The Lord is Nigh unto them that seek Him…
There are far too many people dealing with loss and grief today. Hundreds of thousands of people are dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Hundreds are dead, and thousands more have lost simply everything. The students at Hope are dealing with the loss of a friend from a brain aneurism. They grieve for the friend that they will never see again. A woman in her 30’s is dealing with the possibility that the brain surgery she had almost a decade ago didn’t work. She may have to have open brain surgery again, right when she was hoping to settle down and start a family. She mourns the death of a dream and faces the possibility of her own death.
We weren’t meant to live like this.
I am convinced that life in the Garden was better than anything we could ever imagine. It was literally heaven on earth. Imagine, being able to see and walk WITH GOD. The one thing we all long to be able to do. And then Sin came and destroyed everything. Our first separation was separation from God. And as if that was not excruciatingly painful enough, every person since then (with very few exceptions) has died, separating us from loved ones and friends time after painful time.
I am also convinced that this breaks God’s heart, even when the person who dies is a Christian, because it emphasizes that this is not how it’s meant to be. That’s why Jesus wept over Lazarus’ tomb. Jesus wept because He knew that God had a better plan in mind before Sin ruined everything. Maybe Paul had this in mind when he reminded us in I Thessalonians 4:13, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”
We grieve, knowing that our separation is but for a time. But even knowing that doesn’t take away the pain. And that’s why we grieve and mourn and lament our loss. “The paradox of grief is that it is healing; it somehow restores our souls, when all the while we thought it would leave us in despair….When the ministry of the Messiah is described in Isaiah 61, comfort for those who mourn and healing for the brokenhearted are placed at the center of his mission. None of this makes sense until we admit our brokenheartedness and give our sorrow a voice in mourning. Only then will we know his comfort. Until then, they are nice, religious-sounding words. Solomon said that it is better to go to a house of mourning than it is to go to a house of feasting. I never understood this; I wrote it off as the pessimism of a depressed man. Now I think I know what he meant. Grief is good. It is cleansing. It undoes my world—and that is the best part of it. I need to be undone; simply undone. No regrouping.” (John Eldredge The Journey of Desire 188).
Our grief is intense and cavernous, and yet, it is a different kind of grief because we have a hope that one day, our “faith shall be sight.”
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come
Let this best assurance control
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And he hath shed His own blood for my soul
It is well, with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul
And Lord, Haste the day when my faith shall be sight
The clouds be rolled back like a scroll
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend
Praise the Lord, it is well with my soul!
(It is Well Words and Music by Horatio Spafford and Philip Bliss)
So take heart, my friends.
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)
“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18)
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:4-7)
No matter your circumstance, or your loss, whether it be the loss of a dream or the loss of someone close to you, the Lord is near.
In the words of Dame Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”