Trust After Loss: Access the Truth

 

“I wake before the morning light.  Every. single. morning.

I get my coffee, sit in my chair and wait for sunrise.

I never worry that today it might not happen.

I’m never concerned that after all these years of faithfulnessthis day may be the one where daylight fails to make an appearance.

There is no fear in this darkness because I know it will not last forever.

Morning is coming.

Morning. Is. Coming.

And that’s the hope I cling to in this longer darkness of the Valley of the Shadow of Death-no matter how many years it may bethe Valley has an end.

The same God Who keeps the earth in orbit around the sun has ordained that death will not have the last word.

Light will triumph.

Darkness will have to flee.”

From Morning Is Coming

sunrise trees

I have loved Scripture as long as I can remember.  When I was in second grade I got the notion to read the whole Bible straight through-in the King James Version.  I made it to Leviticus before I threw in the towel.

By the time my kids were grown I had read and studied Scripture for decades. 

But three years before Dominic ran ahead to Heaven I realized my reading had become rote-I felt like I “knew” all the stories.  So I slowed my study to a crawl-only one chapter a day-and I usually copied the whole chapter plus my notes into a journal.  I had just finished this time through the Bible in January before Dom was killed in April.

And all that truth stored in my mind and heart was what I “read” for months when my eyes were too full of tears to see print on a page.

Many verses stung-some still do-but I was committed to bathe my broken heart in what I knew was true.  I would take it like medicine, even when it tasted awful.  I knew-in the end-it was my only hope for help.

It’s easy when doubt creeps in to let my heart hold onto it-even in the face of Truth that puts the doubt to rest.

But if all I do is question, question, question and never still my soul to receive God’s answers or His comfort, then I will simply run out of oxygen and faith.  I will lay prostrate with the enemy’s foot on my neck.

I will lose all hope and give up and give in.

I let my feelings, questions and doubts OUT, but I also choose to take the Word of God IN.

And when I can’t do anything else, I recite and cling to the names of God:

Jehovah-Roi-the God Who Sees Me.  This is the name Hagar gave God in the desert.  He didn’t change her circumstances but He assured her that she was seen, not overlooked and not abandoned.

Jehovah-Nissithe LORD my Banner.  God is the One I look to in the battle.  He will not always save me from the fight, but He has guaranteed the victory.

Jehovah-Shalom-The LORD my Peace.  Jesus is Sar Shalom-the Prince of Peace Who promises Himself to every heart that will turn in faith to Him.  This peace is inner certainty that He is Lord over all, even when the evidence I can see is telling me that’s not true.

THE NAME OF THE LORD IS A MIGHTY TOWER.  THE RIGHTEOUS RUN TO IT AND ARE SAVED.

I leaned hard on the Word stored in my heart. I was too broken (and some days still am too broken) to open my Bible.

God had prepared David for years as a shepherd to lean hard on Him.  David’s Psalms don’t end with “Where are You, God?” they progress to a recitation of the character of the LORD, to an enumeration of His past faithfulness, to a true understanding that sometimes there’s NO understanding what He is doing.

And David leaned in, hung on and recited truth to his heart even when his head couldn’t figure out how what he was experiencing squared with what he knew to be true.

The whole book of Job is full of questions but it is also contains Job’s declaration he was firmly convinced that “as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and He will stand upon the earth at last.”  (Job 19:25)

hallelujah1

“You can’t hold your breath forever.

But when you first learn your child is dead you want to–oh, how you want to.

I don’t know if it was defiance or hope that made me certain that if I could just stop breathing, I could freeze time.

I could undo the truth.

I could stop the creeping terror that seized my heart.

But it was impossible.  My body insisted that my lungs release the poison of carbon dioxide and refresh my oxygen supply.

There is a spiritual counterpart to the physical desire to stop breathing. 

Most bereaved parents will tell you that at some point in their grief journey, whether they would describe themselves as “believers” or not, they have had to examine their notion of God.

They have to ask, “How am I to relate to this Person that controls the Universe–this Being that could have saved my child–but chose not to?”

I am a Christ follower.  I believe in Jesus and I trust His Word.

But I will honestly confess that burying my child has made me reexamine just what that means and just Who He is.

Before my son was killed, I gave mental assent to the idea that “God is in control” but wasn’t forced to reconcile His control with my heart’s desire to guarantee my family’s safety.

But His existence, and His character does not depend on my understanding.  And to be frank, a God I can comprehend wouldn’t be much of a God at all.

I could not will my body not to stop breathing.

And what I am learning in this grief journey is that I can’t hold my spiritual breath forever either.

The poison of doubt and the insistence that I be able to comprehend the fullness of God will suffocate my soul as surely as lack of oxygen will stop my heart.

So, “Hallelujah” is my exhale.

It is my letting go-my drawing in again the life-giving truth that God is God and I am not.

And acknowledging that while I cannot understand His ways, I can choose to trust His Father love.” 

From Hallelujah is an Exhale

There is no easy answer for why children die-no sweet saying that can wash away the pain and the sorrow and the regret of burying your son.

But I know this:  If my healing depends on me, I am lost.

If the God of heaven is not the god of all, then I have no hope.

If Jesus didn’t really come, and die and rise again,  I have nothing to look forward to. 

Ann Lamott recounts this tale in her book, Plan B:  Further Thoughts on Faith:

There is a lovely Hasidic story of a rabbi who alwasy told his people that if they studied the Torah, it would put Scripture on their hearts.  One of them asked, “Why on our hearts, and not in them?”  The rabbi answered, “Only God can put Scripture inside.  But reading sacred text can put it on your heart, and then when your hearts break, the holy words fall inside.”

