On Mother’s Day, 2018, my beloved mom took her last breath and went to be with Jesus. We had just enjoyed the holiday together and now she was gone. We had no idea it would be the last Mother’s Day we would celebrate together in person, here on earth. Over the following days and weeks and months, I grieved her loss. The aching inside was a pain that cut deep into my heart and mind as I thought back to sweet memories of childhood and her nurturing love and care. I cried out to God, over and over, and felt His comfort every time.
As Pastor Ben mentioned this past Sunday, mourning the loss of someone elicits an emotional response. We feel what seems to be never-ending sadness and bottomless ache. We cry, we weep, and sometimes we scream aloud. Our emotions are powerful as we become more fully aware of how much the loss truly affects us.
My tears, like Jeremiah’s in the book of Lamentations, poured out from a broken heart. “Streams of tears flow from my eyes because my people are destroyed. My eyes will flow unceasingly without relief until the Lord looks down from heaven and sees.” Lamentations 3:48-50
I’m sure many of us have experienced “heart destruction” by the loss of someone close. Maybe it was a parent or other relative, a colleague, a close friend? I’m sure we have all attended a funeral or celebration of life service where those uncomfortable feelings of mourning either fall on us personally, or we witness someone else trying to fight back their tears. Those are heavy moments…difficult times…when we face grief head-on. And it’s okay to cry.
But what about facing grief of a different kind? What about mourning the loss of:
- Broken social connections with others we care about due to quarantine restrictions
- Security in what we had believed America to be…the land of the free and the home of the brave
- A relationship with a dear friend because of misunderstandings and/or hurtful words spoken
- Closeness with the Lord due to unconfessed or ignored sin in our hearts
These are all different forms of grief, but they are legitimate losses just the same. No matter if we respond to them emotionally or mentally, each requires a time of crying out to God. And that is okay. We shouldn’t simply ignore our feelings and pretend the root of sadness hasn’t taken hold inside of us. We must bring our reasons for mourning to the Lord – He wants it all – so that He can begin the healing ministry of comfort.
Like a cavity left unchecked, our sin will continue to cause problems and pain in our lives. If we ignore it, we knowingly allow the problem, and associated pain, to become bigger. But, if we seek help from our Savior, allowing Him to get down deep into the decay and scrape out ALL of the mess so that it is clean and free of disease, we can begin to heal. We can begin to experience comfort.
I think of David in the Psalms where he gets real with God about his sin and the pain it exposes. He cries out, sharing his raw feelings to the One who knows him intimately:
“My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; and you lay me in the dust of death.” (Ps. 22:14b-15 ESV)
But once those emotions are exposed and he asks to be rescued, the Lord answers him, and David quickly gives praise:
“I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you…for He has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; He has not hidden His face from Him but has listened to his cry for help.” (Ps. 22:22, 24)
Last night, my young daughter couldn’t find her favorite stuffed elephant she has affectionately called “Ellie” ever since she could talk. She was very sad, and her broken heart could not be comforted. “I miss her! What if we never find her?” she cried while I tucked her into bed. “Oh honey, we will find her,” I gently replied. “We will pray and ask Jesus to help. Don’t cry.” But as soon as those last two words left my mouth, I took them back and said, “No, Sarah, it’s okay to cry. You are sad, and I would be too. I understand how it feels to lose something so important to your heart, and it’s okay to cry.” In that moment, I believe the Holy Spirit nudged this mama’s heart causing me to help my child know that I was there with her through this, that I could relate to her pain, and that she was experiencing normal and healthy emotions. And it’s okay for you to cry too.
Let’s bring all of our laments to the One who knows us best. He longs for us to trade in our pain for His comfort.
~ Tara Dye is a longtime member of LIFE Fellowship. She and her husband Paul have three children