Over the last couple of years, whether friends or family, loss has been a frequent source of grief, pain and sadness. There are days when I have grieved more than others, and days when grief has been replaced with sweet memories and laughter. In the last several months, it has come to my attention that I have been carrying grief. And yet it is not the grief that I expected to be carrying. This grief has not been caused by the physical passing of a loved one or dear friend. This grief I am processing through is not a loss – as in death or passing, it is a loss of “what could be”.
In fact, I have been grieving a living person. I have been grieving the letting go of my picture of what a relationship could or should look like. In my head lives a wonderland of imagination and make believe that has crafted the plots, resolutions and happy endings for so many story lines that run on autopilot through my brain. My mind has predetermined how situations will work out, how relationships will blossom and how perfectly peaceful each vision will turn out.
But this wonderland of imagination, making its stories come alive in my mind has tricked me. It has tricked me into believing that I know what is best. It has tricked me into believing that everything on this earth will be sunshine and lollipops.
I had bought into the belief that my thoughts, my plan, well… that they ARE THE PLAN.
And then I end up crying. And I cry….a lot. And I get broken hearted. Why? Because the picture of my perceived reality that danced in my mind, my version of the story line, hasn’t panned out. Often the ending I was hoping for is not even close to the outcome of the actual situation.
I am learning that grief – whether over the living or the dead, is something you must walk through, not walk around. Walking through grief means confronting my picture, my imagination of what life could be like and laying down that picture. Walking through grief means wanting something different than what is happening but learning to let go and trust God with the outcome.
Jeremiah, known as the weeping prophet, walked through seasons of grieving the living. Jeremiah was tasked with a difficult job to execute. Jeremiah was called by God to go to the kingdoms of Israel and Judah and communicate to them of their impending doom because they had chosen to live a life apart from God. He was grieved because he knew their future.
Jeremiah, I am certain, could have wept for several reasons. He could’ve wept because of the situation he found himself in. He could have wept for himself, the danger, the loneliness and the ridicule he faced. He could have wept because of the sad state of the chosen people of that time, people who were his family and friends. He could have wept for the souls of those who were so lost, deceived and searching after their own way.
Jeremiah questioned the position the people were in saying in chapter 8:21-22, “Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?
Jeremiah was living in the trenches with broken people, casting a vision to call them out of dark places and to live in the ways of their forefather David, and to live according to God’s perfect law. He hurt because the people hurt. He grieved the loss of their souls, their connection as brothers and sisters and as followers of Christ. Jeremiah was grieving for the ones who had chosen to follow their own way instead of the ways of the Father.
In the verse, we are told, he grieves for them as though they are physically sick, looking for a solution with doctors and medicine. He knew there was no medicine that could cure their ailment. He knew their sickness was not a sickness of the body, but a sickness of the heart. Jeremiah knew no balm or physician could heal their souls, only God could do that. He ached because he knew what could be, if only they turned their lives back over to God. It was the aching of his heart that drove him to present the message impressed on him by God to share, no matter the heartache.
As believers living in a fallen world, who grieve the things that grieve the heart of God, we may at times feel the same weight sin, and even the weight of isolation simply because of the desire to live a different standard of life. But just like Jeremiah, I pray that as we are grieving the living among us that our grieving stir us to proclaim the truth of God when we are prompted to do so by the Holy Spirit. May our grieving be a sign that we are walking through the pain, and not settling into it. May our grieving be a sign that our eyes are set on eternity and not on the temporal world.
Today, I leave you with this. Who, whether living or passed, are you grieving? Or what are you grieving? Do you believe that there is a message God has for you to learn and then to share as you walk through this grief? Is there a part of your grief that you have been trying to walk around? What do you need to walk through today?
Trust that God is with you. Trust that he is right there with you, holding your hand and waiting for you on the other side. He is even hemming you in behind as you move forward. Trust him with your grief. Trust him to teach you and grow you through it all.