In the first days, months, and even years, grief demanded to be felt. At first all consuming, then later coming in waves, it was a typhoon I could not circumvent. Sometimes it was best to let the waves crash me against the rocks. I needed to feel every ounce of sorrow, every iota of pain that was even physical at times. No, of course, I did not want to be in the valley of death, and yes there were so many months I didn’t think I’d make it out alive.
But somehow even in the crushing, tsunami days I knew that if I was going to see redemption, if I was going to see God do something with the ashes of a broken life, I had to process the weight of grief. I couldn’t push it aside or bury it in a box. The only way through the storm, through the suffering, was to embrace it. I didn’t always grieve well, but to feel, and feel, and feel again was a response empowered only by grace.
There were so many more layers than I ever knew there would be, more knots to untangle, more tears to shed, more depths, more cyclical emotions. It took me longer to be ok then some people thought it should.
But there was also always more grace.
So here I am. I was a shipwreck, battered and sinking. I was a crumpled heap lying on the bottom of a cavern floor, limbs broken and splayed.
But God. But God who is rich in mercy wasted not an ounce of sorrow, but instead taught me himself in startlingly radiant ways. I learned a taste of what it was for Jesus to suffer—Christians like Philippians 3:10 “That I may know him in the power of his resurrection,” but we’d really prefer that the second half of the verse not exist, thank you very much. “And may share in his sufferings becoming like him in his death.”
But I do not desire a fake Jesus, the one who only comes in riding on a white horse. So, if I want to know the real Jesus, then I must know all of him.
Some say time is the great healer, but it’s not time, it’s Jesus. Sure, time has a way of blurring what once was crystal clear. But only Jesus truly heals.
Grief does not demand much attention these days. (I have two toddlers who do that just fine instead.)
But there ripples every now and then. This week a picture of some throw pillows sparked a good cry. And I feel sad that Jon never knew my wonderful David, or met my beautiful children. I know it’s a weird, thoroughly illogical response because if Jon was still here these three would not be.
I miss him still and always will. I love him still and always will.
But as Spurgeon said “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.”
It is true that joy comes after sorrow, light after darkness, and calm after the storm.
And it is well.