I watched my father lose close to 40kg in a matter of weeks, I watched how my real life superhero battled disease, pain and with his own emotions. He went from being a fully functioning adult male, to being restricted to a wheelchair. I watched how he laughed less and would gaze for long periods of time at nothing.
I remember feeling so conflicted, I was grateful he was alive, but I was secretly wishing he would escape the constant pain, even if it meant death. I never experienced my father like I did during those last few months of his life. He told me he loved me more than he ever had in my lifetime, he apologized for all he failed to be, he reassured me that I would survive whatever would come.
I thought because I saw him fade away in front of me, I’d take his death better, that I would be consoled by his lack of suffering. I was wrong. I grieved for my father for a long time, I wanted to see him restored to his usual self, I wanted to have him to give my future husband a hard time and later walk me down the aisle, I wanted him to see his grandkids and I deeply wanted to make him proud.
I would ask myself how long it would take for the pain to stop, how long would it would be until a day passed when I didn’t dream of being with him, how long Lord… how long? People came with words of encouragement they told me he was in a better place, they told me he was free from pain, but I couldn’t see past my own pain. I would be fine during the day, but in the dead of the night, when people were gone, I would be left to myself, free to replay the agonizing memories, of all that once was, of all that will never be.
I don’t know where this finds you dear friend, some of us mourn relationships of people who are still alive, some of us mourn in private too afraid to let someone in, some of us have fresh wounds and we’re still trying to navigate our way through, but there is a ONE who wasn’t a stranger to death, in fact he was constantly confronted with it, from every side, Jesus lost John, someone he loved dearly, the story goes like this:
John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.
Do you know that shattering feeling of being told someone you love dearly has passed? Do you know that everything comes to a halt and you have to remind yourself to breathe, because your body feels like a foreign place and you can’t move? Jesus got the news too. Here’s what happened next
When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place…
JESUS went to be alone, some pain cannot be processed within a crowd in needs silence and stillness and aloneness. Where you don’t have to explain, where you don’t have to act strong where you can completely shatter in your own presence. We’re not told if he cried there, like he did with Lazarus, we’re not told what he thought in that moment.
But what follows is what struck me last night as I read this passage…
…hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw the large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Emphasis my own)
In his own grieving, in his attempt to self- isolate and deal with it in his own way. He was being hounded by a crowd, people who needed him to do the impossible, people who knew what loss he suffered but needed him anyway. He could have retaliated; he could have told them off for their lack on consideration for his feelings but what was his response:
Compassion… He showed compassion to people who were too selfish to consider him, in his time of grieving a loved one, where he could be justified if he were to be harsh and dismissive yet he was compassionate…
We serve a God who is ALWAYS compassionate towards us. He didn’t send them away he HEALED them.
I didn’t write this blog to criticize you in anyway friend, I wrote it to encourage you, as you navigate through the pain.
I hope you know you are loved and seen and deeply cared for, by me because I know loss, by Jesus who himself felt loss. He isn’t distant and he knows all of what you feel. And you never carry any weight on your own. I pray you run to him and lay all of what weighs your heart down and I know, trust me I’ve seen him heal me and carry me through the darkest of times. He says COME… he’s love and presence is a constant invitation for us, for us the broken, the weary, the cast out, he sees the heaviness and he responds with COME and in his invitation he also offers us something in exchange and that is REST this calming of everything this peace in this blazing storm…
COME TO ME, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
I pray a day comes when you can finally remember your loved one and not shatter, but here in the in-between, I hope you know you are deeply embraced, by the one who loved you enough to DIE for you. He will sit with you in the dark until the light of day comes, he’ll stay when people have left and they shame you for what you’re going through. I know he will HEAL you as well. He’s healed me, I hope you live your life in a constant surrender, and I pray you find a way to praise like Job, who had lost everything and was in a very familiar pit but he responds and says:
Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and het LORD has taken way; may the name of the LORD be praised.
May the name of the LORD be praised. Even in this, even right where you are, even in that inexpicable loss. ALWAYS in everything in all things MAY THE NAME OF THE LORD BE PRAISED.
Life is Art.