September 21 – Grief

September 21 – Grief

Romans 5:3-5

“…but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

I don’t ask why. The truth is for years I’ve been asking another “why?” When a dear friend is struck down with cancer, I say, “why her, Lord? Why not me?” When I grieve with a friend, whose child is in rebellion, “Why not us?” I often awake in the morning and say, “why me, Lord? Why am I still alive? Why am I in such good health? Why do I have such a challenging role to play? Why do my precious children love me so? Why me?”

How long since you stopped fretting to be treated fairly? To get what you deserve. But here we are in the human condition where people suffer, die and grieve. Why should any be immune? Grace overwhelms us day by day. Why should you not experience occasionally the reality of a fallen world? The truth of Scripture is such a comfort.

Another question that seems inappropriate, another game some people are tempted to play, is second guessing, “if only.” If only the new diving wetsuit had arrived on time and my son had not rented a faulty wetsuit. He would not have died. If only he had slept well the night before so that he could be alert. If only, if only. In the first place, there are no ifs in God’s vocabulary. He who works all things after the counsel of His will. How many forks in the road lead to every decision that we make? How far back down the road are you going to trace the if onlys? But it’s more than impossible, and thus fruitless. It can be very destructive.

Well, they told me some people are angry. Angry at the one gone. Why did he take risks? Why didn’t he arrange his affairs better in preparation for such an eventuality? It’s so fruitless. That person is out of range. And the only psyche that’s going to be damaged by that kind of fire is the person who is asking the question. Besides, did you love that person or someone else? Did you love them who has such a free spirit, with such a verve for life, with such exuberant joy, such living at the edge of potentialities? Then you have to take the package. No need to try to rearrange them now. And even if you could, they wouldn’t be the one you loved. Your life could be a long string of regrets, but left to God, there are no regrets.

Some people ask “Why?” David certainly wrestled with it in public. There are so many possibilities. Death is an enemy and we’re at war. It wasn’t God’s idea. Ah, you say, but he permitted it. He could have prevented it. By saying God could have prevented it, you resent it. That if God were smart enough, and strong enough, and loved me sufficiently this would not have happened.

What kind of God do you think you have if he gave His Son to die, not by accident, but by design, for His love of me. What kind of person would you be to call His motives into question? How do we calibrate deep grief? I know it is a great grief. The void and the sense of loss is there. We cannot rank grief, as if this is worse than that. We are ambushed by grief. Out of nowhere the pain comes. Well, the comfort of the Scripture gives hope. Hope for heaven. But a great discovery is the comfort of the Scripture, and the unity of the family — the Body of Christ. And you see, both are given to give hope.

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