I’ve tried to get rid of the sorrow.
I’ve tried an array of manmade remedies that might dull the pain: sleeping the day away, vegging in front of a screen, liquid in a long-stemmed glass, treating myself to lavish purchases I had never allowed until now. Let me assure you: they don’t work.
Sure, there is a small exhilaration in the short moment, but Tage is still gone. I might forget about the ache for a few minutes, but it always returns, and I usually feel guilty when it does that I tried to block him out for a second. I don’t want to block him out. I just want him back.
But he’s not coming back, we are starting to realize that now that the crowds have gone home.
I usually wake up in the mornings and cry that we have to live another day without him, and then I go about my day doing all sorts of time-consuming-nothings, and then comes the night. The nights are the hardest. The dark and the quiet both seem to lend themselves to reflection and thinking…
I hate the dark and the quiet, the time of the day when our shield comes down and the truth of our grief comes seeping in slowly until we are all but drowning in it.
It’s at night when I miss Tage most, because I feel like I’ve been away from him all day and it should be time to come home and see him. But he’s not there. So, every night as I struggle to fall asleep, I pull out my phone and silently look through every single picture of him I have on it, and I ache that he’s not here but then I smile because he was just the sweetest, most wonderful gift I have ever received. And every night, I silently cry. I’ve become a really good silent crier, so that I don’t wake Josh.
It was a few days ago, as I was scrolling through those pictures with tears in my eyes and a knot in my throat, that I asked God one more time, “How am I going to live for 60 more years without him?”
“My grace is sufficient for you.”
Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that before. I don’t know what that means though. I don’t understand how You will be enough.
He answered me through a note in mail.
The note came from Deborah (name changed to protect her privacy), a woman in our church. I was opening cards at our kitchen table and reading them out loud to Josh, and I opened Deborah’s card and started to speak her first sentence, “Sixty-four years ago this month, I lost my middle son at the age of one month and three weeks.”
I couldn’t keep reading until I composed myself again.
Now, I’m not suggesting that trying to “top” someone’s story of grief is the best way to console them. But that’s not what Deborah was doing. Deborah’s story was like a salve for me. She’s made it. Lovely Ms. Deborah has continued going after losing her less than two-month old son for these last sixty-four years.
How did she do it? How will I do it?
“My grace is sufficient for you, Molly.” Yes, Lord, I hear You. But what does that look like? How do I experience your grace in my life through this?
Again, God didn’t answer me right away. He left that question of mine hanging in the air, and I trusted that He would answer it when it would be best.
And then later this week, I came across this verse in Exodus 16 where it talks about how God provided a special food, called manna, for the Israelites as they wandered in the desert for 40 years:
Each morning everyone gathered as much (manna) as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away.
And then just like that, I got it.
Just like He did for the Israelites in the desert every day for forty years, God is providing just what I need for each day right now. Not more, not less. Just enough for each day. Just enough for today.
I don’t have to worry about figuring out the next sixty years right now, because, once again, He’s got this.
People have wondered how we’re not falling completely apart right now, how we are able to get out for a little each day, how we are able to smile or laugh at times, how we are able to continue looking to Him. It’s completely, 100%, without-a-doubt because He’s provided what we needed each day.
I’m not saying that we don’t cry, because oh we do. We are so much more introverted right now that we have ever been because we are very, very sad and constantly exhausted and grieving. I just finished another sob-fest in Tage’s empty nursery while rocking in his chair. It hurts. We hurt. But we don’t despair because He keeps reminding us that He’s still got it. He’s got what we need to get through today. Not more. Not less. His grace, His presence, His love…it really is sufficient. It is enough. HE is enough for us to get through this awful, awful reality.
I never got that until now.
Today, I looked at the rest of that verse, 2 Corinthians 12:8-9:
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
He has not taken our pain away, but we are discovering that His grace is truly sufficient. We are completely weak, and yet, we sense His power working in us in ways that can only be Jesus.
It’s not a bad place to be at the end of our rope, because in our weakness, He can step in in great power, incomprehensible power. I never thought I could be strong enough to survive the death of a child, but I never needed to…until now. God didn’t have to give us the strength to do it, until now. Now, we’ve asked Him to come. You’ve prayed for Him to be near to us, to give us a “peace that passes understanding, a hope for the future, a supernatural strength.” And He is doing just that. Right alongside the pain.
This is what He means when He says His strength is made perfect in our weakness, what it means when He says He is near to the broken-hearted, what it means when He says He will never leave us or forsake us.
Here is the truth we can claim in Jesus Christ according to 2 Corinthians 4:7-9:
“…this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
I don’t know how He does it, but He really is giving us what we need each day. Just enough peace to prevent us from completely freaking out, just enough laughter that we’re not consumed by the tears, just enough snail mail to remind us that we’re not alone, and just enough comfort through His Words to remind us that He isn’t lying when He says His grace, like manna, is sufficient for us.