It has been a difficult month. From Barbuda to Las Vegas and far beyond in every direction, natural and man-made disasters are overwhelming us. The sharp knife of death and destruction is cutting deeply, leaving many if not most, stressed, depressed, anxious and numb. We are weary and looking for a time-out, a few moments of rest and peace.
This week I decided to re-post a blog I wrote in June of 2016 on grief. I hope it will give you a few moments of peace in the midst of the chaos.
When we are coasting along a smooth, straight road and the sun is shining, it is so easy to say, “Praise God!” We thank Him and we trust and love Him for all the good things in our life. But what happens when dark clouds roll in bringing job layoffs, a cancer diagnosis, a divorce, the death of a loved one or the worse loss of all, the death of a child? In the chaos, confusion, and pain, we feel God is absent and we cry out, “Are you there, God? Do you see what just happened? Why have you forsaken me? Why? Why? Why?” We are tormented by questions. Hopelessness and helplessness bite deeply.
When the searing pain of senseless loss envelops us, God is not absent. He is weeping with us and He has an ear to our heart. In 1 Samuel, when David and his men return home to find their city burned to the ground and their wives and children taken captive, they “wept, until they had no more strength to weep.” (1 Sam 30:4) And then, rather than despairing, David turned to God in faith, trust and prayer, and God comforted him and strengthened him.
We cannot deny grief and pain, and crying out to God when we feel alone and lost is not a lack of faith, but an act of faith and exactly what we should do. If we try to handle our grief on our own, we separate ourselves from the only One who can really help us. But when we turn to the Lord in our brokenness, He holds us close. In the dark night of our soul when our life feels so empty and God seems so far away, He is actually closest to us, in us, doing His very best work in healing our broken hearts.
In my experience, feelings of grief can blind us, and in the middle of the storm, God can be hidden from us. But He is a faithful, loving Father and never abandons us. He keeps the flickering flame of hope deep inside our heart alive through the comfort of the Holy Spirit within us. He places people in our life who love us, care for us, pray for us and support us. First responders, hospital staff, counselors, family, friends and those we come in contact with in the activities of daily life – these are all blessings. He creates circumstances that lift us up and encourage us. More blessings. Like the prophetic encouragement of the psychologist in the burn unit who said to me, “you will go on to build a new branch on the tree of life.” That phrase of comfort and hope was etched into my heart forever.
Little miracles are occurring in our life all the time. Often we are unaware that it is God’s hand holding us up. In Exodus 33:22-23, after Moses pleads with God to show Himself, God says to Moses, “When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back.” His loving arms have us protected in a hug so close to His heart that we don’t see Him. It is only in time, often years before we are able to look back and see the miraculous work of God, and realize that when we were drowning in grief, He was the rock we stood upon. “…Blessed are those who believe without seeing.” (John 20:29) There were many long and painful days before I was finally able to “see His back” and recognize the power of that love in my life. I am so grateful for the gift of faith that allowed me to believe without seeing during that difficult time. I pray that blessing for all of us today.