I met a woman whose heart was cracked wide open like the aftermath of a sudden earthquake cracks the ground before you. The devastating news of a child that is no more leaves a mother where she was never meant to be. One minute the ground you walk on is solid and normal as every other day and then---it’s un-navigable. Just like that. How do you walk forward through all this devastation? Where do you put your feet? There is no GPS for this kind of road. The wreckage is too great. The re-route just has you going in circles.
I’ve noticed something peculiar that happens to people who are grieving the sudden loss of a loved one. There is a certain perceived pressure they feel from those around them to get over it quick. As though there is a culturally acceptable norm to get through it within a particular timeframe. I’m not sure if this is self-imposed or if we as a culture really do expect this? Can there really be a timeframe for a heart to heal? And does it really ever heal from this kind of loss? Yet, what I’ve observed is a kind of self-conscious smile that doesn’t quite reach the eyes. You know, those windows of the soul that are difficult to disguise. You can tell that those cracked edges are still sharp with shards.
What truly breaks my heart is that someone should feel they have to hide the deepest sorrows of their heart because it might make someone else uncomfortable. They put this pressure on themselves to “move on”, “join in”, and “get back to living life”. Of course there is a certain necessity for these things to eventually happen for good mental health but who is to say at what point? We are all wired so differently so how can there be a “norm” that everyone should adhere to? Why are we so hard on each other, on ourselves?
For believers who grieve there is an added pressure that if we say we “trust God” then we should accept what we’ve been given and move on. As if grieving is somehow a sign of distrust. It was never God’s intention for death to occur. But Eden was devastated, so to speak, and here we are surrounded by the wreckage.
In the gospel of John a man named Lazarus died. He was a man very dear to the heart of Jesus. Before he died his sisters sent word to Jesus that he was ill. They waited in hope that he would arrive and heal him. He didn’t. When he finally arrived they said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” It had a certain accusatory tone. “Where were you Lord?” Have you ever felt this way? Where were you when my heart was torn in two? When my husband left me? When my mother gave me up for adoption? When my wife was terminally ill? When my child was taken from this earth? Jesus did not reprimand them for their tone. He didn’t try to correct their emotional response. He looked upon their honest hurt and he wept. He grieved with them. He identified with their pain and he entered in and loved them in it. No expectations.
We don’t always get the answers to our questions when we ask the Lord-- “Where?” “Why?” “When?” But what we do get is grace to work out our hurts with him in honest conversations. He doesn’t want our fake smiles and lip service. He knows they’re lies. He’s in our heart. He feels our pain. He hears our thoughts. And he weeps with us.
He has stepped into the wreckage and given us a true GPS. He has given his Holy Spirit to guide us through his plan of reconstruction. Through his Word he shows us how to navigate over the deep crevices and barriers of rubble. His voice comes through the dusty clouds of ruin and tells us where to place our feet. Shakily we move at first, weary, fearful of a misstep but drawn by the confidence of his voice; a voice relentless with assurance and love. And with each step the air grows clearer and the ground more steady.
There is a GPS that never fails. Gracious Providential Spirit. Attune your ear to his ancient voice and let his redemptive work make all things new; one step at a time.
“Then I saw a new heaven and earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!”…”Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”…”It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega---the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 21:1-6 N