HOPE in grief
Last night I wanted to paint my grief. I wanted to brush long, soaking wet strokes up and down my paper and drip deep, dark colors into the wash. I needed to place the thicket that was engulfing my heart onto something outside of my body. The thorns, the strangling vines...they just felt like too much. When we lose our parents, the very people who gave us life, it feels much like losing every childhood memory and every ounce of security they provided. It feels like everything we have ever known may just be a dream...like maybe it really didn’t happen. When it happens, there is no one left to validate reality in a way that is tangible and real. No matter how old we are, we always long to be a son or a daughter and to bask in the unconditional love they bring.
But today, after a very long night hearing things I didn’t want to hear, seeing things I didn’t want to see and experiencing the deep sorrow of death, His mercies are new. I can see through the thicket. Although I am struggling to see the beauty that God has told me is right inside the pain, I know it is coming. He longs to show me his kindness and his power and his gentle hand. He can’t wait to sit with me and lift the curtain that has been blocking my view and watch my eyes light up when I can see the truth. It is there. Even when we cant see it for ourselves, the truth is there--the truth that death holds like a secret whispered into the night...I can hear it...barely...but I can hear: Death, as real as it feels and as big and aweful and engulfing as it seems to be, has nothing on the promises of God. Death is smaller than HOPE. Death is smaller than Life. Death is smaller than joy. HOPE, life and joy win every time because of the grace of our Father in Heaven.
I have hope today because i know that God is changing me. I am excited about the pictures he will show me. He is patient with my heart but I know he longs for me to see the beauty of the redemption of this pain. He can’t wait for me to see all the places he sat in the hospital and all the people he spoke through. He can’t wait for the peace that will flood my heart as I see what he was doing as my dad took his last breath. And because he has done this for me once before, I know he will show me again. For what I have not seen, He will show me. And I am excited and expectant. It is coming. He was there. He was there in the kindness of strangers and in the opportunities he gave me to minister. He was there in our last communion as a family. He was there in the deepening of the calling on my heart for the hurting. He was there in the strength and love of my husband. He was there in the hearts and hands of my friends. He was there in the strengthening of the bonds of my family. He was there in the witness of HOPE to my children. He was there.
And now praise be to God for the life of an amazing man who taught me what it looks like to turn toward Jesus in deep pain. Praise be to God for the HOPE we have in him when life hurts. Praise be to God for the beauty that can only be found through pain. Praise be to God for being good and faithful and kind. And praise be to God for never, ever leaving our side, even when it is oh so dark.