This is the Day

exploring the soul's quest for joy

Month: March 2017

Questions of Grief

 

Grief saunters in, uninvited, turning the warmth of summer’s heat cold with winter’s frost. Grief is the unwelcome companion of the death of a loved one.

 

Or the death of a friendship.

 

Or the death of a wish-dream.

 

Grief is stealthy, coming by night in the shadows, catching you off guard. It has a way of cracking wide open what has long remained hidden away, shrouded in armor, impenetrable.

 

Sometimes the loss itself is not the source of the greatest pain, but rather, what Grief allows to be dredged up from the depths of the spirit. It dredges up questions. Questions we would rather not face.

 

What will you do now that you have suffered this loss?

 

What is the meaning of Life?

 

What is the meaning of your one life?

 

These are good questions, all. The essential questions to ponder in a life worth living. But when they bubble up in our times of grief, we can have a tendency to approach them from a spirit of despair rather than a spirit of hope. The questions themselves seem to emerge from the dark shadows. Like the serpent’s whispers to Eve, Grief hisses question after round of questions at us.

 

Our enemy would have us lean into his whispers, giving into doubt and despair, twisting the good questions into sinister ones.

 

Does God really want the best for you?

 

Will God really provide for your every need?

 

Does God really love you?

 

There is a voice that shouts that because of death all is lost. That because of loss, all is hopeless. But there is another voice that declares, “Behold I make all things new!”

 

Even in the death that causes Grief to speak these questions, faith stands firmly on the side of life. Even in death, there is always the opportunity for new life. Even in great loss, God’s promise to provide for us stands firm. Even in despair, the words of scripture that promise that God is for us are unshakable.

 

The invitation woven throughout scripture’s delicate unfolding of the nature of God, is the challenge to live by faith. Even in the midst of loss and death and decay. The invitation is to turn from despair, believing that the answers to all of these hard questions are yes and amen.

 

The great epic of God’s revelation to man draws near its close with a well-known chapter on faith. In it we read of those who chose to live by faith, despite uncertainty, loss, death, and decay.

 

By faith, Abel…By faith, Enoch…By faith, Noah…By faith, Abraham…By faith, Sarah…By faith, Isaac…By faith, Jacob…By faith, Joseph…By faith, Moses’ parents…By faith, Moses…By faith, Rahab…

 

Do I have the courage and the faith to add my name to that illustrious group of forebears of the faith? Will I today, amidst all the longings of my heart, the pain of loss, and the unanswered questions, will I respond in faith, believing in the God who does all things well?

 

It is right, and good, that Grief demands answers to his questions. Our challenge is to know the voice of the one who asks us these questions. Is it the hissing whisper of the enemy or the gentle and loving voice of God who always beckons us to draw near?

 

 

 

Peace in These Days

My last post began with these words, Last week I buried my beloved father. Today begins as an echo from the depths of a heartbroken daughter,

 

Last week I buried my beloved mother.

 

Exactly one month separated my father’s departure into Glory from my mother’s.

 

Too much death. Too much sorrow. Too many tears shed.

 

Understandably, I feel a bit adrift. Unanchored. Too old and too surrounded by loving family to feel orphaned. But somehow changed.

 

Forever changed.

 

I was still riding the swell of grief from my father’s passing. Trying to hold on and catch my breath as the great waves tossed me about. I make sense of the nurse’s words, you better come today, and realize that yet another wave is rising. It is gathering strength too quickly. There will be no turning back to shore. The wave crests and takes me under.

 

And I am undone all over again.

 

There is a great heaving of the spirit when you lose one you hold so dear. Incredulous, the spirit refuses to accept what the eye beholds. There is a grief that rises up from places unknown, deep within the recesses of the human spirit.

 

There is an emptiness, an aloneness that comes with the unmooring. It cries out for attention, threatening to be your constant companion throughout all the days of your mourning.

 

I think this is the picture of mourning with which we are most familiar. The desperate sense of aloneness. The sudden flow of tears. The piercing shards of a broken heart that resist any chance of being reassembled.

 

And the fear that it will always be thus.

 

Oh how the enemy of our soul wants us to stay locked in the pit of grief. Swallowed up in the finality of what was lost.

 

 

But what if my experience of grief can better be described as surprising peace than constant tears? Doesn’t it somehow feel disrespectful to move from anguish to peace in a matter of days? None of us needs permission to grieve. Unwelcomed, grief just comes as that great heaving of the spirit. But sometimes we feel we need permission to allow grief to move from the place of tears to the place of peace.

 

There is a sense that grief can be measured. That we can predict the dimension of its depth and calculate its length by marking time. That we ought to know what it should look like, and that anything else is not authentic. Perhaps the great enemy of God likes it this way.

 

But the unmooring is not the only legacy my beloved parents left their grieving daughter. They also left a legacy of hope. A hope that is strong enough to turn my grieving into rejoicing.

 

My parents were convinced that the shaking off of these earthly bodies meant the welcoming of an eternal body through which they would continue to offer praise and worship to their holy God. And because of that, I can rejoice that my parents are fully alive now with God. I can rejoice that they have been made new. I can rejoice that their suffering is over. I can rejoice that I will see them again. If this is their story, if this is their anthem, then my grief loses its weightiness. Grief loses its hold over me.

 

Their hope is my peace.

 

My house will resemble a flower shop for a little while longer. Gifts from dear friends sharing in my grief. But these beautiful gifts of the earth are no longer reminders to me of what the earth has swallowed up but are reminders of the new life my parents are now enjoying to the full.

 

 

 

 

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