“I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost.” The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness;his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord. And it is good for people to submit at an early age to the yolk of discipline: Let them sit alone in silence beneath the Lord’s demands. Let them lie face down in the dust, for there may be hope at last. Let them turn the other cheek to those who strike them and accept the insults of their enemies. For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love. For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.” Lamentations 3:18 -33
It has been nearly eighteen years since I first experienced true grief. It wasn’t the first death in my family as I’d seen some great aunts and uncles pass away as well as both of my great-grandmothers, but it was the first one that hit me on an emotional level.
I was 15 years old when we learned that a cousin of mine had been involved in a serious car accident. Her husband had been killed and their toddler son had been seriously injured. We were told he was in a coma and would most likely suffer significant brain damage if he ever woke up. For my close-knit family, this was a tragedy beyond measure.
Troy’s funeral was held in a school gymnasium to allow enough room for all those in attendance. I remember sitting in the bleachers as my cousin stood up to share some memories of her young husband, and to give us an update on the status of her tiny son, Trevor, who was still in a coma and fighting for his life. As we sat in silence and listened to her talk about her beloved, I remember thinking to myself, how is she able to be so strong? How is she able to rely on God through this terrible tragedy? How is she able to stand up there and share the deepest, most precious memories of her husband knowing that she is going to have to live without him and raise her son alone?
As I attempted to handle my own grief over the situation, the Lord led me to his Word – and the book of Lamentations. As my Bible fell open to the above passage, I began to understand how my cousin was able to show courage. How she was able to remain strong and hopefull, even in the face of overwhelming tragedy.
Since that time, I have suffered a number of deaths in my family. I have lost a mother and step-father, both of my in-laws, two grandparents, many great-aunts and uncles, my first granddaughter, and a few treasured friends have also gone to be with the Lord. And with every loss, I was able to turn back to God’s word and find comfort, strength, courage, and hope.
You see, I believe what the Bible teaches me about Christ. I believe everything it says about Heaven and eternity for believers in Him. I am looking forward to stepping into Glory and holding my tiny granddaughter for the first time. That thought alone gives me more comfort than any other.
We all will suffer loss in our lives through death; losses that will hurt more than anything – a spouse, a parent, a child or grandchild, a best friend. Death is a part of life, yet many find it to be a black-hole that sucks away all our joy and leaves us holding an empty and hardened heart that is overwrought with bitterness and anger. Many people never step away from the graveside, emotionally. They carry the pain of their loss with them for the rest of their lives – never giving life, love, and happiness a second chance to grow. Others have become so downtrodden in their despair and grief they feel the only way to end their suffering is to take their own life.
I encourage you to turn to God in times of loss. Hold fast to his promise of compassion and healing. Rely on the promise that He is in control, even when everything around us feels out of control. Trust him to renew your strength and restore your joy. Cling to him and he will carry you through the valley of the shadow of death and set your feet on the mountain.