I have been praying what to share with you today, because the thing that keeps coming to mind seems too raw and too personal and too invasive of people’s private grief. But I can’t get around it and so I am going to share my heart today.
Yesterday we attended the funeral of a man our age. He was a friend through our church over the years and we attended his wife’s funeral far too soon many years ago and then the wedding of his daughter. We had lost touch with him, as attending our church had become too painful after his wife’s passing and so he joined another church.
We have reconnected with his daughter and granddaughter in recent years and so it was with deep grief that we listened as family and friends tried to produce a eulogy of a man who had made them laugh over the years. The stories of his dry humor and kind ways came through choked throats and open expressions of grief and if there is anything that tears my heart right in two, it is when a grown man is able to cry in front of people.
I think of all the little boys who have been told to stuff back those tears and be a man, and I thank God when I see them let the grief drip down their manly faces.
The picture on the bulletin featured a view of this dearly loved Papa walking hand in hand with his little granddaughter. I have always been a fan of pictures taken as people are walking away and my iPhoto library is chock full of similar ones with Russ and various grandchildren.
It was all too real a reminder of how fragile we are and how short the days of this life can be.
The service was sweetly beautiful and as it came to a close, our pastor and friend (also our age and a Papa) said we would hear one more song that was played at the wife’s funeral and then we would be dismissed.
As the opening strains of “I Can Only Imagine” filled the sanctuary, I had to press my eyes tight against the tears that were about to flood down my own face as I felt they would most surely be accompanied by a groaning cry. I took deep breaths and wished fervently I would have thought to grab some fresh tissues for my purse.
Midway through this beautiful song, I was forced to retrieve the one well-used one that was stuffed down under my wallet and keys because we could hear the distinctive sobbing of that sweet little granddaughter. It cut through the aisles and pews as a sacred grieving united us.
I opened my eyes and the first thing I saw was a woman in a wheel chair a few rows ahead of us. With a mask and bruised hands lifted up, her face raised heavenward, she was imagining.
She was imagining seeing Jesus and being free of the pain and sorrow and suffering of this life. She was worshipping and praising.
I thought of how we are told the sufferings of this life are light and momentary in view of eternity. It sure doesn’t seem that way on this side, does it?
Pain and heartache, loss and grief, suffering for ourselves and watching helplessly as others suffer…it seems heavy. Heavier than we can bear at times.
Let the heaviness remind you of the joy that will come when all things are made right and new.
Let the reminder that “Jesus wept” outside the tomb of Lazarus remind you that He is not callous to our earthly experiences of sorrow.
And please….please…let us, in those moments when our hearts are feeling the most burdened, remember to lift our bruised and broken praises to Him who took our sins and shame and infirmities and fallen nature onto His own broken body and became sin for us so that we might live in Him <3
Blessings, my friends, there is no pain you are carrying that He does not know. Literally…He knows it, has felt it, has borne it and has triumphed over it. Hold fast to Him as He is surely holding fast to us <3