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Archive for August 24th, 2012

It’s been a year. Maybe two.

You ask, “When will this pain go away?”

You’re ready to be done. Ready to be normal again. Ready for any tiny glimmer of hope and joy.

Grief is an exhausting zillion-mile-an-hour trip down Life’s Mall, through dense fog. People are talking, but you can’t understand them. Their blurry faces pass before you, but you don’t recognize them. Your mind operates in slow motion—if at all. Day. After day. After day.

Grief steals your ability to concentrate and focus. Misplaced keys, memory loss, forgotten bills and events are common, unwelcomed additions to life after the loss of a loved one. I would be driving down the freeway confused about how I got to that place. Worse yet, we live in the country with winding two lane roads. More than once, I wondered where am I and how do I get home?

Grief also precipitates physical pain. Your muscles tense causing neck, back, and shoulder pain. And you’re tired. All the time. Sleepy, but unable to sleep. The fridge is heaped up and running over with all those dishes of love from well-meaning friends. You’re not ungrateful, but you’re not hungry. Worst of all, you’re alone, in the middle of a crowd. That one missing loved one means you stand alone.

It’s not uncommon to see your deceased loved one walking down the hallway. You swear they’re real. But you know better. Your mind plays tricks in the middle of devastating turmoil. Troubling. But normal.

You’re not crazy. It’s grief.

But grief is not the end. It’s just the beginning.      

Remember the story in John 6:1-13 where Jesus feeds the five thousand with five barley loaves and two fishes? Truth is that was only the men. When the women and children were counted, there were probably ten to twelve thousand hungry folks to feed that day.

Do you recall how He blessed that little boy’s meager lunch, broke it up, and the disciples distributed it to the crowd?

But do you know the rest of the story?

After everyone had eaten their fill, He instructed the disciples to gather up the fragments so that nothing would be lost or wasted. And there were twelve baskets full of left-overs.

When death shatters your life, by the loss of a loved one, all that remains are left-overs. Fragments.

Then I make a ridiculous statement: God never wastes anything—even your grief.

You ask, “How can God ever use anything as dark and ugly as what I’m going through? What am I to do with the crumbs of my life? Which way do I turn? Where do I go?

The answer is to Jesus. He scoops up the cracked pieces of our lives and places them on His potter’s wheel to repair, integrate, and reshape us into new vessels. By the power of His love, the warmth of His hands, and the pain we’ve experienced, He changes pride into humility, anger into hope, and sorrow into comfort.

Then He certifies all He repairs, “comforting us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (NAS I Corinthians 1:4).

I know this arduous journey has taught me lessons I could never have learned any other way. Jesus used those scattered fragments of grief, after Michelle’s death, and made a new beginning for me.

Would I love to have my daughter back? Of course. But wouldn’t that be selfish? She’s healed and with her Lord Jesus. To have her back would mean she’d have to die again.

I am so thankful God didn’t abandon me outside the hospital room that night.    And neither has he abandoned you.

He picked up those heart wrenching fragments and transformed me.

And He is ready to transform you too.

Yes, God didn’t waste anything—even the darkest moments of my grief that sent me fleeing into His arms.

Now it’s your choice—His light or your darkness. His comfort or your anger. His love and mercy or your doubt and unbelief.

He will transform your life, if you allow Him. You will become a conduit of His mercy and grace to be poured out on others about to enter this foggy journey. And your legacy will point others toward the light of His glory that shines in the darkness of this very long tunnel.

So don’t quit. Don’t run away. Don’t take grief as your identify.

Because grief is not the end. It’s just the beginning.

 

Prescription: Sort the fragments of your grief into a neat stack. Then one by one, “Cast all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you” (NAS I Peter 5:7).

           

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