go through trials and tribulations and comforts us all the more!” So thankful for His perfect love!

  • Laura

    Thank you, Melissa.

  • Rachael DeBruin

    Grief is hard! Yes, very difficult…but with recalling His death & suffering on the cross, we can be encouraged, and as you so eloquently put it, have new hope 🙂

    After losing my grandmother last year, and then a miscarriage afterward, grief tried to overcome me…but it was His strength that carried me. Thanks so much for posting this encouragement!!

    • Anonymous

      Oh, Rachael. I can only imagine the heaviness of that time for you. What a testimony you carry for the One who gives us new hope, who is our Living Hope. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  • Andrea

    and God will be walking with us no matter what kind of grief we may be having

    • Anonymous

      Amen! What a comfort it is for the believer – He walks before us and with us…we are never alone in our struggles and times of doubt.