Monday, April 27, 2015

Grief: What's Your First Focus?

             In this post, we’ll return once again to the account of King David and the death of his child found in Second Samuel 12:15-23 (NKJV). Today, we’ll look specifically at this section:

            “When David saw that his servants were whispering, David perceived that the child was dead. Then David said to his servants, ‘Is the child dead?’ 
            “And they said, ‘He is dead.’
            “So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Than he went to his own house; and when requested, they set food before him, and he ate.

            This section tells us that when the seventh day arrived, and the baby died, David received the news by picking himself up from the ground, cleansing and anointing (smearing with oil) himself, and putting on clean clothes. Then he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped.
            And then he went home and had a meal.

            At first glance, what David did seemed unbelievable. It almost seems…heartless.
            But I can relate.
            For the four days I lay in that hospital bed tethered to medical contraptions, torso tilted south and legs elevated north twenty degrees, I think I did just about anything I could do to save my unborn baby. I know I didn’t pray with the intensity David did; I didn’t know God well enough twenty-one years ago to do that. But I “fought” right up until the end. And when two doctors and my husband called a halt to the fight (which ended up saving my life), I knew there was nothing more to be done.
            And—at that moment—I relinquished the outcome to God.
            It’s amazing how God often prepares hearts.
            After I awoke later that morning, hunger pangs suddenly struck. It’s as though it was the first time I’d noticed I was hungry, or maybe my mind and body were finally giving me permission to be so. My nurse blew in and announced I’d be wheeled down the hall to take a shower in the adaptive shower stall. (Tiny hospital.) There was no point in me staying in sackcloth and ashes (or a gamey hospital gown). The world had not come to an end, (although the following day I could have sworn it did, or should have); and I was still part of it, even though I might have rebelled against that.
            The following day I was allowed to go for a walk, as long as I held onto the wall railings for support. I patrolled the hospital corridors and found the closet-sized chapel (Remember: tiny hospital). And I sat and worshiped, and thanked, and prayed and glorified God. My heart felt compelled to do it; my soul craved it. I needed to do it to verify that in this painful, tear-filled, unpredictable world, there is Someone who is faithful and constant. And He was waiting for me.
            I can relate to David.
            David knows who can and will restore Him, and He makes a beeline to Him, all cleaned up. I think it may have also been a powerful sign to the nation that he was ready to get back to the job, and the most important place for him to be before returning to “work” was the temple, praising and worshiping. Priorities.
            And the Sunday following Victoria’s death, three days after I’d been released from the hospital, I couldn’t wait to attend church, to worship God with the body of Christ—my family and friends. Despite Chris’s strong reservations against it, I insisted. I was empty, and I needed to be replenished.
            What can we take away from David and his behavior?
            David knows what it’s like to be forgiven.
            David knows what it’s like to lose.
            David knows who gives and takes away life.
            And David, in effect, like Job, says to us through his behavior, “No matter what happens, blessed be the name of the LORD.”

            The fourth point, given in this particular section? God should be our first thought and focus after our loss. If we are truly living our lives intentionally, it must be so. Cast off our sackcloth. Clean ourselves up. Point our faces in God’s direction and give him all we’ve got. (On a note: David did have seven days—a number meaning completion and perfection in Scripture—prior to his baby’s death; seven days in which to agonize. Many cultures have a formal seven-day grieving process. The take away is, though, that at some point, you must be deliberate about your actions. And, in order to be restored, God must be the first focus, because He's the one who is going to do the restoring.)
            Since last week’s post was long and intense, I think covering one point today is sufficient. Next week, we’ll go through points five and six and finish up this passage about how David handles his grief.

            So, until next week,
            Thanks, once again, for joining me!