But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40: 31)
At some point in our lives we will all face the loss of someone dear to us – someone we love deeply. As Christians, we are not without hope. We know that if our loved one was a follower of Jesus we will be reunited with him/her again when we ourselves are called home. This is true hope. This is a hope that no one can take away from us.
But we still grieve and grieving is not fun. We miss that person who God called home. He/she was a big part of our life here on earth. Now we must learn to go on without him/her, and remind ourselves that our work here on earth is not yet finished. God has a plan for each of us and we must keep moving forward. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
Over the years I have experienced the deaths of several people who were very close to me and played an important part in my life. Now that I am in my mid-sixties I am able to sort through the feelings of grief which I myself have experienced in the past, and hopefully be able to reach out and help others who are grieving.
While traveling through the Rocky Mountains in the western U.S. with my family when I was younger, we drove through a tunnel which passed through the side of a mountain. The entrance to the tunnel was very dark and foreboding. The tunnel was long, and because it curved through the mountain pass, no light could be seen at the other end. It was a little unsettling. We almost felt like we were driving into oblivion, but my father turned on the headlights and moved forward. It seemed like forever, but we finally reached a point where we could see light shining at the opposite end. Before we knew it, we were back out in the bright sunshine and all was well.
Everyone grieves differently, but grieving is a healing process and it takes time. When I was grieving the death of my mother in 2007 it occurred to me that the grieving process is very like that dark tunnel which we traveled through in the mountain pass. It is a tunnel which we can’t avoid by moving around it or skipping over it. The only way to the other side is to face it head on and move through it.
The entrance to the tunnel of grief is dark and foreboding. It is an uncomfortable and sad place to be in and our heart tells us it would be easier to go around it or over the top of it and skip it all together, but we can’t. The only way to make it to the other side and back out into the sunlight is to travel through it. The road through the tunnel is dark and lonely, but Jesus has promised to walk with us. Each new day is a step closer to the end of the tunnel and the welcoming light.
After the loss of a dear family member or friend we may feel sad, lonely and lost for a while (some longer than others). It may seem like life is just a matter of going through the motions. But when we trust in Jesus, He will bring us back into the light of life here on earth. It may take some time, but we must be patient. Our life will never be the same, but the scar on our heart will heal and we will be able to sing again. We will be able to laugh and have fun and move forward serving our Lord in whatever capacity He sets before us.
If you are one of the unfortunate people moving through the tunnel of grief now, take courage. Jesus is by your side. Pray to Him and ask Him to make you aware of His presence and to hold on to you as you move forward. Remember that each day is a step toward the light, even though you may not be able to see it yet.
Time, although it may seem like the enemy, is an important part of the healing process. The days will turn into months and the months into years. Suddenly you will wake up one morning and say to yourself, “life is good”. You will be able to smile again from the heart and know that you have finally reached the welcoming light at the end of the tunnel.
Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever (Psalm 30: 5, 11,12).
Gloria Dei! Amen