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
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
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,
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.
I always thought Jesus’ actions at the death of Lazarus
Now, I find them intimate.
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.
If everything Jesus did reveals more of God to us, what do His tears in this situation reveal about the heart of God?
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?
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?
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.
“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?
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!