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?