After his wife, Joy, died from cancer, C.S. Lewis wrote a classic work on grief entitled A Grief Observed, which flowed from the journaling of his grief. I sense that this blog may at times be an expression of my grief similar to that (although not nearly so well written or thought out as his, of course).
Having said that, I just couldn't bring myself to write anything at all until now. The shroud of grief does strange things to us, and one effect for me, at least, is that it has paralyzed my motivation. And at least up to this point, it has also kept me at times from wanting to go to the painful places (which we should not approach except as God leads anyway). But I will try to approach one of those places today.
One of the things I wrestled most with after Jettie died was the confusion I felt because of all the clear promises of healing that Jettie and I (and many others) sensed were ours for Jettie. Did God change His mind or just plain old "fib" to us? Did we hear God so poorly that we missed the obvious warnings that death was coming instead of life? I am convinced now that the answer to these questions is absolutely not! God did promise to heal. Because He always wants to heal, what else could we expect Him to say (Jesus healed all who came to Him)? So even when God knows we aren't yet in a place of faith to "move the mountains of sickness" He will promise to move them.
Furthermore, it has become clear to me that God, like any good parent, always urges us to reach beyond where He knows we will get. We who are parents know how this works. From a very early age we are encouraging our kids to reach beyond their capacity. For example, when they start to walk, we deliberately get farther away than they can walk, knowing they will fall yet saying, "Come on, you can make it!" So when God's people face mountains of opposition, even if He knows that this time the mountain won't move, He will still say, "Come on, you can trust me for this one!"
One of my favorite examples of this is where Jesus invites Peter to walk on water, knowing very well that Peter would sink and need rescuing. Instead of saying to Peter, "You can't make it, you will sink when you are about halfway here," He said, "Come!" then rescued Peter in the midst of Peter's failure of faith. It seems to me that this is what has happened in our case. Even though God knew that our trust level wasn't at the place of being able to fully receive His power to heal, He urged us on, ready to catch us and redeem the situation when we fell. Jettie is certainly better off by far, and even in the indescribable pain of those of us left behind, God's presence is doing remarkable things.
But does this leave me in a place where I feel like a failure? It did at first, of course, and will again, I am sure, but Papa has quickly moved in to correct any notion that I am responsible for the impossible (that's His realm). Instead, in the safety of His constant, constant, constant loving embrace He invites me to get to know Him better than ever so that next time trust will reach higher than before.
And so I grieve, O how I grieve! And it hurts beyond my ability to describe (Jettie and I had a remarkably good marriage, and she was my best and most treasured friend while she was here). But in my grief, through the massive confusion, I hear the invitation to know Him ringing in my heart louder than ever before. What else can I do, then, than pursue Him through the pain?
Holding more tightly to His promises than ever,
Tom, one of Abba's children