Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Many years ago, I attended the viewing of my distant cousin. And though I didn’t know him very well, I knew his wife. My sisters and I used to call the couple Barbie and Ken because they seemed perfect in every way, having a relationship that read like a romance novel. So it was hard to believe the news, given two years before, that my cousin was slowly dying of cancer.
After we’d heard of his death, it seemed impossible to imagine his wife without him. I wondered what I’d find when I entered the funeral parlor. As I stepped in the door, I saw a take-charge woman, giving direction to family members, so the gathering would run smoothly. She stood confident and erect, and definitely in control.
I couldn’t understand how a woman who’d just lost the love of her life could be so strong, when her world had just shifted dramatically. In fact, I was battling more tears than she appeared to be.
In minutes, members of the immediate family lined the hall into the viewing room to greet those who came to wish their condolences. What was I going to say to her? Having never experienced a loss this personal and all-consuming, I could find no words.
My Grandmother inched along behind me, offering prayers and hugs to various people in the line. I later learned Grandma had been a mother figure to my cousin’s wife. Someone who’d been there for her throughout her married life.
I continued to inch along the line, plotting out insignificant words to ease the afflicted. Then, as I was about to grasp the widow’s hand, she caught sight of Grandma behind me, silently mouthed her name, and appeared to melt before my eyes. Grandma, who looked like a cross between the Pillsbury Dough-Boy and Shirley Temple, thrust me aside and threaded her arms around my cousin’s wife as if she were her only means of physical support. Finally, knowing someone would hold her up, my cousin’s wife sobbed uncontrollably, like a wet sack on grandma’s shoulder.
Now I know my grandmother is not God, but sometimes God shows pieces of Himself through His creation. And that day I spied a glimpse of Him through a plump, pink-cheeked, cherub of a woman with bottle-colored, golden curls, who held up a grieving woman as if she were a mighty oak in a tempest.
You see, we always think that because we have God in our lives, we should be strong ourselves and never cry. After all, He gives us the strength we need to endure all things. We know that in seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, we’ll have everything we need. We also know he’s with us in the Valley of Shadow and Death. But does that mean no tear should escape our eyes? Does it mean we can’t ever be weak?
I’d answer a big, resounding NO to both of these questions. Remember the shortest verse in the Bible. Jesus Wept. So why do we think we should somehow be better or stronger than our Savior? He needed His father in the Garden of Gethsemane, as we need Him during the trials in our own lives. His power is made perfect in our weaknesses.
My cousin’s wife knew she needed to be strong for her family. Her children had just lost their father and she was forced to host a gathering where others could mourn her very personal loss. I’m sure she felt a great responsibility to “be there” for others. I saw that in the way she comforted them.
It wasn’t until she saw the one who could hold her up through trying times, that she allowed herself to be weak. So she fell into my grandmother’s arms and finally released the hurt buried deep inside.
That’s what God can do for you. He’s not just the one who gives you what you need to brave any storm. He’s also that soft touch with strong shoulders. He will hold you up when you just can’t do it yourself.
So when life has beaten you down and you don’t know where else to turn, fall into the brawny arms of your loving Father in heaven. Cry on his broad shoulders. Look into His face and let Him wipe away your tears. If you do this, I believe you’ll feel His gentle kiss on your forehead and you’ll know you are truly loved.
Leave a comment and tell us how He’s been there for you.