Devotional 9: Tears
(Excerpted from Holding on to Hope by Nancy Guthrie, pp. 10-13)
**In this devotional, Christiana's name will substitute for Guthrie's daughter Hope.**
Ours is not a culture that is comfortable with sadness. Sadness is awkward. It is unsettling. It ebbs and flows and takes its own shape. It beckons to be shared. It comes out in tears, and we don't quite know what to do with those.
So many people are afraid to bring up my loss. They don't want to upset me. But my tears are the only way I have to release the deep sorrow I feel. I tell people, "Don't worry about crying in front of me, and don't be afraid that you will make me cry! Your tears tell me you care, and my tears tell you that you've touched me in a place that is meaningful to me - and I will never forget your willingness to share my grief.
In fact, those who shed their tears with me show me we are not alone. It often feels like we are carrying this enormous load of sorrow, and when others shed their tears with me, it is as if they are taking a bucketful of sadness and carrying it for me. It is, perhaps, the most meaningful thing anyone can do for me.
Our culture wants to put the Band-Aid of heaven on the hurt of losing someone we love. Sometimes it seems like the people around us think that because we know the one we love is in heaven, we shouldn't be sad. But they don't understand how far away heaven feels, and how long the future seems as we see before us the years we have to spend on this earth before we see the one we love again.
Fortunately, we are not alone in our sadness. In Isaiah 53:3, the Bible describes God's Son as "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (NKJV). And so it is in our sadness that we discover a new aspect of God's character and reach a new understanding of hiim that we could not have known without loss. He is acquainted with grief. He understands. He's not trying to rush us through our sadness. He's sad with us.
The day after we buried Christiana**, I understood for the first time why so many people choose to medicate their pain in so many harmful ways. That day I tried to sleep it away. And in the days that followed, I discovered that I could not sleep it away, shop it away, eat it away, drink it away, or travel it away.
I just had to feel it. And it hurt. Physically.
I realized I had a choice - I could try to stuff the hurt away in a closet, pretend it wasn't there, and wish it would disappear, or I could bring it out into the open, expose it to the Light, probe it, accept it, and allow it to heal. I chose to face it head-on, trudge through it, feel its full weight, and do my best to confront my feelings of loss and hopelessness with the truth of God's Word at every turn. Even now I can't say I'm healed. Part of my heart is no longer mine. I gave it to Christiana** and she took it with her, and I will forever feel that amputation. But embracing my grief means allowing it to do its work in me.
That's what Job did. Out of the deepest kind of agony and pain from loss, Job openly mourned. He didn't cover up his sadness or put on a happy face or offer religious-sounding cliches. He tore his robe and shaved his head. He hurt. And he was not ashamed to show how deeply he hurt.
Do you know what it is like to groan with sorrow? Part of being human is that when you lose something or someone that is valuable to you, you agonize over that loss, and there is nothing wrong with that. Your tears do not reflect a lack of faith.
Rather than running from or trying to ignore your grief, would you lean on it? Would you allow it to accomplish its healing work in your heart?
Would you be willing to invite God to walk with you during this sorrowful time so that you might experience his healing presence?
Would you confront your feelings of hopelessness and heartache with truths from God's Word so that it can become a healing power in your heart and mind?