My mind has been preoccupied with a subject that no one wants to be drawn back to again and again. None of us like to face the Grim Reaper – Death. We don’t like to face the fact that at any time death might come claim us or worse yet, come and snatch away our loved ones. Death is cruel, cold, heartless, irreversible, and unbiased with no respect for age. Young and old alike are susceptible to death. Death is not required to give us warning. It comes whether or not you are ready for it. Death comes for our loved ones even though there are still so many unspoken words and memories still waiting to be made, and even though there is so much advice and support still desired from the loved one taken. Death has the ability to suck the life out of the ones left behind. Death has a tenacious grip no matter how one begs and pleads and weeps for a reprieve of it’s visitation.
Let me be clear before going any further with this post. I’m speaking from the perspective of a Christian and what death means for the Christian; I am not going to delve into the effects of death for the unbeliever. I believe God is present in our grief and in our experience with Death. I believe God is in charge of calling us as Christians out of this world into His Eternal Presence and that as a Christian, death is not something we need to fear nor is it a hopeless finality – rather it is the opening of a door into a much grander and more glorious life. It is only the beginning of the beautiful life we all ache for and I believe we will once again be reunited with our loved ones. But that knowledge does not erase the pain that death inflicts. The knowledge that our loved ones are in a place far beyond our comprehension and are experiencing life at its best and fullest, this knowledge helps a tad bit in the face of the pain of separation. But if I am honest (and I’m sure most of you would have to admit the same), I will admit that this knowledge pales to the point of nearly-forgettable existence when I am locked in the throes of grief and pain of separation that death has caused in my life.
Tragedy stops a person in their tracks. Tragedy erases boundaries; differences are for the moment forgotten. In the face of fatal tragedy, people come together regardless of whether or not they are acquainted. Tragedy also draws our minds and hearts toward God, even those who hardly ever give God a nod of recognition in normal times. The drawing of our minds toward God is not necessarily always with the proper response. The tendency is within each of us to gravitate toward railing at God and blaming God for the pain that death/tragedy bring. I’m telling on myself here. Because of the sinful nature in us, it feels good to get angry with God. In fact, we feel justified in being angry at God, because after all He’s all powerful, He could have prevented this awful tragedy. He could have spared my Dad from having a massive stroke. Even if He allowed the stroke and the fall to happen, He could have worked a miracle. I will admit my faith in Him was majorly depleted when He didn’t come through for our family like I thought He should have. Satan loves those moments, he takes advantage of our feeble faith and ravaged hearts. Countless times he’s gotten me to believe that if only I’d have prayed more, if only I would be more righteous and more fervent then as James says, my prayers would have been effectual. Satan’s favorite phraseology to throw at me has become “Psst, God doesn’t care; God’s not even remotely involved in your life neither does He love you enough to have compassion on you by allowing your Dad to live. He’s really just punishing you for not serving/loving Him with all your heart in times past” and on and on Satan goes. It’s hard to keep in focus the reality of who God is and what His heart is toward me when grief comes hounding my pain-ravaged heart in the darkness of the night. That’s where the comforts of Scriptures need to come alive which is difficult when my heart is clouded with grief. But that is where God calls other people to come and minister to the grieving heart and their voice in the midst of the dark valley prompts my heart to accept the salve God is offering me.
The pain of separation overshadows every aspect of life. At every turn, it seems something reminds me of my Dad. When times are good and there’s a cause for celebration, the celebration is tainted with the pangs of Dad not being present to celebrate with me. When the going is rough, heavy sadness makes the going even rougher because my heart cries, “if only Dad were here to cheer me on, to encourage me in the battle, and diffuse the stress of the moment with his sound advice and positive outlook on life.” In the face of Death’s cold, calculating visit, dark deep-seated grief threatens to consume me. “Time brings healing” I am told…how fitting that the adage puts no limit on the amount of time that may elapse before healing and yet it seems that there is an unspoken rule among the human race for when those hurting and grieving should be healed. Here me when I say that I have faith that healing does occur when journeying with the Master Healer who has come to apply balm to the hurting and to be a Father to the fatherless; but a physical wound this deep takes long to heal and even then leaves a tender scar and so it is with a heart wound. I am thankful for those in my life who are willing to enter into my raw sadness and dark grief with me for however long it takes to journey through it and are willing to hurt with me in this.