Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Isaiah 53:4
I began this blog years ago, because God called me to reach out to people who have suffered grief and loss. The blog has expanded well beyond what I knew back then, and I am grateful for the hundreds from all over the world who have followed and written notes of encouragement. But it is time to narrow my thinking and purpose again for a little while. This week I will begin meeting with grieving people for ten weeks to sort out the enemy of death. My dining room table is spread with papers, but the gut pain of grief cannot be captured, though I have spent years trying. For a moment, I asked God if I really have enough to give, but He is always the One who leads, and by the third week, we are anxious to come together, not to be led by me, but to experience the Presence of the One who has conquered death. I am only one around the table who will re-experience the deepest pain and the greatest comfort known to us on earth.
Tomorrow is the anniversary of my husband’s death. It is the day that I drink coffee alone in the morning, and try to remember things we talked about together. I read the cards he sent, and look at our pictures. I think about the day, as I watched helplessly while his chest labored violently for air, and his trembling hand moved slowly to his head where the pain would finally cease that day. I thank him for all he gave to me, the love most of all, the songs he sang, the confidence in God and our family, his joy that still refreshes my spirit. I visit his grave in a quaint little cemetery in Oldham County, where a small stone under a long row of pine trees announces his birth, his death, and his love. “He loved God and Country.” It is engraved there to remind me of our life together. His legacy lives well beyond time and space, and though he has moved to his permanent residence, his dreams for us speak to me now.
On my table is a tender article by Billy Graham, written shortly after Ruth died. It still brings tears to my eyes. There are letters I have written—one to a high school student whose dad died in an accident. Another unwilling grief student must grow up and live more fully than those around him. He must believe in God’s compassion and mercy, and crush the temptation to disappointment. Letters to my grandson in heaven; letters to widows; memories of those who came to grief classes in times past and so enriched my life forever—I like the disarray of papers. Death is not clean. It is not organized. There is the workbook, a leader’s guide, and various tasks outlined to get ready for our meetings. These details are mundane. I am distracted as I think of the miracles ahead.
I am looking forward to these ten weeks. It is a strange thing to say about facing grief. But I know the One who has conquered death, and He will lead us on a path very familiar to Him. The Man of Sorrows is calling us to receive healing beyond grief and loss. It is His gift. If you are in Louisville and would like to join us, come to New Life Church on Goose Creek Road this Wednesday at 7:00. We are meeting in the downstairs conference room. You will not be asked to say or do anything. Just receive.
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. II Corinthians 4:18