Day 37: Grief, Gratitude, and Wrestling with the Dark

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We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.

C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

This day of thankfulness is a little different, even starting with the quote from Christian author C.S. Lewis instead of starting with scripture. Lewis wrote his book, A Grief Observed after the passing of his wife in 1960. It’s a collection of thoughts and raw writings as he navigated the loss of his beloved while wrestling with his faith.

How can we be thankful when we experience loss? Is it even possible and, if it is, does it change anything about us or our situation? First, there are two key things to remember:

thankfulness does not eliminate trial and sadness is not sin.

If you or someone you know has experienced great loss recently, may I recommend reading Psalm 23? It’s only six verses but it walks us through an exercise in thankfulness no matter our perilous or desperate circumstances. Let’s read it now:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

This Psalm isn’t a magic incantation but it is God’s Word so that means it’s true: the Lord is your shepherd, you shall not want. He’s looking out for you to rest in peaceful places and he’s with you even in your lowest moments, when death is near for you or someone you care about. Even when enemies lurk your Lord and protector provides. And lastly, regardless of this temporary piercing pain, for those who trust in the Lord, you shall dwell in his house forever.

But again, it’s not that death and pain do not matter. Lewis writes about this as well:

It is hard to have patience with people who say, ‘There is no death’ or ‘Death doesn’t matter.’ There is death. And whatever is matters. And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible. You might as well say that birth doesn’t matter.

C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Walking through the valley of the shadow of death is something that we will all do; some of us repeatedly. When we struggle, while we mourn, the only hope we have for this world and the next is Jesus. And he promises us he is with us during our darkest days and nights. As dark as things may be, he is the light of the world that we can be thankful for even while we are wrestling with the dark.

Prayers to ponder

Would you consider praying for those that are struggling with great loss right now?

If you are struggling with great loss, would you tell God what he already knows; that you need him? He hears you and is with you.

Lastly, pray that you can be a comforter and a candle for someone else while Jesus in you is the flame.

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