Monday I began to sort through the ‘stuff’ in her desk. The evidence of a life of love, prayer, diligence, and service lay scattered on the floor around me. There were cards sent to her that she held onto. There were notebooks full of her neat handwriting, thoughts she prepared to share with her beloved ladies. There were lesson plans and notecards for class projects from her years of teaching. The journals that noted her prayers were profound in their simplicity. She prayed for what she loved – me, her kids, friends, church members. Seeing it all tore the hole in my soul open again. The ache has yet to subside. Carrying the treasures now worthless, to the dumpster led to silent tears. The evidence that she will not be coming home because she is Home cannot be ignored. And I am asking the foolish question that has no answer this side of eternity – “Why, Lord, did you have to take her?”
Widening my vision from my own anguish, I do know enough theology to understand that sin and Satan visit suffering and pain on this planet. Death is ‘the last enemy’ the ultimate evidence of the ‘now and not yet’ nature of the Kingdom. We must not forget that in ways often beyond our understanding in the moment, our choices often contribute to the pain. And still, it is not all darkness. There is joy in knowing love, sweetness found in worship.
Not to be forgotten is the promise that waits for all those who know the Savior. I have returned to this passage many times in the last 21 days: “I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:3-5, NIV) When the struggle’s over, God draws us close. I like to imagine Him in fatherly fashion. Does He pull out a big handkerchief, and dry our tears like my Grandpa did when I skinned my knees all those years ago? Well, maybe not exactly like that, but that is the mental picture that forms in my mind.
I feel sorry for people who live superficially, who love little, to avoid pain or disappointment. If you dig deep, love with abandon, and give yourself away – you become vulnerable and honestly – sometimes the result is that you hurt – terribly! In that time, we need hope that will keep us from slipping into cynicism. Cynics are mostly ugly, mean people. With faith intact, we are lovers who hope for divine intervention – when all the tears are wiped away. Gordon Jensen’s song has this memorable line, “God weeps along with man and takes him by the hand, tears are a language God understands.”
Are the tears ready to fall today?
Has the disappointment, the pain, the unrelenting struggle with the curse of sin nearly broken you in two? Go ahead and cry. Find a place alone with Him and let the tears that fall become a wordless prayer for renewal of hope, for healing, for forgiveness. Then, give thanks for the grace to stand and the hope that He will, like the wonderful and loving Father He is, someday wipe every tear, and even the memory of those things which make you cry, from your eyes forever.
The word from the Word is a Psalm for the sorrowful. Read these words as His Word to you, not just as beautiful poetry.
“You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.
My enemies will retreat when I call to you for help.
This I know: God is on my side!
I praise God for what he has promised;
Yes, I praise the Lord for what he has promised.
I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
What can mere mortals do to me?
I will fulfill my vows to you, O God,
and will offer a sacrifice of thanks for your help.
For you have rescued me from death;
you have kept my feet from slipping.
So now I can walk in your presence,
O God, in your life-giving light.” (Psalm 56:8-13, NLT)
O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go
O love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee.
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer fuller be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee.
I trace the rainbow through the rain
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.
Albert Lister Peace | George Matheson © Words: Public Domain