I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!” Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful. (Psalm 116:1-5 ESV)
When death knocks on our door, well-meaning family members and friends come to see about us; they share familiar verses of Scripture and words of sympathy and condolences, but most of the time, we are not feeling it. Our hearts are so heavy with grief that all we want to do is go somewhere, crawl under something, hide and cry our eyes out.
Even though we know that as sure as we are born, we are one day going to die, we don’t always grasp death’s true meaning. Death is a part of life, but it can be challenging to accept. The Word says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15 ESV). Those of us who are deeply rooted in the Word know and understand this. However, the flesh in us hurts when we lose a loved one to death.
Sometimes we become bitter and angry when death comes. That’s where our faith and trust in God must take over and guide us through the process. Only fervent prayer and time will help us to heal. We must equip ourselves to move on after the death of a loved one. In other words, don’t stay at the grave too long!
Yes, when our loved ones swap time for eternity, we are going to miss and grieve for them. However, if we allow it to overtake us, then we will stop living. God wants us to live and be happy, but leave the rest to Him. Ezekiel 18:32 (ESV) affirms this: “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”
When my father went home to glory in December 1999, for several weeks, I went the cemetery almost daily. At night I would sit up late, after my children went to bed, and just indulge in sweets and watch movies. Finally, I woke up one day and realized I was dying inside, gaining unhealthy weight, and needed to move on because I had three sons to raise and had my whole life ahead of me. Further, I came to grips with the fact that my father would not have wanted me to grieve like that for him, because he was resting in peace.
The past two months have been very difficult for our family in the way of losing loved ones. In May, we lost the matriarch of the Bright family, my mother-in-law, Jessierine Davis Bright. Just two weeks ago, my father’s sister, Shirley Stevens Washington, passed. She was like a “second mother” to me, and God knows the pain of grief almost overtook me. On this past Saturday morning, we got a phone call that one of my husband’s sisters, Jessie R. Bright Burgess, lost her precious 22-year-old grandson, Jordan Bolden, in a fatal car accident in Virginia. And, today as I write this message, it is the three-year anniversary of my dear mother’s transition to glory.
It seems that “the rain is pouring heavier and heavier.” God said in Ecclesiastes 7:1 (ESV), “A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth.” Lord, please help us to understand it better, by and by, in the matchless name of Jesus Christ.
Although this seems a paradox, there is joy after grief, and we can move on after death. There are whole families being wiped out as a result of COVID-19. We can make it if we try. I read a story about a woman who lost her husband, her father, eight close friends, and one of her breasts, six months after her husband’s death, due to cancer, all within a five-year period. In spite of all this, she was eventually able to move on. Wendy said, “It seems trite, but after grief, you do see the beauty of everyday things like a sunset, seasonal changes, a child’s progress with an increased intensity that is amazing. You realize how vital friends and family are. How unimportant material things are unless they help you achieve joy” (grief and sympathy).
Have a wonderfully blessed week, stay safe, get involved in righting the wrongs of social injustice, and never leave home without Him!
(Anna Bright is a minister and educator in Walterboro. She can be reached at email@example.com)