Regarding Sudden Loss
- February 04, 2021
- Lori Travers
My friend’s husband passed away yesterday. Even as I write this, I’m still in a state of disbelief as I spent a considerable amount of time with her just one day prior to her loss. Sharing some well-needed catch-up and coffee time, we laughed, complained, and encouraged one another. We even talked about our spouses’ funny little habits. Little did we know.
Sometimes we convince ourselves that things will just go on as they always have. We wake up, prepare for the day, move through the routine, and just expect tomorrow will repeat. But as we’ve experienced in massive volume this past year, shocking events can crash into the mundane unannounced, leaving zero room for preparation.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we hear much about the brevity of life, but rarely do we apprehend it. Focusing on daily demands douses out those back-burner thoughts. Living our best life could easily exclude a sober-minded focus on what God’s best for us is. But we just keep on moving…moving…moving. And for me, when a sudden loss sweeps away my best intentions for what my day should look like, I stop. It all comes to a halt as I ruminate on what I’m doing with this one short life. Suddenly scripture that had faded into subconscious comes to consciousness and I am reminded, once again: “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
Full disclosure here, but talking about death makes me very uncomfortable. I’m amazed at how some people seem to eagerly prepare all the details of their memorial service, as well as their final resting place and who they will lie beside! I have extended [Irish] family members who find ways to ease the sorrow by joking about the whole tragic experience. But that’s not me. Sudden death or elongated illness sobers my mind quickly and somewhat painfully, yet simultaneously, God Himself invites me into His comforting Presence for yet another mind renewal.
And so I come to Him with all my questions and anger and confusion. And He holds me and answers with His Word, speaks to me tenderly, and unravels my tangled thoughts. He reminds me that He is close to the brokenhearted and He saves those who are crushed in spirit, that those who mourn will be comforted, that even though we grieve now, that one fine day we will see the Lord and unabashedly rejoice!*
God ALWAYS has the last word and even though the world will throw counterfeit comforts at us in our deepest darkness, the Light of the world invites us in to what is necessary. When our souls are brought to attention through tragic circumstances, we have a beautiful opportunity to experience the depth of God’s love and comfort that supersedes the depth of potential despair. And while we groan, He once again clarifies our purpose on this earth for the fleeting moments that remain. It’s our choice as to our response to this reality.
As Solomon lamented in the book of Ecclesiastes, there is a time for birth and for death, to weep and to laugh, to mourn and to dance (Ecc. 3:1-4). And so it is with us. We come out of one, only to enter into another, and so on. So, I ask myself, “What am I leaving behind as I exit an unwelcomed experience?” Does calamity shake my understanding of this God of love or does it propel me deeper into His Word as I wait for His voice to come alive in my heart? Does complaining define me, or even through tears, can I still speak and sing of the kindness and generosity of God, finding praise and worship the soothing balm for my soul? Another question arises: “What does the Lord want me to do in the pain?” The answer to this is about as personal and unique as our fingerprint. If He has called you to act, He will guide your steps into whatever is His best for you.
As I mourn with my sister, I rejoice that her beloved husband is safe in the arms of Christ. As my heart is heavy for her pain, I can heartily carry her burden along with others. And as I consider the weightiness of fast-moving hourglass sand, my spirit lightens with the anticipation of the renewal of all things broken.
God sees, He cares, He’ll comfort.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” (Psalm 116:15)
*Psalm 147:3; Matthew 5:4; John 16:22