Good Grief

I wonder if you know that sickening feeling when you answer the phone, and they say, “She’s gone.”

After nearly a year of harsh cancer treatments, my dear sister-in-law Linda went to be with the Lord last month.  She was only 59, recently retired and ready to share golden days of fishing and gardening with my brother.  Who can explain or understand such an unfair turn of life, so many adventures that didn’t happen, so much pain and suffering.  And for what?  I’ve had many questions for the Lord.

And I have been grieving.  

God promises to be near those who are brokenhearted and He saves the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).  I know His Words are true, because I have been brokenhearted for our loss.  Jesus has been a very real presence and a source of strength and hope for these days.

Another verse that brings comfort is Psalm 139:16.  The ancient psalmist reminds us that God saw our unformed substance and that He formed every day for us before even one of them came to be.

He formed our bodies when they were yet unseen.  He formed our days before they happened.  

He purposefully created me the way I am and gave me days that would correspond to me.  He loves me so much and is intricately involved in my creation and my life. 

The prophet Isaiah describes Messiah as “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows”.  Grief was His acquaintance.  My friend told me that for all her losses, Grief became her familiar friend.

We might say, “Well hello Grief, my old friend.  I see you’ve returned to visit your sadness upon me.  Do you bring any comfort?  Do you have any answers?  And how long will your visit last this time?”

Grief comes with the bitter salty tears and pain and regrets all packed into his rolley bag.  There’s a pocket for fresh tissues, and used up, soggy tissues.  There are pictures of our loved one wrapped up carefully in pretty paper.  There are rich, bulky memories stored in the biggest compartment of the bag.

Grief comes loudly, then sits quietly, then rages loudly again, then silent tears and then sobbing into a friend’s shoulder.  Grief comes to the funeral service, and we all gather to share our cups of grief together.  Grief follows us back to our empty quiet house and sits at the kitchen table with us.  And waits by the bed while we try to sleep, but instead toss and turn and soak our pillows.

Grief is right with us and helps us open the kind but sad cards of grieving family and friends, nodding with each remembrance and word of comfort.  Grief whispers, “this is bad, but you are not alone”.  Grief promises that better days are coming if we can only get through this one.  Grief says, “look up and see the hope in the heavens, just try…”

An interesting fact is that Grief weighs about the same as Love.  The more Love, the more Grief.  There is wonderful comfort in pondering the mystery of Love and Grief on the scales together…

Our Father God may not answer the questions that start with “Why?” but He is gracious and kind to stay with us while we ask and to hold us as we cry and to promise His healing to our broken hearts.  He will never leave or forsake us, but strangely runs to us especially when we are weak, hopeless, tired, bruised and beat up by the sorrows of life.  He will carry us and help us and strengthen us for the tasks and the days to come.  He turns our mourning into dancing.  Tears may last for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.  Grief may be a long-time guest in our hearts, but Grief is sharing that sacred space with Love.

And that’s the only good thing about Grief.

May the Lord bless you and keep you today, may the Lord’s smile brighten your day, may the Lord lift up His countenance on you and give you His peace that passes all understanding.




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