Grief is life-changing. It is unpredictable. It is crippling. It is exhausting. It is ever-changing, ever-present, and ever-ready to hit like waves on an ocean. For some, it is thrust upon them suddenly when a child is playing and is hit by a car with no warning. For others, it may come about as a loved one is diagnosed with a disease with no cure. For the first, grief begins the moment of impact. It is immediate, disorienting, and intense. For the second, while it also begins the moment of “impact”, it weighs like a sack of flour. The weight is noticed, but one can bear it. But the weight only increases when things change. In either case, all plans are changed, whether temporarily or permanently. Whether it is that vacation is canceled, college is not realistic, or you will not be growing old together, our bearing is lost.
We often think about Jesus’ prayer in the Garden as torment for Him and that the disciples are just lazy and fall asleep when Jesus needs them most. Luke 22:39-46, we find Luke’s version of this familiar story, but it is in the last few sentences that we find that the disciples are sleeping because grief has exhausted them. Jesus is still with them but for the last several weeks or months, Jesus has been preparing them for His death… and they are just now getting it. After the Passover meal, Jesus has made it abundantly clear that He will die, one of them will be responsible for handing Him over to those who will have Him killed, and they will all abandon Him. They are emotional, confused, defensive, and are willing to manipulate anything and anyone to keep Jesus with them. This is the temptation Jesus has told them to pray for against temptation.
It is tempting to want to know what is coming, predict what will happen, or shield ourselves from the pain of changes. It is tempting to place blame on others, on ourselves, or even those who are dying or suffering, in an attempt to change reality. It is tempting to want to go on with life like nothing happened and ignore the tragedy that is occurring or has occurred, or to fight it so hard that we do not allow ourselves to feel the pain until we are drowning in it.
Our God is Ever-Knowing, Ever-Present, and Ever-Powerful. While it is our desire to avoid pain at all costs, His desire is to be with us through the storms, not to shield us from them. Why? Because no one ever learned to run by being carried everywhere. No one climbed a mountain by climbing in a helicopter. We learn to fight the waves by being in them and by being together. We can rest in the knowledge that we are not alone when we seek to be with him and with each other. Grief is meant to be shared.
Do I refuse to let God into my grief out of shame or pride?
When I look back, can I see where God has walked with me through grief?
Do I actively avoid what I need and God is willing to go through with me?