Monday, April 13, 2015

Grief: When Heaven Becomes More Real

          A critical aspect of grief is that, through your loss, heaven should become more real to you. It should cease being thought of as an enigmatic place somewhere out there in the clouds or in the vast expanse of outer space, and emerge as a living entity, complete with “mansions” and “rooms” and a River of Life and healing fruit trees. Walls and gates and endless sunshine, joy and peace. A throne with a King.

            If you are a believer, Jesus has gone on ahead to prepare a special place for you in that “home.” The glory of that knowledge is that your baby will be there, awaiting your arrival. With that in mind, heaven will take on a special focus for you. Your baby was, and still is, a treasure to you. Our hearts focus on our treasures, and it is no different, or less intense, for our babies who have traveled the heavenly pathway ahead of us.

            A danger, though, for an anguished, grieving heart, is in not relinquishing all of your heart to that truth. While seeking God’s Kingdom and heaven is our ultimate goal (or should be) we must be careful about mentally living there while we physically remain here, on Earth. You are still in this world. God has taken your child to his or her reward; but the appointed time for your reward has not yet arrived. Do not let your aching heart and your desire to be with your baby now rob you of the life, living, and loving God still has for you to do on Earth. Do not let the ugliness and pain and sorrow of this life defeat you!

            It is easy to become too self-absorbed in our grief. We can be so easily tempted to kick the door open to the reminders of our anguish, pain and loss, and then pine over what was and what could have been. “What if, what if, what if!?” we repeat, over and over and over again. We can even ask ourselves that question years after the event. We can mull it over and talk it to death. We’ll come to conclusions that make us feel better temporarily and then revisit it again later and go through the process again. Over and over and over again. We make ourselves mentally, emotionally, and physically sick doing it.

            But there is no “what if?” I’m counseling myself as much as I am everyone else when I say, “You can’t go there!” or “You’ve got to stop going there!” Those thoughts only pry the wound open repeatedly, or don’t allow it to heal in the first place. Through all of the pain of grief, I’ve really learned what it means to “Take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Over and over I find myself saying, “No!” to damaging thoughts and, instead, plunk them squarely down at Jesus’s feet, and then leaving them there, where He can deal with them. Because, honestly, I don’t really have the capability to deal with it. He does.

             Yes, like a rebellious child who won’t stay in his time-out corner, sometimes I need to gather the same thoughts up a multitude of times and redeposit them at Jesus’ feet. With every gather, it gets easier. I just need to make sure I gather, take, and deposit before I entertain the thoughts or give them a modicum of attention. If I open the door to them, they have a tendency to really take control and make hash of my spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being.

            Sometimes we need to look in the mirror, throw cold water on our faces, and honestly confront what isn’t. Head on. Verbalize it aloud. Scream at it. (Scream at God, maybe. He can take it.) Curl into the fetal position and wail. Dissolve into tears at the ugly reality and cry our hearts out, along with the toxic pain. Then, when we’re spent, we can remove our sackcloth and ashes, clean ourselves up, and step out in faith.

            Please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that you should ignore your grief or just “get over it!” What I am trying to convey is that oftentimes we do need to take an honest look at how we are grieving, and be more mindful about it. That, in turn, can help us move forward in our healing. How we grieve tells us, and others, a lot about our faith, the depth of it, and living it out.

            I continue to be awed by King David, in the process of praying for his child and in his response after the baby’s death. We find it in Second Samuel 12:15-23 (NKJV): “And the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became ill. David therefore pleaded with God for the child, and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. So the elders of the house arose and went to him, to raise him up from the ground. But he would not, nor did he eat food with them. Then on the seventh day it came to pass that the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead. For they said, ‘Indeed, while the child was alive, we spoke to him, and he would not heed our voice. How can we tell him that the child was dead? He may do some harm!’

            “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. Then his servants said to him, ‘What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food.’
            “And he said, ‘While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘”Who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’” But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him but he shall not return to me.’”

            Just how did King David do that? It seems as though he just turned on a dime, got control over his emotions, and faced reality. From the passage, I realize this was a man who really knew God. I mean really knew Him—and trusted Him—not only with his own life, but with the life of his son. Here, and in heaven.
            Oh, how I want to possess that kind of trust, don’t you? Especially in the midst of such heart wrenching pain.

            Next week, we’ll explore more of that passage and how David handled his loss, and how we might learn from it to better handle ours, and talk about some facts we need to face when treading the path of grief.

            If your grief is still tender, or you would like to read more on the stages of grief, here are some of my other posts you might be interested in reading:

“What Does Grief Look Like?” (There are four parts, so you can start here, on May 27, 2013, and read on from there.)

“Unhealthy Grief”

“How a Mother Grieves” (Two parts on two different dates. Begin here.)

“How a Father Grieves”

Until next week,
Thanks for joining me!