Perhaps only a few who have endured the heavy hand of grief would ever consider it a gift.
We give gifts because we are thankful, thoughtful, loving and kind. We give gifts to celebrate moments and milestones. Gifts surprise us, bless us and fill us with gratitude.
So how could grief possibly be considered a gift?
Grief is hard. Grief is heavy. Grief can be haunting because it often feels like a piece of us has died.
During this past week, my Aunt Jane, who was my childhood hero, left this earth to be with Jesus. A few days later, our family had to say goodbye to our ten year old fur baby, a boxer named Bailey.
Friends, as many of you know, grief hits you like a Mack truck when you love with your whole heart.
Grief is hard when it first strikes, it’s heavy as it rolls over and almost crushes us, and it’s haunting as every reminder of our trauma and loss triggers an emotional waterfall. Many people have described grief as if they were drowning, because it feels like you cannot breathe.
As I mourned the loss of my aunt (who contracted polio at three years old and, despite her disability, went on to live a fulfilling life including working for the FBI for 25 years), I recognized the severe mercy of her passing at age 74. Jane had been bed-ridden for the last five years of her life due to post-polio syndrome and declining health. She was ready to meet Jesus face to face.
Her passing also gave me the eyes to see the severe mercy of letting go of our beloved family dog. Bailey had been slowly declining over the past year most likely due to a brain tumor. Her quality of life was poor, but the thought of ending the quantity of her days with us was excruciating. In many ways, we were already grieving the puppy we once knew.
Grief is also inevitable.
Whether by natural or sudden death or by letting go of a relationship or a dream, we cannot go around grief—we must travel through it.
Yet, perhaps it is on the journey through grief where we find some of the deep and hidden gifts of God.
“he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.”
Daniel 2:22 ESV
Perhaps it is in the darkness of grief, that the light of Christ shines the brightest.
Grieving one, what if the hard, heavy and haunting feelings are actually the hand of the Great Physician cracking open your chest wall to massage your heart back to life?
It sounds painful because it is. Grief is full of pain. Our hearts physically hurt. We yearn for breath and healing from the deep hole in our heart.
Yet in God’s unique way of reversing nature, grief becomes a supernatural gift of the Spirit. Death gives way to life, streams break forth in the desert, and the blind shall see.
Because we serve a merciful, thoughtful, loving and kind God who gives us good gifts, we can trust that our grief is His way of celebrating the moments and milestones of the ones we love and lost. While grief will initially surprise us in unpleasant ways, it is also a gift that contains the power to bless us and fill us with gratitude.
Grief offers the gifts of bearing one another’s burdens, bonding us in the name of love, and binding us to the legacy of a life well-lived.
The question then becomes, are we willing to receive it?
Like salvation, we must first believe in Christ and then receive the mind of Christ. While there is life in believing, there is abundant life in receiving.
Grief is similar in that when we believe it is a gift from God, we can then receive the blessings it bestows.
Grief helps us fulfill the commands of Christ. Someone who has endured the heavy hand of grief can mourn with those who mourn, truly lay down their life for a friend, and love others better than themselves.
Grief is the cost of loving, but if we give grief permission, it will also deepen our capacity to love.
Grief is the gift given by God to save us from the self-destruction of despair. It is a process that forces us to face our fears of living without someone or something. Grief is a journey that encourages us to take baby steps toward the One who will massage our heart back to life.
Grieving one, I know it hurts. I know you feel like it will never get better. But you have been given a gift. You have been given a glimpse of the deep and hidden things of God. Grief is a high and holy calling to which you have been entrusted.
Now, trust the Healer with your heart. 💕