In the same way, you have sorrow now; but I will see you again, and you will be overjoyed. No one takes away your joy. John 16:22 (CEB)
About a week ago, I received word that a childhood friend had passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly. She left behind a husband, two middle school aged daughters, a twin sister and a younger brother. And then there were copious friends and extended family who loved her much.
This week, hundreds of memories have been flying through my head. I remember playing hide and seek at church on Wednesday nights. I remember birthday parties and sleepovers; laughter and silliness. I remember summer nights laying in a driveway looking for shooting stars. I remember road trips and vast hours of uninterrupted time to talk, laugh and sing.
Like many working moms, the past couple of years have brought about less talking and time together and more “liking” on Facebook or the occasional quick comment. The demands of children, church and career called to me, and I always thought there would be time…time after the kids were older…time after the work slowed down…time…later. But then, there wasn’t.
I’m not much of a crier. It’s part ridiculous Midwestern stoicism, I think and part vanity because I’m an ugly crier. Rather, grief tends to settle on my heart like a weighted blanket. It’s a heaviness I carry with me.
This summer, beautiful and amazing with new adventures and roads to travel, has also been punctuated by grief. We left our community of six years–the longest my husband and I have lived in any one place since leaving our childhood homes. We lost my grandmother–the last of the “greatest generation” in our family. And now, we’re saying goodbye to a friend.
I’ve been thinking a lot about grief, and I’ve come to the conclusion that despite what our “happy at all costs” society says, grief is good. Grief helps us to see how much we’ve loved. When we feel loss, it is because we are letting go of someone or someplace we deeply love and, most likely, someone (or a whole community of people) who loved us, too. Grief helps us keep this life in perspective, giving us the opportunity to remember that our current present is temporal and that there is a bigger journey beyond this lifetime.
I love Jesus’ words to his disciples in the upper room. The disciples are grieving. They don’t like this unexpected turn in the conversation. Jesus is leaving? Jesus is going to die? This wasn’t part of the plan! But look at what Jesus says…
You have sorrow now, but I will see you again…
Jesus gets it. This world is full of grief. But, and here is the crux on which we Jesus people stand rooted, but I will see you again.
This is punctuated by even more good news.
In the world you have distress. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world.
What an amazing promise! Jesus wasn’t abandoning his disciples when he left them, nor does he abandon us in our time of grief. Jesus gives us the everlasting promise of his presence. I will see you again…I have conquered the world.
Grief comes to us all. Maybe you’re not grieving now, but I’m sure you have at some point. And, I know with certainty that grief is something we will feel again. But, it’s okay. Grief is something God has wired us to feel. It is a sign of love. If you’re feeling grief, don’t push it aside. Don’t add things to your to-do list so you can push it away. Instead, let the sorrow sit with you, and remember the love that brought it. Remember, too, the wonderful promise of Jesus…I will see you again. I have conquered the world.
Blessings and Peace,