July 4, 2020
Finding God when the Lights Go Out
I have heard it all my life that we are not supposed to question God. Well, I did... Every day... Many times a day... If I asked God one time, I asked Him a thousand times why Andrew had to leave us. In the vagueness of the universe, I never got a clear answer. I'm just being honest. I have no earthly idea why God felt it was Andrew's time to leave earth to be in Heaven. People often try to help you see the reason, but those words are often empty for the grieving soul. I hope I do not shock people who have not dealt with this type of grief, but I am attempting to be a truthful as I can be. As much as we all want to make sense of why these things happen, God is often silent on the issues. He tells us to trust Him, and that, my friend, is often the most difficult thing in the world to do.
I remember shortly after Andrew's death a particular person testified one night of how that he and his wife narrowly escaped death and were spared because of God's faithfulness to him and because of living right for God. I felt like my very breath was being knocked out of my soul. I didn't understand. Did God not love me? What had I done that was so very wrong that my son was not spared? If you have never felt the blow of losing a loved one so very close to you, you may not understand my doubts. I trust you never have to walk through those shadows. They are long; they are dark.
But God... Yes, He assured me that Andrew's death was not punishment for anything I had done. I had to put somethings in perspective. We are to ALWAYS give God thanks. We are to thank Him when our bodies are healed; we are to thank Him when our bodies are racked with pain. We are to thank Him when our lives and our loved ones are spared; we are to give thanks when we place the first shovel of dirt into our loved one's grave. This was a hard lesson for me. It took me a long, long, long time to get it. (Remember my son died in 1998.) But now, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, I know God loves me. I finally found Him as I wandered in the dark.
Dealing with People when The Lights Are Out
When you grieve, people want to help. Sometimes people do not know what to say... so they may say something that grates your nerves, or they may say nothing at all. I had to learn do deal with all kinds of responses. I often thought, "As if my grief wasn't enough..."
Here's some things about types of people you will encounter on your journey through the darkness of grief. I learned through my years of experience:
1. Some people are nosey, so they are going to ask questions. (I know I am...) So, I had to learn to deal with nosey people. Some would ask questions about specifics of our accident, and I could read their spirits... trust me. Some would ask questions about decisions we had made in our personal lives prior to our accident, and again... I knew those underlying motives. But, God taught me so much grace through all of it. I rarely even mention those tough-to-deal-with occasions, and I only do so now hopefully to help someone else.
To the grieved spirit who is bombarded by nosiness. First of all, I'm sorry. We are human, and some of us have the curiosity of cats (myself included). We do not mean to hurt you... well most of the time... but sometimes God allows people in our lives to if nothing else give us a different emotion. Sometimes those prying questions force us to go to a part of our memories that we would otherwise ignore. So, I have learned to embrace them.
2. Some people are nervous talking about our dead loved ones. They are afraid they will say the wrong thing. So if you see those uncomfortable squirms when you mention your dead loved one, don't be hurt or angry with them. It is a difficult thing. I have learned in life that I just don't talk about Andrew around some people. But then I have friends who welcome my thoughts about him. So, I encourage you to seek out people who will open their arms for you to cry and think about your baby... think about your parent... think about your spouse... think about your child. Find someone who is completely comfortable with you speaking your loved one's name. Then talk to them. Let them know how much it means to you that they allowed you to call your loved one's name out loud again.
I remember after Ray and I first lost Andrew, I wanted to tell everyone I saw that I had a son... and we lost him in a tragic accident... and that I missed him so very much. I'm sure people grew tired of me doing this. But it was my way to cope. I had to release it. I had to let it out to someone. I am so thankful for the people who allowed me to do just that.
3. Some people want to comfort you, but if they have never felt your pain, don't get offended when they can't seem to relate or understand what you are trying to tell them. People just want to make you feel better. They want you well. Often they do not realize the trauma... They do not understand the process of grief... They want things fixed for you immediately. Some things just cannot be fixed immediately.
Remember when Mary and Martha met Jesus and told Him that Lazarus was dead. Remember they said, "If you had been here..." Jesus was God. He could have healed Lazarus before He ever made it to their home. He could have called Lazarus forth as soon as He got to Lazarus' tomb. But Jesus Christ... the Son of God... stopped and took time to grieve for the loss of Lazarus... even though He knew He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead. It is okay to grieve, but you might find a Martha or a Mary attempting to hurry you up in your process. Love them... Have patience with them... but it is okay to bow your head and allow the tears to flow.
4. Some people will get you. They will know the path you are struggling to find. They know the darkness all too well. They have stumbled in it before. They will hold you up. They will strengthen you. They will help you see more stars than shadows in your grief. Hold to those people. Get their phone numbers. Write down their email and physical addresses. Make a connection. These people will help you find happiness in Christ again.
God knows who these people are, and He often plants them right smack down in the middle of your grief. You will think, "Where did they come from?" God knows what He's doing, and He knows the sparkles from the sky you need.
When you finally find God again... in your darkness... your soul will start reviving. You will feel alive again. Don't worry that you will question God too much. He's God. He's big enough to take your questions. God has huge shoulders. His arms are ever so long. His embraces are perfectly comforting. When you are in the dark, looking at what seems like astronomical odds of recovery against you... odds are in your favor with God on your side. You will learn to find your way back. Your friends will be there to help you. Others will do what they can to love you, but God will be there counting your steps as He counts the stars (and gives them names).
I imagine in my mind God not only orders our steps; I think He counts and names our steps. What step are you on today?
Anger... keep walking!
Panic... keep stepping!
Distress... keep reaching!
Depression... keep hoping!
Despondency... keep longing!
It matters not where you are in the journey to find God in the dark of your grief, He knows where you are. He knows what step you are on. He knows how many more you will have until you break through the darkness into His marvelous day.
When you reach the first bright ray... look back... see the mass of people who did their very best to help you. Send them a smile, and purpose in your heart that you will do whatever you can to make the next trip in the darkness for some soul a little brighter... with a little more hope... and a stargazing map through this universe right into the eyes of God.
To Be Continued.