Faith & Grief

“You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend.”

– Psalm 88:18 NIV

A significant moment during my transition was when my oldest brother shared his perspective of how he saw me from the outside looking in. He described me as one who had a bowl filled with my most meaningful possessions and one by one they were being taken from me. Recently he mentioned to me watching me through what I had endured within the last few months reminded him of the biblical character Job from the book of Job in the bible. When we had that talk and he shared the metaphor of the bowl, for the first time, I felt as if someone understood me fully in what I was facing. It actually made what I was facing a little easier to bear with, because the illumination of my circumstances through the use of the metaphor made me feel better being understood in how I was feeling.

From 2002-2010 I had the privilege of working with students outside the classroom, sometimes providing a listening ear allowing their voice to be heard with regard to the challenges and circumstances they faced that created moments of grief for them. I would say to them that you only feel what you feel because of your circumstances. If you did not have the circumstances you were facing, you would not be feeling the way you are feeling. Sometimes people need to be, feel, validated that how they’re feeling is okay. Feelings are as real as the reality of my circumstances. Feelings are so real, they can influence me to live in a world that does not exist when my feelings, or perceptions, are influencing me to believe something is happening when it really isn’t.

The loss articulated in Psalm 88 is associated with the loss of companionship, family and friendship relationships and joy. After all was lost, darkness became the writer’s closest friend. Isaiah 53 cites Jesus as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Hebrews 5 depicts Him as one who spent the days of His life with loud cries and tears before the Father. Matthew 26 illustrates Him as being overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, sweating drops of blood from the intense feelings wrestling within Him to gain a foothold over Him. When I hear the association of darkness in this context, I think of depression. During the reality of my transition, I express great gratitude to God for the many ways He validated my feelings in conversation with Him, through His word, and others that became a great source of comfort, encouragement and inspiration to reaffirm me in my faith walk with Him that He understood me, He was concerned about me in my circumstances and He cared for me. While I was in darkness He was my Light and my Salvation.

May God help you and bless you in your times of grief, misfortune and loss during your season of transition and provide you His light to keep you company and lead you out into a state of resiliency.

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