Grief, Sorrow, and the Hope of the Gospel

By Sammie Gallo, Creator and Author of Abundant Life: You Were Made for More

“But here’s what grieving people wish others would understand: grief is incredibly, relentlessly lonely. It really makes a huge difference to be reminded that we are not forgotten, that our loss is on the radar of people around us.” 

Nancy Guthrie

I’ll be honest, I don’t love politics. I never have. There just not my thing… but even so, I try my best to stay up to date, educated, and I vote based on which candidate best aligns with my values. I’ve only voted in two presidential elections, and I can with great certainty say that I’ve never voted placing my hope in a person, policies, or politics. I’ve never placed my hope in a candidate, and truly, I do believe that we will be okay no matter who is president, even if that person isn’t who I voted for, believe in, or agree with. 

That being said, I feel the grief happening in people groups all over the country. No matter who you are, I bet 2020 has brought you some kind of grief – whether that’s related to the presidential election or not.

I’ve seen so many posts reflecting excitement about Joe Biden and Kamala Harris taking over the White House in just a few months. Now, before I say anything else, I am excited that my daughter will grow up in a country where a woman has been vice president. I’m thrilled that she will grow up knowing that multiethnic people, like herself, are valued and important. I celebrate that. 

But I also can’t help but feel differently than most of the people on my newsfeed and most of my friends. I’m saddened by the fact that my daughter will grow up in a nation that is so divided. As I’ve watched the news and scrolled through my social media feed, I’m saddened by how we’ve become okay with demonizing each other (on both sides). Forgetting that we are all children of God. Focusing so much on how we disagree with each other that we’re okay with becoming enemies rather than focusing on unity and peace… things that the Scripture commands us to seek. I’m saddened by the fact that saying “no matter who is President, Jesus is King” is now becoming a “bad” phrase. I think it’s simply absurd to assume that every person’s intention behind saying that is to sweep injustices under the rug, or to overlook people’s feelings and their concerns. That simply isn’t the truth – I care deeply about so many issues, but if I don’t start with the simple Truth that God is still reigning on the throne no matter who is President FIRST, before deciding how He calls me to move forward and act in accordance with His will, everything I do or say will be in vain. Reflecting on that Truth has now become something that even fellow Christians feel it’s okay to demonize. We’re a nation that is so divided. Churches are divided over the current political front in our country. Division really is becoming the focus of our lives, rather than the unity that Scripture calls us to pursue.

I’m saddened by the fact that that my sweet girl will grow up in a country that celebrates and okays abortion. And before things get heated, let me just say – no, I’m not a one-issue voter, and I don’t just vote based on the issue of abortion, but for me, it is a non-negotiable issue. It doesn’t mean that I don’t fight for or feel strongly about other social causes. It’s just that life is where I start fighting. And for me, that’s a nonnegotiable.  It’s impossible for me to get past the fact that a candidate does not see human life in the womb as life to fight for and protect. That is the greatest issue of our time. I believed that before having a child, but now, as a momma to my sweet baby girl, I believe it even more. Human life is a nonnegotiable. I’m saddened by the fact that I’ll have to have conversations with my daughter from a very young age, about how our country views this as being okay, yet it isn’t. I’m grieving the fact that I have to question what my daughter will learn to be normal as she grows up and goes to school. These are all things I just never thought I’d have to worry about. Yet here I am, worrying about them. 

I share that because as I was reflecting on grief, those are things that I am currently grieving. 

Whether you agree with me or not, I think we’ve all spent the better half of 2020 grieving. We’ve grieved the losses of community, how different life has looked, and  how we’ve had to newly define fun as we’ve been in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Maybe some of us are grieving family hurt, financial struggle, sickness. Maybe, like me, you’re grieving how loving our neighbor has taken a backseat as the election drama and tumultuous climate in the US has raged on. Grief. Sorrow. Hurt. Sadness. They all have become so apparent this year.

But perhaps even more difficult is grieving alone. Pinned in our homes, we can’t look a compassionate friend in the face to receive their knowing look of comfort. Isolation compounds our bereavement. Even in this, however, Jesus promises comfort: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).When Jesus promised comfort, he didn’t appeal to a vague feeling of inner tranquility; he promised the presence of an actual Comforter. That’s something I want to remind you of today. 

Grief comes in all forms and fashions, because loss comes in all shapes and sizes. When we think of grief, our souls tend to focus especially on the devastating grief that accompanies death – but like I’ve mentioned, in this past year alone, there have been so many things for each of us to grieve that aren’t as final as death.

Life is filled with daily mini-caskets—losses great and small. A critical word. A critical accident. Betrayal, rejection, a stab in the back. The terminal diagnosis. Separation and divorce. A church split. Job termination. Your good intentions being misunderstood. Staring your sin in the face because you have no choice but to do so. The list, sadly, goes on and on.

So, where does that leave the Gospel? We know it has everything to say about grace for sin. But does the gospel have anything to say about grace for grief? We know that Jesus came to save sinners, but does he understand and care about our suffering? Here’s what I’ve come to find.

  • Jesus is a suffering Savior who is intimately acquainted with our grief. Therefore, it’s normal, and even okay, to hurt.
  • Jesus is a compassionate Savior who lovingly consoles us in our grief. Therefore, even though many times I don’t feel like it, it’s possible to find comfort in our hurt.
  • Jesus is a healing Savior who compassionately speaks eternal truth into our earthly wounds. Therefore, it’s possible to grieve with hope, moving onward from the Truth in His Word.
  • Jesus is an empowering Savior who mightily enables us to comfort others with the comfort we receive from God. Therefore, we can find the strength to supernaturally love in the midst of loss. 

Let me say once again, drawing on the analogy of the election wars & debate about the phrase ‘Jesus is King’ – proclaiming these Truths and believing them, and moving forward from them, does not negate or overlook the reality that suffering, loss, and grief are so very real and hurtful. It doesn’t overwrite them – it just proclaims the Truth in the midst of them. 

As Phylicia Masonheimer summed up… 

We can tend to think so highly of our will, our ability to alter circumstances, we forget God has watched at least six thousand years of leaders rise and fall – unsurprised by every one of them. We can so misconstrue our first allegiance we become “worried and anxious about many things”, rather than sitting at the feet of Jesus.

Before you comment “but this doesn’t mean we don’t take action!” – of course we take action. Christians through much of history had no voice in government, and many still don’t today. Voting is a privilege! But Christlike action is led by peace, not anxiety. Not anger. Not fear. So let’s take a moment and think about who we claim to serve and how much we actually believe Him.

We have one for-sure duty as believers in this republic: cast your vote (and then move forward) as if Jesus is still King.

Because He is.

Sammie graduated from Robert Morris University in 2017 with a background in biology and psychology and started working with Anglicans for Life (AFL) shortly after. In addition to her work with AFL, she spends time speaking to high schoolers about healthy relationships and sex educationas well as homeschooling for a family in her community.

Sammie married her best friend, Juan Gallo, in May 2019. During her free time, you can find her leading youth ministry with her husband at their church, where he serves as the youth pastor, and caring for their sweet baby girl who joined their family in August 2020.

Sammie spends her day-to-day making sure that every person hears and believes the words: “you were made for more.” You can follow Sammie on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter! She’d love to get to know you!