This past year, the loss of two people dear to me challenged my fortitude, faith, and feelings.
While they lived starkly different lives, each blessed mine immeasurably.
One gave her life away. The other took his life.
And my grief has been different as a result. My pain has been deep for Kayla’s loss, but hope mingled with the grief.
Losing my godfather has been a pain for which I was not prepared, his faith deconstructed for decades.
The message Sunday following his death was on the authority of Jesus (Matt.28:18), a truth I typically relish.
Normally, it gives me hope that all wrongs will be righted, justice will prevail and suffering will be recompensed.
He is not tame, but He is good (CS Lewis), and this truth gives me the greatest of comfort.
But this day, I sobbed; my grief overwhelming.
After the service, I ran into a dear friend. Seeing my distress, she held me and let me grieve. Her words comforted and soothed my raw soul. There were no trite or cliche responses:
“God knows best.”
“It was his time.”
“You need to move past this.”
While people mean well when attempting to console a grieving soul, these answers are sometimes more for their benefit and comfort than the bereaved.
In the West, many people are uncomfortable with strong emotions, particularly grief, and often desire to tame the emotional tension in the room instead of holding space for it.
But my friend, having lost her father recently with the same eternal unknowns, understood and simply stood with me as I grieved.
This has been uncharted grief territory for me. Having learned about grief after losing Kayla, it fell flat on my doubting heart and into a sea of questions.
Who wants to believe their loved one is eternally separated from God?
But God understands our doubts. Because He understands grief intimately. (Matt.27:46)
While Thomas disbelieved his friends who saw their risen Savior, Jesus did not condemn him but invited him to believe. “Touch me and see…” Luke 24:39.
When Zechariah doubted Gabriel’s message in the Temple, he remained speechless for 9 or so months, yet he was not denied the promise—a son in his old age. (Luke 1:5-25)
As my counselor wisely said, “We doubt because we have faith.”
Our doubt creates space for growth when we press in and seek God’s truth in answer to those doubts.
It’s when we allow the culture to shape our doubts, we become target practice for the enemy.
When we lean into the doubt and ask God for help, clarity and hope, along with seeking wise counsel, our faith is eventually bolstered, not blundered.
My friend’s counsel was soul-reviving that day. She reminded me we don’t know the circumstances surrounding someone’s final hours, and the power of God is mighty to save.
It’s also helped me to make my world a little smaller while grieving. Sitting on my patio, I soak in the beauty as the flowers bid me good morning while sipping coffee and sitting with my friend, Jesus.
On an evening walk under the crescent moon’s ambient glow, as the colors faded from soft blues to deeper hues, I tried to stay present, savoring the delights of nautical twilight. But my mind remained raw.
As the evening star made its debut, I heard a still, small voice. “I will never leave you. You will face trials and the darkness will be acute, but even in the dark night of the soul, I am with you.”
A peace filtered through my soul like the first spring rain filters into the dry, cracked landscape of winter; I knew I was experiencing the comfort of the Spirit.
Time doesn’t heal all wounds. Jesus does.
Are you struggling with a loss? A job perhaps, a marriage or wayward child, a friendship, your health, dreams unrealized, or financial stability?
Or maybe missed opportunities:
- Making the team
- Landing the job
- Securing the date
- Receiving the invitation
- Getting the call
- Acceptance in the group
Spend some time with Jesus this week processing your loss, be it small and seemingly insignificant or insurmountable. Ask Him what you feel you cannot. Share the loss with your trusted people.
Our Good Shepherd has made streams in deserts, opened blind eyes and resurrected dead bodies. He can and will carry us through our deepest pain and loss.