Sorrow and death have permeated our lives for the last several weeks. The death of a loved co-worker, the sudden illness and passing of a family member, the homegoing of a friend’s father, a violent crime that ended the life of a friend’s child…all life changing, all devastating, all carrying us to the precipice of the pit of grief. We struggle to cope and to breathe. We question, we wonder, we love, we cry, and we pray. We look for grace in the middle of the mess, but the tears blind our eyes. The labor of grieving is hard, hard work.
Where is the grace? We want absolution from sorrow, but the grace exists in the small moments that live in and surround the tragedy – the love of friends, the sunrise after night, a quiet laugh over a shared memory, a soft breeze that whispers of Heaven, tears that release some of the pressure bursting our hearts. None of these alleviate the sorrow but they give respite within the sorrow, and that is grace.
Life begins and life ends. We spend our days denying the reality of death, as if by turning our heads and putting our fingers in our ears we can change the limited span of our years. The older I get, the more I have a picture in my mind of prying my child’s hand off a broken trinket to give her something better. Oh, the tears, the sobs! All she could see was the immediate, but I knew that what I had in store for her would be worth her short time of crying. This picture expands to God prying my fingers off the broken trinkets of this life, working through illness, age, loss, and trial. My grasp on this life lessens as He works to transition my heart to eternity. I cry and grieve, and sometimes I stomp my feet, but what He has in store is far superior to what I am clinging to now.
From our perspective, the transition may happen much too quickly – a child, a young person, a spouse – but God’s perspective does not mirror ours. He has placed the music of Heaven in every heart, and if we listen closely we can hear it. We are born with a homing device in the soul that points us continually back to the Father. Death is a certainty. Grace lives in the certainty that Jesus conquered the grave.
This muddle of life is made of the highs and lows, the sorrows and the joys, of each moment and each day. God, if we allow Him to be, is right in the muddle with us. He can turn tragedy to triumph and sadness to song but the process can be painful, and it may require that we loosen our grip on what we have to take hold of what He has for us. This is the essence of faith.
Romans 8:15 – For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God.
I Corinthians 15:5 – O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
I Peter 4:13 – But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.