"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal" – Irish Proberb
Grief is a journey and something we are all going to experience some day. As a society, we tend to avoid talking about it as we prefer to talk about happy events rather than sad ones but it is better to discuss it with the Lord, family, friends rather than suppress it. However, as you get older, one of the first things many people do each day is to check the obituary column to see who has passed away that they knew. As I scan the obituaries, I am often surprised to see that many of the people are younger than me so I am reminded that one day my name will appear in that column so I need to be prepared to leave this world. Being a Christian doesn’t make your life trial free and exempt from death, but you do have hope for the future. Death brings grief and sorrow to both the believer and the unbeliever, but the believer looks at death differently. Christians grieve but their grief is different than that of the unbeliever as they have the hope of Jesus Christ in their lives. Our hope is not in something but in someone-Lord Jesus Christ as He is our hope.
Each year about eight million Americans suffer the death of someone close to them. Losing a loved one is probably the most difficult thing we all have to face in life and unfortunately, few of us are ever taught how to grieve. Grief is not a sign of weakness but a sign of being human after losing someone or something you loved or valued. It is the after-effect of any deeply significant loss and can be caused by many different factors: divorce, loss of a part of the body, loss of a job, decline in physical ability, loss of a pet, and the most serious one, loss of a loved one. Regardless if death comes suddenly or if we have several months or even years to prepare for it, we are never ready. We have all heard the expression “Time heals all wounds” but in reality, certain things happen to us that we will never get over. But the good news is that we can get past those things that we will never get over. And how do you get past those things? You turn them over to the Lord Jesus Christ and you spend time in His Word. Whatever the need of the moment, the answer is to be found in scripture if we take the time to search for it. The Bible is God’s roadmap for life and can light your path.
On March 21, 2013, I had to face the most traumatic event in my life when my son, an only child, was murdered. Even though he was 50 years old, as a mother, you still think of them as a child and you never consider that your child will die before you as you assume that the parents will be the first to leave this world. It seems so profoundly wrong to have parents bury their children as you presume they will bury you. To make my event even more painful, I was the one who found his body. Regardless of what experiences we have in life, nothing could have ever prepared me for this devastating event. My son''s dead image created a scar in my heart that is hard to describe and will probably remain with me forever. The pain may lessen but it is never gone. But by God’s grace, we can begin the journey towards healing and joy that can be ours, no matter what we’ve been through.
Finding a loved one murdered, casts a darkness over you that causes you to plunge into a dark pit of despair. It is difficult to struggle with death as your strength and courage are completely gone in its presence. When I found my son, I thought of how Jonah must have felt when he was swallowed by a fish and how he cried out to the Lord. The Bible tells us in Jonah 2:1-2 “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble and He answered me. I called to you from the world of the dead and Lord, you heard me.” When you encounter death, you become so weak and vulnerable that you can hardly stand. I have found that when life gets too hard to stand, you need to kneel and you need to call out to God. God will lift you out of the pit of despair and set your feet on solid ground and steady you as you walk along.
After Russ’s death, I found myself spending much of my time reading books on grief and trying to find ways I could recover from my tragedy. The Temple Library has many wonderful books that address the issue of grief and although the books were helpful and I am still reading them, the real answers are in the Bible. When I read Psalms, I could really identify with David and how he felt as he also was completely filled with grief. In Psalms 38:6, David says, “I am bent over and racked with pain. All day long I walk around filled with grief”. I couldn’t have described it any better.
The Bible has all the answers but you need to spend time reading it. You not only have to read it, you have to study it and store those scriptures in your mind and heart. Since we are all busy, it is difficult to find time but it is important you schedule the time in your schedule. One activity which has been very helpful to me was being involved in Community Bible Study which is an organized way to study the Bible and which has motivated me to do my lessons each week. Community Bible Study meets each Monday at 7:30pm in Belton at First Baptist Church 506 North Main. This year we are studying Luke and it is such a blessing. Another great way is to read a Once-A-Day Bible which gives you a reading plan that will take you through the entire Bible in a year. Last year, I also participated in a Grief Series called GriefShare that was extremely helpful. That series will be offered again by Temple Bible Church and will be starting soon so if you are interested, contact Temple Bible at 254-778-3233. You can also sign up for daily emails to help you through the grieving process at God will comfort you in your sorrows, if you allow Him to. Then you can give that same comfort to others with the help of the Holy Spirit. When you reach out to someone else, your grief begins to heal and it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. You will not only bless others but will be blessed yourself. Another great way to keep your eyes upon Jesus is to listen to KLOVE as much as you can. If you study your Bible and listen to Christian music, God will continue to bless you and encourage on your journey through life. Blessings.