“I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process.” -C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
It has been two and a half years since grief fell into our family’s lap in the form of my father’s glioblastoma. The blessing of time in this process has not been taken for granted. We are thankful. But also very weary.
In two and a half years I have said way too much, said not enough, said yes when I should have said no, said no when I should have said yes. I have showed up when I probably should have just stayed home. I have stayed home and hid when I really should have just showed up. When your heart is aching, the simple act of making eye contact can be painful. So, I have spent a lot of time alone. Except that I’m never really alone.
The thing about this messy process is that it has put a magnifying glass over what I’m made of, how I cope, where I put my trust. I’ve not always liked what I’ve seen. But it has also shown me God’s goodness in a way I’ve never seen before. And that has been beautiful. I have never been more sure of God’s great love for us. I have never been more certain of His presence in my life. I have learned so much and I’m doubtful I would have learned these things without walking through the hard. There is much to be gained in loss. God’s kingdom is so beautifully upside down in that way.
There are days that every single phone call is a sad one. Every bit of news is bad news. And I have all the big feelings, even on the best days. It’s the way I’m wired. So my stomach starts to hurt, my head starts to pound. My body gets achy and tired. The weight of grief is something I experience so physically that I often want to crawl in bed and not get up again until this is all over. My body shuts down. It says, “Nope. Too stressful. Not doing it.” But you know what my soul does? It sings. It confidently declares the goodness of God without fail. Almost like that’s exactly what it was made to do. Almost like I don’t even really have a choice in the matter.
We take hit after hit, and it would be easy to wonder where God is in all of this. To be mad at him. To decide I have created Him in my mind as a way of coping and turn away completely. But even when my mind screams that this is bad, even when I’m so weary that my own flesh begins to fail, deep inside of me whispers over and over, “You are good, God. I’m keeping my eyes on you because you are good.”
I couldn’t doubt His goodness if I tried.
I am so sad about this broken world, but I can’t stop remembering God’s sufficiency. I don’t wonder where He is in all of this. I know exactly where He is. He is in our midst. Right in the middle of all of this. Even in cancer. Even in mass shootings. Even in hurricanes. When He doesn’t calm the actual storm, He speaks “Peace, be still” to our souls, instead. If you listen, I promise you’ll hear it. You’ll hear the reassurance that this isn’t all there is and that we don’t have to handle it by ourselves. We don’t take one step alone. Not one. To sum it all up, I’d make a terrible atheist.
God is in this. God is for us. And God is good.