…and living color.
Thank you to each one who contributed your thoughts in response to my questions about grief and mourning, in my last post.
I was asking many of those questions as I examined my own personality and how God speaks peace to me in the context of how I feel and think. I feel things intensely. To those looking on, it can seem like I am perpetually grieving something. But for me, honestly expressing and feeling grief as it comes (what feels like the byproduct of facing life in a fallen world, while continuing to trust a sovereign God and long for something more than what I see around me) has been the pathway to the greatest and richest joy.
It is feeling the weight of the sorrows and looking at my often sad surroundings with what feels like accurate sadness that has freed me up to see and delight in the little joys along the way and experience hope and anticipation, that what I tangibly see is not all there is. Grieving what is sad has allowed my eyes to clear enough to appreciate the joys in the pain, and to delight in hope and trust.
When I wrote those questions, the questions were real and came out of reflection on some sorrows and griefs in my own life and the lives of others. The thoughts prompting that part were from sorrows I still feel the residue of, but which are, to a great degree, past their intensity, and so I could talk about them, reflect on them, ask questions about the whole grief thing, in a way that was (for me) quite matter of fact.
Since writing those questions and reading each of the helpful contributions and responses, I have been slammed again with a great sorrow.
It is big enough and strong enough that the tears have not yet caught up with me, and while my mind is reeling with many implications of what has happened, my heart is still numb.
My mind and body are restless and exhausted. And I am longing for the relief of mourning to come, even while I’m afraid of being paralyzed by it.
In that place, I have just gone back and read some deeply reassuring verses from the book of Hebrews. I’m going to quote them out of order, and (of course, since I’m not going to quote entire chapters), out of context. You can go here to read the bigger context, or even the whole book, which is one of my favorites in the New Testament. The selections are from Hebrews 5:7-9 and Hebrews 4:13-16.
While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could deliver him out of death. And God heard his prayers [I always stop and ask, “huh?” at this point in the verse, because it’s so easy to assume my prayers have not been heard when the tears don’t change a thing, and God’s plan continues to unfold in the ways I was pleading with loud cry and tears that it wouldn’t. But God heard his prayers…] because of his reverence for God. So even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.
Nothing in all creation can hide from him. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes. This is the God to whom we must explain all that we have done.
That is why we have a great High Priest who has gone to heaven. Jesus the Son of God. Let us cling to him [oh, yes, how desperately I am clinging] and never stop trusting him [even with my doubts and questions, I find I cannot choose unbelief]. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it. [O Lord, once again, I stand here desperately in need of your grace.]
I am in need of some mourning to give expression to this most recent grief. In need of wisdom as I shepherd my own children through pain I’m uncertain how to navigate myself. In need of strength to be able to bear the exhaustion that comes from the grief and the expression of it.