He was here for 70 years.
Things started to taste strange. Then he started losing weight.
Then he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
He lived 8 months after that.
Black and white pictures of another time, another place – his life ahead of him. He took his place and offered his uniqueness. There was no one quite like him.
And now he’s gone.
Yet, sorrow mingles with the joy of seeing him again in eternity.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. – Ecclesiastes 3:11
All around us, life is replenishing.
God has designed the earth to heal itself and bring forth life.
Sometimes, we have a hand in it.
Sometimes, we don’t.
The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains;
The world, and those who dwell in it. -Psalm 24
The goodness and kindness of God is greater than any trouble we are facing. The seasons come and go with certainty. Birds migrate to their intended destinations and butterflies shed their cocoon and take flight. The depths of the sea hide mysteries undiscovered and the stars take their position in the universe. Ice storms prune the forests and wildfires generate new growth.
How much more will God replenish you?
“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
-Carl W. Buechner
It might have been your fault and you feel guilty.
Or it might not have been and someone makes you feel guilty.
Don’t you know a benevolent God exists – who takes every detail upon himself?
He opens up his hands and takes guilt away. Because he is so much greater he is able to do this. Because he loves he is able to do this.
Grief is work.
The reason it’s work is because your life changes course. New emotions you are not accustomed to will rudely interrupt your life. Your life will slow down and what you want is to keep going the way you were – and you can’t. You finally face the fact: you have to slow down and reassess.
Common symptoms of grief
While loss affects people in different ways, many people experience the following symptoms when they’re grieving. Just remember that almost anything that you experience in the early stages of grief is normal – including feeling like you’re going crazy, feeling like you’re in a bad dream, or questioning your religious beliefs.
- Shock and disbelief – Right after a loss, it can be hard to accept what happened. You may feel numb, have trouble believing that the loss really happened, or even deny the truth. If someone you love has died, you may keep expecting them to show up, even though you know they’re gone.
- Sadness – Profound sadness is probably the most universally experienced symptom of grief. You may have feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning, or deep loneliness. You may also cry a lot or feel emotionally unstable.
- Guilt – You may regret or feel guilty about things you did or didn’t say or do. You may also feel guilty about certain feelings (e.g. feeling relieved when the person died after a long, difficult illness). After a death, you may even feel guilty for not doing something to prevent the death, even if there was nothing more you could have done.
- Anger – Even if the loss was nobody’s fault, you may feel angry and resentful. If you lost a loved one, you may be angry at yourself, God, the doctors, or even the person who died for abandoning you. You may feel the need to blame someone for the injustice that was done to you.
- Fear – A significant loss can trigger a host of worries and fears. You may feel anxious, helpless, or insecure. You may even have panic attacks. The death of a loved one can trigger fears about your own mortality, of facing life without that person, or the responsibilities you now face alone.
- Physical symptoms – We often think of grief as a strictly emotional process, but grief often involves physical problems, including fatigue, nausea, lowered immunity, weight loss or weight gain, aches and pains, and insomnia.
Be patient with yourself. Even if others are not.
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will take care of you.”
How do you look into the questioning big, brown eyes and explain?
How do you take the small hand in yours and keep from sobbing?
How do you say it without fear gripping their little heart …
… when life goes very wrong?
You just say it as simply as possible.
And their child-like answer will surprise you …
… for they accept what is difficult,
better than we do.
It never gets old.
Each spring, the robins lays her eggs. The doe cares for her spotted fawn. Butterflies are reborn. The earth speaks – a new day, new hope.
Seize the day and bask in its beauty.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
And there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.
All these things are gone forever.”
I’ve attended a few mega-churches here and there. Coming from a church of 300 and under, the two environments are naturally very different.
I noted in the mega-churches, perhaps out of necessity, were managed with a consumer mentality. You came, got plugged in, and then unplugged when you left.
In smaller churches, there is more community. People know people…and their “business”. There’s good and bad with this. Enjoying close community has a strengthening component for everyone. The downside, even seen in the early days of the Church, is get two people together and a dispute can arise.
There isn’t a perfect church. There isn’t a perfect Christian. And as soon as we stop having those expectations, we are able to see more clearly.
Someone once said, “Only Christians shoot their wounded.” It’s true.
I don’t know why that is. It is a reproach to Christianity. We are to always be putting the needs of others before our own. Sadly, it is not as it should be.
Some of us have a real problem with self-pity and rebellion. I’m not talking about people like this. I am talking about people who have genuinely been hurt.
I have. During times of great duress. When I was lower than low, I had to take another hit.
If this is you, do what I did. Go to God.
There is no man or woman, no church, who is perfect. God is perfect. He sees it all. Let Him take care of it – and you.