“Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD. Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!
If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.” ~
Yesterday morning, I got up, pacified the pets, dressed, and then drove to downtown Fort Worth for another meeting in the process of settling my late husband’s “estate.” Estate is the legal term for the value of one-half of life as I once knew it. Though I left home in plenty of time, I was late for the appointment; it was too painful to drive down the street where our loved died one month ago.
Every death is unique, but suicide is in a class of its own. When someone intentionally ends his or her own life, then, not only are family and friends grief-stricken, but we are also wounded by violence. There is simply no way to prepare for such a blow or to brace for the devastating tsunami that follows. I told one friend, “There isn’t a hole big enough in hell to crawl into right now…”
As a minister, who has tried to shepherd countless people through the fog of heartache, I know that grief comes in stages: Horror, shock, disbelief, bargaining, fear, denial, sickness, pain, heartache, anger, resolution, acceptance, and, eventually, peace ~ not always in that order. Grief is really a pesky wave that knocks your entire foundation off guard – no matter where you stand; at times it feels tempting just to let it suck you under, but that would be a passive response to a very deep and complicated question ~ “Where is God in all of this?”
When we live with the idea that, “God is in control,” then faith seems to sink into the unknown where shallow beliefs don’t feel safe any more. In Teaching a Stone to Talk, Annie Dillard once wrote, “In the deeps are the violence and terror of which psychology has warned us. But if you ride these monsters deeper down, if you drop with them farther over the world’s rim, you find what our sciences cannot locate or name, the substrate, the ocean or matrix or ether which buoys the rest, which gives goodness its power for good, and evil its power for evil, the unified field. Our complex and inexplicable caring for each other, and for our life together here.”
Perhaps that is why the Gospel of John says, “God put on skin and moved into the neighborhood.” (Eugene Peterson in The Message) Life goes on … with all of our heartache and heart-felt moments, and God comes, wherever we are, and helps us rise again. I still believe that if we are able to recognize the presence of Christ in the midst of profound sorrow, then we will experience joy almost anywhere …even when we are forced to wait for the light.