Archive for August, 2015

Grief Observed

Monday, August 31st, 2015

 

“Everybody wants you to be okay.”

A good friend of mine says this to me often. It’s her observation on sadness.

Sadness makes the people around you uncomfortable. It’s awkward. It makes people feel like they should say something, but what?

Unfortunately, being uncomfortable with sadness is alive and well in the Church, even though the Bible recounts story after story of blood, sweat, and tears. In Philippians Chapter 3, Paul reminds us that secret of knowing Christ is “to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”

In other words, there is no resurrection without death, no death without pain. That means, to know Christ—to really know Him and the power of His resurrection—it will hurt. We will suffer. It’s not an “if”, but a “when.”

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 “There is no resurrection without death, no death without pain. “

Of all people, Christians should “do sadness well,” but I think sometimes we don’t  because we’re confused. We know we’ve been given this beautiful gift—this HOPE, that is an anchor for our souls–that does not disappoint. Like my friend Kristi says so pointedly: this “hope is not a commodity, it’s a Person.” His name is Jesus.

So, yes, we do not grieve likes ones without hope, but that doesn’t mean we don’t hurt. But I think we believe that if we have Jesus, he’s the band-aid for all our wounds. We can smile even when we hurt, because we have Jesus.

The problem is that Jesus isn’t a Mickey Mouse band-aid that instantly soothes our scrapped knees. He’s the master Physician—the Great Surgeon—who cuts deep to fix what is really wrong, so that real healing can take place.

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“We do not grieve like ones without hope, but that doesn’t mean we don’t hurt.”

This summer, my family moved to a new town. At our new church, I stood singing familiar hymns,  songs sung for hundreds of years, but I sang them in a new place with new people. As I sang, I felt tempted to not let sadness overwhelm me (especially NOT in front of others)—I wanted to “be okay.”

But then I was reminded that this is not Jesus’ design for us—to hide our humanity, to paste on a smile, to always be okay. But, His plan IS to transform the suffering into resurrection, the weeping into joy, the deserts into streams of water.

What I really want, though, is the second part without the first, but it doesn’t work that way.

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Our pastor recently reminded us of Psalm 84:

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,

whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.

As they pass through the Valley of Baka (weeping),

they make it a place of springs;

the autumn rains also cover it with pools.

They go from strength to strength,

till each appears before God in Zion.

A funny little thing happened after that. I started seeing “pools in the desert” all over the place. He hasn’t necessarily taken the hard parts away, but He’s sustained me, even poured out His blessings on Me, in the middle of it.

That’s how He is.

He doesn’t want me to “be okay.” He wants me to weep when it’s hard, and then train my eye to see the GRACE He offers–the pools in the desert.

After a night of little sleep, I told a friend of mine that I didn’t think I’d be able to see the pools that day, because my goggles were foggy. WE had a good laugh over that.

I suppose that’s part of the pilgrimage, too. Knowing that I won’t always trust perfectly, but He will faithfully wipe the fog away from my Dollar Store goggles, and  even replace them with a new pair. (Speedos, perhaps?)

-As they pass through the valley of Weeping, the autumn rains cover it with pools…

 

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