Sunday, December 11, 2011

Out to sea

It's been a difficult day. I just want this Christmas season to be over with. I'm sick of hearing cheerful voices and seeing happy(read that as "whole") families because all I am reminded of when I look at them is that one of my children is no longer on this earth, my family is not whole. The cheerful voices mock the continuing sorrow in my heart. The more time that passes by, the more I feel it's no longer "acceptable" to show the face of grief. I feel like people expect me to be happy, to be better. And I find myself putting on a mask, a plastic smile. I rely upon my standard answer of, "I'm functioning" when asked, "How are you?" because what I really suspect is that they really don't want to know any longer. Because this is the Christmas season. And we're all supposed to be joyful and merry. But I'm not. And I'm not a good faker or liar.

I started reading the book, God's Healing for Life's Losses tonight. I know already that it is going to be a very good read. The author opens the introduction of the book by saying, "JESUS PROMISES THAT LIFE WILL BE FILLED WITH LOSSES. I know. That's not exactly the promise you were hoping for. At least it's honest."

Kellemen continues the line of honesty on page five. "Let's be honest. Growth through grieving is an arduous journey, much like the journey of Much-Afraid, the lead character in Hannah Hurnard's dramatic allegory, Hinds' Feet on High Places.

    Tired of valley living, but terrified to trek the high places alone, Much-Afraid asks Shepherd for companions on her journey. Encouraged by his pledge that fellow travelers would soon join her, she starts alone, anticipating the arrival of her partners. When they appear, she's horrified. Shepherd introduces them.

     They are good teachers; indeed, I have few better. As for their names, I will tell you them in your own language, and later you will learn what they are called in their own tongue. "This," said he, motioning toward the first of the silent figures, "is named Sorrow. And the other is her twin sister, Suffering."
      Poor Much-Afraid! Her cheeks blanched and she trembled from head to toe.
     "I can't go with them," she gasped. "I can't! I can't! I can't! O my Lord Shepherd, why do you do this to me? How can I travel in their company? It is more than I can bear...Couldn't you have given me Joy and Peace to go with me, to strengthen and encourage me and help me on the difficult way? I never thought you would do this to me!" And she burst into tears.
     A strange look passed over Shepherd's face.
     "Joy and Peace. Are those the companions you would choose for yourself? You remember your promise, to accept the helpers that I would give, because you believed that I would choose the very best possible guides for you. Will you still trust me, Much-Afraid?"
 The author continues with, "Don't misunderstand. Fear of suffering is normal. Grief is necessary. Shepherd is not denying these authentic life responses. So just what is Shepherd saying? Trust me. Trust is vital because suffering is inevitable. How do we find hope when we're hurting? Through trust. Where do we find God's healing for life's losses? In Christ. With Christ."

I wept as I read the words of Much-Afraid. Those are the exact same words I have uttered to God. When grief sweeps me out to sea, as it did today, trust is hard. But not because God isn't trustworthy. While I may doubt my faithfulness, I am clinging to His. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

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