We celebrated my middle child graduating from Pre-K this week. I can hardly believe how fast the time goes! As I watched the brief ceremony – I recalled the last time I sat in that room. It was 3 years ago and at that time, it was my daughter graduating.
I have a photo of Mira with my mom from the occasion; she was feeling pretty good that day, wearing her wig and even a little make up. She looked beautiful. It’s the only “graduation” that any of my children will have with her present…no concerts, moving up days, sports games, or other celebratory moments will be shared with her. And for a few moments, tears stung my eyes.
That’s the way it is with grief…it catches you off guard in unexpected moments. It’s been 2 ½ years since my mom passed away, and I have healed so much from the loss – but it never completely goes away. I don’t actually think God expects some things to stop hurting or life to just return to “normal” though (whatever that means). There is a beautiful healing in being able to face this truth: Some events and circumstances will mark us for life. We are truly forever changed by them; we will never be the same.
We do have some say, however, over how we will be changed. Change is inevitable. The question is: In which direction are we traveling? Sometimes when grief hits the hardest, it is so disorienting you aren’t even sure which way you are facing. Hebrews 10:23 says, "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful." So, when we are disoriented and don’t know which way is which, let us cling tightly to Him who is our hope. He is faithful.
But how does one cling to God exactly?
I think one way we can do this is to pray the Psalms. The Psalm writers wrote honestly – of faith and despair. And in many of them, the two were spoken of in the same breath. David and the other Psalm writers were familiar with the experience of grief, and cried out to God from the midst of it
Psalm 77 asks, "Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?" Those are not the questions of one who has never despaired. But just a few lines later the psalmist answers himself, Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
God never desires or expects us to pretend we are not hurting. The psalms remind us to come to God and hold fast to Him in the midst of our pain.
In my distress I called to the Lord and He answered me. (Psalm 120).
I wait for You Lord, my soul waits, and in his Word I hope. (Psalm 130).
As we take our honest suffering to God in prayer, we invite Him to respond by reminding us who He is - so that even in grief, our laments might evolve into worship: "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire beside you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 73).
He is my Strength,