Isaiah 41:10…. fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
In the days and months, even years, following the loss of a loved one, there are times where nothing seems to offer us a full sense of comfort.
Did you see what I just said there? I said FULL.
* Sometimes our words help, sometimes they don’t.
* Sometimes our prayers help, sometimes they seem disconnected.
* Sometimes reminiscing about good times or memories helps, sometimes it makes things worse.
* Sometimes sharing and reading scripture helps, sometimes the pages are a blur.
* Sometimes just having a listening ear helps, sometimes we want advice, mutual sharing, or something back.
* Sometimes being with family and friends helps, other times it’s a distraction or irritant.
* Sometimes being alone helps, and sometimes it makes us feel lost and more confused.
The list goes on and on, and it changes moment by moment. What “helps” one minute, may actually make one angry the next, more sad or lost-feeling, and an array of roller coaster-like emotions, behaviors, thoughts and feelings becomes the new normal.
The new normal is there is not much predictability at all – then add in the fact that there are multiple people grieving in multiple different ways, and you have a complicated octopus of roller coasters to contend with.
As I contemplate this tonight after realizing it has not even been yet a full week since my dear brother in law, Dave passed away, I realized something so comforting and helpful (to me, at least).
Here it is….
Only God can offer us the “fullness’ of pretty much anything of value in life – and this includes comfort for our weary and grief-stricken souls in times of loss.
* God offers the fullness of peace…even when our “feelings” don’t seem to match up with that.
* God offers us the fullness of joy…in the face of even the most tragic of circumstances.
* God offers us the fullness of love, wisdom, understanding, in the midst of numbness, indecision, or confusion.
* God offers us the fullness of comfort, care and concern, when we feel uprooted, forgotten, or discarded.
And most of all…God offers us the fullness of Himself – (as much as we can handle) if we continue to seek after Him as our main source of comfort, love, joy, peace, or anything else for that matter.
Isn’t that what our “regular normal” should be all the time anyway? Isn’t that how God wants it to be, regardless of our sense of things in life? Sometimes I truly believe that it is only in the times that seem “abnormal” here in this life, that we actually come closer to the “normal” that He has in store for us when we will one day be able to be in His presence in the fullest of ways. Our brains or hearts, bodies, or minds can’t handle that right now, which is why He gives us seasons of respite, if you ask me. But these sufferings we endure do serve, if we allow them to, to remind us that God truly can draw us closer to Him through them.
Part of the way that the Lord ministers to us in times of grief is definitely made up of the things I noted in the first list in this post. Other people, family, friends, pastoral counsel, time in the scriptures, prayer, support, working through feelings, sorting things out, remembering the good, the not-so-good, and learning from it all or celebrating it ~ all of these things are ways the Lord can speak to us and console us.
But no matter what we do, using our time of grief to become closer to the Lord is most important. Finding ways to glorify Him through it all is not as hard as we make it out to be. No matter what situation we are in, or what emotions we may be experiencing, we can choose to glorify God. And He can heal us.
We don’t have to be perfect about it. We don’t have to even do so without making mistakes. But if our heart is truly in it all to come through the grief, not only for ourselves, but to enrich others lives, and ultimately, to give all the glory to God, I truly believe He helps us do so and heals us in ways that would not happen otherwise.
Just like with anything else in life that you consider to be a trial, tragedy, bad situation or lame circumstance to contend with, if you are struggling for comfort today, remember to seek the face of Jesus. He is the One, friends – He is where our focus needs to be, especially in times of grief or heartache. If we focus upon ourselves in these times, rather than on crying out to the Lord and seeking Him, we are in for a worse struggle than we already face.
We are to draw near to Him and trust in His timing, but have faith that He will offer us the comfort (and even the growth) that is needed at just the right time. He does that, you know. In one area He may take what we perceive to be a very long time to help us come through grief and to what we consider to be the “other side” of it. But in another area, He can work amazingly fast. The truth of the matter is, whichever way He chooses to heal us, we can be comforted by Him every step of that way during the process. We just have to want that and seek that.
Why settle for less? I don’t see the Lord asking us to do so, as long as what we are seeking is of Him and in line with His will for us.
Just when we think we can’t stretch any further, the Lord reminds us that it is not for us to stretch all the way – it is going to be HIM and HIS power that heals us. We only need to stretch out our hands, and ask Him to meet us. His arms are longer than ours anyway.
Remember this today, my friends, if or when you are struggling. If and when you are weary. And if and when you are wondering “why, God…why?”
HE is our “always” normal.
Psalms 77:2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.