[Originally published as Hearing God Through Tears]
A recent flow of tears told me it was time to slow down and visit my feelings. Tears aren’t a new topic for me to write about. But I was busy working on a project that overshadowed any miscellaneous writing. Grief isn’t something I enjoy. It’s something I dread. Rather than feel the feels, I tend to get good and busy doing whatever my hands and mind find to do. Cleaning is my go-to when wanting to scrub grief from my thoughts.
For several weeks I used every spare moment that wasn’t taken up by writing or cooking to sort and clean my new writing space. My son and his son recently moved into their own roomy apartment in town. That left a gaping hole in my home. And heart. Although my son’s move was a good one—one I prayed would happen in God’s good timing—it still hurt.
It meant I would see a lot less of them.
It also meant my writing space returned to the southwest-facing attic room that overlooks our geriatric cherry tree. While sitting in my writing room chair composing the first draft of this page, a red-breasted nuthatch alighted in a branch eye-level with me. Since the bird feeder hanging on a lower branch was nearly half-full, he was probably saying hello and thanks.
Thanksgiving is always a good thing to give to God too. I’m thankful He answered prayer in a way that made our entire family grateful. The answer didn’t come too soon or too late. It came when we were ready to warmly welcome it.
So why would I experience so much sadness during a time of great gladness?
Change reminds me time is ticking by incredibly fast. While I realized the speed of which it’s passing by, a breeze blew across the back my shoulders warning me to stay alert. We don’t know how much time we have left on earth as individuals, or as a community. Christ’s return waxes closer with each waning moon.
A moment later as I looked out the window again, a timid dove walked across a branch of the Sequoia tree, a tree whose roots—no doubt—holds hands with the old cherry tree growing next to it. My cat, Deja, watched from her warm spot on my desk. Deja is as white as the snow that lay outside the window that day, and it’s probably the reason why the dove hadn’t noticed her yet.
Some of the most important things in our lives aren’t visible. The foundation of our house is buried by earth, the little that does show is hugged by plants and shrubs. Yet how foundational it is that homes and lives are held secure by invisible forces. God knows how long each of us has on this planet. He knows what we need to complete before we leave.
My Grammie time has been pruned back hard. But is the foundation God built under me in danger of shifting? Surely not. Just as the shrubs and flowers have no bearing on how a home stands or falls. Our faith is not based on our surroundings, but on The Rock who does not fade nor crumble.
No matter the changes, we’re encompassed by God’s unchanging love. He understands the reason behind tears we’re trying to avoid. And He invites us to bring the grief to Him. We’re not careful doves in danger of being caught by hawks. We’re children of God whose very hairs are numbered and whose tears are collected by the One who built the foundation of our souls.
On the night my husband and I were invited to visit my son at his new place, tears flowed after the visit while I was alone in my bathroom brushing my teeth. Once again, I brushed grief aside, telling it I was too tired to sit with it just then. Instead, I promised to meet with it the next morning during my quiet time.
Though I broke that promise too, it’s here in these paragraphs I’ve invited the Holy Spirit to speak wisdom to me. All things can be used to fortify our faith and glorify the Lord. Grief isn’t something we need to flee. Grief isn’t a temptation to wallow in self-pity, it’s an invitation to allow its hardness to press us into the softness of God’s hands.
Lord, be gracious to us;
we long for you.
Be our strength every morning,
our salvation in time of distress.
He will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. Isaiah 33:2,6
Oh, how He loves us too much to allow us to suffer alone. He comforts those who mourn. Whether it’s a simple and healthy life change like adult children moving out or whether it’s the loss of someone on this side of heaven. He cares. The foundation of His arms under and around us will not be shaken.
- We’re safe to sob.
- We’re safe to give thanks.
- We’re safe to trust He will not abandon us.
For it’s not in the storm we hear Him as much.
Abba Father is the God who hears.
And now, I’d like to close with a poem:
The foundation God builds
for our faith in Him
is not made of sand
that’s vulnerable to the wind
The Solid Rock God pours
underneath our faith
is mixed with His love
and His unending grace.