A Journey Through Grief: 3
A few months ago, my parents and I took the kids to The Columbus Zoo. It was early, and my mom and I were waiting in line at Duck Donuts. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder, I was peering up at the long list of hot drinks and debating on whether I should have an extra donut (or ten) or if I should go for the extra sugary drink. From the quiet, she broke my thought of a dozen donuts for myself, with the words, “My mom.” Silence overtook us, and I don’t think we broke our gaze at the menu ahead, and then she continued, “We brought her to Duck Donuts before your wedding…” our eyes met, and tears welled from deep within both of us. Right there, almost six years after my grandmother’s death, in the middle of a random donut shop, grief met us. That’s the thing with grief, just when you think you have it under wraps, it gurgles up from the pit of somewhere deep within you, and it overtakes you.
Grief is not something new nor is it something we can ever eliminate. The fact is that as we live, we lose people around us, at least temporarily. It’s hard to really wrap my head around the cycle, and if I dwell there, it sure does put my head in quite the mess. So when I think about these things, I try to dwell on higher things. As believers, we know that death has been defeated (2 Timothy 1:10). We’re also told over and over again to fear not, but our flesh is often weak and succumbs to fear/temptation (Mark 14:38).
Jesus’ best friends also struggled in these ways. They didn’t walk as Jesus did. They were average people, just like us. The disciples knew that Jesus was going to leave them. He told them in John 16:16, “A little while and you will no longer see Me; again a little while and you will see Me.” As Jesus prepared to be handed over to Roman guards, from the betrayal of one of His own, he wept and asked his friends to stay awake and pray, because the time was coming soon. However, they failed, multiple times, to do this. They continued to fall asleep, until it was too late, and Judas arrived with Roman guards to arrest Jesus. As they watched what was happening to Jesus, they scattered. Peter even denied Jesus three times while Jesus was in Roman custody. When he realized it, he “went outside and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26: 75).
Jesus’ best friends grieved their own behavior and actions towards their best friend, who died for them. We are just like them. We fail. We love wrong. We hurt people. We have good intentions, but fail to live up to them. Here’s the thing: Nothing we do or can do causes God to “take people away from us.” God doesn’t do that. He doesn’t punish us for actions, behaviors, sin, etc. in the name of death. Fleshly death is part of life, but as we put our faith in Jesus, we know that eternal life awaits us (John 3:16). It doesn’t take the pain away that losing someone brings, but it does offer hope. Hope that “we can fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). Hope of what’s to come. Hope of Jesus.
If you are doubting your faith, I would love to talk to you. There is a plan for your life, and there is purpose in your loss. God uses all things to work for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). As believers, we can trust in the goodness of our God, even in the midst of trial, heartache, loss, betrayal, and hardship. Friend, you are loved, and you are seen by the God of the universe. Lean into Him. Cry out to Him, and You will find yourself fixed on eternal things.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
“This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 2 Timothy 1:10 HCSB
“Stay awake and pray so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38
“And Peter remembered the words Jesus had spoken, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.” Matthew 26:75.
“So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:18 HCSB
“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 HCSB