Suffering is guaranteed. How we perceive it and allow God to use it is our choice. It comes in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes it strikes swiftly, mercilessly and without warning. Other times it taunts us. We know it’s coming and the wait is excruciating.
Watching my husband die of a terminal disease was a taunting suffering. It was my greatest fear-come-true. But I’m not very afraid any more. I’ve walked into the roar of the lion. And, like Daniel in the lion’s den, God sustained me in miraculous ways. But I didn’t know that when I wrote the following journal entry three months before Ray died.
June 9, 2015: Everyday Tears
“This is a season of anticipatory grief. I look at Ray and see a diminished body, sad eyes, and the ever present cannula protruding from his nose, symmetrical tubes looped over his ears as the oxygen concentrator huffs and puffs in the back ground, a white noise in our surreal life that delivers the breath of life - reminders that our days are limited - that we will not grow old together and that I will finish our journey alone. While I sometimes crave solitude, I cannot begin to imagine what life will be like without my best friend. What if I forget to tell him something really important before he dies? There are no do-overs. I get that. But I have no idea what it really means, or how I might agonize when faced with this reality…just one more thing, God. Like an afterthought as someone walks from the room. Tonight, I can’t stop crying.
Sorrow is my every day companion. It silences me - distances me from family and friends. I want to share my life and thoughts with them but I can’t utter the words without crying. Maybe someday. But for now I’m struggling to get comfortable with my everyday tears. Not as a burden to Ray. But as an expression of the grief that has begun to strangle my heart.”
During their growing up years our seven kids weathered the typical bumps, scrapes, and bruises childhood seems to require. If Ray was home he would scoop them up, carry them to the kitchen and set them on the counter to inspect the wound. Usually a “doctor daddy” did the trick…a hug and a piece of candy. Crying ceased, giggles erupted, and off they went. It worked because they trusted their daddy; they focused on him and not on their owie; and they expected him to deliver.
My pain needed a big “doctor daddy”. And my Abba Father delivered. He sent his peace that passes understanding; family and friends who weren’t afraid of my tears; texts, cards, phone calls and emails to let me know I wasn’t forgotten; books on grief, heaven, and spiritual formation; solitude; the beach; and two dogs who nestle into me when I cry.
Suffering is guaranteed. But allowing God to comfort us is a choice. For my young children hugs and candy did the trick. I needed something more substantial in this grieving season. What about you? Will you let God comfort you? He created you. He knows you. He loves you. And He longs to be your God of comfort.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”