Saturday, November 14, 2009

Good Grief Questions

Hello All,

These last several months have been a whirlwind of change. We have moved from our home in Ladera Ranch back into the Inland Empire. We have begun a Bible study in Colton. And, we have taken on the responsibility of educating our children through a Home School program. Change has become the norm, and there is more change to come. Throughout it all, I have grieved the loss of my sister, though from outward appearances, it may seem that I have not even lost a tear.

I assure you that I have.

There is a passage in the Bible that declares that Christians do not grieve as those without hope. (I Thessalonians 4:13) That means that Christians DO grieve. It's a process that each of us who have lost someone goes through. It cannot be denied and it will not be ignored. At the beginning, when I knew that Leah was going to die, there were greater emotional expressions. It was more raw. Today, farther from that last day, there are still tinges of sadness and regret. My heart just gets heavy every now and then. There is no warning and there is no pattern. They say that it comes in waves and that is the best way to describe it.

For example, I'm mowing the lawn and a thought comes to mind. I just automatically think, "Leah would like that..." only to immediately snap back into reality that she cannot like that, for she is no longer with us. Another example happened just the other night when our family went over to visit my parents. Leah's door opened and I instinctively thought that she would emerge. When it turned out to be my daughter, my heart just dove down again.

It's a strange set of feelings. None are so overwhelming so as to produce an outward display of emotions. Just simple sorrow.

Thankfully, I have hope. My trust that she is with Jesus continues to be my emotional anchor which keeps me from moving into the uncharted waters of depression. With every push toward emptiness, there is a greater pull toward the Lord, who always comforts His people.

Throughout it all, there have been questions that I have had to confront. Questions like, "Could this have been prevented?" and "How could God allow this to happen?" For the unbelieving world, the death of a loved one is another occasion to blaspheme God, pointing the proverbial accusatory finger in His direction. Ironically, most of the time, the unbelieving world refuses to acknowledge God in any way...until there is pain and all of a sudden, it's all His fault! The questions that come to us are questions that are built in and are an intrinsic part of the process of grieving. These questions provide me and every other believer in Jesus Christ, with the opportunity to thank God for who He is! Here is a little sample of what I mean:

• "Could this have been prevented?" God, who is sovereign, orders all things in the life of the believer in order that He might be glorified and bring lasting good out of even the most dire of circumstances. He chose the day and the hour for purposes that Leah now knows and that we will know when we join Him.

• "How could God allow this to happen?" God, who is loving, has allowed sickness and death to remain in the world, so that we might yearn for a life that we cannot lose. The choice of men to disobey God and sin has made illness and death a reality that God sent His own Son Jesus to pay for, so that we might not perish eternally.

• "Are you mad at God?" God gave us a wonderful gift in Leah and I enjoyed having my sister with us for 25 great years. His gift was to give us a lifetime of love and great memories. I'd rather live with the memories of my sister than to have never had them at all! Additionally, unless I am radically mistaken, real life happens after death for the believer! Leah's ordeal, as heart-wrenching and brutal as it was to observe, and as painful as it was to her physically, is NOTHING compared to what she experiences today! In fact, the Apostle Paul says that almost verbatim in the book of Romans:

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
Romans 8:18

• "Why didn't God answer me?" God did answer me. His answer was not what I wanted to hear at the time, but He did answer. He answered "No" when I asked for physical healing. The question pre-supposes that unless He answers me the way I want Him to, then I will have not received an answer at all! That is a childish way to respond. I do not move God; He moves me, and while my faith allows me to partner with Him in things that He wills to do, I cannot manipulate Him using my faith to accomplish my will.

I am sure that there are a thousand other questions specific to each person's grief. Some are perhaps more personal than can be shared. This is not an exhaustive piece. It's meant to reflect my personal journey. The truth remains however, that there are answers and God wants to minister His comfort to you in the same way that He has comforted me. He has the answers and if you'll listen to His voice long enough, He'll give them to you, not because He's obliged, but because He wants to heal what has been hurt.

Thanks for listening...reading...

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez


Jeff and Aimee said...

Thank you for this "real" and helpful examination of grief.

Carrie said...

Thanks for sharing, Frank.

I think of Leah often as well.

LuvToRekord said...

Frank, we so love the honesty that you shared on this post, thank you. It encouraging for sure and our hearts and prayers are with you. Love you brother Frank!

Frank And Lela said...

Thanks folks...I really wanted to write this, at the very least to get some thoughts down. Thanks for your encouragement.

April said...

Frank...thanks for letting us in. I'm reading a book right now that I think you'd enjoy: Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright...I haven't finished it, but it's been encouraging for me to remember the hope of resurrection for us all.

Cowen Family said...

THANK YOU for sharing. Roses In December by Marilyn Heaviln(christian book on grieving by an author from Redlands) has touched me in our many seasons we have faced. She actually came and did some family counseling for us before my aunt went to be with Jesus. Time passes SO fast in some ways and SO long in others. I cannot believe it will be 12 years for us this year and at the same time WHEN will we see her, Aaron, and Leah(and, and, and) again? Soon I know, in the Lord's timing. As always, thank you for your transperancy and encouragement.