By Megan Blazek
I am currently existing in the middle of a season of mourning. It isn’t a season anyone cares to enter. For my family, it began in April of 2016 when we lost my brother, 21 years my senior, to cancer. My father followed in August of 2016. Immediately following Dad’s death, my mom came to live with us as she battled her own cancer. Eight months later, she was gone. I never imagined I would be parent-less in my thirties.
Thriving in the midst of loss sounds impossible. I have to admit, I thought about it for quite awhile. “Am I even doing anything remotely like thriving? How in the world could I be thriving; I’m grieving!”
I felt crushed by this seemingly unending season, which led me to seek out this verse.
Psalm 27: 13
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
I began to grab onto these words, believing that I could trust Jesus that I would see His goodness, both on earth and in heaven.
While my mom spent three, mostly unresponsive weeks in the hospice house, I began to go through her Bible. My precious mother had highlighted many, many verses and included dates by them. Several verses had two dates. I knew what each represented-my father’s second round of cancer in 2009, my mother’s in 2012, my brother’s in 2015, my mom’s second round in 2016. Each reflected the heart of my mother who was not without fear, but she knew in whom she placed her hope. What had she done in the midst of immense loss and suffering? She had thrived. Not because she was strong, but because Jesus is. She certainly felt fear and discouragement, but each trial she faced brought her desperately back to Jesus.
Isaiah 41:10 was her favorite.
Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
That desperation we feel for Jesus reminds me of this verse.
Psalm 73: 25-26
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Truly, in the middle of grief, we have two choices. We can turn and run from God or we can cling to Him. Who else do we have?
Never have I hurt so much. I certainly don’t pretend to have this all figured out or to feel alive and thriving each day. As a friend put it, grief is a holy process as it reminds us that our world is broken. Death was not meant to be part of the story. However, thriving means bringing my pain and grief to the feet of Jesus and finding that He is faithful.
Psalm 63: 1
O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.
As it says in Ecclesiastes 3, there is a time for everything–to weep, laugh, mourn and dance. We can thrive in each of those, but maybe the laughing and dancing are richer because of the weeping and mourning. Perhaps the only way to truly thrive is to be emptied of myself so that I can be filled with Him.