Joy and sadness

It’s ok to be sad.

Grief is a normal part of life. Even as a believer.

Jesus wept at the loss of Lazarus.

The presence of grief and sadness are not indications of a person’s spiritual maturity.

In my journey of grieving and mourning the loss of my daughter Elizabeth, I found myself up against and facing some very real and raw emotions.

It has been such a massively sorrowful loss, that I’ve had to digest and process the event a small piece at a time.

The sadness and shock can be overwhelming; my awareness of the present and temporal reality, of the vacuum left by Elizabeth’s absence comes in waves.

It is too big and painful of a topic to wrap my human three-dimensional consciousness around.

I know and believe by faith that Elizabeth’s spirit and soul exist in a higher realm and order of being; a realm that is unseen by the physical eye.

Never the less, my natural man struggles and hurts deeply and passionately over the loss of fellowship and joys of being a father to my oldest daughter.

Like I said, the grief and pain come in waves. Sometimes with such enormity that it prompts a physiological reaction…increased heart rate, shallow breathing and trembling hands.

My thoughts race to try to comprehend that Elizabeth is gone.

The awkward and chilling silence, in what was once her room, is a constant and stark reminder of her being gone and why she is gone.

The very essence of my survival has rested upon my faith in an eternal God and His sovereign plan.

My layman mind has sought to understand the deeper and compelling truths written in the scriptures about life, death, eternity and God’s divine will.

Part of this journey has been finding balance in dealing with this tragic loss; and to not only function but to also thrive and blossom in my character and faith.

I’ve found that it was a struggle reconciling with my grief. I felt a pressure to keep the smile on my face and exude an air of happiness.

I thought that if I showed, or even acknowledged, the epic and monumental grief I was feeling, that it would somehow hinder God’s grace, healing and love.

I believed that facing and dealing with my loss in a real and human way was somehow a reflection of a spiritual immaturity and faith deficiency.

My struggle to face my grief came from a place of personal pride and an inability to let go and be vulnerable. I even started to think that maybe my sadness and grief was off-putting to God…I thought that somehow He found it to be an inconvenience.

I didn’t want to appear vulnerable to others around me. I was afraid that if people saw that my heart still hurt, they would think that I’m less of a Christian and not ready to serve the Kingdom in a powerful way.

So I put on the masks.

I played like everything was ok. I would speak with cavalier and candor. My cadence and swagger were shields that I put up so no one would see the deep hurt I was carrying.

After all, I want to be the guy that is reached out to by others who are hurting, so why should I show my own pain?

My post-military retirement calling is to become a renowned author and public speaker to reach and help others…the last thing I wanted is for people to think that I can’t handle my own grief.

But the mask felt manufactured and disingenuous. Whenever I hid from the hurt, I felt like I was not being honest. Not only with myself, but with God.

So I started to ponder more on the topic of grief, loss, bereavement, and sadness. As I searched the scriptures, I slowly discovered that the Bible has story after story of men and women who struggled with grieving the loss of a friend or loved one.

The Psalms are full of David sharing and expressing deep emotions of distress and anguish to God.

Grief and sadness is not only an emotion that the Lord understands, but in fact Jesus Himself wept when Lazarus died. (John 11:35).

When Jesus arrived at the tomb, he was moved to a point of deep emotion; both anger and sadness in fact.

The Amplified Bible Version says in John 11:33 “When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews who had come with her also sobbing, He was deeply moved in spirit [to the point of anger at the sorrow caused by death] and was troubled.”

Jesus was emotionally compelled by the sorrow and pain caused by this illegitimate and intrusive reality called death. Death was something that His prized creation, the human race, was never intended to experience.

Jesus understood the vast grief and sorrow death brings with it. Death is an eventuality and paradox on the stage of life that we as the human race have never been good at coping with.

This is because death is a real end to something. It is the end of our physical presence. The point where the existence of the essence of our being ends and is removed from our corporeal shell.

Death causes us to face the reality of our mortality. A reality that was set in motion eons ago in the Garden; a reality that was never the desire of God. He never intended us to experience the scourge of death.

He never wanted us to know the pain of separation from the physical.

Furthermore, it is my belief that the original intent for mankind is to be the icon of amalgamation between physical and spiritual and for there to be harmonious synergy between the two elements.

It’s is because of my experience with not just my daughter’s suicide, but the tragic deaths and suicides of five other family members, that I have had to deal with, face on, the quandary of holding grief and loss in one hand and the Joy of the Lord in the other.

The Joy of the Lord. What is that?

It is the assurance and hope that God is in control in spite of what happens around me. It is finding peace and solace in His sovereignty regardless of what unfolds around me. It is being settled in my heart on level and firm ground, when the winds howl and rain pours down. When the fires of hell attempt to scorch every fiber of my faith, the Joy of the Lord is my strength.

The Joy of the Lord is the eternal and everlasting hope and assurance, that despite the pain of yesterday’s loss, Jesus who paid the ultimate price and defeated the specter of death, will restore and renew all things.

It is because of my faith and hope in Him that I find rest in His Joy. The Joy of His sovereignty, power, and promise to make all things new.

He who is timeless and all-knowing has set His plan and purposes and will fulfill them.

My God is not offended when I grieve. He not only knows but sympathizes with what I feel, for He too walked, felt…and wept.

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