Hey friends! It’s a busy time of year filled with lots of change. Doing transitions well is something we adults still struggle through as moves, school transitions, loss of loved ones (including pets), and relationship difficulties create opportunities for people we love to leave our lives. As a counselor who leads a team working with kids and training school counselors, I’m so excited to share this post from Christie Thomas, author of Quinn Says Goodbye.
Make it a great life and may we all accept and work through tough goodbyes and life changes and equip our kids to do the same.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
(Psalm 40:1-3 NIV)
David wrote this Psalm from outside the pit of despair. He had the benefit of hindsight, and was able to look back and see God lifting him from the pit and placing him on a rock.
But we don’t always have access to hindsight, and when we are sitting in the mud and mire, it can feel like we’re never going to have a firm place to stand again. Our circumstances drain our lives of color, leaving a bleak landscape.
When we’re in such a hopeless place, what can we do? How can we see and receive God’s comfort in times of great pain?
1) Find comfort in community
When my sister passed away suddenly, my tendency was to pull away from everyone. I hid from the mountain of mourners in my home, trying to sleep away a broken heart.
But it wasn’t until I stepped into my church and let the people of God comfort me that I began to sense God’s comfort.
I was working in the children’s ministry department at the time, and two days after Stephanie’s death, a little boy and his mom came to see me. He shyly offered a gift that he had chosen for me. It was a little angel holding a puppy. Even though it wasn’t a puppy I had lost, I felt the comfort of Christ through that incredibly sweet gift from a child.
If you’re in a place of grief right now, one of the best things you can do is invite Christ-filled community in. That doesn’t mean constantly surrounding ourselves with people, but instead, allowing Christ to minister through his Body, including children. This can even include reading about other’s experiences and how God met them in their darkest places.
2) Find comfort in silence and solitude
My tendency in grief is to pull away. To some extent, this is healthy IF we spend the time seeking God and allowing him to minister to our hearts.
This is especially important if you find yourself constantly surrounded by people, like small children. A friend of mine mentioned that she likes to drive alone with the windows down and let God minister to her heart in the solitude.
Other suggestions for short times of solitude are to go for a walk or find somewhere quiet to sit, like the library or at a park. Then, talk to God and allow him to bring peace to your heart through His quiet whisper.
3) Find comfort through music
Recently there was a conversation about this in one of my Facebook groups, and many people said that they had found God’s comfort through music.
Music is woven into our souls from before our birth. David found rest through music, like in the Psalm above.
Familiar worship songs develop new meaning when we sing them in a hard time. The night after my sister’s death, I walked into church and they were singing these words:
Blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering, blessed be Your name.
The familiar words suddenly carried a much deeper meaning. I’m sure there were others in the service who struggled through those words, even as a large majority sung them without much thought. They were the hardest words I have ever sung in my life, but through a blur of tears and a burning throat, I sang them.
Every blessing You pour out I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord, blessed be Your name.
(I wrote more about that experience in this article.)
Recently I created a YouTube playlist of worship songs that are especially meaningful in the hardest time. You can access that here.
4) Finding comfort in nature
In the sermon on the mount, Jesus asked his listeners to look at the birds of the air and flowers in the field. He reminded them that God cares for the birds and flowers, and therefore, surely God will care for His precious children as well.
This can be a call to us as well. Often we can see God’s provision in nature. When we look at the intricacy of a spider’s web or the beauty of a forest, we are reminded that God pays attention to detail.
In my new children’s book, “Quinn Says Goodbye”, God comforts Quinn by drawing her to a field of dancing fireflies. This reminds Quinn of how much God loves her and the friend that she lost.
If you can, spend some time in nature, allowing God to speak to you through his creation.
5) Finding comfort through God’s works and words.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, we can find comfort through God’s work and words.
When we read the Bible, we remember what God has done and said before. We learn about people who went through incredibly dark times and discovered that God was right there beside them.
We can also see what God has done in our own lives. Sometimes I will leaf through an old prayer journal just to see the many prayers that God has answered. It was hard to see Him working at the time, but this gives me the gift of hindsight, and allows me to apply that hard-earned hindsight to my current situation as well.
In the parent guide at the back of “Quinn Says Goodbye”, I provided some verses to read with your child to start discussions about where God is in the midst of our pain.
One of those verses is Psalm 34:18, which I’d like to leave you with today.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 NIV
If you count yourself among the brokenhearted today, know that God is close to you. He scoops up those who are crushed in spirit and cradles you in the palm of his hands.
How about you? How has God comforted you during a difficult time? How has he comforted your child?