The cards are opened. The food has been eaten. The out of town family is gone, and we said goodbye & see you soon to our little girl Leah. As my wife and I were walking the other night, I said to her “Now What?” We know that the grieving process is going to be a long journey ahead, but now that the once future dreams and plans we had for Leah and our family have changed, we are left to wonder “Now What?“
In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus Christ taught the disciples to pray, and one of the things He said in the prayer was “give us today our daily bread.” The request for “daily bread” has brought a deeper meaning for my wife, Rachel, and I, as each day, hour, and minute brings on new challenges. We need “daily bread” for taking some new steps each day. I remember in the week of planning for Leah’s funeral, we needed “daily bread” to meet with our church family, meeting the funeral director, going back to our apartment for the first time, picking out Leah’s outfit, and the viewing and service. Without this “daily bread”, we wouldn’t be able to function.
What is this “daily bread” you may ask? The simple answer is Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said;
“I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again.”-John 6:35 CSB
What Jesus is stating is that when we are spiritually hungry, when we need strength to get through a day, we are to come to Him. How do we come to Him? Through the living, breathing, and active, Word of God. When we are weak, He makes us strong. When we feel empty, He fills us up. Jesus, is the daily bread that we need.
Picking Up The Broken Pieces
For me, it was really hard to explain all the emotions I was feeling after Leah’s death. When my wife shared with the family all of her emotions, she gave the perfect analogy. Imagine our hearts like a balloon, and for nine months our hearts were being filled with love to pour out on Leah. Now, instead of the love being poured out slowly, imagine someone coming up and stabbing the balloon. All the love we had that filled our hearts for her is gone and our hearts are broken into many tiny pieces. We are now looking around, seeing all the broken pieces, and asking ourselves, “Which piece do we start with?”
It’s very easy to be tempted to look at all the broken pieces and say “Forget this! My heart with never be restored!” or use things of this world to numb the pain. Christ doesn’t want us to fall for those lies. Instead, He invites us to come to Him because He is the only one who can restore us. Here are just some verses regarding the healing of a broken heart.
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”-Psalm 34:18 ESV
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”-Psalm 147:3 ESV
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”-Isaiah 41:10 ESV
In the midst of our pain and suffering, we aren’t alone. Jesus Christ is in the midst of our brokenness and is saying “Do not fear, I can restore this.” The question we need to ask ourselves is “Do we believe and trust Him?”
Walk, Not Run
I’m currently going through the book of Job, with a commentary called “When Lightning Strikes”, by Stephen Davey, Pastor of The Shepherd’s Church in Cary North Carolina. In the beginning of his commentary, Pastor Stephen Davey mentions how it’s easy for us to just look at the first two chapters of Job, then read the last two and say “See, at the end, everything worked out for Job.” Here is a quote from Stephen’s commentary;
“Even the most optimistic Christian among us will say “Job does go through an enormous cloud of suffering, but have you seen the silver lining? In the last chapter of the book, he gets everything back and more!” That’s easy for us to say! Bill Walton, the sports announcer and former NBA basketball star once said “I learned a long time ago that minor surgery is when they do the operation on someone else.” Let me encourage you not to mentally skip to the end of the book. Even though you already know Job’s children will die and he will have more children later, keep in mind that he will never get his first ten children back. Job will experience great suffering, with no silver lining in sight. There is no quick answer from God, no insight or reason from on high, and the clouds hover above the tree of his life for quite some time.”-Stephen Davey
My wife and I will be tempted by our flesh and even from well meaning people to “grieve quickly.” We have heard once or twice, “Well, at least you can have another child” While my wife graciously has laughed that statement off, I’ve found myself angry by that statement. While the intentions of that statement are to provide a “silver lining”, and yes we hope that one day the Lord will provide another child or two, or three, but we cannot have another Leah Grace Kubus. Rachel and I just can’t run through this and act like nothing happened. We need to walk together, with the help from the Lord, through the grieving process so we don’t wreck our marriage, wreck our relationships with others, and even wreck the lives of those we minister to.
Floating On A Lifeboat
I took the time to meet with my Senior Pastor and his wife to discuss how my wife and I were doing and discussing what is the healthiest steps in our new journey. I mentioned how I journaled the other day that I feel like I’m holding on to a piece of wood after a ship has been wrecked by a storm. While I know there is a shoreline, I mentioned that there are times that I don’t feel like “swimming.” Both the pastor and his wife encouraged me to change my perspective. They said “Don’t imagine yourself holding onto a piece of wood, imagine being in a lifeboat that will carry you safely to shore.” Of course, that lifeboat is Jesus Christ.
Jesus has many titles; one of those titles is Savior. As my Savior, I can trust that Jesus will get Rachel and I save to shore. We don’t know how long it will take or even what shore we will end up on, but we are going to trust Him through every wave.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight.”-Proverbs 3:5-6 CSB
-Michael A. Kubus