This is the second post from the March series To Love is to Live in Christ. We can “try” to love all we like, but true Love is Christ….seems like a simple truth, but oh what a challenge to put it into practice: do you accept His patience with you? His move toward you in kindness in your own unkindness? His songs of Love over you? His Truth that says only He is your redemption: that not one single act of yours secures it…that true actions of faith are in fact His actions flowing out of you?…If I’m honest, I don’t, much too often and that’s why this month I’m studying how to receive God’s Love, so that it can become visible in and through me.
If you have known deep grief, which I think almost all of us have, whether from losing a loved one, watching a loved one suffer and not being able to take away their pain, having our trust broken, or having our dreams dashed or deepest yearnings unfulfilled, then you will also know the overwhelming and sometimes suffocating waves of feelings that grip your heart. Christ, too, knew, then clothed in human skin, and still knows (Isaiah 53: 11 – 12) deep grief now, as He carries it within us. Christ did not turn away from the overwhelming and sometimes suffocating waves of feelings that gripped His heart, such as in the Garden of Gethsemane and the tomb of Lazarus. He wept, He spoke His feelings out loud in prayer, not shying away from the depth of emotions. And He still does not turn away from it within us. Just like His Father, He accepts us as we are. This is why we are encouraged to literally “cast [y]our burden upon the Lord” (Psalm 55: 22).
In our deep grief, this “casting” is a repeated necessity. For grief comes in inexplicable waves…just when we think we’ve recovered, it starts all over again. But, I for one, struggle with this. When others around me move on with life and the grief within me tears deeper, as the reality of Mum’s absence is exacerbated, I’m quick to chastize myself. I tell myself I’m being unfair to the one moving forward, in not feeling their joy. I am impatient with my feelings and press them down, telling myself to feel joy, rather than grief.
Jesus knew that the will of His Father would bring incredible joy and freedom for many and yet this did not stop Him from feeling deep anguish and grief while still on earth. Did He tell His feelings to go away? Did He press them away? Did He see them as being inappropriate and bad? No, I don’t think so. What I see is that, in fact, He did two other things: He shared these feelings with the Body of Christ (weeping with Mary at the tomb of Lazarus) and “cast” them upon His Father in prayer in full honesty. He was patient with His deep grief and anguish: He grieved.
God is Love. Love is patient. To accept God is to receive His patience. To accept God is to grieve deeply. To love God is to share our grief with Him and His Body, to allow Him to carry it, however long these waves of grief remain. For Love is patient. Christ is patient. So, we, in Christ, are patient.
So, the next time a wave of grief hits me in what feels to me like an inappropriate moment, I will choose to lean. I will choose to accept Christ: His patient love for me. For it is only Christ, who can truly turn my mourning into dancing, filling my heart with the joy of His Presence precisely in the deep valley of grief.