My wife and I spent a few years in Joplin, Missouri. I often joke that if you don’t believe in the plagues of the exodus, you should spend a year in “Show Me State.”
We moved in September. The fall leaves, the gorgeous sunsets, and the perfect weather seemed like we were in a movie. Then the winter came. I have managed cold before, but there is something about the humidity that makes it it sting. I often wondered why I would even wear a coat because the chill would pierce through the clothing. After the ice storms came tornado season followed by the blistering summer.
The first time I saw a crushed turtle on the side of the road reminded me of Super Mario Brothers. The dogs caught their fair of share of frogs. The cicadas would serenade you with 120 decibels. You are in for a treat if you never experienced the No-See-Ums. And one mustn’t forget the snakes. There is the common black snake, the water moccasin, and your friendly neighborhood copperhead.
It was the ice storms. I underestimated the ice storms. The night before the first ice storm we experienced the weather channel forecast the storm and I laughed it off. Growing up in Utah you deal with ice in the mountains and on the freeways. I had driven in snow, sleet and ice. Surly this wouldn’t be an issue.
I woke up to sheets of ice covering everything, two to three inches thick. I couldn’t open the door to my car. I had never expedience anything like it.
We learned quickly to adapt. The initial storm would blanket the area causing immediate damage. Power lines would go down, work commutes would be disorderly. The damage would last for days. Power outages could even take weeks to come back online. The ice doesn’t melt immediately, which means the flooding continues.
Grief is similar. There is an initial shock of the storm that knocks you off your feet. Then you wait for the ice to melt. You learn to navigate, slowly at first and then you begin walk. After time, you may even feel confident enough to a run. It seems the grief is melting and things are getting back to normal. And then out of nowhere, your feet land on a piece of ice.
There are patches of ice that never seem to melt. Grief has no clock and no calendar. It just hits you.
If you have ever slipped on ice, I mean really slip with your feet over your head, it is painful. Your arms fly out hoping to catch yourself but it is too late. You lay there motionless while you gather your thoughts and try to assess the damage. Then you start feeling around for something solid to hold onto while you try and get up. Something solid, that one move or give way.
What do you hold onto while you are grieving? Whether it’s the initial storm or one those random pieces of grief, what do you reach for? Maybe it’s a spouse or a loved one. Maybe it’s something that’s not healthy that causes more damage.
As a pastor I have the privilege to meet with people when they are struggling most, often when they are grieving. I found that my clever words offer little comfort and will most likely be forgotten. But then there are the words of Scripture. They are old words, ancient, that have stood the test of time. They are rich with meaning, deep with understanding. They are healing words, like a balm for the soul.
Below are a few passages for you to hold onto. Whether you are going through the storm of grieving, or have hit a rough patch. My prayer is that in these verses you would find life and hope. I pray they would serve as a handhold while you steady your feet again. I pray you would find healing for you soul.
- Psalm 6:1-10
- Psalm 42:1-11
- Isaiah 53:1-12
- John 11:1-44
- Romans 8:1-38
- 1 Corinthians 15:35-58
- Revelation 21:1-8
If you are in a season of grief, I would encourage you to spend some time alone with God. Grab a Bible and open it to one of the passages above. Pray to God, tell him you are here and you need his healing grace. Read the passage. Pour over the words. Let them sink into your mind and your heart. Give your grief to the creator and let his Words refresh your soul.
There are other passages, but these are the ones I seem to come back to time and time again. These passages are reminders that God sees you and God hears you. They show us that just as we have suffered grief, so has God. He knows what it is like to mourn and these words give hope.
There will be a time where the old way of things have passed. Where every wrong will be made right and there will be made an end to sin and death. Until then we hold on to the promises of God. We trust that God is working, even when all seems lost. We have confidence that Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the grave.
We have faith that Jesus conquered death. At some point our mourning will be turned into dancing.