Sayin’ goodbye is hard.
The distance from the airport parking garage to the Southwest gate seemed endless. Tears threatened an assault. I gulped them back. Grandson Noah and I chatted about stupid stuff, each of us knowing the elephant in the room was grief over having to say goodbye. Again.
Oh, I knew I’d talk on the phone with him and see him next trip, but my heart ached. We’ve done this drill so many times and it never gets easier. But to say goodbye and know it’s final for the duration of life in the here and now—that’s hard. Really hard. But it’s not forever.
Sayin’ goodbye hurts.
After the death of our daughter, I sat in the counselor’s office and heard her ask me, “DiAne, have you said goodbye to Michelle?”
Her words smacked me in the face. I snuggled in my self-righteous, stupid self and stammered mad. Why should I have to say goodbye, my daughter was a believer. She’s with Jesus. I’d see her again. Why should I have to say goodbye?
But in the days that followed, God brought scenes of my children leaving for college to mind. I saw them drive out the driveway, knowing I would see them again and what did I do? Stood in the driveway waving and watching ‘til they were out of sight, shouting goodbye.
And I know one day the goodbye will vanish and we’ll be together again and the hurt will vanish too.
Sayin’ goodbye is necessary.
I remember the last time I saw my mom before she died. Alzheimer’s had robbed us of everything the last eight years of her life. But when I leaned over and kissed her, shortly before she went to be with Jesus, she replied in a clear, lucid voice, “goodbye.” Her body died a week later. But Mama’s mind and ability to respond to an earthly relationship died seven years before.
Saying goodbye frees us from focusing on the ugliness of death and to comprehend the glorious riches of God’s grace and the reality of His promise of an inheritance and eternity with Him.
We can’t focus on heaven when our eyes and heart are mired in the muck of fear. It takes months, maybe even years to say goodbye. But God has a purpose and plan for you, so it’s necessary to say goodbye, for now.
Sayin’ goodbye confronts us with an ugly reality.
Whether your loved one has been ill for a long time or their death is unexpected, you are never prepared for that moment of separation. We are created eternal beings. And the bottom line when ferocious grief assaults your soul, you are brought face to face with your own earthly mortality. And Satan’s cunning voice whispers to your hurting heart, “You’re next.”
“Inasmuch then as the children(us) have partaken of flesh and blood. He (Jesus) Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He (Jesus) might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil, and release those (us) who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14 NAS).
Yes, God has numbered our days too. But if we trust Him for today, can’t we trust all our tomorrows and everything that goes with them to Him too?
Sayin’ goodbye reveals a weak link in the chain of our lives.
It is so easy to pour out platitudes when others are plunged into the tsunami of grief . We recite scriptures and think in our minds we believe them with all our heart. But in the practically of the valley of the shadow of death our faith is put to the test. Do we really believe what we preach to others when we’re the ones hurting? And God asks, “Do you trust Me?”
And that’s the bottom line. But even the faith to trust Him is a gift from God, all we need is a heart that wants to.
Sayin’ goodbye requires us to accept God’s sovereignty.
During some of the darkest days after our daughter went home to live with the Lord Jesus, I read Deuteronomy 29:29: “The secret things belong to the Lord…” I had read that verse many times, but that particular day the words jumped off the page and pierced my heart. Her death was unexpected to us, but not to God. He numbered her days before she was born.
Clear as could be I heard in my spirit, “Do you trust Me?” In the silence of the moment with my teeny-weeny less than mustard seed sized faith I whispered, “Yes, Lord. I trust You.”
And the clouds of grief diminished a little each day as I learn experientially to walk through life’s dark times trusting everything to God.
Grief never goes away—it changes, and grief is God’s roto-rooter to increase our heart’s capacity for joy.
Sayin’ goodbye is the beginning—not the end.
Jesus tells us death is an enemy. An enemy that reeks incredible heartache and destruction. But it’s not always going to be that way. God created us to become living stones, not dead stones. Stones that are being built into one body in Christ Jesus.
Our loved ones do not become heaven’s newest angels. God created all the angels there would ever be in the beginning. Those who love and trust the Lord Jesus are living stones who will rule and reign with Him forever.
Our loved ones aren’t sitting on a cloud, plucking a harp. No, if they had faith and trust in Jesus, they are doing what God planned for their lives. Doing what God transformed them to do and be. They are healed, filled with His joy, and alive forever by the same power that resurrected our Lord Jesus Christ and defeated Satan’s power over us through the fear of death.
The joy of His promise of a future and an inheritance is the power that enables us to keep on keeping on.
Saying goodbye is a choice.
The term “in that day” refers to a certain point in time, a time only God knows, when this age will end, death will be nailed in a coffin and buried forever. And Jesus will rule and reign, right here on earth, and we will never have to say goodbye again.
God’s promises are sure. You can trust Him. Scripture tells us He is not willing for any to perish, but that all should come to eternal life, through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you’ve never trusted Him, choose to accept His free gift of salvation purchased for you at the cross. Please make that choice right now.
You don’t have to wait ‘til you’re good enough. I sure didn’t. You can bow your head right now, admit you’ve sinned, and by faith believe that Jesus died to purchase you back from Satan. Thank Him for loving you and ask Him to teach you to trust Him more every day. Tell Him you want Him to be your Savior. Then tell someone, tell a friend, tell me, you’ve chosen to accept God’s gift of mercy and grace and follow Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
Sayin’ goodbye allows you to choose worship.
We are so prone to hang onto the shirttails of pride. Meeting the challenges of the day, solving problems, running life—‘til death sideswipes us and we realize we are in control of nothing. At that point you will either turn to or away from Jesus. You will become bitter or you will worship The Lord God Almighty, El Shaddai.
And worship is the reason we were created—to worship. What do you worship?
Sayin’ goodbye is an act of surrender.
Surrendering your loved one and yourself to the God who created you, loves you beyond your ability to comprehend will bring you to your knees giving honor and glory to Him. “… one Spirit, one Lord, and one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6 NAS).
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10 NAS).