Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hard Thoughts

Thursday, September 29, 2016
The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words.  I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.  Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:  The faithful love of the Lord never ends!  His mercies never cease.  Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”  The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.  So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.  Lamentations 3:19-26(NLT)
Perhaps the hardest of thoughts is to have hope in the midst of grief. 

Battling grief is a common experience; if you live long enough grief will be more than once your uninvited companion on this journey through life.  Often a first touch with grief is as a child when grandparents die.  That was my lot as a pre-teen.  It was then I learned Jeremiah was right; you never forget the time of loss.  In seminary a wise professor shared with us would-be preachers that one of the last, arguably best gifts people give to their grandchildren is their own death; it is a valuable and needed preparation for learning to grieve while parents are still around to comfort and guide.

It has been a little more than a year since my Dad became part of the church triumphant in heaven.  From our family’s perspective he was the last of his generation.  With him passed away any first-hand memories of our family history.  And with our family’s sketchy knowledge of our ancestry, there is a haze of unknowing rather than links to the past.  For my remaining brother and cousins, we don’t know where we come from, and that speaks much about the emptiness and finality of loss.

So what about hope in the middle of loss and grief?

Jeremiah said he dared to hope because his track record with the LORD is that there is mercy forthcoming every morning, like the dew on the ground.  And hope, itself, is much like faith; it is (as the writer of Hebrews proclaimed) the evidence of things we long to see.

There is no standard, one-size-fits-all way to move through grief.  There is certainly no way to escape it altogether, at least not in a healthy way.  It must be embraced as necessary to the process of accepting God’s new mercies in a rotten time.  It must be endured as the inescapable price of loving. 

The question isn’t will I grieve; the question is always, how shall I grieve; how do I start?

Let me borrow some military advice from Jean-Luc Picard.  He is the fictional captain of the Starship Enterprise. 

Patrick Stewart played the captain for the 1980’s TV series, and every time the Enterprise was about to begin a new adventure traversing the next galaxy, or getting ready to do battle with the evil enemies of The Federation, Captain Picard would look wistfully out the front windows from the command center and issue the order to the helmsman, Warp speed….ENGAGE!
This is how we begin – without fear, without hesitation, but not without God.

For You Today

If your pathway is remembering with hard thoughts today, engage…God is faithfully in the middle of it with you with all the new mercies you need.

You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i] Title Image: By Jiri Hodan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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