by Karen Emberlin
“Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10 (The Living Bible)
Have you been faced with an “empty chair” beside you?
During the past nineteen months there have been many times I have experienced the empty chair syndrome. For quite some time it seemed almost everywhere I would go, the empty chair was there too! Meal times, church services, family gatherings, and just a relaxing evening at home were all reminders that I was alone.
I thought I was doing much better until a few days ago when the empty chair appeared in another “first” situation. In a ten day period I faced two surgical procedures, the first ones since the loss of my husband. In the past few years, I have experienced some tough medical issues, but my husband was always sitting in the chair beside me as we talked with doctors, went though tests and tried to make the best decisions for my care. He was always at my bedside helping in any way he could to reassure me and make me comfortable. I knew he would always be there when I woke up, making sure I was cared for in the best possible way.
This time as I checked in for surgery, the empty chair brought back so many memories! It seemed to represent the pain and emptiness that wanted to consume me. Please understand, I am so thankful for a wonderful circle of family and friends who cared about me, prayed for me, and made sure I was not alone, but it just was not the same. No one could take the place of my husband!
While waiting in a small quiet room prior to surgery, I stared at the empty chair remembering what it used to be like when my husband was there to hold my hand and reassure me. As I prayed and focused on verses from His Word, I realized that instead of my husband, God was sitting in the empty chair, loving, listening, and waiting for me to hear Him.
A devotional from Jesus Calling says, “Let me prepare you for the day that awaits you and point you in the right direction. I am with you continually, so don’t be intimidated by fear. Though it stalks you, it cannot harm you, as long as you cling to My hand. Keep your eyes on Me, enjoying Peace in My Presence.”
Was I still concerned – certainly! Did I still miss my husband – I sure did! However, I knew God was sitting there with me providing a peace that passeth all understanding.
The loss of my husband leaves an empty chair but God is sitting there waiting for me to spend time with Him. The relationship my husband and I enjoyed happened because we spent time together and shared our joys and sorrows with each other. God wants me to talk to Him and share my feelings just like I did with my husband. He also wants me to be still and listen to what He has to say to me. Sometimes it is hard to talk to an “unseen body” – I would feel much more comfortable talking to someone I could see and touch. However, He promises that He will be with us always.
In faith I can see Jesus in the empty chair!
Lord, help us begin each day believing You are all we need to continue this journey of widowhood. May we accept Your plan knowing that You have allowed this pain and loss in our lives. Help us take the pain and hurt to a chair that is never empty and allow healing in Your time. May we discover the purpose you have for us. Amen