2 Good Things to Remember While You Are Growing through Grieving
Growing through grieving is not something any of us want to do, but God is at work even in the great pain of death to help his children mature in their walk with him.
I had just recently graduated from high school in July of 2004 and had a whole summer ahead of me. On Canada Day weekend, I picked up a phone call at 11:54 pm to hear from my mom that my dad had landed in the hospital. I didn’t worry too much about it, but then four days later I found out my dad had cancer. In fact, he had brain cancer, and there was no way to remove the tumors without killing him.
As soon as I found out, I did the only thing I could do: I said, “God, your will be done, whatever it is.” If my father lived I would praise God, and if he passed away I would praise God. My father decided to forego treatment, and our family focused on enjoying the remaining time we had left with him. Over the course of a summer my dad continued to deteriorate, and eventually six weeks later he died. During those days, I learned some things about our Father in heaven and his plan for his children that I didn’t know before.
1. God is our perfect heavenly Father.
Our earthly fathers are not perfect fathers. They will make mistakes. Yet, God doesn’t make mistakes, because he alone is perfect. The Bible tells us:
This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. (Ps. 18:30)
You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matt. 5:48)
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom. 12:2)
We have our own ideas about how our lives and plans should go, but God has his plans: “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Prov. 16:9). Recognizing that nothing happens outside of God’s perfect will was a great comfort to me.
Through my experience with my father, I needed to lean more than ever on the knowledge that my heavenly Father is always in control. My Savior won’t ever leave me or forsake me and was right beside me through everything (Heb. 13:5). God’s will is perfect, and his plans are perfect for us. Trusting his plan for our lives isn’t always easy to do, but doing so is the only way we can make our way through the valleys of despair in which we find ourselves in this life.
2. We can’t do life alone, because God didn’t create us that way.
My entire family attended the same church for seventeen years. Once it was announced that my dad had cancer (and I can still remember that evening at church like it was yesterday), people were ready and anxious to help us with anything and everything we needed. I saw firsthand the body of Christ jump into action.
We can’t do life alone, because God didn’t create us that way. In his first letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul reminds us that believers are baptized into one body (1 Cor. 12:13) and they work together in love:
But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. (1 Cor. 12:24b-26)
In his letter to the Romans, Paul describes some of the gifts God pours out to his people to bless one another:
For as in one body we have many members,and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Rom. 12:4-8)
As I write this, I am almost in tears thinking about all the love my brothers and sisters in Christ poured out on my family. While my dad was living with cancer, God brought many people to our family to help us through that extremely difficult time. I was surrounded by believers who prayed with me and loved and encouraged me throughout that time.
As Christians, we have Christ with us always by the power of the Holy Spirit; our brothers and sisters in Christ are God’s hands and feet to us in our times of need. Knowing that I would have to go on living without my dad caused me to recognize more than ever not only how much I need the support of my brothers and sisters in Christ but also how much they need mine.
My earthly father taught me about my heavenly Father.
In what was the most impactful and shaping time of my life, I also saw how much my dad loved God with all of his heart. My earthly father showed me in real time what loving our heavenly Father should look like for God’s people.
We will all experience pain and suffering in this life; but we don’t have to let it defeat us, because God will equip us for the challenges we face as he brings his plans to fruition:
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Heb. 13:20-21)
Even when life doesn’t make sense and we can’t answer the why of the tragedies we encounter, we can always trust that God has all the answers we will ever need. And that is more than enough to give us courage to brave any storms that come our way.
A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss by Jerry L. Sittser
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