Tuesday, May 31, 2016

When grief doesn't end

I listened to a pastor this past Memorial weekend who spoke on the topic of marriage and family. He was a wonderful speaker and had several relevant points regarding relationships. He spoke of the difficulties and storms that are guaranteed to come along at some point in everyone's lives. He spoke with confidence how we can take assurance and comfort in knowing that every storm in our life will pass. Yes, to some extent, that is true.

But I'm guessing, however, that he likely wasn't referring to the grief that remains after child loss or death.

Definitely, the initial "storm" after loss subsides. The winds die down, the waters recede, and the black clouds eventually roll away. But while the storm may be "over," its reverberating aftermath continues for weeks, months, and, indeed, years. Nearly five years later, my son's death continues to impact his brothers' and sisters' lives, as well as my husband's and mine.

Grief is not a passing storm.

Grief is a thread that is woven throughout the tapestry of our lives. It will, with God's help, not be the unraveling of us, but rather be the binding stitched onto the storybook of our lives. Max Lucado explains the idea of reweaving in the story of Joseph:

“You meant evil against me,” Joseph told his brothers, using a Hebrew verb that traces its meaning to “weave” or “plait.”
“You wove evil,” he was saying, “but God rewove it together for good.”
God, the Master Weaver. He stretches the yarn and intertwines the colors, the ragged twine with the velvet strings, the pains with the pleasures. Nothing escapes His reach. Every king, despot, weather pattern, and molecule are at His command. He passes the shuttle back and forth across the generations, and as He does, a design emerges. Satan weaves; God reweaves.
Death is our enemy. (1 Cor.15:26) Death destroys. The loss of a child destroys a parents life. And if there are siblings, it destroys their lives, as well. The world we once knew exploded when Matt died. One of Matt's sisters continues to struggle with the loss of her brother. She stuffed her grief for two years after he died, but eventually the volcano of grief poured out in a molten lava mess of social anxiety and depression.

I have often felt as if I didn't just lose one child July 29, 2011, but two.

While our daughter has come a long way in three years with professional counseling, her grief, like ours, has not ended. But the broken pieces, like our tears, are being collected. (Psalm 56:8) The enemy Death means to destroy and work evil out of the circumstances in our lives, but God our Father, who loves us and intends good for us, reweaves the thread of grief. Death wove a black thread into the fabric of our heart, but the Master Weaver (per Max Lucado) picks up the black thread and reweaves it with scarlet thread; the thread of hope, Jesus Christ.

We may feel as if the storm never ends, but, as the pastor from the weekend pointed out, God doesn't move. When the storms come, and we wonder where He went, we must remember that God does not leave us. He is in the midst of our circumstances. Trust Him with your pain. He reminded us of Psalm 55:22a: "Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you..." and that the word cast here is not in the context of casting out and reeling back in as in fishing, but rather a complete dropping. Drop your cares on God and do not pick them back up again.

Grief is not a passing storm, but that doesn't mean we have to hold on to the pain. Instead, we hold on to the One who holds us. We hold on to the anchor, to truth. We allow God to thread the needle of grief with His promise of eternal life through His son Jesus Christ. And the thread of grace will keep us until the end of the story. What God is creating we cannot fathom, but we can trust that it is good.

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