My friend died yesterday, very unexpectedly. She was younger than I am by several years and leaves behind a wonderful Christian husband, two beautiful little girls, parents who love her very much, a sister, school children that she taught, Sunday School friends...the list goes on and on.
Those left behind are stunned and grieving. As Christians we know that God is sovereign and doesn't make mistakes or get caught off guard - EVER. As humans we experience all the emotions associated with grief and recognize that grief is a journey to be traveled, not something to "get over" so we can check the box and move on.
How do we reconcile the human experience of grief with the promises of God?
1) By recognizing that one does not negate the other. God created us to laugh and to mourn (read Ecclesiastes 3). He prepared us to have seasons of life-some good, some bad.
2) By remembering that we walk by faith and not by sight - or emotion.
3) By remembering that God is able to bear our grief and all that entails: anger, denial, depression, questioning... all of it.
4) By remembering that the words in Romans 8:28 about God working all things for good for those of us who love Him, are not just feel good fillers in the middle of the chapter. They are a promise from God that He will use this tragedy to accomplish great things in his name. God always keeps his promises. Always.
5) Mostly right now, by remembering that in his sovereignty God sees our tears, he understands the pain of our loss and the sacrifice that we didn't even have a choice in. He understands. Even as he rejoices in the presence of my friend with him, he captures every precious tear shed by her loved ones. He grieves with his children whose hearts are broken.
Scripture promises that weeping is for a night, but joy comes in the morning. I think that for Christians joy can also come in the mourning. God will wipe away every tear from our eyes - when the time is right for that. For now, we cling to the promises he makes and renews each day. We allow him to hold us in his lap as we cry our hearts out to him, and we rest in the loving arms of our Father, knowing that he will keep us safe as we cry and when the time for weeping has passed, he will, as the best of fathers always do, make it all better.