Over the mourner’s heads I watch three young sisters walk slowly to the front of the church. Two carry vases filled with deep red roses and one carries an urn. They are formally saying goodbye to their father, although days of bedside vigils and watchful nights were witness to the real goodbyes. His parents and brother follow, bowed by the loss of a second son too young. Within the decorous confines of a funeral service, comfort is proffered but its starched ritual and words leave me wanting.
I imagine the liberty to enfold these fatherless daughters in my arms, barely known to them yet qualified to do so by the scars on my own heart. I have lost a father, a mother, a marriage, a dream, so the great vat of grief receives their tears alongside my own, blending them into one common cry. I would hold them close and mingle my tears with theirs, for sorrow knows no strangers. Generalities and platitudes forgotten, they would feel a once broken heart reaching out to their freshly broken hearts. They might rest their heads against its mended scars and know there is hope for a someday life.
In darkness and in secret, hidden from a world uncomfortable with grief, I once mined the depths of my own shattered heart, picking through its bloodied splinters until I found the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places revealed by God, who called me by name. (Isa. 45:3) Treasures not to be hoarded but to share generously, even when scars ache and pain reminds. Like diamonds formed under pressure deep in the earth, the jewels of God’s character sparkle against the black backdrop of loss and grief.
“The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, is the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does He do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us.” (2 Cor. 1:3-4 Living Bible)
I would tell those beautiful, sad daughters that the Father of Jesus is a Father to the fatherless; that when they ache to be held in their daddy’s arms, God will gather them like lambs and carry them close to His heart. And when they long to hear their father’s silenced voice, Jesus will call them as little children to Himself because He said heaven belongs to them.* These words have the power to soothe their broken hearts and dry their tears. I know because words from the same source have been healing balm to my sorrows too.
Grief can do a strange work in the heart it breaks. Rather than losing pieces of itself, a broken heart in the hands of God can enlarge to eventually gather in those whose hearts are freshly wounded. From my place of sorrow I can offer the healing I have found, because I know the Healer.
*(Ps. 68:5; Isa. 40:11; Mt. 19:14)
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© photo credit – Valerie Ronald 2014