There are questions we are told never to ask when in grief, “Does God really exist? If He does, then WHY let this happen?” These questions, and more, I asked because I wanted answers.
One of the most intimate moments I ever experienced with Jesus in my walk with Him came at a time of grief. I had lost an uncle, my mum’s younger brother, who used to live in the same compound with us – but in a different flat. I loved him dearly, and at some point, was closer to him than I was to my dad. I could tell him stuff, you know, things peculiar to girls my age and he would listen, comfort and give advice where needed. He also had a walk with God that I admired. I fondly remember him singing songs in worship during the early mornings; he often felt like a one-man church gathering.
The love I had for him and this admirable close walk he had with God made it difficult for me to come to terms with how he died. The doctors said he had taken ill from tetanus infection which eventually led to his death.
I was on Industrial Training (IT) placement when this happened. My mum had stopped by at my place after having paid him a visit at the hospital. And after a short while, I got the call informing me of his passing. I broke the news to my mum and, as you would expect from the elder sister of the bereaved…pain.
I think my mum’s reaction and the need to comfort her prevented me from grieving. Maybe I was still in shock. I stayed up late into the night comforting mum the night we got the news. The next day which was a Tuesday saw me resume work. And on and on I went through that whole week without yet feeling the weight of our loss, until I went home that weekend.
I can still vividly remember my mother’s loud cries as I approached our house that day and for the first time, the reality of the passing of the uncle I so loved dawned on me. As I stood in front of our house and looked over at his, I broke down in tears.
Being the eldest child at home then, I had to be strong. I spent the succeeding days taking care of the family and helping mum cope in the best way I could. As a result, I still didn’t experience grief at a real depth until after about two months; and when it came, it was like an avalanche.
I became angry with God
I have never known such grief. Not before, and not after. It’s a feeling I’d never wish on an enemy.
First came anger. I was angry at God and I made it clear to Him. I had questions, “if there was anyone who had to leave, it wasn’t this one. This was one of your most faithful children. He gave you praise and service, gave you what you asked for, yet you did this? Like what exactly are you doing up there, really.”
My anger soon became resentment which soon became numbness which affected everything I did. I became pale, literally.
I was basically just a religious person at this time, and my late uncle’s death took away the bit of religion I cherished. I stopped praying. Couldn’t even say “amen” when prayers were offered. Even at school, I’d sometimes just walk out of class to go cry somewhere private. My emotions were all over the place.
God seemed to have left me to myself.
I may not have had the best relationship with God but I can still recall telling Him how angry and sad I was that He let this happen: “God, I am angry with You for letting this happen to me? I am sad, I am depressed. But if you can hear me, please reach out and help. They say you’re good, but right here in this pit, I can’t see anything, not even your goodness.
“I know people who have suffered similar pain and I know where it has led many of them and I don’t want to go down there. I don’t. If you’re good like they say you are, I am not seeing it yet.”
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I was gradually losing the little faith I had in him. If he can do this to someone who was so faithful to him, who am I to expect better treatment from him? I thought to myself.
I felt nothing after these prayers; no healing, nothing but the persistent numbness.
Weeks passed, then a friend paid a visit. My uncharacteristic response to his attempts to cheer me up told him of how poorly I was coping with the situation. Then I broke down and let it all out.
There are questions we are told never to ask, “Does God really exist? If He does, then WHY let this happen?” These questions, and more, I asked because I wanted answers. My friend just sat listening and saying nothing. “Go ahead,” was all he managed to say, “let it all out. Let Him know how you feel. Whenever you feel angry at God, let Him know. Don’t fear being struck to death or anything of the likes.” He reminded me of David and how real he was with God and encouraged me to be real with Him too. I somehow knew these things but having him say them brought much reassurance to me.
His comfort was greater than my grief.
I got back to my place and cried some more, doing just as I’d been told to. In the weeks following, God filled my heart with so much peace, warmth, and joy, joy that was near palpable. I did not get all the answers I sought, but He brought me from a depressed place, a place of near loss of faith to a place of peace, warmth, and joy; I could almost feel His arms around me at the time. By filling my heart with these, God healed me. This was one of the best experiences I had with Him.
I came to understand that the occurrence of evil in the world doesn’t take away from God’s love or goodness, neither does it make Him wicked. Evil sometimes befalls us because we live in a fallen world not because God is evil or deaf on unconcerned.
A worthy testament
And as a testament to this healing, two weeks ago, we had reason to speak about same late uncle at home and I cried again, but this time, it wasn’t from a place of pain, I cried only because I missed him.
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Grief, rape, death and many such things which may sometimes befall God’s children tend to be some of the greatest reasons for our loss of faith. And from personal experience, I can say that counseling doesn’t really solve these things. It doesn’t. I am so grateful that my friend never started preaching or counseling me that night. If he had, I probably wouldn’t have healed like I did. He let me speak and redirected me back to God Who Himself healed and set me free. There was no dream, no vision, no spectacular encounter but I’m so sure that the restoration, strength, joy, and peace I found were things only God could have given.
I guess there’s as much of a lesson in this for those who suffer grief as there is for those who desire to be of help to them in such times.
Today when I see people in grieve or in pain, I let them grieve. At best, I hold their hands, cry with them (Romans 12:15) whilst ensuring that I commit them to the One who truly restores.
When people suffer pain, depression and the likes, it helps to talk to someone, but in the end, it is God who truly heals and sets free from every pain.
Thanks for letting me share my story, I hope it blesses someone out there who reads it.
Connect with Ozioma on Twitter: @OzzyPaul
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