Ask the Staff: Scripture for Grief
Q.What are your favorite Bible verses for providing comfort to those who are grieving?
A. When I reflect on the Bible verses that I use the most while providing comfort to those who are grieving, I often use these Scriptures: Psalm 23, John 14:1-6, I Corinthians 13:12, Romans 8:37-39, and
I Thessalonians 4:14-18. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of Scriptures that I use to provide comfort to those who are dealing with the loss of a loved one. These are just a few, and each one is used according to its relevance to the subject at hand as well as others that are not listed above.
Many have found that Psalm 23 provides comfort in the face of loss and grief. Psalm 23:4 specifically provides comfort in the midst of loss: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
When you look at this Scripture carefully, there are some elements that bear understanding. First of all, the Psalmist says that he is walking — not stumbling or staying, but that he is walking “through the valley,” which indicates that death and grief are both journeys and not simply destination points in the distance. As we say, we must go through grief; we cannot go around, nor over, nor under, but we must go through the valley to the other side to find healing.
Secondly, the Psalmist indicates to us that in the valley, there is a component, a shadow. Now, what has to be present for there to be a shadow? There has to be a light, right? In John 8:12, Jesus tells us that He is the Light of the World and that whoever walks in Him, will not walk in darkness. As we are walking through the valley of death and grief, there is darkness that tends to surround us. However, if you notice further in verse 4 of Psalm 23, you find that the Psalmist affirms there is another presence with them in that valley. He says, “For thou art with me.” Who is the “thou”? Who else would be on a hillside caring for sheep when they are caught in the valley of the shadow of death, and darkness is all around them? John 10:11 says, “Jesus is the Good Shepherd.” So, put all of that together and we find that as we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death, and darkness is closing in, we are being accompanied by, and cared for, the Good Shepherd of our souls: Jesus.
Scripture also affirms that, in that valley, there can be times of doubt and fear. For instance, a fear that I will not make it without my loved one, or questions and doubts about how I will make it. However, the Psalmist is quick to point out in Psalm 56:3, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” He is saying: When I am afraid, I will remember that You are with me, that Your very presence is a comfort, and that You have promised to never leave me nor forsake me — even when the darkness of grief closes in, You are still there, guarding my heart with Your rod and staff as I allow You to do so. You are there guarding my way so that I don’t fall prey or succumb to enemies who would want to divert my attention from You as I walk through the valley of the shadow of grief. The staff is also present in order to shield me from myself, to pull me back into “the fold” should I get lost in the dynamics of the crisis of faith that, many times, people will venture into when they go through grief. The Psalmist says that both of those instruments protect me and provide comfort because I know that I cannot fall when I am depending on You, my Father, to navigate my way through the treacherous journey of grief and loss.
I trust that this Scripture, Psalm 23, has provided some insight into how our Heavenly Father walks with us through the valley of death and grief, and brings each of us as His sheep safely to the other side where we are able to find new life.
―Saundra Yates, Bereavement Coordinator/Chaplain (Mount Airy, NC)
Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care offers grief support to the community at large. For more information, contact us today at 336-789-2922 (toll-free 1-888-789-2922).
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