Friday, March 1, 2013

Partners In Grief: How God Loves Us Through our Agony

photo by Jean Ann Williams

Dear readers,

There's a truth I do not like to admit. During year two and three after Joshua's suicide, hope withered inside my heart. I doubted the Lord, because of my wretched state of suffering. I kept waiting for the pain to ease, and missed some of God's blessings for a long season.

I leaned on God on a surface level. After days, months, and then years, I could no longer stand on my own. You see, I didn't understand the gift of lament.

Merriam-Webster's says this about the word lament: to mourn aloud: WAIL: to express sorrow, mourning, or regret. A crying out in grief.

When we stifle our feelings toward God while we grieve, we rob ourselves from the greatest gift to partner with God through lament. Jesus cried out in complete honesty in the Garden of Gethsemane, so why shouldn't we?

Here's what Jesus said as written in Mark 14:36, "Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt."

Jesus understood His purpose and trusted in God.

My prayers went more like this: "Father, take away my feelings of sorrow. Numb my heart, so I do not feel so harshly the loss of my son." I rarely added, "Comfort me in Your perfect way," because I put God in a box of my own making. In my mind, He was high on a throne, watching me, but not understanding my pain.

Then, one day, I thought, "I want to grieve God's way." I still didn't know what that looked like, so I began to pray that prayer.

Soon after, I wrote my friend, Alexis, of my dilemma, and within two weeks, I received Margaret Brownley's "Grieving God's Way" in the mail as a gift from Alexis. As I read Brownley's book, peace seeped into my heart and hope blossomed. The author shared how God wants us to include Him in our suffering journey.

Halfway into "Grieving God's Way," metaphorically, I backed up the truck and jumped the curb into God's waiting arms.

That was six years ago and this is what I've learned since: God wants us to fully depend on Him, even while we grieve. That means honest grief before the Lord. He already knows, "I'm angry. My head feels it will explode from the nonstop tears. Help!"

My refusal to break out in lament, which had separated me from myself, others, and from God, turned a corner. I welcomed a period of confinement where I stayed quiet and studied more of God through His holy Bible and prayer. We are partners, God and me, through the valley of the shadows and on the mountain tops of joy.

Until next time . . . reach out to God in lament.

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