I gripped the banister railing to the apartment staircase with every ounce of strength I had left as a wave of grief washed over me. I was only three steps from the bottom of my ascent when wall of loneliness stood before me demanding me to confront it’s reality in my life. Though I wanted to run, I had to stop. I had to be still. I had to let this moment happen. And I had to let the fog inside of my soul pass.
I welcomed the sorrow and could no longer deny that it needed to do it’s work. My head sank into my chest, tears began to flow and I could feel my knees begin to buckle. Disappointments that I had held back for weeks now began flooding my heart. I stood there, head bowed, and felt them all.
Then, in the recesses of my heart, I heard the Lord whisper:
“I know this isn’t the life you expected…”
I felt the compassion in His voice. I felt His empathy and understanding. But mostly, I felt His presence with me. And I could finally rest. Even with the unresolved storm of mourning within me, I found a peace that the Lord was with me, that He saw me in that lonely hour.
And His presence with His gentle tone of understanding made this moment of heart wrenching pain more like a dose of medicine to the soul. Yes, it was a hard pill to swallow, but one that was for my benefit and my ultimate healing.
God can only meet us in reality. Denying our pain, our grief, our loss, our disappointments also denies us the opportunity to meet with the Lord who is waiting to comfort us there.
“Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted”
- Matthew 5:4
Perhaps it is time to be willing to enter a season of grief. or mourning that we may make room for the comfort and joy that the Lord has for us. Can you sense His presence inviting you through the way of grief and hardship to find Him working all things for good? (Psalms 30:11, Romans 8:28)
Perhaps the Lord is asking us to be willing to walk through the valley that we may find that even there His presence and grace abound. Can you sense the Lord leading you on a journey through the shadows of life to discover that His goodness and mercy follow you even in the midst of darkness? (Psalms 23:4,6)
Friend, there is no grief too deep; there is no shadow too dark that the Lord cannot meet you there.
“Even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.”
- Psalms 139:12
The next whisper from the Lord felt a bit firmer :
“…do you still believe that I am faithful?”
My sunken head now raised in acknowledgement to His presence that had been with me in seasons past and was undoubtedly with me in that moment. I knew He would be with me in this coming season. As I took the next step up the stairs, my grip on the banister loosened as I realized that I had something better to hold on to, His faithfulness.
“Yes”, I cried, “You are still faithful.”
When I do not get what I want, He is still faithful. When life throws curveballs and disappointments, He is still faithful. When all I see are waves of unanswered questions, He is still faithful. When it all falls apart, He is still faithful.
And just like that, the Lord’s faithfulness was calling out for mine. Every step up that staircase was one of heart felt determination and quiet surrender to His ways that are higher than mine. Every step was an opportunity to reach out with faith and trust that the Lord would meet me in the middle of the valley. By the time I had finished my ascent, I had fully decided to live this coming season with utter reliance on the Lord’s goodness and His perfect care for me. And this decision couldn’t have come at a better time as the days that followed were full of hidden treasures of irritability, seemingly nonsensical tears, and one too many emotional outbursts. That’s the thing about grief. It doesn’t unleash itself in a single significant moment. It finds plenty of pathways to unleash it’s fury. Yet I still cling on to His goodness by the way of faith.
I don’t have a lot of answers to the questions that mourning brings up nor do I have a grid by which to navigate this valley. But I have peace in His presence with me. I trust that this is the way He has called me to walk for this season in time. And with every step, I grab ahold of God’s faithfulness with white knuckled faith.
Friends, let us no longer deny the difficult and dark roads that the Lord asks us to take with Him. And in this season full of uncertainty, let’s cling all the more to the Lord with white knuckled faith.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,
for he who promised is faithful.”
- Hebrews 10:23
Jen is a pastor, worship leader, writer, and songwriter living in Napa, California.