By Jennifer Daniels
Regardless of how positive you are, the loss of a loved one can turn your world upside-down, making it difficult to feel the love and support of family members and fellow worshippers from church. The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, which lists down different life events, shows that losing a spouse is the most stressful of all – both personally and economically. Ironically, it is when we are at our weakest that God’s strength can shine through us. Faith can move mountains, but can it lift us up when we are at our lowest point?
The Lord is Our Shepherd
Our belief in God enables us to feel accompanied at all times. As Psalm 23 states, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…” Knowing that the goodness and mercy of God is with us at all times reminds us that our life is a gift and that there is so much more we can give, but also plenty to receive. Although our life companion may have gone, we know that we can weather the challenges that lie ahead, be it having to make new financial arrangements, make a larger circle of friends, or find a new job. We need never have to worry about our health and wellbeing when we are accompanied by our faith.
A Sense of Companionship
We can alleviate or pain in another important way: by seeking support from our community of worship. Studies have shown that of all the community activities that exist in the world, religious worship is the only one associated with sustained happiness. Being an active part of a religious community essentially widens our sense of ‘family’. There is always someone who will open their home to us for a meal, listen to us when we feel we are at our lowest point, and do their best to cheer us up. When we embrace our religion and spirituality, we begin to feel like we are part of something larger than ourselves, but we also feel more connected to the rest of humanity. We see how others suffer, but also find inspiration in their resilience.
Prayer as a Meditative Act
Genuine faith should bear fruit; that is, it should elevate us and thus affect the way we think, feel, and behave. Regular Christian practices include prayer and meditation – both of which can help us reduce stress levels and make healthy choices for our lives such as preparing nutritious meals and exercising daily to boost our physical and mental health even though we are grieving. A study published by University of Utah Health Sciences showed that prayer and other spiritual experiences activate the brain’s reward circuits, thus enabling us to feel more positive.
Faith is a constant in the Christian life, and when we are in mourning, it can be a pillar we lean upon at moments when it can be hardest to find meaning and purpose from our lives. Be active in your community, attending church, getting to know others and being there for them when they face big losses in life. Doing so will make you feel like part of a tightly-knit community, but it will also inspire you to stay positive and strong, knowing that God will be by your side even in the most trying times.