Discovering the Divine in All Our Grief

Grace E. Kelley

Updated Feb 29, 2024
Discovering the Divine in All Our Grief

Your heartbreak doesn’t make you less Christian, it actually makes you more like Christ.

“Why is it

so hard 

to believe

that I will see them again?”(1) 

When yet another loved one has slipped beyond the veil, sometimes it can feel like a crisis of faith. Perhaps you know in your head that your loved one is in a better place—that they are face to face with Jesus at long last—but when the vacuum of their loss overwhelms you, it can be hard to feel like that belief is concrete enough to stand on. Perhaps you worry that the depth of your grief signifies some lack of faith on your part. Perhaps you’ve never dared to say the words out loud, but in your darkest moments you wonder—do I really believe in the resurrection? 

"The Shadowlands"

We are living in what C.S. Lewis called, “the shadowlands.” We are living where the sparrows still fall. We are living in a place that allows us to love, and yet that love so often causes us to ache. It’s so much to hold; this love, and this grief—the friendships lost to distance and time; the betrayals that have shattered what we once held as precious and beautiful; those lost to us through the doors of death; even loving our own dear children, those for whom we sacrifice body and breath, can leave us with scars not easily soothed. Here in this place, love is often followed closely by grief. That’s why I wrote my book as the Sparrow flies—because I have learned the power in naming what hurts and seeing in the eyes of another that I have never been alone with the pain of love—not for one moment.

I began my work in as the Sparrow flies because I had been burned by love one too many times, and I wasn’t sure if it was worth it anymore. I was tired of friendships turning false with time. I was exhausted of church leaders pretending to be one thing, while all the time they were something else entirely. I was so heartbroken for all those I had lost and the grief of everyone else who loved them too. And I wasn’t sure how to keep living as a sacrificial mother when the Jesus I had been taught about was so far from the maternal experience of my own life. I felt like my grief at the pain of life meant that I was inherently broken.

I kept asking myself, “If love hurts this much, is it worth it?” I began writing to find the answer. I wrote through my darkest despairs, my deepest griefs, my loneliest places—and what I found surprised me. There is a deep truth undergirding every ache of my life, and that is this:

“this is not 

the end—and also;

loving’s ache

and every break

find their solace

in the Divine 

embrace.” (2)

As I wrote my way through the sorrow, I found that Jesus knows all too well the kinds of pain that easily lead us to despair. I found in him the friend who wept at Lazarus’ tomb and the friend who was betrayed with a kiss on his cheek. Jesus knew what it was like to be separated by distance from his heavenly Father, by death from his earthly one, and like a mother, he gave of his own body and breath for us in ways that left him with scars. What comfort! 

If you are aching and grieving right now—I want to put an arm around your shoulder and weep with you. I want to sit with you awhile and tell you that it's okay to be angry, and sad, and wounded. It’s okay to doubt, and it’s okay to feel broken. It’s okay if you can’t slap a smile on your face when you go to church or when you see your friends. Loss sucks the air out of the room sometimes, doesn’t it? I know it well, my friend. But when the tears have cleared enough, I hope you’ll look into my eyes and see that you have never been alone in this. Not even for a moment. 

The Dowin-in-the-Dirt Jesus

This is no Christian platitude. This is not spiritual bypassing of your very real wounds. This is the down-in-the-dirt Jesus of manger birth, of the refugee existence, of the grieving Son. This is the Jesus misunderstood in his hometown and hated by those who claimed to worship God. This is the Jesus who was turned over to death by one of his best friends and who bled and died so that we might be restored—yet while we are here, we still ache, and it’s hard. We still ask ourselves, “Do I really believe in the resurrection?”

“Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. But even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31 (CSB)  

God cares about the sparrows, and he cares even more about you. So perhaps, as the sparrow flies, there is a route through all this pain and grief that comes with love. Perhaps there is a way I can imagine what it’s like beyond the veil, my loved ones drinking in the sights and sounds of restoration like overflowing goblets of wine. Perhaps there is a comfort for all my loneliness in the Jesus who sought God in the solitary places. Perhaps my hurt at being betrayed actually connects me with the Christ who himself was betrayed by a friend. Perhaps there is a way that my scars unify me to this carpenter King who loved me to the point of death. Perhaps I never needed to live with the shame of feeling broken by it all.

as the Sparrow flies

as the Sparrow flies book coverIf you feel broken by the world and all its aches—I wrote this book for you. This book is a kind hand on your shoulder and a friendly presence in the dark. It’s a companion for the journey through these shadowlands, supplying words for the ache that you have experienced but perhaps couldn’t quite name. And it is also a kind of evidence: a piece of proof that there is some kind of divine transmutation of all these aches into something incredibly holy and beautiful. 

Your heartbreak doesn’t make you less Christian, it actually makes you more like Christ. Jesus is with you in your sorrow. He sees you. He loves you. He always has, and he always will.

Perhaps as the sparrow flies, it is not so far a distance between us and all we have loved and lost. Perhaps, as the sparrow flies, resurrection and restoration are “just there—/on the other side.”

(1) “why is it” from Grace E. Kelley’s poetry collection as the Sparrow flies 
(2) a passage from “good company,” from Grace E. Kelley’s poetry collection as the Sparrow flies 

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Fred A

Grace E. Kelley headshotGrace E. Kelley is a follower of Jesus, a wife, and mother of five small children, including a set of twins. She writes poetry and stories—both fictional and non-fictional. (You can find her writing on Substack at She is also a farmer, a foodie, an unrepentant mug addict, and a deep believer that incredible beauty can come from the compost heap. As the Sparrow Flies is her debut poetry publication.