Monday, March 7, 2016

Finding God's Joy in Another Moment of Despair

It's the first nice day in March and I am sad. The week after my son's death, I remember reading in one of the newspaper accounts that my son was out riding his bike enjoying the first nice day in March when he was hit by a car. This morning as I walked out to the car and heard the birds singing and felt the warm sun on my face, sadness washed over me. It's the first nice day in March. That's why I thought it might be a good idea to revisit this post from a couple of years ago.

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A Moment of Despair

Consumed is my mind, my heart
with thoughts of a past long gone—
of a mother and her son.
Breathe.
Endure another moment—
take another breath.
I close my eyes to see him,
to cup his face in my hands
and live vicariously 
through the impressions 
of a decaying memory.
The memories are waning.
They live now only in a few faded photos
tucked away in a box on a shelf.
The years have taken with them 
all but a few remaining flashes,
echoes, really
of a life I sometimes dream I lived.
There is no weight as crushing
as a mother's empty arms.
Aching to hold my child,
almost remembering the feel of his skin,
his smell.
I try to remember his voice, his laugh
while my vacant arms embrace the air.
Silent tears spill down my face
and the pieces of my broken heart 
collapse within my chest
as the hollow settles in.
Oh how I miss him.

Grief is a part of love and life. We all know someone who's died or has suffered the death of a loved one. It's part of living in a fallen world. Death and the grief it causes were not in God's original plan. We invited them in with our sinfulness. Even still, God does not leave us alone in our grief.

However, with God's help, we can overcome it. Even though I’m not quite through this particular moment of grief yet, I know that God is and will comfort me and carry me through to victory over death and all its consequences. My hope is in the Lord. Having faced the deaths of loved ones while he was here on earth and then dying himself on a cross for our sins—my sins—Jesus understands my grief better than anyone else. God reaches down into the pit of my grief and pulls me out every time, through the love and concern and action of others and through his Spirit's hold on my heart.

God's strength and love have brought me through a tragedy—the death of child. My son was twelve years old when he was killed. God doesn't "give" me hard times, though he often allows difficulties into my life to shape and form me. It's the friction and resistance of my life circumstances that God uses to mold me into the vision of me he had in mind when he created me. And God created from the depth of my pain an understanding and empathy for others who are hurting. In bringing comfort and peace to my heart, and joy back in my life, God has also given me a great responsibility and the privilege of caring for those who are hurting. I've received the comfort I needed so I could pass it along to someone else who needs it now. That's an important job and he is with me to give me the strength and courage to love his hurting children as he loves me. God uses me as the lighthouse they are desperately searching for in the darkness and chaos of their pain to guide them to the Solid Rock upon which I stand, my foundation, Jesus Christ.

The best advice I can give anyone who feels like the pain and trials of their lives are overwhelming them is to ask God to heal you, to help you overcome, and then watch him put that miracle to work for his glory in the lives of others. That is the secret to finding and knowing God's joy!

I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow," declares the LORD. Jeremiah 31:13 NIV

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV

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