BY MICHELE LOUVIERE, Director of Counseling Celebration Church, Metairie
Question: Our family recently experienced a tragedy. Since then, I have struggled with feeling close to God although I usually have an intimate relationship with him. How can I regain my closeness with Him?
Michele Louviere responds: First of all, let me share how sad I am about your recent family tragedy. Secondly, it actually is very normal for people to struggle in their relationship with God after experiencing hurt, loss or extreme trauma.
When we experience an unexpected event that overwhelms us physically and emotionally, it also can overwhelm us spiritually. Many people experience anger, isolation and numbness towards God. Some people even question God’s love and care when they are deeply wounded.
A biblical example of this happens when Mary, Lazarus’ sister, met Jesus in the road after her brother’s death. She cried out, “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother would not have died” – John 11:32. In her grief and pain, she felt abandoned by Jesus.
She did not question His ability to save lives; rather, she felt betrayed that He had allowed her to lose her precious brother.
The unspoken thought could have been, “Jesus, I am not sure that you love or care about me since you allowed this horrible thing to happen to me.”
Jesus’ response gives great insight on how we should handle our own questions and concerns about Him when tragedy strikes. Jesus did not condemn Mary for her question or even correct her.
Rather, the Bible said that He “groaned in His spirit,” felt troubled, and wept.
Although Jesus already knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead – in fact, that is why He had waited until after Lazarus had died to return – still Jesus was broken over her grief.
When tragedy happens to people, God is not an uncaring, absent God. Rather, He is omniscient and omnipresent, meaning that He is all-knowing and always present.
God, not only cares about your hurt and loss, but also He is hurting along with you. Psalm 56:8 talks about how He treasures each of our tear drops so much that He places them in a bottle to guard and keep. He promises comfort and even encourages hurting people to “hide in the shadows of His wings.”
Sometimes, the best way to regain closeness with the Lord is do as Jeremiah suggests in Lamentations 3. “When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions. Wait for hope to appear” (verses 28 and 29 in The Message).
Allow yourself to sit in His presence and receive His sweet ministry to your hurt. He is with you every second, and He longs to redeem your pain.
Michele Louviere, LMFT, serves as Clinical Director of Celebration Hope Center, a ministry of Healing Hearts for Community Development (HHCD). You can connect with Michele by visiting www.HealingHeartsNola.org.