Step Four: LEARN MY SUFFERING STORY which I use to make sense of my experience.

Below is a video from the “Taking the Journey of Grief with Hope” seminar of The Summit Church (Durham, NC). For the various counseling options available from this material visit

NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. You can request a copy from Summit’s admin over counseling at (please note this is an administrative account; no individual or family counsel is provided through e-mail).

“I formed beliefs [define] about myself, life, and God from my grief. I lived out of those beliefs [describe] because they were all I knew and they ‘worked.’ Those beliefs became the guiding themes of my life story. Putting those beliefs into words scares me [describe why]. I reject that life story and am committed to learning how my life fits into God’s great story of redemption.”


Memorize: Psalm 22:1-2 (ESV), “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.” As you memorize this passage reflect upon these key points:

  • Matthew 27:46 – These words also entered Jesus’ story. They are one of the common themes of a fallen world.
  • “Forsaken me” – Grief makes it feel like God has turned His back on us.
  • “So far” – More than back turned, grief makes it feel like God is walking away from us.
  • “Do not answer” – When God does not end the pain of grief it is easy to believe He is not hearing our prayers.
  • “No rest” – In the storm of grief it easy to think God is a liar for not keeping His promise (Matt. 11:28-30).

 Teaching Notes

“As we struggle with the ache of loss, the grip of our grief imposes a kind of relational paralysis. Perhaps grief is a true reflection of hell, where the ache of losing God and all good, including the good of community, will be endless. Be that as it may, a most painful part of the pain of grief is the sense that no one, however, sympathetic and supportive in intention, can share what we are feeling, and it would be a betrayal of our love for the lost one to pretend otherwise. So we grieve alone, and the agony is unbelievable (p. 144).” J.I. Packer in A Grief Sanctified

“Meanwhile, where is God?… You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become…Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?… I have gradually been coming to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted… The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just the time when God can’t give it: you are like a drowning man who can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear… After all, you must have a capacity to receive, or even omnipotence can’t give (p. 53-54).” C.S. Lewis in A Grief Observed

“Numerically, there are more psalms of complaint and lament than psalms of praise and thanksgiving… A mood of faith trusts God enough to bring everything about us to Him (p. 33).” Bob Kellemen in God’s Healing for Life’s Losses.

“It is an act of faith to bring that complaint to him in the pattern of these psalms. Your faith in God should never silence you in the dark hours of grief. Rather, this is when we begin to understand how deep, rich, and sturdy God’s love for us really is (p. 9).” Paul Tripp in Grief: Finding Hope Again

“You are not exactly who you were. The person you lost was part of your identity.  You were someone’s mother or aunt or spouse or brother. You continue to be that person in your heart and memory, but there’s a vacant place where your loved one stood (p. 22).” H. Norman Wright in Experiencing Grief