Thoughts on grief and hope

Ash Wednesday Reflections

In a way my spirit welcomes the season of Lent. On Tuesday one of my dearest friends had a close brush with death. Blood clots. A stroke. Emergency surgery. My vibrant, vital friend. Beloved wife. Mother of four little ones. Words fail on days when news comes like a punch in the gut.

And now my soul cries out, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” The sin and sick and darkness in this world is too much! I know the Light has come, and will overcome the darkness, but on Tuesday it seemed to flicker and dim.

I need no reminder of death on this Ash Wednesday. I do not need to be told about the fragility of our days. I am all too brutally aware of how life can change in an instant. The hours since I received the phone call on Tuesday morning have been burdened and labored even as our life had continued with its regular routines and rhythms. All seems as dust.

Wangerin writes: Remember now that thou art dust. Death now – yes, even in the midst of a bustling life. My death, and Jesus’ death, by grace conjoined. Momento! – because this death, remembered now, yields life here after. And that is life forever. -Reliving the Passion page 23

That promise is supposed to trump the fear. And in my head it does. But can I admit something? In the dark watches of the night my heart fears. My sense of control is stripped and I shiver with the naked fear that is left.

I hear the voice of my dear friend who has so often said to me, “Sarah, what is true? Let me remind you what a God who loves you says to you!” This friend is now in a hospital fighting to regain her health and strength. But her words of faith echo.

Tonight I bow my head and confess my unbelief. I fear the dust of death. I fear most when I forget the love of a God who not only formed the planets but send His Son to rescue his beloved world from darkness. I fear when I forget to fix my eyes on Him and His truth.

Lord, show me this Lent how to grieve – the sin and sick and darkness of this world as well as the sin and sick and darkness in my heart – but not to grieve with fear, as one who has no hope. Your life, death, and resurrection give the hope that all things will be made new again. Show me how to hold both the grief and the hope and see them both illuminated by your light.

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