As I search through my closet for appropriate funeral attire, I think, “It’s too soon.” Wasn’t I just doing this for the funeral of our friend’s 10 year old son? Now, I look for the dark apparel for a young father. Blacks and Grays-colors of mourning. I’ve worn these things too often. I may even still have the dress I wore to my own father’s funeral a year and a half ago. No. I don’t think I can do that.
I am reminded of the funerals I attended for two of my friends’ brothers. They both lost them way too early. Then a few years later, for one of those friend’s infant daughter who would never even know this world. So much tragedy. So much mourning.
And this, right before what is supposed to be a time of Thanksgiving. As the sadness rushes in like a flood while I prepare food for our annual family Thanksgiving feast, I acknowledge how hard it can be to celebrate and add to that list of 1,000 gifts when a loved one is missing from our lives. I imagine how especially difficult it must be for those whose wounds are still open and bleeding. How do they find the grace, the thanksgiving?
Then I feel it. There is grace in knowing that we don’t have to be strong. He is strong for us. His grace is sufficient because His strength is made perfect in weakness. When there is nothing a friend or family member can say to take away the hurt, it isn’t too much for Him. When we don’t have the strength to take a step, He will pick us up in His arms and take us where we need to go. When we’ve cried so many tears that we are tired of crying, he pulls us close and lets us simply sigh deeply against Him until the next wave comes. He knows. Even if no one else understands the depth of our pain, He can feel it.
He did feel it. He sent His only Son to die. The pain that we feel from missing someone extremely close to us is not lost on Him. He did it, because He could see the grace in it. He did it because He knew it would allow us to truly be with Him one day. A God like that would never leave us alone to deal with despair on our own. No matter how much we cry, or how weak we get, He is still strong. He is still God. He still gives us hope. We can go on, because He goes on with us. And even when our hearts simply cannot fathom a thankful thought, there is that.