Six years ago, I said good-bye to my husband and best friend. Death is something we must all face, but never did I think it would come at such an early age. My husband, John left us at age 62. I was 60 years old and facing life for the first time as a widow.
There are a couple of powerful biblical stories that come to mind as I move through this journey of grief and loss. The first is from the Gospel of John – Chapter 6. Jesus has just performed an amazing miracle. He feeds 5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish. He then speaks to this group of people and tells them that He is the bread of life and that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have eternal life. This was a hard thing for them to accept. As a result, all 5,000 walked away. Jesus then turns to the apostles, who I am sure were standing there with their mouths open in unbelief. He simply asks them, “Do you want to leave too?” It is Peter who, in answering Jesus, speaks from his heart. “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
Within my heart and soul, I kicked and screamed on that day six years ago. I did not want this to happen, and I did not understand any of it. Many people walk away from God when things happen that are beyond our understanding. In my heart I felt that God was asking me, “Do you want to leave?” My answer was the same as Peter’s, but not as gracious. “No, Lord I do not want to leave You – BUT – right now I do not like what You are doing.”
Another powerful biblical story is from the book of Job in the Old Testament. This book begins with a conversation between God and Satan about a righteous man named, Job. Satan tells God that Job is righteous because he has not experienced calamity in his life. The first two chapters of this book in the Old Testament clearly indicate that God gives Satan permission to bring sorrow, grief, and heartache to Job’s life. This book gives me comfort in knowing that things don’t happen by chance. Satan has no control over our lives without permission from God. But for what purpose would God allow bad things to happen to good people? That is the key question for all ages. Once again, we are faced with the challenge to TRUST. God really knows what He is doing, and He brings forth good from evil and heartache every time.
The cross is a perfect example of this. I am sure Satan thought he had the upper hand in the crucifixion. He was winning. He was crucifying the King of Kings. I am sure Satan could taste victory as Jesus made His way to Calvary and died an excruciating death on the cross. But from the beginning of time, the Resurrection was the plan that Satan knew nothing about. There is a resurrection in each of us that brings new life in a way we did not expect. We can never experience this resurrection without God on our side.
I believe that it is important that we wrestle with God on matters of the heart rather than walk away from the one true source of life and peace. God is the only one that can give us new life. Satan entices with pride and power and wealth and honor – but God is the only one that can give us true joy and peace.
I can’t say that I am fully comfortable in my role as a widow. I don’t know if I will ever be fully comfortable in this role. However, I am experiencing new life in ways I never thought were possible. Each step of the way, I know that my husband, John is with me. He was an amazing man with a great sense of humor and a beautiful laugh. He was strong and confident, and He loved God. I know he continues to be all those things in a different space and time – this place we know as heaven.
On behalf of all of us who have lost a loved one, I pray that you will continue to say YES to God in all things. Our hearts break in so many different ways, yet God is the same ALWAYS. He is love and mercy and joy. Allow God to comfort you in your grief. Accept the resurrection that He has for you.