I don’t know if everyone feels the same dizzying effects as I have when I’ve heard those dreaded words. You know the words—those words you never thought you’d have to hear, the diagnosis that you only read in articles that apply to others, not you. Maybe you had to read the words, but more likely, someone had to be the messenger and tell you. Suddenly through those words, our lives change. Those words have become a part of our stories.
You know that scene in the old Alice in Wonderland movie when she’s falling down the rabbit hole? She falls slowly, seeing random objects like mirrors and rocking chairs, talking to herself, floating through psychedelic colors. When the words came to me, they sent me into a dizzying spiral. I kind of felt like Alice, except the floating was four times faster and the talking, incomprehensible.
One of the earliest times I dealt with grief was hearing my sister tell me about my parents’ car crash as a young teenager. All at once I felt like Alice, trying to grasp onto things, not quite able to make out my surroundings. The world around me didn’t feel real, I couldn’t make out the conversations around me. I couldn’t understand. I don’t remember well but soon thereafter, I crash landed into sleep. I slept for what felt like years, but must have been a few hours. My oldest sister flew in from Virginia and joined me in the sleep that first night so I wouldn’t be alone. I slept so much, never feeling rested for years to come.
As Alice grasped out for something, so did I. I just needed something that felt secure and okay and safe. I did not even know myself what I needed. How did I function afterwards? How did I shower the next day? I don’t remember.
Mostly, I longed to see my parents again. I felt this urge to want to be in Heaven with them and feel safe again. I couldn’t believe that 24 hours earlier, 48 hours earlier, a week ago, they had been alive. I wanted to be with them, but I also wanted to live. The pull tore at me. The longings were misplaced. I knew even then as a young teenager that I couldn’t put my hope in death.
I’ve shared before how my sisters told me time and time again that God was in control and God was sovereign. How precious those words were for me at that time and now I see, those words have kept me afloat in deep waters through the subsequent years. It was something that I could grasp, something that kept my faith and hope alive.
As thankful as I am for those truthful words, in the end they weren’t enough. They gave me hope, but not enough. I was an angry teenager for years and had an insatiable hunger that could only be filled with an eternal God. I needed more than to know God was in control and that He’s good and kind. I wanted to see my parents now and have my old life back. I wanted them there at my milestones and to be able to call when I was sad. I wanted it all restored.
Even now 20 years later, I want to be healed and want my relationships restored. I need a hope that says I don’t have to live like this forever because I don’t want to live like this forever.
If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
Paul is right. God didn’t make us machines that just have to blindly trust Him and go about our business, knowing He’s sovereign and that’s it. Our hope is not just for the here and now. What do we really hold onto when we hear those devastating words that suddenly become part of our story?
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead…for as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive…the last enemy to be destroyed is death. For God has put all things in subjection under his feet.
The hope is not just in a kind and powerful God, although that is pretty amazing. Our hope is that one day, things will be restored. We will be resurrected together with new and beautiful bodies that will suffer no more. No more tears, no more sickness, no more death. No more grief.
Can you see it? Can you feel it? Do you see the healing and the cleansing and the kindness of our God?