Today's post was the one I had originally intended to write on Tuesday. But I felt the Lord leading me to precede with that post lest ye think I had it all figured out. That is certainly not the case, not at all.
Grief is a strange monster and it attacks each one of us differently. It attacks an individual differently on different days, at different times, when they least expect it. And I think it's especially hard for Christians. To be completely honest, grief somehow feels inappropriate and inconvenient for Christians. We are supposed to be a light to the world - how then can we shine when our light feels as if it has been snuffed out? It is a difficult fact to reconcile.
Let me reiterate, I do not have this grief thing figured out. But, I have identified a few key elements that make all the difference in the world when it comes to my sadness. They are the difference between me being curled up in the fetal position on my bathroom floor sobbing and shaking uncontrollably, and being brave enough to swing my legs out of bed each morning and plant my feet firmly on the floor, tears and all. Here is the list:
1. The hope I have in Christ.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 says, "But I do not want you to be ignorant brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as those who have no hope."
Because of Christ's work on the cross my Evie is in Heaven. If I completely focus on Evie and what is best for her, what could be better for a little girl than to be raised in Glory? She has no tears, no hurts, no struggles, no fear. Her life, quite literally, is perfect. And, I will join her one day. Those two facts bring so much joy and hope to my hurting heart!
Certainly though, it is difficult to focus on that hope when I miss her so terribly and want nothing more than to see my sweet girl again and kiss her chubby cheeks and perfectly bowed lips. But the overwhelming sense of loss and heartache is tempered by the truth of my hope in Christ. What a wretched creature I would be without it!
1 Thessalonians 5:18 instructs us to give thanks in all things. Finding things to thank the Lord for (and there are many!) always combats my sadness.
I could be way off base here, but I don't think we have to be thankful for the bad things. Example: Lord, thank you that my friend was raped, thank you that my baby is dead, thank you that the serial killer went on a rampage again. Those things just sound ridiculous. I don't think think the Lord wants us to be thankful for evil (and death is a consequence of sin and evil).
But, I can be thankful for the good things that have resulted from Evie's death - for the changes in me and others, for the opportunity to minister to hurting hearts. I can thank the Lord for the time we had with Evie and what a sweetheart she was. And I can be thankful for other things in my life - my husband's success in school, the blessing of my son, my dad who can fix anything that breaks in our home. There is so much to be thankful for even while immersed in the storm.
Accepting Evie's diagnosis and death as the Lord's plan and as part of His good plan completely changes my perspective. I don't claim to understand why this had to happen, why my infant daughter's death has been worked into God's good plan for the world, but it has. I think that is true faith - simply believing that God has a plan even if I can't see it and it looks a lot like He doesn't. This thought is perfectly captured in the first few lines of one of my most favorite hymns:
'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
Just to take Him at His word
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, Thus saith the Lord.
There have been two distinct times I remember fighting God on accepting Evie's death (probably more, but I distinctly remember those two). Once was shortly after we heard of her diagnosis and the other was a few days after her memorial service. The thoughts running through my head went something like this: God, you can't do this to me! I can't do this! What are you doing! God, you cannot make me do this! The physical elements that accompanied these thoughts can only be likened to those of a panic attack - shortness of breath, feelings of anxiety, etc. I realized that I had to accept God's plan or else I would literally be transformed into a non-functioning basket-case. And clinging to verses like the ones below are the only thing keeping me from crossing over that line:
Isaiah 55:8-9 - For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.
Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Romans 11:33 - Oh the depths and riches of both the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and His ways past finding out!
Job 2:10 - Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?
Romans 8:28 - For we know all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Let me also say, tapping into these thoughts is a choice. Like so many other aspects of the Christian life we must choose to focus on our hope, thankfulness, and acceptance. I personally rarely feel thankful, etc. but I make that conscious choice and it makes all the difference
Grief is weird but God is good. I am thankful that He gives us these tools and a way to escape the darkness of our minds and embrace His enlightening spirit.
To all of you hurting hearts reading this, please know that I love you today and I pray for you all the time. If I can do anything for you, please let me know <3