Grief’s journey is probably different for everyone. I thought my path was going okay, even if not smoothly, at least as normally expected. When June came, I felt some cracks in my ‘armor’. But July broke my hurt wide open. It was unexpected and I couldn’t figure out what to do with it.
I know and love Jesus. I read the Bible, love singing worship songs to Him, and talk to Him daily. I cried out to God when I first found out my mom had cancer and I continued to pray. I know that God is in control and that He is GOOD – He cannot NOT be good. I thought my faith was strong and that I could walk through it, with God, whatever He decided, including her passing away in January.
In July, instead of me just talking TO God, He got my attention. He got me out of town to a women’s conference led by Beth Moore and I sat still and quiet enough to listen. God talked TO me.
First, I want to just refresh your memory on Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters, because God spoke to me in the context of a Bible passage. In Luke 10:38-42, Martha was upset because Mary was not helping in the kitchen, when in fact, Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus listening as He taught. Jesus said that Mary had chosen wisely. It seems that Mary was a serious follower of Jesus and probably grew very close to Jesus. Fast forward to John 11:17-44 when Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days when Jesus arrives (after word had been sent to ask Jesus to come and heal Lazarus). In John 11:20, amazingly it isn’t Mary running to meet Jesus when they are notified that Jesus is coming; Martha ran to meet Jesus and Mary stayed home. Now we don’t know for sure WHY Mary stayed home, but Beth Moore taught from the following vantage point.
When you are super close to someone and they don’t come through for you, how do you feel? Let down? Hurt? Betrayed? In Mary’s case, in John 11:32, later when she finally saw Jesus, a fair paraphrase of her words would be, “WHERE WERE YOU?” You could have come and healed (for I believe you have the ability), but you didn’t. True intimacy with God is being able to cry out to Him, “WHERE WERE YOU?”
Then God spoke through this women’s Bible teacher and put a finger directly on my wound and opened it wide. The words spoken were MY words inside but I had never acknowledged it to myself or to God. The words were: My heart is broken and I feel like YOU BROKE IT! I wasn’t angry at God for my mom’s death. But I felt betrayed by my best friend. Please understand: God is the God of the universe and though He loves me, He does not become my ‘genie in a bottle’ and give me whatever I ask for. But as I was finding out, sometimes what we KNOW to be true, doesn’t change what our heart feels. I KNEW that God loved me even though it didn’t feel like it in the grief. As Jesus said in John 15:9, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” So, I took the message home that weekend of being real and honest with God, to pour out my grief to Him.
So, summer carried on with my open wound; everything and nothing made me cry. Sometimes I worried that there was something mentally wrong with me, as well as spiritually wrong with me.
But God wasn’t done tending to me. Through a variety of circumstances, He brought me out of town again in September for another conference with Beth Moore. The teaching was good and insightful, but did not relate to my specific ‘condition’. And then near the end of the conference, God spoke to my heart. When I look back, I think what God had to say to me, actually didn’t even fit in with the rest of the main topic of the conference. But this is God, so He can do what He wants.
The Bible verse God spoke through was Song of Solomon 8:5. Yes, I know the context of this chapter and book are a completely different story for another time. Yet, God used His words and imagery in that verse to speak to my weary, broken heart. “Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?” Yep, I could relate to the wilderness. Dry, barren, lacking joy. I was struck by the teacher’s explanation on ‘leaning on her beloved’. Perhaps, after her long sojourn in the wilderness, she no longer had the ability or the will to walk. She had to limp along leaning on her beloved. Yep, that sounded like me. But possibly not even limping; maybe crawling. But the message to my heart was: even if I am crawling on the journey – hang on to the beloved.
In the beginning of my grief, I thought I would walk through it with God’s help. My reality is crawling BUT I will not let go of my beloved. I will hang on for all He is worth, because there is NO ONE else worth holding on to.
I am still in the ‘open wound’ season of grief and quite honestly, I don’t know what comes next. I suspect my heart will not be totally healed until heaven, when I see and understand more fully. One other thing I am clinging to in that Song of Solomon verse, “Who is this coming up from the wilderness…?” COMING. UP. FROM.
Jesus, my beloved, I long to come up from the wilderness and I believe there is hope that I WILL one day come up from the wilderness. And I know that though my heart is broken, only You can bring me up and out.