by David Sisler

In recent days I received a letter from a dear friend, a former colleague. When we worked together, we called ourselves “partners in crime” because it seemed to be “us” against “them.” Today we sign our emails, “YPIC” – “Your Partner In Crime.” About two weeks before she wrote to me, her grandmother died. The two letters which follow (hers is very edited so her privacy is protected) were written because of that death.



I am hurting so bad. I loved my grandmother more than anyone could ever know. I was her first grandchild, and she always let it be known how special I was to her. I carry her name. I feel that a piece of me is missing and I will never get past this. I have prayed so hard but it just doesn’t seem to be happening. I feel that my faith is a little weak right now. I don’t fully understand why God wanted her now. After she had been through so much and he let her live right on, I just knew he was going to give me a miracle. I know he knows best, but I hurt so bad. Please help me understand what he is doing to me by taking her away from me ... Why does it hurt so bad? ... Please pray for me and tell me how to make this hurt go away.



Dear PIC

Let me start with some discouraging news – I cannot give you a magic formula. There is nothing much I can say – not even God attempted an explanation to suffering, hurt, and loss in his reply to Job. King David, Job, even Jesus cried out to God in despair because of their suffering. While you are not hurting physically, and maybe you are, your grief and loss is, as you have written to me, the most painful thing you have ever experienced.

Having said that there is nothing much I can say, let me share with you a few things from God’s Word. I confess to you that at this moment they may not be of a lot of comfort to you – your hurt is too great. In fact, you may find yourself accusing the God you love of taking the grandmother you love from you, and you may find yourself very angry at him. Trust me when I say, God understands that, and he will not send a lightening bolt to strike you down because you hurt – even if you hurt at him.

Three of the people that Jesus loved the best were Mary and Martha and Lazarus. This family (brother and two sisters) were incredibly close to Jesus, but when Lazarus died, Mary and Martha were angry with Jesus because he was not present to heal their brother, his friend. Both of them accused him with, “If you had been here, Lazarus would not have died!” So believe me when I say, Jesus understands that you hurt today more than you ever have.

The pain you feel at your grandmother’s loss is only days old, and I won’t be so callous as to suggest an easy and quick answer. But trust the God who loved her, and who loves you. Like a recovering alcoholic, your recovery from your grief will come, one day at a time (and there are days when I still sit down and cry because I miss my Dad who has been gone since 1996).

The Apostle Paul makes an “interesting” statement in Romans 5. It is one of those passages that you read when you are hurting – like you are – and you says, “Yeah! Right! Get real, God!” Here it is:

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us – they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady. Then, when that happens, we are able to hold our heads high no matter what happens and know that all is well, for we know how dearly God loves us, and we feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 5:3-5).

Reading that with your heart hurting over the loss of your grandmother, feeling at any moment as if your own heart will burst, that sounds incredibly like it was meant for someone else – a fairy tale that could not possibly be true. That is what I call a “tomorrow” scripture – I have to make it through today first, maybe tomorrow it will be real in my heart.

How does the pain of your grief (my grief, the grief of all of us who mourn) accomplish the peace that Paul talks about? It produces perseverance, or steadiness, by slowing us down and forcing us to turn to God (even if we are mad at him); it produces character by forcing us to call on our reserves of inner strength – strength built up over years of good times and sunshine and the happy times with your grandmother and the joy of all the times you’ve spent with her and the happy memories which you refuse to allow to be pushed out by the bad times of her suffering and the knowledge that this is not the end!

God is on your side. He is “the Father of Compassion and the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3).

“The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made” (Psalm 145:9).

There is no pain, no suffering, where your grandmother has gone. In heaven “there is no pain, no mourning, no death – the old way of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). I know that you prayed for your grandmother’s healing (I joined you in that prayer, as did others). And God has healed her! The suffering, the feebleness, the weakness, the pain that she experienced is all gone. She has a new body that is free from the physical condition that ultimately took her life. She is not gone. You have not lost her. You simply cannot see her right now. But that is a temporary situation. God promises a family reunion! You will be with your grandmother again!

Your grandmother lives today in a new body, in wholeness and triumph. That is the promise of God’s Word. If nothing else, hang onto that thought while your own healing comes. “Weeping lasts all night, but joy comes in the morning!” (Psalm 30:5).

I keep you in my prayers!



The God of “tomorrow” scriptures can be trusted today. I know. I have learned that through personal pain.


Copyright 2003 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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