I have a few extra quiet minutes this morning – we are officially on a Stay-cation (holiday at home) so I am breaking the “no computer” rule right now (!). The rest of the family are downstairs setting up scaletrix! As most of you know, we lost a baby through miscarriage earlier this year. The road of grief has been a bumpy one . . . just when I think the path is becoming more smooth under my feet again, I seem to fall into another pit. I have been surprised at the intensity and unpredictability of the tears and sadness even after months have passed since our loss. The last few weeks have been especially tough as we anticipate the “would have been” due date of our baby. It’s not an easy thing to share my sorrow . . . . I imagine (rightly or wrongly) that people expect me to have gotten past this by now. A few months ago, we attended a conference called “ministering to broken hearts.” We found it very helpful as we thought about reaching out to others who are hurting and we found our own grieving hearts touched as well. This morning, I have been re-reading a bit of one of the books we bought that day, called, “Holding Onto Hope,” by Nancy Guthrie, the speaker at the conference. She and her husband tragically lost two children, Hope and Gabriel, in infancy. She writes with raw honesty and yet offers clear biblical hope to those who suffer. I would highly recommend any of her books; they have been incredibly meaningful to me. I wanted to share a bit from “Holding Onto Hope,” which is based on the book of Job. As I have read the book this morning, I have been challenged to continue to worship God in the midst of my pain, even as Job did. And to thank Him for His gifts, even the ones that He takes away much sooner than we would have chosen. And to embrace the pain and tears. Here is an excerpt from the chapter entitled: Tears. I found I resonated with it very much. I pray it might bless someone else out there too.
“It is only natural that people around me often ask searchingly, ‘How are you?’ And for much of the first year after Hope’s death, my answer was, ‘I’m deeply and profoundly sad.’ I’ve been blessed with many people who have been willing to share my sorrow, to just be sad with me. Others, however, seem to want to rush me through my sadness. They want to fix me. But I lost someone I loved dearly, and I’m sad.
“Ours is not a culture that is comfortable with sadness. Sadness is awkward. It is unsettling. It ebbs and flows and takes it own shape. It beckons to be shared. It comes out in tears, and we don’t quite know what to do with those.
“So many people are afraid to bring up my loss. They don’t want to upset me. But my tears are the only way I have to release the deep sorrow I feel. I tell people, ‘Don’t worry about crying in front of me, and don’t be afraid you will make me cry! Your tears tell me you care, and my tears tell you that you’ve touched a place that is meaningful to me – and I will never forget your willingness to share my grief.
“In fact, those who shed their tears with me show me we are not alone. It often feels like we are carrying this enormous load of sorrow, and when others shed their tears with me, it is as if they are taking a bucketful of sadness and carrying it for me. It is perhaps, the most meaningful thing anyone can do for me.
“Our culture wants to put the Band-Aid of heaven on the hurt of losing someone we love. Sometimes it seems like the people around us think that because we know the one we love is in heaven, we shouldn’t be sad. But they don’t understand how far away heaven feels, and how long the future seems as we see before us the years we have to spend on this earth before we see the one we love again.
“Fortunately, we are not alone in our sadness. In Isaiah 53:3, the Bible describes God’s Son as a ‘Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.’ And so it is in our sadness that we discover a new aspect of God’s character and reach a new understanding of him that we could not have known without loss. He is acquainted with grief. He understands. He’s not trying to rush us through our sadness. He’s sad with us.
“The day after we buried Hope, I understood for the first time why so many people choose to medicate their pain in so many harmful ways. That day I tried to sleep it away. And in the days that followed, I discovered that I could not sleep it away, shop it away, eat it away, drink it away or travel it away.
“I just had to feel it. And it hurt. Physically.
“I realized I had a choice – I could try to stuff the hurt away in a closet, pretend it wasn’t there, and wish it would disappear, or I could bring is out into the open, expose it to the Light, probe it, accept it, and allow it to heal. I chose to face it head-on, trudge through it, feel its full weight, and do my best to confront my feelings of loss and hopelessness with the truth of God’s Word at every turn. Even now I can’t say I’m healed. Part of my heart is no longer mine. I gave it to Hope and she took it with her, and I will forever feel that amputation. But embracing my grief means allowing it to do its work in me.
“That’s what Job did. Out of the deepest kind of agony and pain from loss, Job openly mourned. He didn’t cover up his sadness or put on a happy face or offer religious sounding cliches. He tore his robe and shaved his head. He hurt. And he was not ashamed to show how deeply he hurt.
“Do you know what it is like to groan with sorrow? Part of being human is that when you lose something or someone that is valuable to you, you agonise over that loss, and there is nothing wrong with that. Your tears do not reflect a lack of faith.
“Rather than running from or trying to ignore your grief, would you lean into it? Would you allow it to accomplish it’s healing work in your heart?
“Would you be willing to invite God to walk with you during this sorrowful time so that you might experience his healing presence?
“Would you confront your feelings of hopelessness and heartache with truths from God’s Word so that is can become a healing power in your heart and mind?”
I thank God for these words and their challenge and comfort to my soul. I thank Him for being a good God and for loving us – all the time. I thank Him that He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit. I thank Him that He is the great Healer and Comforter. Blessed are all those who take refuge in Him.