God is with us in our grief

Published 6:23 pm Thursday, October 24, 2019

By Nathan Decker

Can I see another’s woe, and not be in sorrow too?

Can I see another’s grief, and not seek for kind relief?”

– William Blake

Our community recently has had several giants pass away. They were like tall oaks providing shade, shelter, home and security for so many. Their roots ran deep in the community gatherings, businesses, organizations and churches connecting them to so many of us through love, faith and service. When a mighty oak tree falls there is a crashing sound that takes our breath away and a noticeable hole in the canopy where sunshine pours in mocking our despair.

Grief is sometimes a journey we take alone, but when we as a community are hit with loss after loss after loss it takes a much different shape. Like a family meal none of want to attend, we take our place at the table and begin the somber process of sharing stories and weeping tears collectively. And unlike other meals, this one stays with us. Pizza will not taste the same for a long while in Franklin. The Rotary Club’s lunch will have an empty chair we all glance to from time to time. The forest is missing a silver beaver we miss dearly for his wisdom.

Because we love, we grieve. Grief is not something we get over, but a stone we carry with us for the rest of our journey. At first it is sharp and cuts deep into our heel at a moment we least expected. Over time our tears and memories rub it smooth until it becomes the token in our pocket we reach for from time to time, just to hold tight to the honest truth: This life was lived, this life was loved, and this life is missed.

Just as joy is a gift from God, so too is grief. Grief helps us process that which is unbearable. Grief is the path we want to avoid, but must take lest we become lost in a fog from which we cannot function. Grief takes many forms. There is no wrong way to grieve except not to do so. As a community we must gather together and acknowledge our pain, bear witness to those wonderful words of life, death and resurrection, and lean upon God. God is with us in our grief.

When Christ walked this earth, he experienced all that we do. I often wonder how Jesus handled the death of Joseph or other family members. I think he did the same thing we do. He grieved. He wept. He told stories about the carpenter’s shop. He shared advice his earthly father had passed down to him. And while things never were the same, over time a feeling of a return to normal slowly came back. As a community we will experience this, so long as we allow God’s gift of grief to guide us. Grieve the recent losses of great men and women. Lean upon God and one another in faith. After all, it’s what Jesus would do.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

– Psalm 23:4