Stay here with me

griefYesterday’s dawn was not a bright moment for me.  Even as I awakened I felt the grey fog of grief around me like a wet blanket. It was not unexpected! Last week we went through the rituals that followed the death of my father in law. Three of my adult children came for the funeral. I enjoyed having them with me for a few days then they got on airplanes to go home to their families and lives.  And yes, there is the still real ache that is never far away from my heart since Bev died. Sorrow has become an all too familiar friend and she came to visit again.  There is no quick escape, no magic wave of the hand that dismisses grief.  I tried music, I prayed, I walked.  Seeking some kind of solace, I even went to Bev’s gravesite in the afternoon to sit and remember.

When grief comes, she brings an array of emotions along; sadness, anger, loneliness, confusion, restlessness. I know them all. It often introduces temptations to self-indulgent behaviors, childish attempts to misuse money, pleasure, work, food, drink, or other things to momentarily obliterate the pain. Grief must be endured. I believe that it will deepen that person who will allow the emotion of  loss to be felt and acknowledged. My grief has given me the gift of tenderness, causing me to feel the pain of others more readily.  It has made me more thoughtful, less hurried. It has made eternity real, giving me a focus beyond efficient performance of my daily responsibilities. It has made me hunger for God’s Presence with a different kind of intensity. It has made me more honest with myself, understanding my limits, my responses to life, my own fragile state; and I am able to grow in grace.

Grief must not be endured alone!  Jesus, on the night before the Cross, went to the garden to pray. He grieved knowing the horror of the work of bearing the world’s sins, of becoming sin for us. His sorrow was profoundly deeper than any we can know and here is what He said. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Matthew 26:38, NIV)  He asked His friends to be with Him, to stand guard as it were, while His eyes were blinded by tears, His heart tore apart by sadness. They failed Him!  He found them unable or unwilling to enter into His sorrow and sleeping while He wept.  There is powerful lesson there for us.

Walk with others in grief. Choose wise and loving people who will balance you, counsel you, be patient with you, pray for you.  In my sorrow yesterday, I complained and vented a kind of irrational anger. A good and trusted friend gently reminded me that I was ‘in a mood.’  I smiled at the observation which was, in fact, a wise warning to me. I needed someone to hold up a mirror!  Another friend reminded me of hope and remembered loss with me despite the pain it caused for both of us.  If Jesus needed others, we certainly do, too.

Isaiah wrote of God’s Deliverer, inspired to see His love this way. “He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. 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, a punishment for his own sins!” (Isaiah 53:3-4, NLT)  There it is …  Our Savior knows our human sorrow in the deepest way and carries us when we are crushed!  We are not weak when we lean on Him. We are not lesser beings when we go to our knees and wait wordlessly for His comfort.  We are just human.

Are you sad today? Is your heart broken by failure? Are you torn up by loss? Have you been rejected?  Does life seem overwhelming or pointless? There is One who knows you better than you know yourself.

Here is a word from the Word about the comfort we can find in Christ Jesus.  May the Spirit make this passage a soothing, healing one for those of us who weep. “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-7, NLT)

_________

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.
Oh what peace we often forfeit,
Oh what needless pain we bear.
All because we do not carry\
Everything to God in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer,
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee
Thou will find a solace there.

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