Sorrow ripped through me with the force of a tornado, whipping memories around and leaving them like piles of rubble. The gale tried to uproot my faith with tumbling thoughts leaving me unable to pray in a meaningful way. I could only repeat: “Lord Jesus Christ,” again and again.
Tears did not just fall, they spilled from my eyes like a cascade! My body shook under repeated gusts of grief. Who could, who would, be my comfort? My wife lay sleeping, beyond real conversation, living in some place halfway between earth and heaven. I know that I am not the first to know this kind of loss, but it is my first experience.
When it seemed that I could not bear it any longer, God answered my tearful prayers with comfort in two ways. He will comfort you, too.
First, He sent friends to walk with me. The Preacher wrote words I have known a long time, but their meaning has never been more clear. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NIV) Lone Ranger-style independence is a mythical ideal that has little merit. In times like these, we discover just how critically important other people are to us. God saw fit to move my friend, Wayne, to pick up the phone and just the sound of his voice was a comfort to my soul last night. Numerous friends stand with me prayerfully, lovingly. No, they cannot heal my wife, but they can hold me up so that I do not fall under the weight of this crushing load.
Second, He reminded me that He understands! In the Word, I found these words in Isaiah 53, the “Suffering Servant” prophecy that foretold the coming of the Lord of whom we sing in this season. I rediscovered why the Almighty humbled Himself to become the Babe in the Manger. It is not a sweet passage like Luke’s story of angels. It is a raw look at Jesus’ mission. Isaiah, by the Spirit, saw the Messiah and said of Him, “He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins! But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed!” (Isaiah 53:3-5, NLT) Not only did He come to save us from sin, He entered into our human experience and tasted the most bitter grief on our behalf. When I weep, He understands! When I cry, “Oh, Lord, my heart is overwhelmed,” He knows how I feel.
In this world, there will be trouble. Those who imply that Christians who know grief are living with an inferior faith must ignore what He said. Jesus tells us – “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NLT) “Take heart,” He says, “I will never leave you.” He shares our grief and has given us the Holy Spirit who is our Comfort.
This season, so full of bright lights and beautiful music, can also be a time when pain is magnified for those who live with sorrow. But, grief shared – with others, with Christ – is grief that can be borne. So, I urge you, to keep friends close. Tend family relationships to make them strong. Give love so that you can receive love! And, the dark of midnight, know that He is there, not far off, not beyond knowing, but the Lord who shed tears of bitter grief, too.
Here is a word from the Word for those of us who grieve. God, use it to heal our hearts. “All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NLT) “We are confident that he will continue to deliver us. He will rescue us because you are helping by praying for us. As a result, many will give thanks to God because so many people’s prayers for our safety have been answered.” (2 Corinthians 1:10-11, NLT)
Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)
You call me out upon the waters,
The great unknown where feet may fail;
And there I find You in the mystery,
In oceans deep, my faith will stand.
And I will call upon Your name,
And keep my eyes above the waves,
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace,
For I am Yours, and You are mine.
Your grace abounds in deepest waters,
Your sov’reign hand will be my guide.
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me,
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now.
Oh and You are mine.
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,
Let me walk upon the waters,
Wherever You would call me.
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander,
And my faith will be made stronger,
In the presence of my Savior.
I will call upon Your name.
Keep my eyes above the waves.
My soul will rest in Your embrace,
I am Yours and You are mine!
Joel Houston | Matt Crocker | Salomon Ligthelm
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