I have wanted God to speak differently to me in my grief than He has the rest of my life, but God is consistent, He does not change. There is no shadow of turning with Him. I wanted God to shout to me. I wanted God to give me direct questions to direct answers. Instead, He whispers wisdom, He answers questions with more questions, none of them enough on their own, but each providing its own measure of salve on open wounds that still ache. He speaks to me the way I hear them, maybe just because I only know how to hear Him one way.
Within a week of Joel’s death I told Ryan that if Joel was supposed to be raised from the dead, but he went to heaven and God gave him the choice, and he, in his own free-will chose to stay in heaven, I could be glad for him. I could live with Joel having changed the plan I thought was established. Of course, I don’t know. I feel like I can’t know if this is what happened, but I realized if there was even one answer I could live with, then the real answer, the one I probably won’t know this side of heaven, must also be an answer I can live with. It was a first step in trusting God that even if I don’t know “why” there is an answer that exists, and it is good.
We have been re-reading C.S. Lewis’ “The Problem of Pain” and it has been good for us. No specific comfort, but lots of opportunities to remember again that God is God and I am not, and His perspective is infinitely beyond mine.
I woke up two weeks after Joel died with the thought that “being uncomfortable with my only source of comfort is exhausting.” I didn’t know what to do with my grief because before Joel died, no matter how hard things got, I always eventually just rested in God’s love, knowing that He knew my heart, that I was seen and heard and fully understood. I didn’t know how to take my grief to the source of my grief. I know that God is not the author of pain, mine or anyone else’s, and yet, He was the only one who could have prevented my pain, and He did not. In my limited and selfish view there is not much difference. So, I did not pray. I did not worship. I did not rest. However, when I awoke with that thought I remembered that God really was my only comforter, and I could refuse to be comforted as long as I wanted, but I would be exhausted. I’ve never been very good at holding a grudge. The thought itself was enough for me to drop my defenses and try to learn to go to God with the hurts that I held Him responsible for, it was hard and it continues to be, but it is much easier than refusing to receive His love.
Many people have shared things with me that have touched my heart in one way or another. I have begun to ask myself if faith produces a fruit beyond just the realization of the thing believed for. I know God lead me to have faith for Joel’s healing or resurrection. I assumed He would only ask me to have faith because He intended to honor my faith with the realization of my belief in Joel’s life. I have begun to wonder if God asked me to believe for other reasons, for the joy that hope brought in the years that we had to share with Joel, for the strength that we gained in learning that we could persist in faith, perhaps even for the deepening of relationship that will come as I renew trust in God despite the fact that He did not spare me the pain of great loss, that my faith did not result in the honoring of the promises in scripture for Joel’s healing. I don’t know if faith is designed to produce this kind of fruit, or if a righteous God can ask us to stand in faith just for these smaller purposes and not for the purpose of victory. I’m still thinking this through, but even having some thoughts to wrestle with is comforting in its own way, reminding me that there is a lot I don’t know.
At church last week, our pastor began the sermon with this verse:
Luke 19:41 and 42 “Now as He (Jesus) drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. ”
It struck my heart in an odd way that was very comforting, I could just see Jesus looking at the state of my heart and weeping over me and saying “If you only knew the things that make for your peace!” I felt like God was speaking directly to me, saying, “You really are confused. You really don’t understand. It’s ok. You can’t understand this.” I don’t know why that was comforting to me but it really was, perhaps because it is deeply sad, and full of great compassion for my frustration.
I’m not as angry as I was. Every day I am more willing to let go of my need to understand what happened. We miss Joel in a deep and beautiful way that washes over the most joyful days like the tide coming in. Today was especially hard. Ryan and I cried throughout the Easter service and barely managed to take our annual family Easter photo, but I wanted to do it anyway even though it made us sad. We took lilies to Joel’s grave. It was our first visit there with the children since Joel was buried, (Ryan and I went last week just the two of us.) Ryan is sleeping now, and I am writing this post, because I have waited to write until I knew what I wanted to say, and I realized that I don’t really know what to say, except that God continues to speak to me in his subtle, quiet way, making me think through deeper things than I would naturally, and finding that even though I don’t have the answers, I can conceive of answers that would be acceptable to even my hurting heart.


There are 4 comments for this post.

  1. Anne on April 21, 2014 10:48 am

    This is a tough one to answer. I fully believe that the Lord granted you and your family special grace to deal with a terrible situation, and that it was a miracle, but not the one you so ardently believed in and hoped for. So did God (a) willfully deceive you or (b), is Joel’s death part of a bigger picture that we can’t see yet, and that the true fruits of this will only be apparent much later on? I have to go with (b). I am not really sure what the future holds, but I think that you have a true gift for writing; sometimes I read your posts and I can know what it is like to be you, just by reading your words. You have a true talent for expression and I believe in my heart that you will become a powerful witness for the Lord through your words. Of course, you have a husband and children and it may not be what you want, but I think you’ve been called on to testify what it is like to be you and you have the ability to move people that you don’t even know (like me!).
    I wish you and your family continued peace and healing, and for you for express what you’re going through. Not only do you not realize what you’ve accomplished, you also don’t know yet the power of your testimony, for yourself, for others and for the Lord.

  2. Caroline on April 28, 2014 1:23 pm

    A beautiful, but hard post. Grieving with you

  3. Laura on May 1, 2014 3:04 pm

    I am new to your journey. Reading over the last few months of posts, my heart has been moved by the depth of your loss and by your honesty as you wrestle with the realness of life in the now and not yet of the Kingdom. I have not walked your road, but this is my prayer for you today – “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”

  4. Belinda Kemp on May 6, 2014 4:00 am

    Just wanted to say ..We miss you …!!

    Prayers and thoughts for you all as always xx

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