Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:4
I got a new bread maker for Christmas. My old one had literally fallen apart, and my sweet sister bought me a new one. I am so excited! Not only is bread from the bread maker healthier, it also makes the house smell wonderful.
But, I must admit that part of what I like best is the convenience. Put in the ingredients, push a button, and walk away. The machine does all the work.
We are blessed to have all the modern conveniences we do in our households today. Washer and dryer, fridge and freezer, make our lives so much easier than our forefathers. We can accomplish tasks on the run instead of over the course of a day, squeezing in the next load of laundry or dishes as we run to all the activities, fun and necessary, which are in our lives.
I think sometimes, though, we are tempted to treat our grief this same way. We try to rush through the difficult moments, find ways to conveniently deal with the sadness and pain that are a natural part of this journey. We try to find a way around the hard work that grief is at times, looking for an easier way. We have pressure from those around us to “move on,” “get over it,” “start again” from well-meaning friends and family.
But grief is not like that. It is not a linear journey, one with an ultimate destination. It is a progression, and progress cannot always be made in the same way the world sees progress.
I have taken a lot of cues on how to grieve, and gotten a lot of comfort from, the Psalms, but particularly in Psalm 23…particularly in verse 4.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…
The Psalmist does not indicate that he hurries through his grief, trying to get quickly, conveniently to the other side. He walks. And, as he walks, God is with him. If he were hurrying, he might outrun God’s plan for the moment. He might not fully or completely heal in areas that are needed before moving on to the next portion of his life. By walking, he takes the time needed to be comfortable with what has happened.
The Psalmist keeps walking…walking forward, walking with God, walking the path laid before him…not avoiding it, not getting stuck in the middle, not turning back, not using anything fancy. He walks through the valley of the shadow of death, not jumping over the pain and sorrow, not trying to shorten the journey by hurrying.
I imagine him much like me, slogging through some moments, almost too weary to go on, but knowing it is necessary, part of the plan…and ultimately…for my good. Again, focusing on the fact that God is with him…with me.
And, down the road, he achieves a place of comfort, a place where he has come to, if not an understanding, at least a peace about what has happened in his life. How long did this take? Only he and God know.
So, sweet sisters, as we contemplate all our modern conveniences, may we not get caught up into the trap of trying to make our grief convenient…convenient for us or for anyone else. It is what it is…God-allowed, though we may not understand the reason.
May we focus on doing it the way He wants us to, walking with our hand in His, no matter how long it takes.
May we keep moving forward, not stuck in the valley, but, trusting in Him, walking the steps slowly as we need to, crawling when we need to, but always moving forward in our grief.
And may we always, always be holding the hand of the Author and Perfecter of our faith as we continue on the journey through this valley.
May God bless you as you continue this journey in 2014!
Heavenly Father, grief is hard. We want to grieve well and completely, Lord, in the way that You want us to, learning what we need to but not getting stuck somewhere in the valley. Help us to lean on You to grieve, first and foremost. Help us to not get caught up in looking for convenience in our grief, but to balance that with continuing to move forward on the path You have already seen. Hold our hands when we cry, when we stumble, when we fall. We are so thankful You are here with us, every step of the way. In Your precious Son’s name we pray, Amen.