"The Lord is close to the broken-hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
~ Psalm 34:18
While we continue to focus inwardly during the season of Lent, one thing that I realize is that for many folks, there also becomes the issue of loss and grief.
In the church we don't actually ever really speak about death and loss. We talk a whole lot about surrender, and sacrifice, but rarely do we talk about the one thing we will all experience, and that is death.
Don't get me wrong. We have that ONE day... Good Friday... but the next day is generally silent as Christ lays in the tomb, and then we are ecstatic to announce that "He is risen."
For each of us there can be, and let's face it, there are real losses in our lives.
There is not any one of us immune from death.
I saw one of my beloved professors this past weekend at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. When I asked how he was doing, he told me he had an incurable disease. I stopped right where I was standing and looked him in the face. "I'm experiencing incurable aging that will kill me one day."
I don't know of any of us who have not thought about our own death. Many have shared that they aren't afraid of dying. It's the process they worry about.
The church reminds us that if we live a good life, helping others, and loving one another, that our life will be filled with many blessings, but the fact of the matter is, we will still experience losses and like our friends and family, we will die one day as well.
Having suffered a serious illness several years ago now, I lived every day with the knowledge that I could possibly die. There was a popular song on the radio at that time that reminded folks to live every day as "if you are dying."
You don't tell people with a terminal illness to live every day as if they are dying. They already know that.
Instead, live every day as if you are truly living!
While I acknowledge our need to talk about death, there is the living with that death when we not just faced with our own losses, but for those around us who have experienced loss.
There has been a lot of books written on what to tell others when someone close to them has died. I wish that I could say that there are perfect words to express, but sometimes there are simply no words.
Upon arriving at the tomb where the friend of Jesus laid, "Jesus wept."
There were no words.
In our understanding of loss, sometimes our outward expression of being sorry is simply enough. The language of our hearts can often be spoken in silence, with hand holding, and with tears.
We begin the journey of Lent with these words, "From dust you were created, and dust you stall return."
May our losses be surrounded by the love of Christ, and may we use that love with one another.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Dear God, when I find that I am in the midst of loss, may I know that You firmly hold me. When others around me have experienced loss, may my presence be that of comfort and support. Amen.
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.