Once I acknowledged I was angry (yet again), I yielded to God. I knew it was a losing battle. He knew it, too. It just takes so much energy. But grief, as well, takes so much energy. I was tired, but I hadn't turned to God, who never grows weary, who faints not, whose strength is unending. I needed His strength. I needed His perspective. I had sunk low and was buried deep, seeing only darkness in the pit, not even bothering to grope around in search of a way out. I sat in the mire with futile and jealous thoughts.
The month of June, which brought several graduations, also brought jealousy and ungratefulness. After the third or fourth graduation invitation, I fell quickly into the "feeling sorry for myself" dump, rehashing all the things I never got to do, and would never get to do, with my son. I was mad at God and jealous of those parents who got to experience one of the highlights of life on this side of heaven.
I knew I was not in a good place. I began to question, once again, God's word and His promises, whether they were true. I began to doubt, and I was growing bitter. I had let go of hope. But God is so good. I love Him because He is the perfect friend. He knows exactly when to stay quiet. He knows exactly when to speak up, when to chastise, when to be gentle, and when to exhibit some "tough love." This time, I got a well-deserved earful.
After a particularly rough day of "poor me" thoughts, I opened my Jesus Calling book (by Sarah Young) and read the entry for June 22. It said:
Thank Me for the very things that are troubling you. You are on the brink of rebellion, precariously close to shaking your fist in My Face. You are tempted to indulge in just a little complaining about My treatment of you. But once you step over that line, torrents of rage and self-pity can sweep you away. The best protection against this indulgence is thanksgiving. It is impossible to thank Me and curse Me at the same time.
The words pierced my heart, and I knew I was dangerously close to making a decision I'd regret. Let me tell you, I've had enough regret in my life. I don't want to go there again. I thanked God for telling me what I needed to hear, for loving me so. The pain and loss remain, but I'm choosing to replace the anger and jealousy with thankfulness, humility, and trust.Thanking Me for trials will feel awkward and contrived at first. But if you persist, your thankful words, prayed in faith, will eventually make a difference in your heart. Thankfulness awakens you to My Presence, which overshadows all your problems.I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will callupon the name of the LORD. - Psalm 116:17 KJVRejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let yourgentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxiousabout anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, withthanksgiving, present your requests to God. - Philippians 4:4-6
Grief doesn't cause a person to be bitter or angry. Bitterness and anger is a choice one makes. Grief simply reveals what's already in the heart. It exposes one's belief about life, loss, and faith. It teaches us, whether we like it or not, whether we want to learn from it or not. God uses grief for our good. It isn't pretty. It isn't easy. It isn't pleasant. It is the hardest work I've ever done, working through grief. I stand in awe, still, that one can survive such devastation and even ultimately produce beauty from it. I am comforted, too, knowing that there is purpose in it, even if I may not understand or know what that purpose is. I have that comfort because I know who God is. He is good. He is love. He is faithful. He is Sovereign. He is a God who heals. He is a God who laid down His life for every one of us so that we might live forever with Him.
He is a personal God who is jealous for us. We are His creation. What father doesn't earnestly desire the best for his children? He understands our hurt. He understands what we want, but He gives us what we need...which is Himself. May I be jealous for Him.
**I want to leave you with some laughter today. There is enough grief in this world, but there is also beauty and joy. It's not all drama. He will fill our mouths with laughter. (Job 8:21, Psalm 126:2)