Language and Valleys

No one wants to be fluent 

in the language of grief. 

No one wants to grow familiar 

with the valley of death.   

Yet, for some of us, 

this is the land in which we dwell 

and the words that we utter. 


This has been a hard season. 


For some of us, 

what started out as benign information 

has become deeply personal. 

As the pandemic has continued, 

we have found ourselves losing 

not just comfort 

but jobs, 


and even family and friends.

So we find ourselves grieving.

What was far off has become near. 

And now we find ourselves living 

in this foreign land 

of grief and death. 


The tones of our grief 

may come across 

as harsh and heavy. 

Yet in times of grief, 

these harsh and heavy tones 

express the realities of the heart 

when normal language and clichés 

fall short. 


Because this valley of grief 

in which many of us find ourselves

is one of the most real, vulnerable, and true places 

of all human existence. 

A place where the value of both people and things 

is seen clearly. 

A place where the frivolous fades away. 


At times, when speaking the language of grief, 

you can find yourself feeling alien, 

especially if what you’re experiencing

has not become personal for those around you. 

They peer into your situation 

with curiosity and a bit of empathy, 

yet their words are still uttered in the language of normal life. 

But then, when you are going about your day 

and you hear words spoken 

in the language of grief, 

you notice. 

Words that may once have passed by on the wind 

now hit heavy as a stone. 


Sometimes, once you have learned the language of grief, 

you can serve as a translator for others. 

You can help express the needs of the heart and soul. 

When others hear these words a spark is struck,

a spark that reveals you are not alone.


Growing up, 

I always thought Jesus’ actions at the death of Lazarus 

were interesting. 

Now, I find them intimate.

 “Jesus wept” 

seems like such a simple, logical phrase. 

However, what I can see now is that Jesus is translating. 

Yes, Jesus knew that He would raise Lazarus, 

but He didn’t pass over the moment. 

He was present. Even in this dark valley. 

Through His tears, He writes the story of brokenness 

and the need for a Savior – 

the need for healing. 

Through His tears, He tells us the reason why He came. 


It is tempting to try to run from grief. 

No one wants to build a house in the valley of death.

And while this is not the place we permanently dwell,

it is a place through which we all must journey. 

All of us.

Some are forced to learn the language of grief from infancy – 

refugees, orphans, victims.

Others pick up words through the years 

as they experience grief and loss. 

But at some point, we all must learn this language – 

we all must travel this valley.


Jesus wept because He loved.

He wept because He understood.

His tears preach as powerfully as His words.

And I pray ours will too. 


Day 1

John 11:1-44

If everything Jesus did reveals more of God to us, what do His tears in this situation reveal about the heart of God?


Day 2

Psalm 23

Sheep only follow a shepherd that they know and trust. Looking back, how have you seen the Good Shepherd provide for and protect you? 

God does not promise that we will avoid the valley of the shadow of death, but He does promise that He will be with us. How does God’s presence in the valley influence our situation? 


Day 3

Psalm 139

Someone once said that as we go through life, we move from being astronauts looking forward to archeologists examining what is behind. As you look back at where you have been, where do you see God? 


Day 4

Luke 7:11-17

Like this woman, our grief is very real and personal, but so is Jesus’ love. Reflect on His tender and powerful love for her and for you.


Day 5

Mark 7:31-35

“And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said…” 

What might this sigh mean? What might it say about Jesus’ heart for those hurting, like us?


Day 6

Romans 12:15

Who around you needs someone to rejoice with or weep with? How can you enter into this situation with them as Jesus does with you?



“It Is Well with My Soul”

Horatio Spafford, 1876


When peace like a river attendeth my way

When sorrows like sea billows roll

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say

It is well, it is well with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come

Let this blest assurance control

That Christ has regarded my helpless estate

And has shed His own blood for my soul

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought 

My sin, not in part, but the whole

Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more 

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight

The clouds be rolled back as a scroll

The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend

Even so, it is well with my soul!

britton sharp

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