My biggest revelation while mourning the death of my daughter, Celine, is that the deeper you go into grief, the deeper you encounter grace.
Grief is a scary thing. When you experience loss people will tell you the importance of taking the time to grieve but instinctively, you might try to get the grieving process over with as soon as possible. In fact, burying the pain in work and life could very easily seem like a brilliant idea! The enemy has a way of convincing us that busyness is the perfect antidote to a grieving heart. Sure you’ll move on faster, but let me warn you that you will miss out on something very precious. It’s called grace.
“The Lord is close to brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
As I journey through this season, this verse becomes more and more alive to me. Oh how I love being close to God but I also hate feeling broken and crushed. As I meditate on it some more, I’m discovering that it is through grief and brokenness that we truly feel God’s closeness. Quite truthfully, when all is well and life is going as planned, I am far less sensitive to His presence. In my brokenness however, I desperately long to have Him near. In my moments of weeping and wailing, His presence is really the only thing that can comfort the deep pain in my soul.
I recall moments when I would ask, “Lord, am I going to drown in these waters? Will I ever come up to the surface again?” It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the waves emotions but we can take heart and trust in God’s word. In grief, he will be with us and the waters will not sweep over us.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.. – Isaiah 43:2
We need to give ourselves the permission to grieve. Days after Celine passed, I realized that it was not the time to keep it together. It was time to fall apart in the arms of a Heavenly Father who makes broken things beautiful again. We had to learn not to fear the grief, knowing that God would meet us there. I knew I didn’t want to get stuck in that dark pit but there was also no way I would be able to find my own way out. Jesus had to meet me there. When I allowed Him to come into my brokenness, I experienced grace like none other. I discovered that allowing yourself to be broken opens the door for the Father to come close.
It’s hard to explain how in such immense grief there can be so much grace. There is no denying the overwhelming longing in my heart to hold my precious daughter in my arms. There is also no denying the overwhelming comfort that comes from knowing God is with me in my pain. If anyone knows the pain of losing a child, it’s our Heavenly Father. I’ve had to remind myself that God knows my pain and He mourns with me. There have been days that I can almost feel His arms embrace me and assure me that my pain is a good thing. In this pain, I find grace. In this pain, I experience God’s comfort.
The day after I delivered Celine, Jon and I were sitting at the lobby of the Manila Peninsula hotel. It felt as if death had stained our world and we just needed to go somewhere lovely for a cup of coffee. Little did I know, that every beautiful thing now had the power to make me weep. The orchestra from the balcony, the dainty floral plates, the magnificent rose gold ceiling…strangely enough, beauty was reminding me of the beauty I had lost. We had also forgotten that the last time we sat at that hotel was the day after our beautiful wedding. Two years later we were back at the exact same spot, this time with heavy hearts and tears flowing down our cheeks. The unthinkable had happened and we grief was beginning to take us deeper. Deep inside me, I knew that although our lives would never be the same again, God had never changed. God reminded me that He was faithful to us then and He is faithful still. We felt Him challenge us to not fear grief and to trust Him to make things beautiful again.
I could never say that I wish none of this ever happened. I could never say that I wish I never got pregnant so I wouldn’t have to lose my child. More and more I’m convinced that this journey through grief has been a gift to me. In this grief, my God is close to me. He is sovereign and He will make beauty from ashes.
The deeper you go into grief, the deeper you encounter grace.