How many Finleys can fit into a phone booth?
Over Spring Break we took the family to Busch Gardens for a couple of days. On the way out of the park we almost crammed into this phone booth for a quick picture, but one was missing.
We took this picture to send to Grace, to tell her she was missed. But I’m guessing, for her, it brought sadness as well as joy at the silliness of her family. It did for me too. One was missing.
When one is missing from the dinner table, from birthday celebrations, from beach trips … it’s sad.
Our one missing is in college, healthy, happy, busy. I’m well aware that my missing her in no way compares to the grief of the Richard family, or the Campbell family, or others who are suffering great, great loss.
It is no hard thing to consider Monday and feel horrified, and angry, and so very, very sad. It’s not a hard thing to celebrate the beauty of rescuers and heroes and the people of Boston who are going shoulder-to-shoulder. It’s not a hard thing to hold your babies close and even weep as you think about the pain and the loss and the fear.
What’s harder is knowing what to do with all of this grief. When one is missing.
I’m a Christian. For me, this means that I trust in Jesus Christ. I live for him. I live for his glory, with skinned knees, scraped elbows, and so many questions. I live for him. Years ago I made a decision to orient my life around Jesus, rather than myself. In doing so I have gained joy, freedom, and the confidence of knowing that there will be a Day when there is no more hunger, no more thirst, no more orphans, for goodness’ sake, no more tears, no more fears … A Day when all is made right.
Oh, I long for this Day. In the days of one is missing, I long for this Day.
As a Christian, I turn to God with my questions, even the really hard ones. He doesn’t always answer them, but he comforts me and gives me hope, a hope that will never disappoint.
If you’re wondering what to do with all this grief, I’d like to suggest that you join me in turning to God. Here’s how.
1. Grieve with God.
Don’t run from the mourning too quickly. Don’t pretend it’s okay. Death and destruction are the work of the enemy. Grief and anger are an appropriate response. God is strong enough and compassionate enough to receive you in your grief. Grieve with God.
The Lord is close to the broken-hearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
2. Grieve with God’s people.
Not the ones who are quoting Romans 8:28 to you, but the ones who know the Father of Mercies. The ones who have experienced loss, pain, failure and found God to be a comfort. These are the ones who are especially equipped to come alongside you in your pain.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.
3. Grieve with hope.
For Christians, we have hope beyond the grave. This is the foundation of our faith. If there was no resurrection, for Jesus or for us, there would be no basis for our faith in Jesus Christ. In grief, look beyond the pain of this very terrible “now” to the “not yet” that is surely coming.
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14.
When one is missing, the grief goes deep. Even if you weren’t at the finish line on Monday, you either have been grieving, you are grieving, or you will be grieving. Grief and suffering are part of this shattered world.
Perhaps this word is for you in your grief today. Or perhaps it is to be a word encouraging you to come alongside someone else who is grieving. Be ones who hold fast to the Father of mercies who has comforted you in your affliction so that you can comfort others, and not the ones who shallowly quote Romans 8:28. If you’re grieving or coming alongside someone else in their grief, I would love to pray for you. You can leave a comment, or, if you’d rather, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more: Psalm 23:4; Psalm 42; Psalm 56:8-11; Psalm 119:49-50; Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; Isaiah 61:1-3; Isaiah 66:13; Matthew 11:28-30; 2 Corinthians 1:8-9; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 7:15-17