Always striving to be transparent and sincere as I learn what the Love of God truly means. "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15)
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Blessed are those who mourn...
This blog should really be in two parts as it's going to be lengthy, but if you hang in there with me, I feel like it's worth reading the whole thing.
Matthew 5:4 states "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
If you know me well, or ask my family about me, I'm pretty tenderhearted. In fact, other than insects, I have only killed something twice in my life.
Each time a gerbil or hamster or cat or dog died (sometimes the cat WAS the death of said gerbil or hamster), we would hold a funeral and read Ecclesiastes 3 (a time to weep, a time to laugh,) over their dirt mound.
One time I hit a cat, and I was horrified to learn that dead animals on the side of the road don't die instantly as I'd previously thought. My sister and I turned the car around and in the glow of the headlights we saw it lift its head when she called out "kitty, kitty, kitty". I didn't have the strength to finish it off with the tire iron though it crossed my mind. Ugh. My fiance (now husband) thought I'd killed a person when I called him sobbing about it.
The other time I intentionally finished off a field mouse that my cat had tortured and left for dead. Its shallow breaths were more than I could watch, so I took the brush for our barbeque that had a nice sharp edge, turned my head and finished the deed. As soon as I heard and felt the crunch of decapitation I dropped the weapon and shook with sobs, crying "Lord, please forgive me!"
Perhaps you cannot relate. You may think it silly that I cried over a mouse. You may be like my husband, who believes if it is wise enough to survive, then it may stay in your company. If it gets eaten by coyotes or hit by a car, it wasn't worth keeping.
Still, this is who God made me to be. And, death is a hard experience for me to process. Even separation from my parents when they'd take a much needed break from the five of us or my Mom when she traveled to a two-day teacher's conference would cause me to give a grand homecoming in their return. When I was 8 years old my aunt died-that was my first real experience with losing a loved one.
Internally, my heart knows that we are not meant to be separated from those we love. From the moment I became a big sister, I have been attached to everyone-and devastated by any separation, permanent or temporary. That is a part of this world I will not ever enjoy. It is the reason I most anticipate heaven.
Revelation 21:4 promises "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
While in college, I lost a classmate to suicide, my grandfather passed away, and a church friend and mentor was taken while recovering from surgery. More recently I've lost a classmate to cancer, and another was murdered while pregnant this year. Two of my cousins have died in the last two years, much too young to be gone. And in 2010, I faced the greatest grief of all.
We'd had two healthy beautiful daughters, and the second pregnancy was planned-she even arrived on her due date. We planned our next pregnancy, I was charting, and recognized the signs that pointed to a pregnancy. Elated I had already begun to tell friends and had set up the doctor's appointment to confirm, though it was too soon for a positive test. 6 days later, something felt wrong. And, within a couple days my body processed a miscarriage.
I didn't know why I felt so terrible. I hadn't even had a positive test, yet I was grieving in depths I didn't know possible. How could I compare my grief to someone with a positive pregnancy test, or someone who had measured their gestation in weeks instead of days?
I didn't know what to say or how to feel. Until you go through it, you can't know.
I'd been guilty in times previous of sharing a "comforting verse", or giving well-meaning advice to someone. I cringed at the letter I'd written quoting a New Testament passage about being reunited in heaven and how wonderful it was. Now on the receiving end of well-intended thoughts, words and verses, I realized how hollow and uncaring they could be in reception.
"It's God's will." "It's okay, God's timing is perfect." "Just trust God." "This was His plan for your life." "I know just how you feel." "You can always have another one." "At least you have two healthy daughters."
I began to have very un-Christian thoughts toward people when they would state these things to me. I knew God was perfect and so was His timing, and I was angry with Him. I was wrestling with it. I didn't need a reminder from anybody whose faith wasn't being shaken. I was aware how unfair and imperfect the world had become and didn't need anyone but God to tell me about it.
He was showing me that He was in control of my life, not me, and it was terrifying. He took what was His, but I thought it was mine. No chances, no warning, no saying good-bye. Just gone. Gone too soon.
I felt guilty for my anger and my less than perfect faith. My sweetest comfort came from a friend who simply said, "I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm praying for you."
Finally. No judgment, no preaching, just compassion. Her own experiences had given her wisdom and tact that I greatly appreciated.
In our love for others, we desperately want to talk to them, but there are no words. We want to hold them and let them cry on us, but sometimes there are no tears. If we are of opposite genders, sometimes it is inappropriate for us to reach out and comfort a friend, though our best intentions are there.
It is then that we can truly lift them by prayer and let the Holy Spirit do all that we fail to do. He is intimately connected to the heart of hearts and knows what each person needs. If you long to hug your grieving friend, pray that the Holy Spirit will do it. Each thought you have, surrender it to God that He would reach out and heal internally those deep voids you cannot physically touch.
Especially when you are at a distance from your friend or loved one who is grieving, do not hesitate to pray and pray often. Your prayers do far more than you could ever know. It is not necessary to use the worlds' means to do good for someone.
Job went through some serious losses. But though the Old Testament hadn't introduced Jesus or the Holy Spirit, Job 16:19-21 states "Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend."
Your prayers do a great deal of good for one who grieves. Sometimes, that is the best you can offer. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they WILL be comforted." (emphasis mine)