In the Company of Grief


Saturday my husband preached the funeral of a beloved church member that unexpectedly passed last week. Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of Ben’s brother many years ago. This coming Saturday we will attend another funeral for another saint. The past couple weeks have been a particularly difficult time of mourning for me in the midst of our infertility journey.

It feels as if grief is everywhere, pressing in on all sides. Some fresh sorrow, some old, yet all the same – engulfing, unrelenting.

Contrary to what I previously thought, I have learned that grief, once introduced, is a steady companion. Some days it stands distant in the background; others, it is as close as can be. But it is always there. It does not fade and disappear with the passage of time. I have watched friends and family continue to grieve years, decades even, after the loss of a loved one. And it wasn’t until we faced the death of our dream of having children that I learned the lingering pain of loss; I fully expect grief to be a companion the remainder of my life.

A friend of mine who suffered the death of her husband once told me people are surprised that she still grieves his loss, even years later. I still feel the ache of my loss of motherhood at the most innocuous reminders of children, though we’ve been on this journey for years. We often expect ourselves to “get over it” and “move on.” I myself feel embarrassed to still be so broken and weak over my loss, wishing I was stronger and more resilient. Don’t I have plenty to be thankful for and happy about?

Though the Lord has given us countless blessings, no amount of them cancels out loss. Even Jesus – the very God incarnate, who had the power to raise from the dead, and knew that He would do so – mourned the death of His friend Lazarus. Even though Jesus knew resurrection was imminent, Lazarus’ death was not ignored or dismissed lightly. It was mourned by the God-Man Himself.

Loss never becomes more palatable. We never grow accustomed to it or grow to be happy about it. The pain does not magically dissipate after X number of days/weeks/months. Because this is not the way life is supposed to be. To expect grief to diminish, to attempt to minimize the pain, is to downplay the devastating effects of sin on this world. Because, ultimately, that is what we mourn – the deviation from the created order caused by sin. And we ache for all this heartbreak to be undone.

God promises that one day it will be.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
Rev 21:4

Tomorrow we remember another death – that of Jesus Christ on the cross. But it wasn’t the end. Sunday we will celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, when He defeated death and secured resurrection for all those that believe on Him. One day, our bodies, along with this world, will be renewed, free from the curse of sin. In the midst of our grief, we have the assurance and comfort that one day all our sorrow will be undone.

Though we do not grieve as those without hope, still, we grieve. To make light of grief, expecting it to go away quickly and quietly, is a travesty. It belittles the violent upheaval and undoing caused by sin of the perfect world God made. The hope of resurrection God has given us is only seen for its great glory and magnificence when we recognize the depth of the devastation He has undone.

And so we wait. We grieve. And we look with a hopeful eye towards that day when He will turn our mourning in to dancing.

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