The Only Relief in Grief

Grief can be wearying.  It often feels like a struggle to want to make sense of what feels awful, while actually having to surrender the reality.  It's a fight to selfishly want to understand and get some control over what feels like chaos, while accepting that we are the created, not the Creator...the children, not the Father.  It can grip your heart, invade your dreams, tempt you with fears.  It is shocking when you least expect it.  Sometimes it is lonely and confusing.  Though the process might be natural, that doesn't mean it's comfortable.

We are continuing to grieve over the loss of our dear friend Kristen Sauder.  It does not feel right that we have lost her from this life.  My guess was true a couple weeks ago when I assumed we would only miss this precious friend more and more as the days passed.  It feels like the wind gets knocked out of me when I want to pick up my phone and text her, or when I so desperately wish for another conversation...another experience of her sweet smile, her infectious laugh, her deep, soulful, Jesus seeking wisdom.  When I want to see her sweet family, all together.  When I think of all the lessons, the teaching, the memories, the moments, the experiences shared, her incredible family...it aches.  I did not get to know her long enough.  We are in a new place and a new ministry and talk about her all the time, trying to explain to people just who this amazing woman was, and how she so greatly influenced our lives...and it always brings me to tears.  It feels sweet but sad when my daughter recites her first "Picture Scripture."  I want to be able to share with Kristen face to face what a difference she's making in my family.  I'm constantly thinking, "we need her here."  Actually I believe the whole world needs her here.  I want her here for her family.  For her husband to love, adore and enjoy, for her children to have her affections, her leadership, her friendship.  For more memories to be made here.  She was an amazing wife and mother.  And I know I don't even know the depth of how amazing they know her to be.  We are really hurting for them.  It's actually incredible how intensely she and Kurt have affected every area of our family and ministry.   How they are intertwined forever in how we seek after Jesus, long to know his word while shining our light for him, and prayerfully lead our children to as well.

So we have had some seriously sad days, continuing to hurt and question, to wonder and seek the Lord and his truth in all this.  Just like the day she went to be with Jesus, I randomly have times where I feel like someone is taking a bat to my knees and I might fall on my face.  There are moments it grips me painfully hard, especially when I am focused on my own understanding, or lack thereof.

There is only one thing that brings me relief, that picks me up from a low place when I am tempted to stay there...

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an ETERNAL GLORY that far outweighs them all.  So we FIX OUR EYES not on what is seen, but what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Now we know if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
LONGING to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling,
because when we are clothed, will not be found naked.
For while we are in this tent we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed, but to be clothed with our HEAVENLY DWELLING, 
so that
what is mortal may be swallowed up by LIFE.
Now it is GOD who has made us for this VERY PURPOSE
and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."
(2 Corinthians 4:17-5:5)

Do you know what brings me relief in grief?  It is in the knowing, in the realizing that if we think what we are living here on earth is LIFE, then we are greatly deceived.  A body and "life" that is mortal has an end.  REAL LIFE does not end..."real" life is abundant, eternal, EVERLASTING.  There is no grief in "real" life!  It is actually a gift of grace from our Father that we are allowed to know so much joy, beauty, and goodness in these earthly, mortal dwellings.

We must fix our eyes on Jesus.  We are like grasshoppers you all.  This is serious.  Open up to the Psalms, or to Isaiah, and get to know the One who made you.  When I think about me, my plans, my purpose, my understanding, I am not in a good place.  But when I crack open my bible, pour over those divinely inspired words, and turn the worship music up loud, I dwell on the character of God, the sovereignty of my Creator, and I know peace.  I admit I wanted him to answer our fervent intercession for her life differently.  Yet that is my own understanding.  I do not know the plans, but He knows them well...they are his.  They are good plans.  Kristen said so herself on her blog.  This "life" on earth is but a vapor, a mist, a breath.  What awaits us is an eternal glory that far outweighs it all.

We aren't here for ourselves...we are here for HIM, so that one day all may come to him.  We are here right now for the opportunity to know him forever and be known by him here and experience it now and then.  There is work to be done here, and a relationship with our heavenly Father to be poured into here.  He will give us rest for our weary souls.  

While this time often has a sad stillness lingering over it, like how can we move forward in life and ministry without a woman who led us and loved us so well through it, that is exactly what we have to do.  We will continue to enjoy her sweet self by sharing memories of her, spurring each other on with all she taught us and poured out with her life.  In honor of her, for the sake of Christ.  Kristen was battling boldly for the purpose of her Lord.  She wanted ALL to come to the saving knowledge of him.  She prayed for and sought after revival.  The Jesus whose feet she sits at now, is the very one she longed for all to be in relationship with.  I will carry on equipped with the Word of the Lord, and spurred on with the encouragement of a sister who faithfully laid out the path.  You know how she knew the path?  She knew Jesus.  And now she KNOWS him.  EVERY time I want to ask her what I should do in a certain situation, I KNOW what she would say...pray.  Take it to Jesus.  Get on your knees.  Work it out in your journal, look for it in scripture,go back and forth in conversation with him.   Be relentless in your seeking after him.  He exists to be found, so do the searching!  Offer yourself to the good plans he has for here, which have significance that lasts way beyond.

I hurt with her family and her friends, her loved ones, and all who just don't want to see any sort of future without her right here in the present.  Oh how there was so much more "life" here to be lived with her.  But oh how short this "light and momentary" present will really turn out to be.

You might think you want it all here friends.  But trust me, you don't.  There is so much more at stake.  

I wrote out almost all of 2 Corinthians 4 and 5 in my journal yesterday.  Read it.  Read all around it.  It is rich and good.  It is life-giving.  Earlier in the chapter Paul writes,

"We are hard-pressed on every side,
but not crushed;
but not in despair;
but not abandoned;
Struck down,
but not destroyed.

We always carry in our bodies the death of Jesus, 
so that 
the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body....
All this is for your benefit,
SO that
the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to OVERFLOW to the GLORY OF GOD.
Therefore, we DO NOT LOSE HEART."

I do not know what you personally are going through, but do not lose heart.  I could have saved you all the reading of this post by simply typing out the oh-so-powerful lyrics of "Come to Me," sung by Jenn Johnson.  It is on an intense repeat for me right now.  This is my anthem.  This is what he's calling us to do friends.  Run there, meet him there.  Keep your eyes on him.  He's all you need.

I am the Lord your God,
I go before you now.
I stand beside you
I’m all around you
And though you feel I’m far away
I’m closer than your breath
I am with you
More than you know

I am the Lord your peace
No evil will conquer you
Steady now your heart and mind
Come into my rest
And oh, let your faith arise
And lift up your weary head
I am with you
Wherever you go

Come to me, I’m all you need
Come to me, I’m everything
Come to me, I’m all you need
Come to me, I’m your everything

I am your anchor, in the wind and the waves
And I am your steadfast, so don’t be afraid
Though your heart and flesh may fail you
I’m your faithful strength
And I am with you
Wherever you go

Don’t look to the right or to the left, keep your eyes on me
You will not be shaken, you will not be moved

I am the hand to hold, I am the truth, I am the way
Just come to me, come to me
Cause I’m all that you need