Your Grief is Valid

Dear TCK, Your Grief is Valid

Tears streamed down my face as I scrolled through photo after photo of my family. Sadness lodged itself so deeply in my chest that I felt like I could hardly breathe.

Why am I still feeling this way, Lord? I cried out silently. Why am I still struggling with homesickness every single day? I should be over this by now.

It had been three months since I’d transitioned back to the States, and grief still cloaked me like an unwanted guest.

I wanted so badly to be free of it. I wanted to feel joy again. And on top of all that, I was crippled by guilt and shame over feeling the way I did.

After all, I hadn’t lost a loved one to death. I hadn’t had to flee my home because of a natural disaster. I hadn’t seen my country destroyed by a war.

I had chosen to come back to the States, even though I knew it meant being far away from my family. It was a privilege to even have the freedom to do so.

Shouldn’t I only be excited and grateful for this opportunity to get a job and become more independent? What was wrong with me?

Lost in Grief

Dear TCK, perhaps you have felt the same way. Maybe you feel this way right now.

You know you should feel a certain way, but, somehow, you just can’t bring yourself to feel it. No matter how hard you try, those pesky negative emotions always seem to get in the way. You feel lost, confused, and as if you’re stumbling around in a fog of sadness and grief.

I see you, friend. And more importantly, God sees you.

I want you to know that your grief is valid.

No matter the cause. No matter how much “worse” others may have it. No matter how much you think you should be over it by now.

It took me weeks of digging into God’s Word to see what He says about grief and taking my feelings to Him to come to terms with my grief. To accept this as part of my story. To realize that I don’t need to compare my repatriation journey to anyone else’s journey because each one is unique.

The Story of Lazarus

One story that helped me realize how God values my grief is the story of Lazarus’s death in John 11. 

Even though Jesus knew the end of the story – that He would raise Lazarus from the dead – He was sensitive to Mary and Martha’s limited understanding.

When He came to them, He didn’t berate them for not having more faith. Or command them to stop crying. Or preach a sermon on rejoicing in the Lord.

Instead, John 11:35 says that He wept.

It’s the shortest verse in the Bible – just two simple words – and yet, it’s incredibly powerful.

Jesus understands our humanity. He understands our grief. He understands our pain.

And instead of chastising us, He weeps with us for the brokenness of this world.

Jesus Himself knew grief. Isaiah 53:3 says that “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (ESV).

Hebrews 4:15 says that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (ESV).

So take heart, dear TCK, that God is not judging you for your feelings. Instead, He reaches down to hold you close and mourn with you as you grieve.

A Walk Through the Psalms

The Psalms teach us much about how we can bring our deepest, darkest emotions and questions to God.

Take Psalm 77, for example.

Asaph begins by crying out to God about the troubles he is facing. He says he is so troubled, he cannot even speak (v. 4) and his soul refuses to be comforted (v. 2).

But then as he chooses to remember and meditate on the deeds of the Lord in years gone by, his attitude gradually begins to change. His despair turns to remembrance, then to praise, then to hope that someday God will deliver him again.

You see, it was in choosing to draw near to God in his grief, to remember His past works and praise Him for who He is, that Asaph’s attitude changed from despair to peace, from distress to joy, from hopelessness to hopefulness.

We can, and should, bring our hardest emotions to God. He wants our honesty. He can handle our questions. He can even handle our anger.

But we shouldn’t end there. At some point, we have to choose to praise God and trust Him even when we don’t have the answers. Even when we can’t see the way out of the valley. Even when we’re tired of hurting and are desperate for it to end.

Draw Near to God in Your Grief

You can choose to withdraw from God in your grief, or you can choose to run toward Him.

The wonderful thing about trials is that they have the potential to draw us ever closer to our Father. He longs to be a refuge and strong tower to us. He longs to carry us in His arms. He longs to whisper truth and hope into our broken hearts.

So let Him.

Cling to Him in your hardest moments. You’ll find Him faithful.

Your Grief Will not Last Forever

There’s no way to get around grief except through it. You’re going to have to face all the messy,  heart-wrenching emotions that come along with it. That’s just the truth.

But it isn’t going to last forever

Psalm 30:5 promises, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (ESV).

Even now, I’m already seeing the sun break through the cloud of my grief. The waves of homesickness wash over me less frequently. The tears come less often. I’m beginning to experience a sense of belonging in my new home. Unbridled joy and contentment are a more constant companion to my days.

Someday, you will feel joy again, friend. It may take days. It may take weeks. It may take months. 

But you will make it through this. Because you can do anything with Christ’s strength in you.

Our Constant Amidst Grief

Grief is a strange, complicated thing. It often comes when you’re least expecting it. And just as you think you’re over the worst of it, it hits you again.

But the one constant throughout the ebb and flow of grief is Jesus.

In the midst of the scariness and the sadness and the sorrow, you can cling to Him.

He will never change. He will never leave you. He will never let you go.

“[He] is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8 ESV).

And that, dear TCK, is a promise you can count on.

TCKs for Christ: Staff Writer

Kristianne Hassman

is an MK from South Africa and has called Africa her home for the past 15 years. As a writer, she seeks to use her gifts to encourage other TCKs that they are not alone. Besides writing, she enjoys reading voraciously, playing piano and violin, and helping with her family’s ministry. You can connect with her at Whimsical Wanderings or on Instagram, @KristianneHassman_Author.

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