The Bible teaches us that ever since Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree, this world has been fundamentally dysfunctional. Sin and death and various kinds of pain and loss are grim realities that remind us that things are not the way they are supposed to be.
Friends, family members, or beloved pets die; jobs are lost; health and independence decline, homes are lost to fire or flood – grief is an unwelcome but inevitable part of life.
Though the picture may seem dark, God has not left us without instruction and comfort. In fact, there are many Bible verses about grief that can bring comfort to the grieving Christian.
7 Bible Verses about Death and Grief
If you are going through the grieving process, meditate on the following Scriptures on grief and let God’s Word give you comfort.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. – Psalm 31:9
In this verse, David is experiencing deep grief (we are not told over what) that is intense enough to have physical effects on his body. Rather than wallowing in his misery, however, David pours out his heart to God, pleading for His grace.
The first step when you are grieving is to take your grief directly to God. Though God already knows what you are going through (you are not giving Him any new information), it is His will that His children come to Him in prayer with their concerns and requests.
Much as a father might see his young child struggling to complete a task and yet wait until his child asks him for help, God often waits for us to ask Him for help before He gives it. However, unlike a human father who might become irritated or might not hear his child, God always hears His children and delights to answer their prayers.
A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed. – Proverbs 15:13
Here we see that happiness in the heart generally produces a happy countenance, but by contrast, grief in the heart can be soul-crushing. This teaches us the truth that a person’s outward behavior is profoundly affected by the state of their heart. Happy heart = happy face. Sad heart = sad face.
We see this reflected both in ourselves and in our daily interactions with others. It is often easy to tell a person’s state by the expression on their face. Proverbs are general observations, however, meaning that this is not a hard-and-fast rule. We will see a contrasting thought in the verse we look at next.
Even in laughter, the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief. – Proverbs 14:13
Sometimes the outward appearance can be the exact opposite of what is happening in the heart. Though a person may laugh and smile on the outside, it may be just a mask for genuine pain and grief.
Solomon (the wisest man – other than Jesus – who ever lived) implies that this ironic sort of occurrence is normal. Sometimes, in order to cope, or because a person doesn’t want to spill their guts to someone, they need to put on a mask of normalcy that hides their inner pain.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. – Psalm 147:3
Suffering from grief can be overwhelming. We can feel as if we will never recover – never move past it. The psalmist, however, teaches us that though we may be in the midst of deep and crushing grief, God has compassion on those who are brokenhearted and heals their emotional wounds.
This is not to say that God makes everything better and that the source of the grief goes away. Rather, as Saint Augustine once said, “Oh Lord . . . our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.”
God heals broken hearts by giving Himself to His brokenhearted people. We find healing and rest for our souls when we find our comfort and satisfaction in Him.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:4
David, the “sweet psalmist of Israel” (2 Samuel 23:1) was no stranger to grief. Many of his Psalms deal with the subject in depth. In Psalm 23, possibly the most well-known of all of the Psalms, David describes the rest and peace that God provides.
Even though David is facing death (whether his own or that of someone else is not specified), he finds his comfort in God’s discipline (God’s “rod”) and guidance (God’s “staff”). In other words, God is taking care of David through daily correction, instruction, and wisdom.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. – Matthew 5:4
Next, we come to a verse about grief in the Bible that has caused a lot of confusion over the centuries. Contrary to much popular exposition, the phrase “those who mourn” in this verse refers to those who mourn over their sin. These people will be comforted because their sins will be forgiven.
This makes sense when we think about the nature of “blessedness” and mourning. “Blessedness” means a deep-seated joy, which would appear (at first glance) to be contrary to mourning. However, if one is mourning over their sin, then they can have this kind of joy, knowing that God has forgiven them.
Though this verse does not directly address grief and loss, there is a secondary sort of application to those of God’s children who mourn over traumatic events. They will be comforted both in this life and in the life to come as they come to a deeper knowledge of God and grow in likeness to Christ. Their comfort will derive from the fact that their sins are forgiven and that any grief and pain that they suffer in this life is temporary.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the people of the church at Corinth who were apparently suffering from affliction of some kind. Paul tells them that God is the “Father of mercies and God of all comfort,” meaning that He is characterized by compassion and is the source of any comfort that they experience.
Next, Paul tells the Corinthian Christians that God brings comfort to them in all of their afflictions. This is a precious promise! God does not leave His children to flounder aimlessly and wallow in their grief. He ultimately brings comfort to them by giving them Himself!
However, God does not merely comfort His people so that they will merely live happier, more joyful lives. He comforts them so that they can bring the same comfort to others who are going through affliction and grief. In other words, comfort in our times of trouble is never an end in itself. It is to overflow from our hearts as we reach out to others who are suffering.
Loss can strike God’s people unexpectedly, so the time to get the proper perspective on grief is before it hits. Figuring out what one believes about God, His sovereignty, and His comfort while in the midst of grieving is dangerous. If a person’s heart is not firmly grounded on the precious promises of God, times of grief can completely destabilize and overthrow their faith.
This is not to suggest that the grieving process will be easy, however. God can and will teach His people many things as they grieve, all of which are designed to make them more and more like Christ.
If you are struggling with grief, seek out a trusted friend or your pastor for wise counsel. If these are not available, however, a Christian counselor can come alongside you and help you work through the grieving process. Don’t wait – get help today!
“Grief”, Courtesy of Marquise Kamanke, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “A Grief Observed”, Courtesy of Yuris Alhumaydy, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Remember”, Courtesy of Matt Botsford, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Cross”, Courtesy of Maria Oswalt, Unsplash.com, CC0 License