Grief can be such a messy process. Death’s tendrils stretch into your soul and drag its devastation through your whole being, pouring out its stench into your heart. Its just ugly. There is no way around it.

Grief struck me again today. A deep aching in my soul. It was not just a dream I grieved today — it was the baby that had started to form in me. A baby that was mine for such a short while; but a baby who was meant to come into my arms, for me to care for and love and nurture. This is the injustice of it all. My baby was meant to be with me first, and then go to Jesus. I will never get to hold my baby; stroke its hair, wipe away and soothe its tears. I don’t even get to know if my baby was a boy or a girl. Just like that, my baby was stripped from my womb. There is nothing beautiful in that, or in the aching emptiness I am left to bear.

I am so thankful for the book of Psalms, that validates the ugliness of grief. I have been striving to surrender and trust and yield to God’s plan — and that is a good and right direction for my heart to pursue. But so much of that surrender means I must also grieve.

Psalm 86:1-5 describes my prayers to God Almighty today in my grief:

Incline your ear, Oh Yahweh, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in You — You are my God. Be gracious to me, Oh Lord, for to You do I cry all the day. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to You, oh Lord, do I lift up my soul. For you, Oh Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.

If I have learned anything from Scripture on grief and sorrow, it is that it starts with acknowledging that it all comes from God’s Sovereign Hand, and as such, we must bring our sorrows and grief, in all their ugliness, to Him. Listen to Job 6:4, “For the arrows of the Almighty are in me; my spirit drinks their poison; the terrors of God are arrayed against me.” 

Psalm 88:6 says, “You have put me in the depths of the pit, in the regions dark and deep.”

It is the person of faith who can not turn away from God who suffering strikes. We turn to so many other things in search for relief: food; work; productivity; success; friendship. Why is it so hard to turn to God?

But, in Psalm 86, the Psalmist asks that same God who afflicted him to gladden his soul. It is the person of faith who turns to God for relief from their pain and grief.

My soul cannot be gladdened apart from turning to the God who wounded it in the first place. It can be so hard to come to God in grief; hard to acknowledge that it is His arrows that strike my soul. But to where else can I turn? There is no one but Him who knows me; no one but Him who can heal me. And so, from no one but Him can I ask for a gladdened spirit to overtake my sadness.

Gladden the soul of your servant, for to You do I lift up my soul. Psalm 86:4).