Acquaintance with Grief

There is so much grief running through our souls these days. Although it is sometimes individual and personal to our lives and circumstances, grief is also collective. In her book, Daring Greatly, Brene Brown finds in her research that “the past decade has been traumatic for so many people that it’s made changes in our culture.” To name a few, she reminds us of 9/11, multiple wars, recession, unemployment, catastrophic natural disasters, increase in random violence and school shootings. Brown explains that “we’ve survived and are surviving events that have torn at our sense of safety with such force that we’ve experienced them as trauma even if we weren’t directly involved.” When I read and thought about her research and conclusions, I felt it. It’s a fine-lined, but burdensome grief, that comes and goes, but shapes and impacts our person, impacts our soul.

Like personal pain or grief, you usually don’t see collective grief coming. You pick it up on the morning news, it gets passed to you over phone conversations. And then it stays with you as you think about trauma in relation to your own life. The pain catches you as you consciously drop off your kids to school, where we all have learned that there could be a shooting. The heavy catches you when you watch a family come out of an underground shelter to see that their home was shredded by a tornado. I worry about steady income. I worry about violence. Collective grief becomes pretty personal.

I came across Isaiah 53 this week where the prophet is describing Jesus to us. “A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Isaiah 53:3. I have thought so much about all the good Jesus did in His life. Healing and saving and making new. But you can only heal someone who is broken. You can only save someone who is lost and make new what is worn out. I think about the great need of people that Jesus encountered. I think about all the stories, trauma and pain He took in through His encounters. And, since He is God and at that time, man too, it is hard for me to imagine how His soul knew the real truth of a person’s pain and hurting (multiplied by humanity) . . . and He went on without breaking.

The bible says that “He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” Isaiah 53:4. I can’t tell you that I am speechless, but my heart is silent at the thought of what He carried. “And by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5. He has to take our grief for us to be healed. I don’t know exactly how you give pain away to Him. I don’t know why the act of giving grief away is awkward for the human heart. But I see that He suffered to heal us. I see that He has already completed something that feels like a stretch for us. If my heart can’t see, my mind is able to reason that it only makes sense to let go of the grief to the One who has already bore it.

Being Still

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

 

Be still and know that I am God. Psalms 46:10a

For me, this is one of the simplest yet most profound scriptures in the Bible. In a world where we are inundated with so much “noise” in our lives—texting, Instant Messaging, FB msgs, FaceTime, emails, voicemails, tweets…it is hard to be still anymore. It is hard to still the noise in our heads, the chaotic thoughts, worries, fears in our mind and know that despite the chaos in our own lives, our God is there, as He has always been…The same God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob…He is all powerful, fully able to provide everything and anything we need.

I remember when 911 happened. In one morning, life as we Americans knew it changed so dramatically. In one instant, the cocoon of safety we had believed surrounded us evaporated like the morning fog. When the first tower was hit, we all thought it was some freak accident. But when the second tower was hit and then the Pentagon, we knew.  The news of that morning revealed one crushing blow after another, and we knew we were being attacked at the very core of our country. As we watched those World Trade towers crumble like dust to the ground, we momentarily had to remind ourselves that we were watching the news and not some science fiction movie.

But I also remember something else that people talked about over and over again in the coming weeks and months. Where is God? How could He have allowed this to happen? Why us, God?

Be still and know that I am God.

The peace we experience in our lives is not a result of a worry-free or peaceful life. Peace is initially fighting through our disappointment when things and life are not going our way and getting back to that point where we trust God again and give him the benefit of the doubt.  It’s asking how do we fit in His plan.

Be still and know that I am God.

The peace we experience during turbulent times comes from the knowledge that God, despite all appearances, is always in control, and although His ways are not our ways, it is in hindsight, His best for us.

Being still doesn’t mean being passive and waiting for your answer to arrive served on a silver platter. Being still means knowing you’ve done your part and then waiting on God to do the rest. But therein lies one of our fundamental challenges as believers…waiting on God’s timing.

Often as we wait, doubt creeps in…perhaps God has forgotten us…or maybe He is not going to do anything anyway…our thoughts and fears can often run away from us and lead us into disbelief.

Be still and know that I am God.

What personal “911s” have you endured in your own life? Not all of them have to be catastrophes or epic in scope. But all of us experience our own life questioning moments.

Perhaps like me, it’s a company layoff…or for some, it’s a marriage that is on the brink of divorce…or a sickness…

Wherever you are and whatever you are going through, take a moment today…even if only at the stop light on your commute to work…to know and experience God in the quietness of your soul.

Be still, my friend…Allow Him a moment to speak to you, if only to remind you of His love for you and that He has a plan for your life.

Our God was, is, and always will be the true, only, living God.

Revel in that knowledge. Remind yourself, if God is for you…who can stand against you?

Be still…

 

The Music of My Grief

By JMathis

I didn’t own a television when 9/11 happened.

Sure, I caught glimpses of the falling Towers on televisions broadcasting at my workplace or in the homes of friends and family.

I even remember pouring through the images of 9/11 on the internet, and inhaling every photograph I could get my hands on in newspapers and in print.

Still, my strongest recollections of 9/11 are not visual, as compared to many in our country who watched the images over and over again in horror on 24-hour television news cycles.

My memories of 9/11 are shaped instead from listening to countless hours of radio in the months following the tragedy.

What strikes me about my experience is that I can’t really remember the voices or the stories that played in the backdrop. However, I do vividly remember the music that NPR played continuously in a loop, in between news segments. I even remember that NPR chose to play this music in long stretches of time rather than repeatedly airing news features. Looking back, I’m sure it’s because words were just inadequate in capturing the grief of our nation at that time.

It is this music that will forever be emblazoned upon my heart, my mind and my memories of 9/11.

In fact, every year on the 9/11 anniversary, I go back and revisit this music.

(Click here to play this music.)

I revisit this music to reflect.

To reflect on my loss. The loss of my countrymen. The loss of my wide-eyed idealism.

To reflect on my God. My God who gives me life, hope and a future. My God who gave refuge to my then-fiancé/now-husband, as he was headed to the World Financial Center that morning for work.

To reflect on who I am. As a child of God. As a wife, mother and woman—a woman with many personal and professional gifts, interests and ambitions.

In these moments when I revisit this music and commune with God’s spirit, I realize that there can be no true authenticity in my life without constant reflection.

You cannot be real and transparent unless you look deeply in the mirrors of your God-given soul to see where you have been and where you are headed.

You cannot even begin to know yourself or your God, or be able to identify those around you who are in need, unless you take time to reflect.

Take time today to reflect on the state of your inward self, your inner man.

Is it where you want her to be?

Most importantly, is it where God wants her to be?