Like the Israelites in the unfamiliar and unsettling territory of the wilderness, grief is the same sort of path. It’s so new and shocking we are unsure how we will function, or provide for ourselves, or experience life in its barrenness. But like God provided for them with manna and led them with cloud and fire, He provides us with grace unmatched in meeting needs and holding us up (Exodus 16).
While I have experienced suffering in my life, I have yet to know the depth and magnitude of losing a child, as friends did this week. I can’t imagine the overwhelming sense of sorrow they’re experiencing. I cried with them today. I praised God with them today. I’ll pray for them in the months to come.
This week I’m reminding myself of this truth: Grief is a wilderness and those in Christ are anchored to a Presence in which nothing can separate them. And in fact, earthly death brings someone the closest they can get to the presence of God, ushering them to the wonder and beauty of gazing into His eyes and walking arm-and-arm with Him forever.
In reference to Job’s great trust in God, Nancy Guthrie writes, “I discovered that a key to Job’s faithful response was the tight grip he had on what he knew to be true about God. He also admitted that his understanding of who God is and what God is doing in the world—especially in terms of suffering was incredibly limited. It was his security in what he knew about God and his submission to what he didn’t understand about God that enabled Job to be confident.” #
To be secure, at peace, at rest, and able to smile because of what we know of God, experientially and through Scripture and to submit ourselves to the mystery of God, without every explanation or perfect understanding… these are the rhythms of grace in the wilderness.
And He said to me, I’m here in this moment. For all you grieving. I’m always here. Come sit with Me. Keep coming, no matter circumstances outside you or feelings within you, keep coming.
Cry, and cry with God. Laugh, and laugh with God. Cozy in your favorite chair, and rest there with God. Live, and live with God. Include Him in your every moment. Invite Him into your mundane and major. As Dallas Willard said, “it is enough that God is God and I am His.” I pray for His help that that truth is one we build lives of joyful security and humble submission.
God will bring you — body and soul — through life and death to full and everlasting pleasure, if he is your safest refuge, and your supreme treasure, and your sovereign Lord, and trusted counselor, through Jesus Christ, the risen King of kings. (Psalm 16; #)
I’m also reminded again the words I wrote not long after my friend Emily passed from this earth to the presence of Jesus. You can read that here if you want.