But if I’m grieving, how can I remain joyful? A look at keeping our eyes on Jesus even when it hurts

“You just don’t understand what I’m feeling.”

This pain-filled response often accompanies times of grief. When our souls ache over loss and we don’t know how we’ll ever lift our eyes in joy again. Our friends impart encouraging words, and while we know they mean well, most words don’t help. At least not to the extent of taking away the pain.

While we desire our grieving to end quickly, the fact is, grieving is a part of living. It’s healthy. It’s cleansing. And while grieving is not fun, we can even remain joyful in the midst of our grief.

The meaning of joy

We’ve all heard how we need to go through the stages of grief in order to have a healthy outcome. But do any of those stages matter if we aren’t keeping our eyes on Jesus during this season of hurting?

There are countless Bible verses that talk about joy and contentment through all situations. But you might read those verses and think, “I just don’t get it. How can I possibly remain joyful and happy while I’m grieving?”

By realizing joy in all things does not mean you’ll always have the emotional response that brings laughter or smiles or happiness for your situation. You will certainly not always have the emotion of joy. But pursuing joy in all things means delighting in the Lord in all things.

When we delight in the Lord, we remember the hope we cling to in the Name of Jesus. We remember that one day our joy will be complete. And we remember that the joy we hope in now is but a taste of what we will experience in Christ. So we remain joyful despite our sorrows.  

Following the example

The abstract articles and sermons are all well and good, but do you ever get frustrated trying to live out this joy? How do we put into practice the idea of finding hope in God and delighting in Him?

Thankfully, we have the perfect example to look to when we find ourselves overwhelmed with grief. Our God took on not only human flesh, but human emotions. And He did it all without sinning. Looking to Jesus should be our first step when learning how to remain joyful.

Jesus went to be alone

There’s no question that Jesus grieved during His time on earth. He grieved over the hardness of hearts He saw among the people. He grieved over His approaching death. And He grieved over the loss of loved ones.

One of the most consistent ways Jesus delighted in the Father during His times of grieving was through prayer. Prayer and taking time alone with God.

How simple yet powerful is this example! If our joy comes from God, it only makes sense to take time alone with Him. If we ask in earnest for God to renew our hope and strength, joy will quickly follow. Maybe not the joy that means laughter and a light spirit, but the joy that settles deep within our souls, reminding us to embrace our sorrow and embrace the One who will carry us through it all.

Jesus ministered to others

Jesus’ example of grief doesn’t end with Him going off to be alone. He starts His times of grief by going to His Father first, but He doesn’t shut out others or stop His routine.

When He heard His cousin, John the Baptist, had been murdered, Jesus withdrew to be alone. But the crowds found out His location and came to Him nonetheless. And Jesus ministered to them. In the midst of His grief and desire to be alone, He had compassion on the people.

May we follow this example and not bury ourselves in our grief. May we still have eyes to see the needs around us and the opportunities to help others. May we also lean on others for support during our times of grief.

Thinking we can get through periods of grief on our own will cause frustration for our loved ones and loneliness in our hearts. Let’s not play the victim. Let’s not give into self-pity. We can remain joyful while grieving by ministering to others and using our own stories to encourage and uplift those in need.   

Jesus trusted the Father

Imagine if Jesus had knelt to pray in the garden and said, “Father, this isn’t fair. Do you understand what I’m going through here? This shouldn’t happen, and I don’t know if I trust You anymore.”

It’s laughable to even entertain the idea that Jesus would talk to God the Father this way. Yet we talk or pray like that quite often when grieving.

Jesus’ example of trusting His Father in all circumstances, even when death was staring Him in the face, should spark our desire to do the same. What better way to delight in God than by trusting Him?

While Jesus did ask God to “take this cup” from Him, He submitted to the Father’s will. He had joy and delighted in God. This certainly wasn’t a laughter-filled joy or even a joy bringing excitement. It was a joy that filled Jesus with the hope of His resurrection. The hope of the glory that was to come.


