By Matt Bruns

Matt Bruns has served in ministry for over 15 years as an Associate, Campus, and Family Pastor. He resides in Bluffton, SC with his wife, Amanda, and their three daughters. Currently, Matt is seeking the Lord’s call in the Land of the In-between while seeking to be an encouragement to the disengaged and disenfranchised.

    7 Verses of Strength Through Seasons of Trial, Tragedy, and Loss

    Wednesday, July 10, 2024

    Our Journey Through Grief and Loss

    Recently, my family and I have walked through one of the heaviest seasons of grief and loss we have ever experienced. Beginning in January 2024, our Multisite Campus Congregation was regathered into our sending church. We had spent the last two years preparing, training, serving, and launching this new work in our local community, and in the blink of an eye, it no longer existed. This was no fault of our own, but due to circumstances beyond our control, the Lord saw fit for this work to come to an end.

    Circumstances continued to be difficult for us, as it soon became clear that we would not be able to remain on staff. What do you do with a campus pastor who has no campus? We now find ourselves facing all the fear, pain, and grief that comes when the path forward takes a sudden turn you were not expecting.

    In March, I began the severance period in my transition from my former ministry position, choosing to trust the Lord with our future because I believe He is faithful. God has provided over and over again for my family in times of crisis, such as automobile accidents, emergency medical situations, and when mental health issues became too great a burden to bear. He has delivered us before, and I believe He will do so again.

    Within a week of beginning severance, my mother-in-law, who was fighting Parkinson’s with dementia, passed away unexpectedly on Easter morning. We were devastated, as it felt like a pile of grief upon grief was being loaded upon us. By mid-April, we had buried a loved one, lost both of our jobs, lost the congregation we so dearly loved, and were facing the unknown head-on. From the outside, no one would blame us if we chose to just crawl into a hole and succumb to the dark.

    Finding Strength in Scripture

    It’s in these moments that the Word of God can become a powerful ally for maintaining faith in a hopeless situation. Honestly, there have been times when I have thought, “Have I made a mistake in following this call into ministry?” It has been a struggle to maintain the hope that I have in Jesus.

    Here are 7 verses that have brought me comfort, strength, or perspective in light of the difficulties I have walked through in the last six months:

    1. Hebrews 5:7-9

    “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,” Hebrews 5:7-9 (ESV)

    In times of turmoil, our eyes find it easy to leave our Savior Jesus and fixate upon ourselves and our circumstances. At a time when I was desperate for God to speak and let me know that He sees my situation, He spoke through Hebrews 5:7-9. Jesus knows what it’s like to cry out to the Father in desperation, to suffer without relief, and to receive what was planned for Him all along. There is no greater example of faithfulness in suffering than Jesus, our suffering servant, who became the Savior of all through His suffering.

    2. Psalm 109:30-31

    “With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord; I will praise him in the midst of the throng. For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save him from those who condemn his soul to death.” Psalm 109:30-31 (ESV)

    In our times of difficulty, suffering, and loss, we can find comfort in the words of the Psalms. These songs were written through pain and trouble, and yet the comfort is found in their persistent reminder that the Lord stands with the needy and is able to save.

    3. Joshua 5:10-12

    “While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho. And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.” Joshua 5:10-12 (ESV)

    When you’ve lost the work that you have done for a long time, it’s easy to desire to take matters into your own hands. But here in the book of Joshua stands a reminder that God’s provision changes, but never runs out. While in the wilderness, there was manna. Now, in the Promised Land, there is the produce of that land. Regardless of where we are, we serve a God who is faithful to provide our every need. Remember His provision in the past, as He will surely provide for the future.

    4. Psalm 13:1-2

    “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” Psalm 13:1-2 (ESV)

    Here is the difficult question, “How long will you forget me?” In our modern culture, it feels like sin to even have the thought. Psalm 13 is a reminder that no matter how we feel, our God can handle our feelings. When we seek answers, who is there better to field our questions than our Heavenly Father?

    Embracing God’s Promises

    5. Deuteronomy 29:29

    “God, our God, will take care of the hidden things but the revealed things are our business. It’s up to us and our children to attend to all the terms in this Revelation.” Deuteronomy 29:29 (MESSAGE)

    In our trials, there really is only one thing we can do, and that is to do what we can do. It’s easy to think we have missed out on what God wants from us and therefore have an uncertain future, but according to Jesus, we aren’t to worry about tomorrow but handle what we have for today. In the same way, the only end of the deal that a minister of the Gospel can uphold is what the Lord has made plain to him. Serve faithfully as you can when you can until the Lord reveals His next assignment.

    6. Matthew 7:11

    “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11 (ESV)

    Our Father in Heaven loves us! In the moments of grief in our losses, the enemy will do everything in his power to sow distrust in the love of God. Jesus’s words here have become a sort of mantra to repeat over and over again. God gives good gifts and will give us what we seek when we are faithful to ask in accordance with His will.

    7. Romans 8:15

    “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” Romans 8:15 (ESV)

    What I have fought to maintain, in all of the trials that my family and I have faced, is my identity in Christ as a son of God. Fear seeks to be a friend to me, to keep me a prisoner enslaved to people-pleasing, as every hypothetical scenario plays out in my mind of what could have been done differently so that we might not face what we are facing today. But that is not the Spirit I have received through Jesus. We are His sons, and we can cry out to Him for comfort, for peace, in pain, and in praise. When the storms of life pour torrentially upon us, it is the deep roots of our identity in Christ that will hold us secure.

    Encouragement for Fellow Pastors

    While my circumstances may be unique to me and my family, I know that they are not unfamiliar to my brothers who have followed the call of pastoral ministry. It can be an isolating and difficult calling to walk in. For good reason, not every follower of Christ is able to walk the path that God has called us upon, and neither are we able to do so without strength through the Word and Holy Spirit. My hope is that we all will see His faithfulness, will maintain integrity of heart, and remain steadfast to that call.

    Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (ESV)

    Help us continue providing resources of care for pastors and their families.

    Pin It on Pinterest