I stood at the graveside of my dear friend’s father today. I watched the cold air sting her face as the tears clouded her eyes. Oh how my heart hurt for her. Death….we are never ready for you, yet you come to us all….. eventually. This season of Joy has been peppered with death. On December 30th, a sweet girlfriend from high school observed the one year anniversary of the passing of her 23 year old handsome son. A tragic accident on Christmas night claimed the life of another high school friend’s niece. A precious young mother at our church lost her hero….her daddy. Other dear friends of mine have lost loved ones as well in the last ten days. Such a sad event for such a wonderful season…the celebration of our Savior’s birth. It will be two years on January 26th, I lost my father unexpectedly. In the days and months following I became very depressed. I had to take iron because I became anemic from not eating. I couldn’t write, read, or concentrate. I didn’t want to do anything but curl up in my bed and sleep. There are so many thoughts runnin through our heads when we lose a loved one. The thoughts are usually flooded with “if’s” and “only’s”. We recall the last coherent moments and what final words were exchanged. We think about the things that brought joy to our loved one. We recall funny story after story offering a much needed moment of laughter in the midst of heartache. Oh if only we could turn back time. If only we could talk to them just one more time. If only….if only….and so on it goes
For months I clung to a verse that literally gave me just enough strength to function daily.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
I read this verse over and over, day in and day out. Some days all I could physically and mentally accomplish was opening my bible to this verse. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, the Lord is close to the brokenhearted.” I was certainly brokenhearted, so knowing the Lord was close to me, gave me the only comfort I could somehow muster. I remember thinking how long is it going to take for me to feel normal again? How long am I going to cry every day or look at his pictures? I became so agitated in my state of malaise, I was literally frustrated because I was still grieving the if’s and only’s months later.
I remember thinking what a terrible mourner I was. I specifically remember telling myself I was lame and I had to snap out of it. I questioned if I was mourning the right way. I even talked to my pastor about my inability to pull myself out of the despondent state I was in. But oh how thankful I am to have Jesus. Oh how thankful. He was there on those dark days when I was so low at times I couldn’t look up. He was there even though I was so self absorbed I couldn’t focus on him. I honestly don’t know how people make it through this world without Jesus? It became ever so clear to me this time of deep mourning was exactly where God had placed me. There was no where I could escape this valley, no way around it….I had to walk straight through. “Okay God, you have me here in this fragile place with a broken heart…..now what?” I started asking him repeatedly over the course of many months. And sometimes with a bitter tone. And then I heard him specifically speak to me one morning during my quite time. I’m not sure how you hear from God but when he speaks to my spirit, I know it very well…..because he usually leads me to specific scripture and I can feel his presence heavily in the atmosphere and laying like a ton of bricks on my chest. I heard his gentle voice speak to my frail spirit. “It’s okay to cry child, but don’t forget to laugh. It’s okay to lament, but don’t forget to smile. It’s okay to withdraw, but make sure you fellowship too. It’s okay to grieve Mel, but don’t stop living in the midst of your grieving. Don’t stop living in the midst of your grieving. Did you hear me? Don’t stop living in the midst of your grieving.” It became ever so clear to me though my heart was still so fragile, the Lord wanted me to press on. To let my faith kick in. To live. Immediately I turned to Ecclesiastes 3, scripture I had read many times but had no real significance to my life until then. He sent this scripture just at the right time in my grief journey. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent, and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 There is something so comforting in this scripture to me. You see the way I look at it…..every detail of my life…… and your life is orchestrated to the detail. Everything we go through….the good and the bad……it’s all filtered through his loving fingers. We are all born into this world with an expiration tag and only the Lord knows when that expiration is up. We are all born into this world with a life to live, a song to sing, a hurt to heal, a laugh to share and a tear or several to shed. We are all born into this world with predestined seasons for our lives. We are all born into this world to live each day to the fullest even if it’s our time to mourn…..to laugh….. to plant……to dance…… to mend…..to be silent…. to love…. and eventually….. to die. Knowing that he has my days…..and my life events planned out to the detail…. just for Mel Porter…… is mind blowing to me. This gives me incredible comfort because his agenda is so much better than mine. Even though this old world is hard and we will all eventually experience every season listed in Ecclesiastes 3, our heavenly father gives the good and the bad…..but he never abandons us. There is a time for everything….. He gives us both spectrum’s of life……the good and the bad…..there is a balance. Forgiveness for sin…..mercy for disobedience….peace for turmoil….joy for sadness……..grace for unworthiness…..he gives it all….he gives it all with all the love that hung on the cross over two thousand years ago. Trust in Jesus can be so hard when we are blinded with a broken heart……but trusting Jesus is all we got. My God has reminded me this week as I grieved with my dear sisters and brothers…. trusting him in every life event…every season….in everything….is his perfect will for my life. In order to glorify him….I must press on and live….I must move on yet grieve….I must find joy among all the tears……I must praise him…in the valley’s….on the mountains….and especially by the gravesides….for these are the seasons of my life…..purposed by my God…..just for me.