My heart is already broken-burying my son did that. 

Now I’m waiting

and trusting

that the holy words will fall inside.  

band-aid-and-heart

 

Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

12 thoughts on “Trust After Loss: Access the Truth”

  1. I am writing and responding now for myself only, but I doubt very much I’m the only one who feels this way, or a similar way. You see, whereas I understand that the death of your son was a hard blow to your faith, my son’s death has turned out to be a nuclear bomb to mine. You are rebuilding because you have remnants to use, and a foundation, as you have never doubted the existence of your god. From yesterday: “Even in my most doubtful moments I knew God was there. Even if I couldn’t see Him, even if I couldn’t hear Him, even if I couldn’t feel Him-I still knew He was there. Somewhere deep inside me I knew He was still God.” So my question to you is, where does this leave those of us who have doubted, and still doubt, the existence of god? You have left us all behind. I was hoping I might find something, anything, in your thoughts that would put even a small dent in the huge boulder that is my unbelief, as nothing I have read or heard has been able to touch it. But you have started so far ahead of my beginning place, I find nothing upon which to build. This is not criticism; this is simply what I observe. I have found no one willing to engage me at my start line, which serves only to reinforce my conclusions. I’m glad that some bereaved parents, such as yourself, are able to find answers and comfort in their belief. I don’t expect that I will. I am not closed to it; I have not shut myself off, and still participate regularly in many activities of my faith community, because I believe they have inherent value no matter what I actually do, or do not, believe. I am happy for you…

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  2. Melanie, when I read your posts, I feel as if you are writing my own thoughts. My process of struggling with Who God is runs alongside yours, consciously determining that, in spite of not understanding His ways, He is my Best and Only Hope. I am 3 years into life without my Stephenie. She spent 3 years fighting colon cancer, as it eventually took away her ability to eat. I don’t think anyone can understand how awful that would be, but I watched her find ways to enjoy flavors in a number of ways.
    Your struggle with trusting God again has reminded me of something I wrote a few months after Stephenie went to heaven. I am sharing it with you in the hope that it comforts you in your loss of Dominic. Thank you again, for posting your thoughts and feelings–they are a balm to my hurting mother’s heart.

    Loss and Prayer

    A barrage of emotions overwhelms me, knocks me down,
    Like never-ending tidal waves, they come, and overcome

    Obsessed with questions that have no answers–None that satisfy…
    I distance myself from God–knowing the foolishness of separation
    From the only One Who really knows my heart.

    If only I could see Through His Eyes–But I am human
    And He is divine; His ways are beyond my finite grasp
    Even so, He calls me to trust

    HE, who has the power to heal, Who knows the number of our days,
    Who heard my desperate prayers, then chose to heal in His Own Way—
    He does not explain, but calls my heart to respond–
    Even when I don’t understand.

    He gives moments of peace, a pause in the intensity of my pain
    He offers a non-judgmental heart that listens and knows
    But He spares not the pain of missing her.

    His whisper flutters across my fearful mind. I want to resist this tender call to my soul
    Even as it melts into my aching heart, I’m irresistibly drawn to His call,
    And so I pray…

    Please help me to see, through Your eternal eyes, to a day when I will again be with those who have gone before me when the pain of this world won’t even be a memory
    And nothing but eternity lies before me.

    On that day, I will sit with my loved ones Around Your table of feasting and celebration
    My heart will overflow with joy as I see her, perfectly whole, Enjoying the feast set before her
    And hearing her Father say ‘Well Done! Now enter into My Joy!”

    With grace and courage and trust in You, She endured all that life put before her,
    Help me to do the same, to put one foot in front of the other,
    Trusting You to see me through to that great feasting day

    Comfort me now, even in my rebel thoughts. Understand my anger, my grief.
    Transform them into precious gems that shine with all the brightness
    That her life has given me.

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    1. Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing this. So much truth eloquently spoken. Our wounded hearts long so much to find rest. It’s really only when we accept that we cannot understand the ways of God we begin to find it. Trust is hard. But if I can lean in and trust, the way is much easier. ❤

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  3. Melanie, I have found I look forward to every morning when I can read your blog post and truly absorb what you are saying. Your journey of grief as well as your journey with God speaks to me daily and always gives me words to ponder that sit on my heart and I am able to bring them back when I need them for words of encouragement. Thank you for being so open and raw with your journey. I am thankful for you!

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    1. Such kind words, Renee. I’m thankful the blog helps your heart a bit. This is a rough road. Compassionate companionship certainly makes a difference. If we travel together, we are encouraged. ❤

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  4. Melanie, you are an extrordinary writer! Your words have such depth and meaning…your expression of grief, speaks to my grief. I too, have a belief in God and His word. Yes, I wavered at times after my husband and daughters death, but I know it was GOD who has carried me all these years. Thank you for your daily posts. ♡

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Teresa,
      I’m thankful the post speaks to your heart and also for your enduring faith in God and Christ. May the Lord continue to strengthen you for this journey and speak courage to your soul. ❤

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  5. Reading your story, made me tenderly thinking about loss and praising our sovereign God, because there is hope, and there is a never changing truth – His love for me. And for you. And there is no better time to prove good old habits than those of trial. We can hardly ever be ready to let our children leave this world before us… Wish you His comfort and peace, in the middle of turmoil.

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