I want to begin this post by telling you a little about a lady name Elisabeth Elliot. For those unfamiliar with her story, the short version is that she lost her first husband while they were missionaries in Ecuador. He was killed by the tribe they had gone to serve. After her husband's death, she stayed there for two years, living out the Gospel to the very men who killed her husband. She returned to the States, remarried, and lost her second husband to a battle with cancer. And she still had the courage to marry a third time. In the midst of it all, she became a well-known author and speaker, faithfully serving her Lord and Savior. Hers is a faith I want to know more about.
So, over the past year or so, I looked at every thrift store, every
clearance shelf, hoping to come across a book by Elisabeth Elliot. Yes, I know...I could purchase one on Amazon or something super simple
like that. But for some reason, I didn't. For some reason, I kept
looking. And it worked out pretty well for me. At the end of this summer, I came across one of her lesser-known books titled, "The Path of Loneliness." Truth be told, this life-path without Mom and Dad, in a family and workplace full of married and dating peers, can be a bit lonely. The Lord and I have been working on this one (recognizing, and trusting, and delighting in His presence) quite a bit over the last several years, so, I just chuckled, told my sister I'd found my book, and left super excited about my purchase.
As I read these pages, I find priceless challenges and overwhelming hope. Many of these finds have come from thoughts I've held in my heart being so clearly put to words by another who knows what it is to grieve. Many more have come from the transparency of Elisabeth's writing as she shares, from great wisdom and grace, about the lessons her Heavenly Father has taught her along her own path of loneliness and healing.
One of the first things that hit me hard is this: "Those who only watch and pray and try to put themselves in the place of the bereaved find it almost unendurable. Sometimes they weep uncontrollably, for their imaginations never include the grace."
How true I have found this, both as others watched my siblings and I after Mom and Dad's death and as I now watch others begin their own journey of grief. I hate, more than almost anything, the moment I find out someone else is just beginning the grieving and healing process. I remember the raw brokenness. I know that soon, the rest of the world will go on as normal while the one hurting is trying to figure out what "normal" even means now. I know the complexity of the path ahead. I hate that others have to walk that path.
And then I remember the grace. And I am faced, again, with the realization that I hate that moment because I place my human limitations on the Almighty God. I cast the shadow of my own weariness over the situation and forget that the God who saw me through is every bit as capable in this new situation, in this other person's life.
The Lord reminds me that when news comes of another's loss, as believers, we must first pray. Believing that God is able, we must pray for His comfort to be experienced, His presence to be made known, His Kingdom to be advanced.
We must also pray that we would use discernment in how we interact with those hurting most deeply. Sometimes, we must act. Through a meal, or a word, or household tasks, or a hug...sometimes, we must act.
And while there is beauty in sharing one another's burdens, while it is good to hurt when others are hurting, we must always keep an accurate view of the sovereign God. He is still the Provider of peace that makes no sense. He is still our good Father. He is still wise, and loving, and so very active. Therefore, rather than despair, we must always include the grace.