“Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to You for help…” (Psalms 28:2)
Several years ago I read Mary Beth Chapman’s book called Choosing To See. In it she shares about the tragic death of their daughter Maria who they adopted from China. I was flooded with tears even though I couldn’t personally relate to that type of horrific loss.
Mary Beth was struggling to get out of bed and in a deep depression when she received a phone call from Beth Moore. Beth told her she had a dream about Maria in Heaven. It was an emotion-filled story as Mary Beth wondered why God didn’t give her the dream. Beth Moore told her if she would have had the dream, she would never want to wake up hoping she would keep dreaming of Maria. I was struck with God’s kindness to allow Mary Beth’s friend to dream of her daughter and relay comforting words and images at such a dark time.
A few nights ago I woke up around 4am feeling the grief of missing my dad. Life is getting busier and I find myself wanting to share the good things that are happening. Often times when I feel sad over my dad’s loss, the image of his face when he was struggling to breathe still comes up in my mind. It’s emotionally painful in that moment.
I wasn’t asking God for a dream but after the wave of grief I experienced at 4 am, I fell back asleep. The dream was short but felt unusually real. I was walking towards a house with a shop that resembled my dad’s old shop. I saw a man with a coat on but he was faced towards the shop. As I approached, he turned around and it was my dad. The first thing I noticed was his face. It was beaming with a kindness that was nothing like I’d ever seen. He walked up to me and hugged me. Though I didn’t hear his voice, I heard, “Kandace, I’m really okay now, and you will be too.” I woke up with a flood of tears as God’s generous heart washed over me. I’m still taking it all in, but when I think of my dad, I’m seeing his face as I did in my dream.
Could it be that God poured out His grace in this way to replace such a painful image? I have to believe yes and I’m thanking Him for it. Whether we get a dream or not is not where our hope is found but that God’s grace often shows up and brings comfort in a variety of ways. Maybe instead of a dream it’s His daily grace to replace the image with something that can re-direct our memory? I was already moving on that path when this dream was given to me.
Another gift I’m experiencing in grief is finding a place of worship through lament. I recently read a statement that now resonates deep within.
“To be human is to cry. To be Christian is to lament.”
Lament has been taking my faith to another level of wonder in regards to God’s kind and tender disposition. I’m seeing more clearly that God does not get concerned about our sadness other than to offer His comfort that comes through faithful wrestling. I don’t know how I’ve missed the gift of lament for all these years but I can only be grateful I can unwrap it now.
I shared with a friend recently that I wonder how parts of my own story could have been different if I would have known about this space of lament. That I could not only take my deepest sorrow to God, but that it didn’t have to be cleaned up. When I think of my experience with trauma and multiple losses, why did I ever think a religious band-aid would be sufficient?
I recently started going through the Psalms of lament. I open up God’s Word in the mornings and I’m asking Him to show me. I’m reading through them with another lens. I can no longer distance myself from the raw emotions of pain and loss. I feel deeply and God crafted my heart as such. Instead of deep feelings leading me away from God, they lead me to Him.
Reading through these Psalms brings a profound understanding of the One who deeply desires to be with us no matter how messy we can be. If we think we have to come to God when we “feel” acceptable, we will try hard to pull ourselves together and live with a surface-level faith.
My dad’s death is taking me into the deep. I’m experiencing a revival on the inside as I enter into the fellowship of Jesus’s sufferings in a way I haven’t known. Pain use to be something I would deny or cover up with false comforts. Pain is no longer winning in my life because better than covering it up or denying it, I’m experiencing God’s real peace as I stay before Him in it just as I am.
Lament isn’t always an easy conversation to have, but a beautiful and needful one. I hope you will join me in this conversation as we discover God’s goodness in the hardest spaces we find ourselves in.