Photo by Clément Falize on Unsplash
November 6, 2020 to October 6, 2021 — eleven months without Melissa.
A year ago at this time — October 6, 2020 — I had no idea that I had just one month left with her in this life on Earth:
- One last time to celebrate her service dog Zoey’s birthday (Oct. 11)
- One last time to celebrate Melissa’s birthday (Oct. 20)
- One last time for Melissa to hand out candy on Halloween, something she loved doing for the 17 Halloweens that we had lived in this house
(Yes, there are a lot of dates coming up in the next month that I’m not looking forward to…)
- One last time she would be involved in making school/educational choices for Jacob
- One last time she would need migraine shots (OK, this one is definitely a positive for her)
- One last meal
- One last time to say “good night”
- One last time to say “goodbye”
Of course, I was completely unaware of these “lasts” at the time. I had no idea then what November 6 would bring.
Would I do things differently in October 2020 if I knew then what I know now? Most certainly. I’m quite sure most people would.
Would I actually go back to October 2020 to change anything? I don’t think so, primarily because I couldn’t bear to go back to that time, knowing that November 6 was coming. It’s one of those long-debated questions, right? “Would you go back to have one more day with a loved one if you knew it would be your last day with them?” Honestly, I’m not sure I could go through the grief and heartache again. Sometimes ignorance is a good thing, keeping us unaware of the loss and the trials that are coming our way.
But if my ignorance keeps me unaware of future losses and trials, then it must also mean that my ignorance keeps me unaware of future blessings and good things.
Because in spite of everything, there have been blessings and good things in these last eleven months.
And as much as I learn from heartache and loss, I survive and thrive by holding onto the promise of what is good, what is yet to come.
Recently I was reading about the famous 19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon’s struggles with depression, and I read how he referenced Hebrews 4:15-16 in one of his sermons:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.”
Charles Spurgeon said in his sermon:
“Jesus is touched, not with a feeling of your strength, but of your infirmity. Down here, poor, feeble nothings affect the heart of their great High Priest on high, who is crowned with glory and honor. As the mother feels with the weakness of her babe, so does Jesus feel with the poorest, saddest, and weakest of his chosen.”
As King David wrote in Psalm 34:18, “The LORD is near the brokenhearted; He saves those who are crushed in spirit.” I have held onto that verse these past eleven months like a baby holding onto a bottle.
There is a saying, “Time heals all wounds.” I knew pretty quickly into this last year that I disagreed with that statement.
Yes, time can bring perspective. Time certainly brings experience. But time doesn’t heal anything by itself. There are too many people who have had all kinds of time since suffering a wound, and all they’ve been able to find is bitterness and regret.
No, only God heals all wounds.
“LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you healed me.” — Psalm 30:2
“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.” — Psalm 147:3
I’ve been reminded of a quote I read a few years ago from pastor and author Max Lucado:
“Grace offers rest.”
“Grace offers rest.” That’s beautiful. Just sit and think about that.
Then I read Isaiah 53 in the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) translation:
- Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
- He grew up before him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at him.
- He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value him.
- Yet he himself bore our sicknesses, and he carried our pains; but we in turn regarded him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.
- But he was pierced because of our rebellion, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on him, and we are healed by his wounds.
This is a chapter from Isaiah that prophesies how Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the promised one, the deliverer, will take away the sins of the world.
But in the middle of this passage, one phrase suddenly stood out to me:
“Yet he himself bore our sicknesses, and he carried our pains.”
How did I miss this for so long? Probably because I was focused on everything else in the passage. But here is a section that is referring not to sin, but to my physical sickness and pain, your illnesses, my infirmities, my insecurities, my weaknesses, my fears, my griefs, my sorrows. I can bring them to “a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.”
With the Strong’s Concordance, I can look up specific words in specific Bible verses to see what is meant by the original language — in this case, the Old Testament Hebrew — and also how it is translated in other places where the same word is used in the Bible.
The word sicknesses in Isaiah 53:4 is Strong’s Number 2483: malady, anxiety, calamity, disease, grief, sickness. Yes, physical and mental problems.
The word pain in the same verse is Strong’s Number 4341: pain (physical, mental), sorrow, anguish, grief. Again, both physical and mental afflictions.
And then this passage from Isaiah is referenced in Matthew 8:16-17, speaking of Jesus Christ:
When evening came, they brought to him many who were demon-possessed. He drove out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick, so that what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: He himself took our weaknesses and carried our diseases. (CSB)
Then in Matthew 9:35-36, where Jesus continues healing people and casting out demons:
Jesus continued going around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd.
This isn’t a “health-and-wealth prosperity gospel” here. What is plain here in the Bible is this: I know that God is invested in my spiritual well-being. But now I also understand and acknowledge that God is interested in my physical and emotional well-being.
I’ve certainly had my share of concerns and fears over this past year. “How long will this grief go on? Will I never feel good or confident again? Will this season of life never end?” Grief compounded by guilt is a heavy burden to bear. It’s too heavy for me. Thankfully, I have a God who will carry those burdens for me.
This isn’t suggesting that we will never experience problems. Jesus told His disciples that Himself in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation.” But the verse doesn’t end there. Jesus finishes the message with, “But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Yes, the world we live in will continue to present us with challenges and heartache. But God is greater than any of that. “God is greater than my ups and downs.”
God offers grace, and His grace offers rest. Grace gives me the assurance that I can come to God my Father with anything and know that He can handle it. Not only can He handle it, but He can give me rest, as He promises in Matthew 11:28-30:
Posted on October 6, 2021 #Death #Grace #Grief #Hope #Melissa Dunn #Rest
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (CSB)