This weekend, I received a new book in the mail. If you're like me, you'll know that a delivery like this is like Christmas! I love getting packages in the mail, even when they're expected. You might remember me writing about another book called "The Adventure" by Jerry Sittser....well, this book is also by him, but it is titled "A Grace Disguised--How the Soul Grows Through Loss". Because I've enjoyed reading "The Adventure" three times through, I figured this new book would also be a good read. Well so far....I'm hooked. Here are some of my thoughts from the weekend....
Something that he says early on, is that the darkness of grief is inescapable & is something we must face alone. We know as Christians that we do not have to do this completely alone, but the journey inside is personal and one that cannot be walked by any another human. One struggle for many (as well as myself) is that we tend to walk away from the darkness and chase the fading light of our hope. The joy we see disappearing beyond the horizon. To that struggle, this quote struck me--"...the quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise."
Wow. I think most of us "know" that we are supposed to face pain head on, to walk towards it despite the hurt that continues & sometimes grows worse over time....but too often I fill it with other things, or turn away, or put off until I'm "more ready" to face it, all the while staying in the dark, holding onto the last glimmer of light that has so recently seemed to vanish. Staying here though, holds the light at bay, and refuses to see that only through the darkness can you see light again.
Sittser says, "The decision to face the darkness, even if it led to overwhelming pain, showed me that the experience of loss itself does not have to be the defining moment of our lives. Instead, the defining moment can be our response to the loss. It is not what happens to us that matters as much as what happens in us." This really spoke to me....once again I am reminded that we ALL have trials, we ALL have situations that are overwhelming...that doesn't make us unique, it doesn't separate us from everyone else because it's something we all go through. But the choices we make in response to these difficult situations, are what define us & make us who we are....they define who we will become. "We do not always have the freedom to choose the roles we must play in life, but we can choose how we are going to play the roles we have been given."
Isaiah 41: 9-10, 18 says, "I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, 'You are my servant'; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.....I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs." This gives me hope...knowing that when I was in darkness, hidden in the furthest corners of the earth, Christ came to find me. He brought me out of that depth & into the light. If Christ has done this once, we can hold fast that He WILL do it again.
I'll leave off today with this last quote from Sittser, "In the valley of suffering, despair and bitterness are brewed. But there also character is made. The valley of suffering is the vale of soul-making."
Let's journey together through the darkness, alone & yet together, to run towards the light that we yet are waiting to see. May we trust that God is with us to protect us & hold us though our hearts ache with pain & our limbs shutter with fear. He will give us wings as eagles and feet like deer, able to stand on rocky ground.