Joy Comes With the Mourning

“For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.  Weeping may tarry; for the night, but joy comes with the morning. “ Psalm 30:5

It was a Tuesday morning in the middle of July.  I woke up just as I had been each morning for months prior.  I was sleeping between the chair in my moms room and the couch in the living room.  Regardless of where I slept, it would take a few extra minutes to straiten my back before I stood up.  We moved her in with us last Thanksgiving to take care of her while she fought lung cancer.  When I walked into her room that morning, she was already awake.  She didn’t want to talk and wouldn’t take any of her pills.  She was just laying there, looking at me.  She was unable to get out of bed and unable to move.  This was surprising because three days earlier, she was walking, slowly and with help, but walking.  I tried to help her by changing her bedding but she was hurting too badly.  This was hard for me because she had been doing pretty well through her journey.  She stopped chemo about six months prior and we knew the time was getting closer.  The night before, I was pleading with God to preserve her from the pain that was to come.  

As I stood there just looking at her, I realized that this was the first time that I was unable to help her.   Frustrated, I begged her to help me help her, but she did not reply.  When I walked out of the room, the nursing aid called.  She could not honor my request to come right away but assured me that she would be there in the afternoon.  By the grace of God, a few friends just happened to stop by within a few minutes of each other.  Two of them helped mom get changed and the other ones sat with me and tried to cheer me up.  Another friend called and asked if she could take the kids to the park.  I told her thank you but they were fine at home.  A few hours later, she showed up with a chai latte and took the boys anyway.  Another friend, who was a nurse, came by to check on momma.  She confirmed what the two prior friends told me, time was getting close. The nurses aid and mommas nurse came shortly after and the rest of the day played out the exact way God would have it.  It was a day that I will never forget.  It was the beginning of a new life, one without mom.  The beginning of a journey that I am still on, full of ups and downs and so much emotion.  

My brothers and I had a lot of planning to do.  We spent a lot of time together as families which was nice.  There were unimaginable blessings coming our way.  My brothers and I were humbled by the way people loved on us during this crazy time.  The blessings came in the form of food, clothes for my children for the memorial, and emotional support.  So many blessings, that it was hard to be sad.  Honestly, there was a lot of joy.  I knew where mom was, so that made me feel so much peace.  It was truly a special time; a wonderful, awful time.

Fast forward a few months to Thanksgiving.  There we were at the year anniversary of moving my mom in.  It’s amazing how many moments can happen in just one year.  I felt like emotionally, I was doing fine then, in an instant, it was like I hit a brick wall.  Why was I falling apart?  What was happening?  It’s been four months for crying out loud, why is it getting so hard now?  I felt myself beginning to slip into a depression.  I set up counseling to help me through the holidays and talked with my husband about my feelings.  I realized how alone I was in my thoughts.  In prayer, I cried out.  I knew that God was there.   I knew that He would never leave me and that He would use this time for good, however, I was unsure how to sort through all of the thoughts and emotions regarding the loss as well as other life issues that we were dealing with.  I was overwhelmed. 

It’s difficult when you have faith and feel hopeless.  I know that this does not make sense to everyone reading, however, some of you are tracking with me.  I realize that I am human just like the disciples.  Through the word of God, I was reminded of how quickly they lost hope.  In Mark 4:35-41 where Jesus and His disciples get into the boat to go across to the other side.  (If you are singing Adelle right now, go ahead and finish and we will continue) Ok, so as they were traveling, a big storm came upon them. Jesus had been asleep in the stern of the boat.  They were very afraid and woke him up.  Jesus uttered three words that spoke to everything around, including the sea, “Peace, be still.”  He then asked the disciples what was wrong with their faith.  So here they were, Jesus’ disciples, overwhelmed and without hope as a storm seems to be the center of their lives.  These guys are the ones living with Jesus daily.  They just witnessed food multiply, a withered hand fixed, multiple people healed and much wisdom shared, yet they feared, they too were without hope in their minds.  So in this truth, I realized that I am human too.  And as I heed the words, “be still” I realize that God has blessed me beyond anything that I deserve.  He has supplied friends that check in on my to make sure that I am ok.  He has supplied needs for me and my family.  He has supplied help for me by way of talking through my pain and loss.  But most of all, He is still supplying me with joy.

As my mom was going through this journey of cancer, God kept bringing a verse to mind, “…And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10b  This verse has taught me that joy is something that goes way deeper than a smile.  It’s a truth that resonates within the walls of my heart which determines that the Lord is Sovereign and He is good!  There was joy for Nehemiah as he was having the people rebuild the wall, and there is joy for me as I rebuild my life.  Joy does not mean that I am happy about anything that has happened, it merely affirms my recognition of the Sovereignty of God.  It affirms my trust, even in the storm.  Oh yes, He has to remind me that my faith needs a checkup but He is always there to remind me.  When I fix my eyes on Him instead of the storm, I have eyes to see His love and care, which brings me great joy.

I wish mom didn’t have to die.  I wish her cancer never came back, let alone took her life.  But I can see, through her illness, she began to understand the Sovereignty of God.  I could see that through my sometimes stubborn willingness to serve her, she got to see the hands and feet of the One who has died to forgive us all.  I watched momma humble her past, present and future right before my eyes.  I watched her walls of anger crumble and her walls of faith go up.  There is so much joy in that alone!  I spent nine months with a woman that I had difficulty loving in the past and God did supernatural healing that I am having a hard time even wrapping my head around.  I got the honor of loving my momma right into the arms of Jesus. 

I sit here, five months, to the day after her death, and I am sad.  We celebrated her birthday for the first time without her this past Friday.  There is still a void in our home.  I am struggling to enjoy this season of Christmas, but in all of this, I still have joy.  I have the joy in knowing where she is.  I have the joy in knowing a Savior that reminds me that as hard as this life can be, this is the closest to hell that we believers will see.  I have joy in knowing that my mom is whole again, without pain and tears.  God has placed a few close friends in my life that I am able to walk along side them in their journey of loss, and that brings me joy as well.  I am thankful for so many that have been and continue to love me during this difficult time.  I do not know what you are going through today, but I can tell you that joy does come with the mourning.  Hold on to hope and trust the Lord.  Let’s pray:

“Oh Father, this writing is probably the most difficult one to write as You have had me to open my heart to share with anyone willing to read.  What Your purpose in it is, I am not sure, but I will walk obediently where You ask me to go.  Lord, I pray for each reader, especially those who have lost hope.  I pray that You speak loud and clear to their hearts as they journey through the Christmas season.  I pray that anyone who does not know You as Savior, would find out what that means and that You would open their hearts to Your Son.  God, everyone reading has experienced loss, whether it be a person in their life, a job, an injury or pain that limits their physical ability.  There is loss all around us.  Help us to look to You in it, instead of at the hurt of it.  Help us to gaze and fix our eyes upward and seek the true joy that only You can provide.  I ask this in the name of Your Son~Amen”

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