8 Scriptures for Surviving the Holidays While Grieving
- Anne Peterson Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2020 24 Nov
The holidays are coming. They’re coming closer, and those in grief feel a sense of dread where anticipation used to live. In the past, we’d be making plans, visualizing the way we want our times together with family to be. But now instead of looking forward to the holiday, we quietly wonder how we will get through with our broken hearts.
Grief. It’s all-consuming at times, like a tsunami that rushes in, destroying everything in its path. Those in grief can wake up with every intention of having a good day, when all of a sudden out of nowhere, we’re flooded with memories. Bittersweet ones. Memories with our loved ones who will not be joining us this holiday. I know what it’s like to lose a loved one. In a family of seven, only my brother and I remain. Holidays are especially difficult because of our memories of past holidays with everyone around the table. It’s God’s Word that has gotten me through the holidays. I’m not hanging by a thread, but instead, I have held onto the Lord with both hands.
Here are 8 scriptures for surviving the holidays while grieving.
1. Isaiah 26:3 - "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you."
God knows we lack peace when we’ve lost our loved ones. When Jesus visited his friends Mary and Martha, He was full of compassion. Jesus knew He would be calling Lazarus from the tomb and yet, Jesus wept (John 11:35). He saw His friends hurting and was there in the grief with them. God can give us peace, unlike anything the world can offer. It’s a peace that washes over us, letting us know things are going to be okay even though we hurt intensely when we lose our loved one. God is available night or day. And when we think about Him or the truths that He gives us in His Word, the Holy Spirit gives us calmness. We learn we can trust God with each day we face because we can call on our Father.
2. Philippians 4:7 - "And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
God understands how we feel when we lose our loved ones. He doesn’t tell us, “Get over it,” “Move on,” “Look at all you have.” Instead, in the quiet, we can sense God’s presence, the one who promised us He’d be with us. We know that no matter how we feel, we are not alone. And our very pain reminds us this world is not all there is. Yes, we have said goodbye to our loved ones, but one day we will see them again. For those of us who didn’t get the chance to be with our loved ones when they died, to hold their hand, or see them take their final breath, God knows that hurt as well. My sister was a victim of domestic violence. One day as I was driving home from a homicide grief group, thoughts of what her last moments could have been tormented me. I pulled my car to the side of the road and cried out to God, screaming because of the pain as I hit my steering wheel. God whispered something which quieted my restless heart. He said, “Anne, I was with her.”
Instead of feeling angry that God didn’t stop another person’s actions, I knew God gave us all free will. We enjoy having free will for ourselves, but none of us like it when the choices of others hurt the ones we love. I believe when my sister Peggy took her last breath, God carried her to heaven. After all, God was there when she took her first breath, I’m sure He was there when she took her last. God loves our loved ones more than we ever could. And God knows the number of our days.
3. Psalm 139:16 - "Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
Even when our loved one’s death surprises us, it doesn’t surprise God. God knew all the days that are ordained for each person. God knew I would have two children on earth and that I would lose two babies that I’ll meet in heaven. Just as God knew my granddaughter, Livie, who was born with Trisomy 18, would not die at birth, as doctors said. He knew she would be here for 14 1/2 months. A time we relished as we held her, and loved her. Olivia’s life touched thousands who prayed for her. You can watch Olivia's Story. Nathan and Heather were encouraged by hospice to document her life because Olivia was terminal. God who created every living being knew all of this. Each life is valuable to him, even tiny sparrows.
4. Matthew 10:29-31 - "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."
When we are hurting and our hearts are shattered, it’s so easy to listen to the enemy of our souls. At times, Satan’s lies seem so true. One lie he has been relentless in telling me is: God doesn’t care about you. If God cared, He would have let your loved one live.
We live in a fallen world. There is sickness and suffering because of it, and we’re told in the Bible that even Jesus was tempted by Satan. The enemy of our souls loves to torment us when we are weak or tired. And when we are grieving, we are at our weakest point, feeling alone, missing the person we lost. Jesus knew His Father intimately, and He held onto what He knew was true, instead of listening to the father of lies. God sees our hurt and I am certain that when we hurt, so does our loving Heavenly Father. Imagine how God’s heart was crushed as Jesus hung on a cross. We are made in the image of God. The sensitivity we feel towards those we love is sensitivity God put inside of us. Because we love deeply, we hurt deeply when we lose our loved ones. God understands completely.
5. 1 Peter 5:7 - "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
So what do we do as we see the holidays approaching? Our anxious thoughts seem to fly around us like gnats. God tells us to cast that anxiety on Him. When our little ones are learning to walk and they wobble and eventually fall down, do we get tired of running to help them up? No. We reach out our hands and lift them up again and again. And if we can be so loving to them, we know our heavenly Father will never tire of picking us up when we’ve fallen, or just holding us close when we need Him too. God is there 24/7. By day as well as by night. In fact, at night God leaves His song with us (Psalm 42:8). Just like we click on a nightlight for little ones assuring them we are in the next room. And those tears we cry are so precious, God gathers each and every one of them. He never tells us, “now that’s enough.”
6. Psalm 56:8 - "You have taken account of my miseries; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?"
Don’t believe that God doesn’t care about your hurts and those unstoppable tears. Your tears are so valuable that God stores them in bottles. I’m certain I have several for all the tears I’ve cried throughout my life. When my grandson, Charlie was just 3, he lost his McQueen car one day. He came to me with huge tears telling me what happened. “Let’s pray, Charlie,” I said. And so we did. And when I found his beloved car and gave it to him, he said, “Oh Gwamma, my car was disappear-ded and God disappear-ded it back again!” Yesterday, Ben, Charlie’s younger brother who is now 3, lost his Dynaco car. And once again, God helped us find it. Why? Because God cares about our losses and every little tear we’ve cried, no matter how old we are.
7. Psalm 18:2 - "The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."
When we don’t feel like we can hold on any longer, it is so comforting to know that God is our rock. We can take refuge in Him. He is our stronghold. There have been times in my life where I felt like everything around me was crumbling— relationships, people’s health, plans I had. And yet, the words of songs I had learned years ago would start flooding my mind. Songs like, Rock of Ages. by Augustus Toplady. Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.
8. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 - "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."
God knows what we feel. He’s the one who created us with those feelings. And when we hurt we can expect that God will comfort us. And when He does, later when we see others hurt, we can comfort them. God made us to be channels that lead to others, not reservoirs who keep peace and comfort to ourselves.
If you are hurting right now, grieving the loss of your loved one, I’m very sorry for your loss. I’d like to give you an eBook I wrote: Getting Through the Holidays: Words of Comfort for Those in Grief. When you feel like you cannot handle the holidays, slip away and let God comfort you. He’s always there.
A Prayer for Those in Grief
Lord, you know those who are hurting right now. We know you care because you are our Heavenly Father. God, I thank you for giving us comfort when we hurt. Help us remember we are not alone as we grieve. Help us cling to You when we feel despair and we miss those we have lost. Father, show us how to take refuge in You when our hearts are shattered. We know you understand. So we lift up each person reading this right now. Comfort them. We pray this in Your Son’s precious and Holy name. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Kerkez
Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker, and published author of 16 books. Her most recent book is Always There: Finding God's Comfort through Loss. Anne has published 42 Bible Studies and numerous articles with christianbiblestudies.com. She has been a regular contributor to Crosswalk for seven years. Visit Anne’s website at annepeterson.com and sign up for a free eBook or visit her Facebook page. You can also subscribe to Anne’s YouTube channel where you can watch her recite her poems and share her heart.