Losing my child set me upon a forced journey into an ocean of grief, pain, and loss, far away from normal life and far away from most everyone around me. I feel adrift, apart, socially abnormal, no longer able to function as I once did, with little interest in doing things I used to enjoy. Grief emotions are a tangled ball of anger, despair, emptiness, fear of the future, fear of being judged, feeling a part of me has been ripped out, guilt, isolation, loneliness, stomachaches, nausea, panic, rage, regret, shame, failure, shock, heartache, loss of purpose, and a million more confusing feelings that exhaust and batter the soul. Feeling I am being a burden, always sad, the polar opposite of a “supermom”, anxious that grief will ambush me at a moment when I need to be strong. Feeling I have nothing to offer anymore because my heart is shattered in a million pieces. I’m fragile, damaged, stooped under this load, and coming to realize I will be adrift on this boat for a very long time. Feeling God has forgotten my child, my precious Fiona Rose, in allowing her to die, not answering our prayers for our children. The emotions of grief are so powerful that they block my view of God’s presence. As I learned in my grief support group, it feels my faith isn’t working and in my stupor of pain and tears I forget all the promises of God and who He is.
I came across Psalm 77 last week while reading a devotional about being real and not faking that you are fine when you are not. Because God knows how we really feel and we can’t hide anything from him. Most of the Psalms are laments, complaints to God about life’s circumstances. Psalm 77 describes how I feel; forgotten and alone, questioning why my child is no longer here and why our family is suffering this loss.
I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. Will the Lord reject me forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?
Later in the psalm, the psalmist remembers the good things God has done, and the goodness, holiness and power of God. He concludes the lament by saying,
Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.
God was speaking to me through this verse, saying clearly to me that although I may not feel him there, it doesn’t mean he isn’t there by my side. My feelings don’t dictate the truth of his presence. He is leading and guiding me whether I see him or not. He is by my side in this awful journey, making a way for me through the sea of grief, quietly and slowly. He is sitting in this boat with me, even thought the fog of grief clouds my view of him. As Peter looked away from Jesus at the storm around him, and sank into the stormy sea, so will I sink whenever I look away from Jesus and just look at my circumstances. Psalm 16:8 says “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” I have to choose to keep my eyes focused on him, always.