A Journey Through Grief: 2
Grief is a normal thing for us to feel. Contrary to what some people believe, it’s not a five-step, set in stone process. Rather it’s a fluid process that ebbs and flows from one stage to the next and back. To be honest, I’m not sure if it ever completely leaves, though I am sure that it does evolve. Also contrary to what some people believe, grief isn’t just about losing a person who died. We can grieve a myriad of things: relationships, marriages, things that have or haven’t happened to us, and missed/failed opportunities.
It doesn’t matter where you are in your grief process or whether it’s fresh or distant; there’s always piles you can dig through and healing to be had. I’m inviting you on this journey with me to help you process some of that grief and to help welcome purpose from it. It’s a process that encourages vulnerability and will hopefully help yield healing.
When we lost Carson, my world went spiraling out of control, and for someone who likes control, it was hard for me to grasp exactly what was happening. We had planned to bring a baby home from the hospital, and instead of a baby, we brought home an empty carseat in the back of our CR-V. We had planned to spend time in the nursery, doting on a newborn baby while changing dirty diapers, and instead I shut our nursery door and didn’t open it again for months. I imagined celebrating all of the holidays with a tiny human, and instead as each holiday flew in and out, I was slapped with the reality that the life I had dreamed of was all a big fat lie. If you can relate in any form, you are not alone. Death and loss rob us of peace Earthside, and instead offer heartache, sadness, and disappointment, among many other emotions. I’m not quite sure that angry would be a word I would personally use to describe how I felt after Carson died, but sadness and disbelief permeated every aspect of my life.
How could this happen to me? Why did this happen to me? Did I deserve this? How am I supposed to carry on? What did I do to cause this? I should have acted sooner. I should have known. I should have told him I loved him more and that he was welcomed. Guilt also permeated every crevice of my life. There were days when I had no words, and I am sure, even though I didn’t ask, the Holy Spirit took over in grumbling and groaning through for me (Romans 8:26).
We know that Jesus was perfect in every way (Hebrews 4:15). He knew His purpose, and He knew what was going to happen. He asked God to take the cup of suffering away from Him, so He wouldn’t have to endure what was about to happen to Him (Luke 22:42). In fact, he was so nervous, scared, and stressed about what was going to happen to His physical body that His sweat droplets were blood (Luke 22:44). If God had answered yes, and let Jesus carry on with His life, His purpose would have never been fulfilled (2 Timothy 1:9). If God had answered yes, it would have been a just answer. BUT He didn’t answer yes. Why? Because it needed to happen to change the relationship between God and man (Romans 10:4). He broke His own heart out of love for us.
How does this translate to us and our grief? When we experience a trial or face grief head on, He is doing a work in us. He takes our shattered pieces, and He makes them new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Not new and shiny, but new and fully and wholly reliant on him. New and beautiful because our stories become testimonies that will be and are used to help build the kingdom of God.
Anger and sadness are the two most common emotions that follow in the wake of loss. These are God-given emotions and deserve to be felt and experienced, but we cannot dwell in them. We must dwell in the Most High, and seek to find purpose to keep living. Purpose reshapes us, defines us, and allows us to push for goals bigger than ourselves. What is bigger than ourselves? God. His Kingdom. Jesus reigning at the right hand. Life. And life abundantly (John 10:10). And though we may never get the answers we want or see firsthand the why on this side of the veil, we know that all things work for the good of those who love God (Romans 8:28), and that trials produce endurance and endurance gives us wisdom and makes us complete (James 1:3-4).
I didn’t ask for endurance through death. I thought losing my debit card or dealing with a difficult person offered enough trial to produce endurance. But, here I am five years later, and I can see now that there are still pieces of my heart that are rusty and need to be refined. I can see that my endurance, though it has grown stronger, is still weak. In five years, I’ve added to my grief in losing other loved ones, which also feels all too soon. But through each crashing wave of grief, I see even more clearly my need for Jesus' red blood washed over me. I see more clearly that His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). I can see how He has reshaped my heart and grown me from the brokenness of grief. And during my darkest times, I can see where He’s pursued me. I can see where He’s washed my feet over and over again. I can see where He’s carried me and sustained me. And I can see His perfect Love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). However, most of all, He’s shown me that without Him, I am weak and that in my weakness, He’s made strong (2 Corinthians 12:9).
What emotions are you feeling the strongest?
Are you dwelling in those? If so, how can you shift your dwelling place to focus on God?
Write a list of disappointments that have stemmed from your grief.
How can you see Jesus in your grief?
What can you do tomorrow to see God’s strength in your weakness?
“In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings.” Romans 8:26
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15
“Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me – nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42
“Being in anguish, He prayed more fervently, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Luke 22:44
“He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” 2 Timothy 1: 9
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Romans 10:4
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
“A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” John 10:10
“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
“Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:3-4
“They [His mercies] are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!” Lamentations 3:23
“Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
Lord, We come before, and we lay our grief, our sadness, our depression, our anger, our confusion at Your feet. What we can’t lay down, Father, we ask that You would lighten for us. As we close our eyes tonight, show us that Your mercies are new every morning. Show us that You see us, that You are carrying us close to Your heart, and that You are grieving with us.
As we take steps towards healing and finding purpose in You for our losses, please guide us, lead us, and walk with us each and every step of the way. Tonight, we are thinking of those who have gone before us. We are remembering what it was like to have them here with us, and we are so sad. We want to move forward, but we also don’t want to forget, so we ask that You imprint happy memories upon our hearts that shine through in our darkest moments of grief. Father, we love You. We trust You, and we need You.
In Your Loving and Gracious Name, Amen.