I have a friend who died from brain cancer. His name was Will. He was one day older than me. I miss him a lot. He was a wonderful man who loved the Lord. When I met him, he was in the late stages of the cancer that took him. Multiple surgeries had left him partially paralyzed. He struggled to speak. But his love for Christ, for his wife, family and friends, and for life itself made him someone whose memory encouraged me greatly when I faced a life-threatening illness of my own.
His wife was also my friend. They lived a few houses down from us. I used to borrow their lawn mower to cut my grass. When Will died, I had the sad, holy honor of presiding over his funeral and walking with his family through their grief. I remember how, for what seemed like the next few months, my friend’s wife always had tears in her eyes. She wasn’t openly weeping continually, but her eyes were always hot with tears. I remember how they would just roll down her face, even as we talked about ordinary things like church picnics or the weather. Tears. Always tears.
At first, this made me nervous when I would talk to her. I didn’t want to trigger her sorrow. But after a while, she told me she wished her tears would stop so people would quit avoiding the subject of her husband’s death when they were around her.
Then she said something I hope I never forget: “The tears are here because I’m sad and I miss my husband. My heart is broken. But I want to talk about him. I want to remember Will with others who knew him and loved him too. That brings me joy, even as it causes me to weep. I want people to understand that I can feel more than one thing at a time.”
Such wisdom. It is a mark of spiritual maturity to be able to feel more than one thing at a time. God has given us the capacity to simultaneously feel the depths of sorrow over the loss of a loved one and a swell of gratitude to God for the gift of that person’s life. It isn’t easy. In fact, it may even be something of a “learned skill.” But God has given us an incredible ability to feel things deeply in their time—to genuinely experience conflicting emotions at the same time.
Scripture has a lot to say about our deepest pains and brightest hopes. The Bible speaks into our emotional spiritual health. It tells us it is okay to feel. In fact, it is vital.
There is a time to mourn and a time to dance, Ecclesiastes tells us. Those seasons may come joined to one another. Now may be the time for you to weep. Now may be the time for you to celebrate. And now may be the time for you to do both. Remember, we do not grieve as those who have no hope.
If you are someplace between the poles of mourning and rejoicing, here are some Scripture that may help you lay your hearts bare before the Lord:
Ecclesiastes 3:1-15, Jeremiah 8:18, Psalm 42, 43, Isaiah 25:8, 65:19-20 and
Matthew 5:4, John 16:33
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