Sunday, December 6, 2009

Second Sunday of Advent--Hope

Today has been a bit more difficult than previous days.  I made breakfast but when I sat to eat, my stomach was so tied up in knots, I couldn't.  The knots stayed all through church and continue to clench my gut.  I'm crying more.  I think that's good.  After the pre-service prayer time, several people prayed for me.  Someone prayed that I would know it's okay to not be strong.  I think that's been a problem.  I'm accustomed to be strong for others and it's hard to be weak.  I need to be weak.  I am weak.  Is my exhaustion the result of working hard to stay strong?  I didn't think so but perhaps it is.

I think I'm out of touch with my emotions.  The only signs of grieving I recognize in me are the physical ones--tiredness, this knot in my stomach and the occassional grumpiness.  When I cry, there is no mental or emotional anguish.  I just cry.  Am I afraid to feel the emotions of grief?  Or are the emotions so strong my mind can't go there?

Gloria had a picture for me.  She saw, as it were, the Red Sea opened up, high walls of water on both sides of a dry path.  The path is for me.  It reminds me of photos I've seen of Norway in winter--the highway is clear and safe but the snow on each side makes it look like a canyon.  Hard to get lost on a road like that.  The readings for the Second Sunday of Advent include a passage about a road:

"Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord!
Make a straight highway through the wasteland
for our God!
Fill in the valleys,
and level the mountains and hills.
Straighten the curves,
and smooth out the rough places.
Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
The Lord has spoken!" (Isaiah 40:3-5 NLT)
That passage begins with a beautiful command:

"Comfort, comfort my people," says your God.
"Speak tenderly to Jerusalem."  (Isaiah 40:1 NLT)
Comfort is something my family and I need but what comfort can replace a son? a brother?  For those outside the family who loved Mikael, what comfort can replace a friend?  None!  But we have the hope of comfort.  We have the hope of the path being levelled, smoothed and straightened, where there are no obstacles, no death, no tears.

The Second Week of Advent is about hope.  It's a time of waiting with positive expectation: The Messiah is coming!  The writer of the first meditation for this week in the Mosaic Holy Bible acknowledges that not everyone feels that hope.

"...tragedy, depression or loneliness steals your joy.... But even if we lose our hope in God, he will never give up on us...and that is one of the reasons that the hope of Advent isn't dependent on how we are feeling.  It can be comforting to rely on the one who gives us hope, even when the light of that hope doesn't seem to penetrate our temporary darkness."
I'm grateful for authors who recognize that hope can't be felt by everyone.  Even more, I'm grateful to a God who supplies hope where there is none.  Whether my son lives or dies, there is hope.  Whether I feel or I'm numb, there is hope.  Whether I'm wracked with sobbing or beaming with bliss, there is hope.  "Comfort, comfort my people," says your God.

"Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.
Tell her that her sad days are gone."
I know I have many days of sadness ahead but I also know they won't last forever.

"...people are like the grass.
Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field.
the grass withers and the flowers fade
beneath the breath of the Lord
And so it is with people.
The grass withers and the flowers fade,
but the word of our God stands forever."  (Isaiah 40:6-8 NLT)
"The word of our God stands forever."  That is a great reason for comfort and for hope.  God's word neither falls nor fails.  It doesn't die of disease or accident or suicide.  It stands forever.  So be it.


Samantha said...

Grieving is a process which takes lots of time and effort. For some it happens naturally--although never easily. There are others who must subconsciously prepare, gather strength, and make certain there is a viable escape route available should they feel completely overwhelmed. There is no correct way to grieve. Your body and spirit will help you know what steps to take as you listen to them. All the symptoms you've named are normal reactions to loss and precursors to grieving.

The part you're experiencing now is difficult because often we feel stuck there. Give yourself time. Don't forget to love yourself and those around you (I know you won't), and remember you are loved by others, as well.

I'll keep you in my prayers, my friend.

Debbie Haughland Chan said...

Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience, Sam. Thank you too for praying.