Monday, October 15, 2012

At A Loss For Words...

My friend told me she drove down my street, wanting to knock on my door to ask, "What do I do? What do I say to my friend who just lost her child?" She thought I would have some words, some advise to move her to action in a way that expressed her heartfelt grief. Because I had lost a child, she thought I would have lots of suggestions.

I hugged her and thanked her and confessed that I, too, am at a loss. My mind registers the knowledge, but my heart is presently breaking and simply cannot process this loss. Death shocks and we have a tendency to run away - escape our emotions, looking for air to breathe.

We search for the words or deeds that say, "I am sorry for your loss. I love you. If I could take away the pain, I would. I know I can't do that, but I offer this - my time, my casserole, my words of comfort, my willingness to run errands, clean the house, empty the dishwasher, bathe the dog, care for other family members, provide bedrooms for out of town guests, sort the mail, answer the telephone, make phonecalls, pray, refresh the plants, fill the birdfeeders, and all the while, feeling so utterly helpless." Why? Because death strikes a mighty blow and we temporarily lose our confidence.

When we lose our confidence, Jesus steps in to show us his own personal example of going to the bereaved. Jesus shows us how to grieve. Jesus shows us how to look beyond death. In the gospel of John, we are told a moving story about Mary and Martha who sent word to their dear friend, Jesus, that their brother Lazarus was sick. Jesus did not go to them immediately, but simply told those with him that the sickness would not end in death. And then Lazarus died. And after a very long four days, Jesus wept with Mary and Martha at the tomb. Then he had a poignant conversation with them. In John 11, Jesus reminded the sisters,"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." Then to prove his point of their conversation, Jesus first prayed, thanking God for the opportunity to show those observing that He truly was sent from God. Then, He did it. Jesus raised Lazarus from death to life. In front of their very eyes. And from his example, He is still teaching us today:

1. Go to the person who is grieving.
2. Weep with them.
3. Be the hands and feet of Jesus through compassionate care.
4. Pray, thanking God for the opportunity to share the Good News with others.
5. Rest in the words of Jesus who said, "I am the resurrection. Believe in me and live forever."
Since I believe all of the Bible is true, I am able to regain my confidence in these passages when I face the reality of death. And somehow, all the words and deeds done, carried out in love, become the hands and feet of Jesus, transformed into a beautiful thing called grace. Can we follow His lead?