By Roxann Morgan
"I want joy, God. I don't want it to be fleeting emotions. I want it to be deep on the inside and rooted in you where nothing can take it away."
That was my one request.
It's been four years. Four years of seemingly insurmountable fears, impassable worries and debilitating grief. Losing my father, to this day, my most painful experience.
I remember weeping for days...and then the mourning went into months...and the months rolled into years. Years of feeling alone and scared, and then for a brief moment I would happy. But each time the happiness came guilt followed, along with accusations.
"How can you be happy when your father is not here?"
I know there are many children, wives, husbands, parents and siblings who face this. But this is not God. That's not God's voice. God is able to walk us through grief and sometimes--perhaps even dramatically--transform grief into joy. And that's what God was (and still is) doing in me. He was giving me joy, and for years I resisted. It felt wrong to have joy when my daddy was no longer with me.
A part of me felt justified in holding on to the pain and another part of me saying it's OK to let go and allow your heart to heal. It was a confusing place to be.
The truth is God is not afraid of our pain. He's not at all intimidated by our broken heart. He isn't put off by our weeping or our mourning. He isn't angered by our questions. But He doesn't want us to dwell in sorrow.
As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools (Psalm 84:6).
God is sovereign and He is good. He is consistent peace. He makes even the most terrifying situations just a valley to pass through one step at a time. I could only walk one single step at a time. I had moments where I was wishing that I could do it in leaps and bounds, and maybe be more bubbly and less depressing.
But God was not calling me to leaps and bounds, He was calling me to trust Him in faithful surrender. I walked one step at a time through the grief with my eyes fixed on Him and sometimes being distracted by the waves of discouragement. I praise Him for being both deliverer and guide.
Looking back, I can see where I was carried, where I was led, where I was taken across great oceans of heartache in my tiny boat that I thought would surely be taken adrift by the tide of sorrow, and I remember when I was able to look up and recognize my Father--my true Father--God in the midst.
He is not distant. He's familiar with all our pain. He's closer than our own skin.
I wrote this in my journal and I pray it ministers to your heart.
When the accuser asks, "How is this good? How has He been good?" I can reply, "This may not be pleasant but my God and Father is ALWAYS good! I am no orphan because God is my Father. My Jesus is the way through this desert and He is my stream in this wasteland. My Jesus makes all things new! Even in pain I will trust Him and my heart will rejoice in God my Rock. His work is perfect and all His ways are just. All my hope is in Him, and those who trust in Him will never be ashamed."
Surely, Jesus understands grief. He was the One who was despised and rejected by mankind (Isaiah 53:3-4). This man of sorrows who is familiar with all my pain is my own all-encompassing God whose rod and staff comforts me (Psalm 23:4
). He is my comforter.
What I thought was insurmountable has been overcome by love. The fear of being alone was driven out by the realization and acceptance that God is a Father to the fatherless, and He puts the lonely in His family (Psalm 68:5-6). I was no longer alone and I had joy...I have joy.
What I thought was impassable has been traversed with great strength--not mine, but God's. It was all God's patient strength that enabled me to be patiently persevere.
What I thought was debilitating has itself been disabled. The power of grief to cripple me emotionally has been overcome by God, so that I would be able walk through it (and not run from it) and dwell in joy, His joy.
There are days when I cry and tell Him exactly how I feel. But it doesn't end there. I look into His word and see exactly what He knows, because He knows who He is and He is faithful. He is always good.
He tells me that there's a time to mourn, so mourning isn't sinful. (Ecclesiastes 3:4)
He tells me that when I mourn I will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)
He tells me that my tears are precious and He keeps an account of all my sorrows (Psalm 56:8)
He tells me that all things will work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans )
He tells me that I can serve in weeping and my reward will be His joy. (Psalm 126)
He tells me that He is my joy and song. (Isaiah 12:2)
He tells me that even when I'm forsaken He will take me in and adopt me as His child. (Psalm 27)
He tells me that He is always with me. (Hebrews 13:5)
He tells me that nothing can separate me from Him. (Romans 8:31-39)
He tells me that He is unchangeable, it's impossible for Him to lie, and He's my hope and my anchor. (Hebrews 6:17-20)
He tells me that grief won't last forever because He won, and we win by believing in Him. Every tear will be wiped away. (Revelation 21:3-5)
Know today that you are not overlooked, forgotten or rejected. This time of sadness is not in any way an indication of a lack of God's love for you. Even in this, He is making all things new. The newness He desires most is in your heart, that you will see Him as He is and be changed so that His great love can be shed abroad in your heart. Grief, fear and worry have no power over this all-encompassing, chain-breaking, unchanging, joy-giving, our true Father, God.
Lord, I thank You that You're not distant, you're not far away from us. You're with us even in our most difficult moments and You're familiar with all our griefs. I ask that You will comfort me in my pain and carry me through my time of grief. I thank You that there's joy on the other side of this, and there's deep joy to be found in You. Please help me to keep my eyes fixed on You. I give You thanks even where I am. In Jesus' name.
Photo courtesy of Free Digital Photos.