Since Sharon's passing, I've decided to write of our healing process and my personal feelings as we try to deal with our grief and overcome this tragedy. As my niece quoted in a post about her grandmother Sharon, "God didn't promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, or sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way. If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it..."
Just because we've devoted our lives to following Christ does not mean that we will not endure trials and devastation in our lives. We will still suffer as others suffer, still be challenged as others are challenged. What we as Christians are called to do is to relentlessly trust in the Lord, to seek His comfort and His guidance. Even though we've been dealt this unbelievable tragedy, we will keep our eyes upon the Lord, and continue to follow in His footsteps, seeking His path for us, and basking in the wondrous light of His grace.
Eight years ago, I faced a similar tragedy when I lost my beloved uncle to a brain tumor. He was only twenty-eight-years-old, with so much life left to live. Losing him was the hardest thing that I've ever had to deal with. After his death, I put on a mask to hide my pain, to try to be strong for my family. I had lost all emotion, and was nothing but a hollow shell of my former self. I would pretend to be fine during the day, but I would fall apart every night, sobbing alone in my room and wishing desperately for the pain to go away. I had been angry at God at first, demanding a purpose for my uncle's death, but completely unable to understand God's plan. It took a few months for my anger to fade, and for me to realize that unless I embraced the Lord again, I would completely lose myself and not be able to survive the pain of Bryan's death. When I finally turned back to God, my entire world changed. He gave me a strength, hope and comfort that I had never known before. It was only through Christ, who kept His arms tightly wrapped around me, that I was able to crawl from the bottomless pit of despair and find joy in life again. I was healed only because of Him.
Everything we've dealt with over the past week has been a brutal reminder of the pain and loss that I faced with my uncle eight years ago. Except that there was one significant difference; this time I kept my complete and utter trust in the Lord, and even though He did not answer our prayers for healing Sharon in the way that we wanted, He has never left me, and His presence offers unimaginable comfort to me and my family during this difficult time of loss. Here is a poem that offers me great comfort:
"Footprints in the Sand" by Mary Stevenson
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.
This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.
So I said to the Lord,
"You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during
the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one
set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
you have not been there for me?"
The Lord replied,
"The times when you have
seen only one set of footprints,
is when I carried you."
To say that the past several days have been difficult is a complete understatement. There are not words to express what we have been suffering through. We alternate between periodically feeling numb, and then randomly breaking down in tears. We decided to face everything head on this weekend after Sharon's passing. We went to our Palomar Mountain home and it's many memories, then went to our Borrego Springs home and it's newer recent memories, then finally to church where we felt refreshed by God and fellowship. There were many times where we just stopped and cried, but we had each other and God's continuous presence upon us. We all went back to work this past Monday, and have sought to find some small semblance of normalcy in our lives. We are grieving, yet we are moving forward one small step at a time.
There is no way for us to understand God's purpose or His perfect plan for our lives, so instead of driving ourselves crazy by questioning Sharon's death we are reaching our arms out to our Lord. We have put our trust and faith in Him, and we seek shelter and comfort in His arms during this time of loss. We take comfort in knowing that Sharon is at peace, rejoicing in our eternal paradise, no longer in pain or suffering. While our hearts ache for our loss, and we miss her terribly, we know that she is with us always, watching over us and loving us from above. We are thankful for all the time we had with her, all of the memories that we've made, and were so unbelievably blessed by her presence in our lives.
Here are some verses that are helping to strengthen and comfort us during our grieving:
Faith it does not make things easy, it makes them possible. (Luke 1:37)
For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord,
plans to prosper you and not to harm you.
Plans to give you hope and a future.
When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2)
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge.
Don't be afraid, for I am with you.
Don't be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him
and He will make your paths straight.