Death, broken relationships, goodbyes and conflicts. And list goes on. At the beginning of any one New Year we’re invariably so blind to the losses that will come against us in the ensuing days. We hardly ever think of the people we’ll have to say goodbye to; those we’d wish even to have one more day with. Yet death and losses like it don’t take prisoners—there’s a shrill finality about it all.
How fragile are we in reality? Turn the temperature up or down a few degrees and we feel out of sorts. Remove us from a context or take someone away—a circumstance that threatens every single moment we’re alive—and we’re patently devastated! We are very human, aren’t we? Our very identities are hooked in, in ways we can’t even extricate ourselves from—even if we tried.
And what do we do with all of this? For all of the trials and tribulations and tests and travails we seem at times to be constantly barraged by, there is in fact a glorious silver lining we often forget—that is the hope we can profess—the all-conquering hope of Christ Jesus, risen and aflame for his redeemed remnant—unto the whole of humankind and all Creation. This is the God who suffers with his people!
And these are not simply words which promise to assuage in some flippant, insensitive way. It’s about recognising that losses are intended for our benefit—in truth, in wisdom, and in maturity—in faith. Strange as that might seem. Not now, but later we’ll understand a context of living that God intends for us—to realise that beforehand in faith is the task before us. We’re not to know it all—none of us does, ever—life remains a mystery.
Our only hope in life is to wander that skinny track—the way of the Lord God. Faced with the challenges we have choices. And in courage we deny the truth, not. We face the hurt and we allow all its force to hit us fair and square, with the prevailing anointing and peace of God as our front and rearguard. We are beaten down but we are not destroyed. We give up and then get back on. We surrender to the pain before we surrender to God—and that’s perfectly okay. His grace is sufficient for us… somehow… always!
We never downplay grief. It is the most crushing and paralysing force requiring honesty, strength, courage and resilience—and still it is crushing and paralysing—we think these qualities do not help, but we must somehow believe they do. Grief overwhelms us one day and then a third. It’s one good day, then one horrendous day, and so on. We find a time of space in our grief and then it sweeps over us again like a storm. We’re over it and then we’re not. Grief always takes too long.
In reality, God determines when we’re over it. Let us allow his Spirit to sooth our wounded hearts. Let us not reject the pain for too long. Jehovah Rophe, our healer, will take up our pain and bear our suffering—by his wounds we’re healed (Isaiah 53:4-5) and we can see this afterwards and that is what we hold onto. We cannot explain it and we don’t have to—but we do need God.