I remember being 12 years old and hearing the pastor share Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 during my granddaddy’s funeral service:
To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, And a time to heal;
A time to break down, And a time to build up;
A time to weep, And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
At that age and for many years after, this scripture did not provide much comfort. However, since reclaiming my relationship with the Lord, this and many other scriptures reveal God’s grace and guidance through grief, especially since the loss of my mother and grandmother in the last five years.
Grief is a unique experience for each of us, but it is always a time of significant change. Many are familiar with the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Whether we are just starting our journey or are right in the middle of it, God’s truth reminds us that we will make it through to the end: that He understands what we are going through and will help us overcome like it is shared in John 16:22 “So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”
Bishop Ray Boggs and his wife, Alison, are special examples of what God can do through grief. Each lost their spouse: Ray’s wife, Karen, lived her life for the Lord without fear, and Allison’s husband, Jim, loved being a husband and father to their five children. Both went to be with the Lord in 2015 within a month of each other: Karen from complications with pulmonary hypertension and Jim from Stage IV cancer.
Ray and Alison trusted God throughout, but this can be hard for many to practice. We believe in God’s healing and modern medicine, and sometimes there can be internal conflict when trying to reconcile the death of a loved one: could more have been done? Bishop Ray Boggs encourages those going through grief to trust God: “God is incapable of making a mistake. He cannot. Whatever He does, He does because of His nature of being good… Even if we’re not faithful, He remains faithful [and] you cannot lose your trust in the Lord. Pray until the end” (5:19-5:40).
Ray also reminds us that it is okay to ask God “why”: Why did they have to die? Why didn’t God heal them? Why do I have to go through this? This is when it is so important to go to God’s word: to read the Bible and hear the guidance God has for you. His grace can overwhelm grief, and when God lifted Ray’s burden, within 24 hours, he met Alison for the first time.
Alison was the first to truly understand what Ray was going through. Losing a spouse, child, parent, sibling, or friend is a distinct experience, and until it happens, “I’m sorry for your loss” does not hold the same weight as it does when someone else has gone through the same. After their initial meeting, God showed Alison in a dream how her and Ray’s journey would begin: a simple phone call.
Alison answered, and she and Ray began their relationship exactly one year after Ray’s wife’s death, and on April 2, 2017, they were married.
The Boggs’ story is a wonderful example of the hope and healing that can be found through grief. Ray reminds us too that, “You cannot bypass grief. If you don’t meet it now, you’ll meet it somewhere down the road. And the best thing to do is hit it head on” (8:20-8:28).
We hope that their story inspires you through your grief journey. We also encourage anyone who is struggling with grief to utilize all resources, especially God’s word, to overcome.