Ashes to ashes … beauty to come

By Heather Walton 

This week in particular I have been reflecting on the concept of grief. Except that grief hasn’t been just a concept in my world lately. While I don’t discount the many blessings in my life–my husband,  my children,  my job,  my church, my friends, my extended family,  my home, my freedom, and most of all, my faith–I also have become no stranger to grief in the past few years, the past few months, the past week,  and the past 24 hours. From the loss of a marriage in the last few years, to the loss of an unborn child in the last few months, to the loss of another unborn child in the last week,  to the observation of my husband’s family’s loss of a beloved family member early this morning.

So I have been reflecting … and questioning.  Why does it have to be like this?  Life.  Why can’t we be spared of the suffering?  I have always had a lot of good answers to this question. Solid theological answers.  All true.  All well thought out. All meaningful. But all sounding kind of hollow right now.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t go back on any of it. It all still solidly applies. It just seems deflated in the face of actual,  real-world, gut-wrenching, cold, hard grief. In the face of pleadings, tears, bargains, and unfulfilled hopes,  these very true explanations just don’t seem appropriate to share.

Last night,  in the wee hours, I had the honor of being among my husband’s family–my new family–as we stood around the hospital bed of a godly lady who was ready to enter into the glory of eternity.  While we all understood that it would be a wonderful homecoming for her,  I also could feel the aches in their hearts as they prepared for a world that would no longer include this beloved sister,  mother, grandmother, aunt, and friend. The pain in that room was tangible, and will continue to be for some time to come.

As Christians,  we don’t grieve as those who have no hope,  but we do grieve.  The grief I have been through over the past few years,  months, days, and hours, has helped me to become more compassionate and it has helped me to have a greater desire for that day when all will be made right.  Grief has humbled me, as I realize how little I can truly control.  While grief isn’t a good friend,  it is an excellent teacher.

As I sit among the ashes of grief,  I await the beauty once again. It will come.  Though I don’t understand,  I do choose to trust my great God,  the One who promises beauty from ashes.

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