“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” Job 1:21
The other day I said that over and over with tears streaming down my face. I said it because I believe it, not because I felt it. I had finally hit a wall with the losses in my life. Usually I’m able to “grit and gratitude” my way through life’s pain. But the dam broke and the tears came.
Good Friday, our 13 year old pup, Faith, passed away from cancer. Last September, I lost my Dad. April of 2018, my brother passed away. June of 2016, we lost my mother in law. Between 2016 and now, there have been other losses: uncles, a cousin, some major traumas on both sides of our families. This January, my husband and I decided to exit the financial services industry. My part time job as Admin Assistant in his office disappeared at the end of February. I was looking forward to focusing on my senior care performances. Then COVID 19 hit and they all cancelled. I was planning to visit my Mom for Mother’s Day, back in PA. She’s 92, part of the most vulnerable population, so that’s not happening, either.
When the tears came, I was staggering under the weight of attempting to hold myself together, telling myself I was trusting Jesus, not sure that I truly was. “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away”. As I said those words, it was with a mixture of accusation and surrender. “How could you?” I thought, then immediately “Because you’re in control and I’m not.” Wave after wave of grief has threatened to drown my faith these past few years. I’m finding that the only faith I have left is in my Creator, my Redeemer, my Sovereign Lord and Savior.
I have no faith in the news media, in politicians, in social media. So many differing opinions, so many contradicting “facts”. I don’t have the energy to sift and sort and process all this anymore. I’m finding it difficult enough to focus on what needs to be done daily. I’m trying to shift gears with my music career and get motivated. Some days it works. Some days it’s all I can do to get through the day without getting back under the covers. Taking a shower and eating are sometimes major accomplishments.
I thought back to years ago, when I was still a board-certified music therapist, required to take continuing education classes. This particular class was led by a music therapist working in hospice. She gave us a piece of paper and had us write down 4 people we love, 4 hobbies we enjoy, 4 of our favorite foods, 4 places we like to visit. Then she told us we had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Step by step she took us through the disease process, at different points along the way telling us to cross off one of our “favorites” in a certain category. I’ll spare you the details; it was a heart wrenching exercise in empathy, as piece by piece, I lost everything and everyone that I cared about. We got to the end of the exercise and she noted that we had crossed everything off our papers. But, had we?
As I looked at my list, my heart began to soar. I still had something left without my pencil line drawn through it. When I wrote down the people I loved? One of them was Jesus. As I went through this exercise of losing everything I cared for, He was the One who walked with me every step. He was weeping with me. He was with me in my physical pain. He mourned every loss with me. And when the end of my life came after this imaginary terminal illness? He would reach out His hand and usher me into eternity where I would spend my new life with Him.
I have never forgotten that day, when I proved to myself that no matter what or who I lose in this life, I will never lose my Savior. As I navigate my current losses and ponder what losses might be coming, I know He will give me the strength I need. He knows my weaknesses. He understands my current confusion and frustration. Unlike my ego, He doesn’t need me to do something great for His Kingdom right now, He isn’t disappointed that I haven’t figured out something “spectacular” to do with my creativity. Knowing that, I will continue to sit at His feet, learning how to truly rest in, trust in, and be loved by Him. So that I can say AND believe “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”