Thus says the Lord:
A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.
Thus says the Lord:
Keep your voice from weeping,
and your eyes from tears;
for there is a reward for your work,
says the Lord:
they shall come back from the land of the enemy;
there is hope for your future,
says the Lord:
your children shall come back to their own country.

Jeremiah 31: 15-17

Five years ago, today, we lost our patriarch–Jack’s father, Mark–in an instant, in the middle of the rehearsal dinner for Jack’s older brother’s wedding. Fifty people stood around as we sat helplessly watching the EMTs try to revive him. I held a brand new Abraham in my arms and prayed for Papa Mark to live, to survive and coach our boy at baseball, to see a hundred more Christmas trees sparkling over seas of presents, to be a grandfather to his only–finally–living grandson.

The horror of those moments: of watching those who loved him better and longer than I, say goodbye to their husband and father and brother and son live side by side in my memory next to the days of Caleb’s death and birth. We laid Papa Mark to rest across the pathway from the Promised Land where we, with our parents’ help, laid Caleb to rest just eighteen months earlier.

I’m going to be gut-wrenchingly honest about grief for a moment. So, if you were tuning in today to visit Cloud Cuckoo land, here’s the link: Cloud Cuckoo Land. No one will fault you if that’s all you’ve got today. I have many of those myself;).

Within a period of a little over three years, Jack and I lost four grandparents, an uncle, Jack’s father, and our first born son. We became so accustomed to planning funerals, attending funerals, writing obituaries (my first official publications, actually) that I began to wonder if that’s all life had to offer us.

We tried to keep going to the cemetery the way we had before Dad died. We tried to decorate Caleb’s grave and wipe the leaves away as they fell each fall, dig out the snow in the winter, and bring a planter for him every Easter.

Then, we couldn’t do that anymore. I’ll never forget that definitive moment on Dad’s first anniversary. Abraham toddled over baby gravestones as I knelt in the grass to talk to my first born. I tried so hard to give Jack privacy as he visited his dad’s grave, only peaking over my shoulder once to check on him. He had his back to me, but his shoulders shook as he covered his face with his hands. I turned back to muffle my own sobs and felt something inside give way, a ripping deep in the middle of my heart. I didn’t stop crying for a week. Poor Jack had to take time off work because I literally couldn’t stand up for days.

I look back at that period of time as the darkest of our married lives, when every strip of innocence I didn’t even know we possessed was robbed from us. We stood where few in this culture do: completely outside the realm of naiveté, completely aware that life can be extinguished at any moment, no matter how sacred that moment may be. How do you get back from that?

How do you get back from the feeling that you’d rather lay down in the grass over a grave than walk in Heaven? How do you get back from making your bed in the place of death, believing, this is where I belong now? How do you make peace with both your future and your past being buried deeper than the roots of your faith have grown?

Here’s how: Start Believing God. No matter how black life seems, HE HOLDS YOU. HE IS NOT LETTING GO.

Jesus himself said,

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]
John 16:33 AMP

On your darkest days, remember friend:
Our steps are made firm by the Lord,
when he delights in our way;
though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong,
for the Lord holds us by the hand.

Psalm 37:23-24 (NRSV)

If you feel forsaken, listen:
Nevertheless I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me with honor.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength[f] of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:23-26 (NRSV)

When you don’t think you’re going to make it through today,
When I thought, “My foot is slipping,”
your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.

Psalm 94:18 (NRSV)

When all you want to do is be buried with that Love of yours:
Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

Psalm 139:7-12

When you don’t know how you’re going to do this life alone,
For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.”
Isaiah 41:3

When this loss feels overwhelming,
When I thought, “My foot is slipping,”
your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.

Psalm 94:18 NRSV

When you’ve been laying in the place of death for a while, friend, talk to Jesus. He’ll get you up again. He’ll breathe joy back into you. You’re not destined for a path of death just because your Love’s buried deep. You’re a child of heaven with purpose on earth. It’s time to start believing that He’s got you, He’s got that baby or husband or Papa of yours. They’re in His hands, as are you. And you will see them again. So Walk. And believe that the Jesus who raised Lazarus from the dead can raise your life, your heart, your destiny, up as well. Come join me in the land of the living.

Psalm 16
Song of Trust and Security in God
A Miktam of David.

Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble,
in whom is all my delight.
Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names upon my lips.
The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
I have a goodly heritage.
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I keep the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
my body also rests secure.
For you do not give me up to Sheol,
or let your faithful one see the Pit.
You show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy;
in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

10 For You will not abandon me to Sheol (the place of the dead), neither will You suffer Your holy one [Holy One] to see corruption. (AMP)

I am in better hands. We all are. Ask Him to show you.

God bless you in your grief. I am so sorry. And I pray new life for you. I pray peace for you. I pray joy.

Taylor