As we search for ways to remain joyful in the midst of our grief, may we look to the perfect example of Jesus. Our Holy God understands exactly what we’re feeling. He has felt it all. Loss. Rejection. Pain. Abandonment. Yes, He has felt it all. And He did not sin.

Let this be an encouragement to you today as you seek joy, whatever your situation. May you remember joy isn’t necessarily a feeling of happiness about your situation, but rather a delight and hope in God.

Let’s Talk About It: How do you remain joyful in the midst of grief?




24 Replies to “But if I’m grieving, how can I remain joyful? A look at keeping our eyes on Jesus even when it hurts”

  1. “In the midst of His grief and desire to be alone, He had compassion on the people.” This! I absolutely need to take on this example. In my sadness, I want to be alone. I love how you ended. Ultimate joy isn’t an outward action, it’s a trust and hope in God. I trust God is using this situation or pain for His glory and purpose. When I had it over, I receive rest.

    1. I need to take on this example, too! I don’t like surrounding myself with too many people, because I don’t want to appear weak. Crazy, right? I just love that we have the example of Jesus in the midst of grief. That in and of itself brings peace and joy, knowing He went through heartache, too.

  2. I’m thankful, everyday, that I serve a God that has experienced everything I’ve suffered and more. He is no hypocritical God. He’s been there and He is showing me the way out.

    1. Yes, I love clinging to the truth that God knows and understands what I’m going through, not just because He’s all-knowing, but because He’s actually experienced these human emotions.

    1. Thanks, Sarah! I’ve often struggled with wondering why I don’t have that “happy” emotion, but then I realized joy isn’t like that all the time. It’s delighting in God, and He gives us a peace and a joy we could never find on our own. I’m so encouraged that you enjoyed reading! 🙂

  3. I remain joyful by clinging to what Scripture tells me. This season of pain won’t be in vain but will produce something greater than I can imagine. I trust in the faithfulness of God.

  4. YES! I had a long and dark season, thinking that God abandoned me despite all the sermons and words thrown at me speaking otherwise. The problem wasn’t abandonment, it was lack of joy. When I God finally pulled me up and out of my pit, the joy poured in, even as I struggled. Thank you.

  5. I routinely experience the grief of my client’s trauma. It’s important for me to give that pain and loss over to God. I find I also have to actively seek out joy. Purposefully and intentionally look for positives and blessings in my life.

    1. That must be really hard to handle all those emotions and situations from clients on top of the things you go through yourself. I love that you said you actively seek out joy. We can’t just expect it if we’re not doing our part in seeking God.

  6. I long to be quiet before the Lord and let Him be God, but usually my initial response is not pretty. God is so good! Grieving is tough! We all respond to it in such different ways.

    1. I think if we’re honest, all of our initial responses aren’t pretty! But yes, praise God He is good even when we don’t seek Him the way we should. Thanks for reading. 🙂

  7. I love that you pointed out that joy in trials isn’t a laughing, happy kind of joy at least in the moment. As one who has walked through grief of a sick child, I have heard “count it all joy” quoted so many times, yet I know they meant well. You see the joy that comes with trials, is a joy and peace knowing that God wouldn’t leave us or forsake us, that he was with us each step, and the peace that He provided in the moments that I now recall I wouldn’t have been able to stand. Thank you for your heart to share this!

    1. I’m so glad you were encouraged, Lindsey! Yes, people definitely mean well, but it can be hard to understand when you’re actually going through grief. I’m so thankful God gives us joy and peace in the midst of heartache!

  8. In the midst of grief I have had peace, hope, and joy. All because of Christ and knowing what He did for me and for my son. He died for our sin, and not only ours but for those of the whole world.

    Losing a son is the most painful thing I have experienced. Yet, because I had studied God’s Word, I knew truth. And I knew I could trust God through my pain.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing, Kathleen. Your testimony of God’s faithfulness is so encouraging! I’m so sorry for your loss, and I’m thankful God provided you with that peace, hope and joy.

    1. I love that! People can often allow grief to define them, but your response is wonderful – it shows that grief is not who you are in this stage, but something you’re experiencing.

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