My soul is in agony.
It’s torn around the edges.
Jagged sharp edges that cut into my heart no matter how I twist and turn.
Grief will do that to a person. I guess.
It’s done it to me.
Every time I think those jagged edges have been smoothed…something comes along to remind me, they haven’t been sanded smooth. Those edges will be there the rest of my life, ready to slice into my consciousness at any reminder of painful memories. Whether those reminders come by smell, sight, hearing, or feeling.
What, you ask, has any of this got to do with the title?
“Comfort care” is hospital speak for patients who have crossed that invisible line that all of us has in our journey of life. The line between life and death. The line between hope and grief. The line between medical cure for the living and medical comfort for the dying.
This past weekend, I helped take care of a patient just placed on comfort care. My heart hurt for the family. I knew the helplessness, the pain that was written all over their faces. I knew the hollowness carving a dad-made hole in their hearts. There was only so much I as a nurse could do to bring the comfort to both the patient and the family in my care. With one glance at their faces, I was transported back to my dad’s bedside. Comfort care is a time of grief and pain for the family. Isn’t it typical of our paradoxical life that we attempt to muffle death by soft choice of words? But Death hovers, mockingly threatening to disrupt life as we know it.
Folks, I admit I left the hospital this weekend, struggling. Fighting against God’s comfort care. I wanted to savor the taste of the anger, the bitterness, the pain of loss and I wanted someone to blame it all on. And so I mistakenly railed at God.
“Why, God? I thought You said You took away Death’s sting, Death’s victory.
So why is it still able to sting deep within my soul? Where are You when
Death is hovering? Where are You when Death laughs at our helplessness?”
God was waiting there in the midst of my spitting fury. He wasn’t deterred by my raw anger, my visceral pain, my biting bitterness. And when I stopped screaming, He spoke. He soothed the pain with the balm of His presence. He told me it’s okay to hurt, to grieve, to weep but to please allow Him to be right there in the pain with me.
I still hurt yes, but it’s not a consuming chasm now that I allowed God to enter into it with me. He created me. He knows the depths at which I feel. He knew the depths of pain that family was in this weekend. He is here. He knows what pain and loss feels like. We need only to invite His Presence to speak into our pain.
Ever feel like you’re free falling? Ever feel like the ground is rushing up at you, your parachute malfunctioned, and you have no wings? The force of the fall is sucking the breath out of you. But you’re at the mercy of gravity – there’s nothing you can do.
Except….God says “I bare you on eagle’s wings and brought you unto Myself.” I’m told that a mother eagle does that for her eaglets. When the young ones are learning to fly, the mother will swoop in underneath them and carry them back to the nest when their little wings have tired out.
If you’re like me, you’re thinking “Yeah but would God have to wait so long to swoop in?” What if it’s all up to us, about us giving up control? What if God waits for us to reach that point where we cry out, “Catch me, Father, I’m falling!”? Just as we have no control over gravity, we have no control over God and His plan for our lives. Sure we can refuse to go with Him but we can’t control our circumstances.
Life is about giving God free reign in our lives. It’s about free falling into God. Letting go of our flimsy parachutes of self-will, pride, and stubbornness. Picture a child being tossed in the air by her dad. Does she trust that he will catch her? Absolutely, the child is giggling at the exhilaration of the toss, never doubting that her dad will catch her and save her from crashing to the ground. That’s how God wants us to be.
Scary? Yes! Easy to let go of ourselves? No! Free falling into God’s arms goes against everything within us. Satan would prefer that we think our self-made parachutes will serve us well and save us from the crash. Don’t believe him. If we listen to him, we will end up splattered all over the ground of Ruin and Regrets. God can still swoop in at that point and put us back together again if we let Him.
Loving the exhilaration of the free fall and anticipating God’s arms encircling us…even when the future is unknown, even in the middle of our intense battle, even in the vacuum of our grief. Free falling into God’s arms amid the gravity of pain, of doubt, of financial distress, of rocky relationships, of consequences from past sins, of shame, of uncertainty, of the vortex of life’s daily demands.
It’s possible – you just gotta be that little child again and believe without a doubt that your Father is going to catch you.
Gotta go – it’s time for me to free fall without a fight to hang onto my flimsy parachute! Join me on this journey into God’s arms?
I’m loving these gorgeous mornings God’s been sending our way! Now those of you who know me well, know that this gal is not what you call an appreciative human being in the mornings. But this kind of morning is one that makes me glad to be alive, and that’s even before my first cup of coffee! Now that folks is a miracle of God – the fact that I’m loving the morning before I’ve even had my coffee. So if you’ve been having doubts recently that God is capable of working miracles, He’s doing one right here in me (and not only in adjusting my morning state of mind, He’s doing much more awesomeness in my life, just sayin’…)
These mornings remind me that I have a fresh dose of God’s grace for the day. Grace for the stress that’s bound to make me tense, grace for the overwhelming demands of studying, grace for the times that I want to react in anger, grace for the temptations that come my way. And the list could go on. It’s amazing how quickly I can go from standing out in the fresh morning air with this calming gratitude and worshiping in God’s overflowing Presence to an uptight, stressed-out, ungrateful, frustrated grouch. My human-ness is what brings me back again and again to God’s grace, His loving mercy.
The verses that God’s been bringing into my consciousness many times in the last week are Lamentations 3:21-26
“Yet will I still dare to hope when I remember this:
The unfailing love of the Lord never ends! By his mercies we have been
kept from complete destruction.
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope
The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait quietly for salvation
from the Lord.
So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.”
If you read the previous chapters, you’ll find that Jeremiah was overcome with grief and lament. But yet I love how he switches his tune and says “Yet will I still dare to hope when I remember” that the Lord is so merciful and great in his faithfulness. I don’t know about you but when I’m grieving and hurting, I struggle to “dare to hope”. You with me sister? It’s hard to turn to our Father and hand Him our hurts and tell Him that we’re hoping in Him. Even if He doesn’t magically make our wounds all better right in the here and now. Even if He leads us into more pain, even if we don’t feel Him with us in our grief.
Who’s willing to bite the bit and join me in this journey of daring to hope in our Father and His unfailing love and faithfulness?
Top of the mornin’ to y’all! And may you be filled with many cups of coffee in the days to come!
Just a little note: I wrote this in the afternoon/evening – my most coherent time of day. In case you were wondering how I managed to string coherent words together right away in the morning. But in my defense…I did start this in the morning hours. Cheers!
You know the story of the demon-possessed man that lived wild until Jesus cast his demons into a herd of pigs? Some things in that story stood out to me the other day when I was reading.