“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken”
I lost my dad a few years back when I was 33 years old. I had 2 young boys at the time, and I lived in a different state than where my parents were living. My mom called early in the middle of the night, her time; that can never be good! She said “Eryn, Dad had a massive heart attack.” Mind you, he was out of the country for business at the time. My mom said she was unclear about what happened because there was a significant language barrier from the person she was speaking to over the phone. She continued to say that I need to start praying immediately. She called back a few minutes later and said that he had passed away. The absolute shock that ran through every inch of my body was unbearable. I immediately got on a plane and went “home.” As I was on the plane, several thoughts passed through my mind such as the verse above. How was God going to be my rock, my fortress when I felt so lost and abandoned!
Although I knew in my heart these things to be true about our God, it was hard for my head to catch up and believe them as well. My dad wasn’t supposed to die; he was not supposed to go that quickly with no goodbyes, with no warning. Here is where having the courage to hope comes in, it takes courage to not give up the way that one wants to when tragedy strikes. It takes courage for us to stand firm in what we believe to be true about our God, that he is Good and that if “he is for us who can be against us.” (Romans 8:31) In our humanness, it is terribly hard to believe, let alone act on that belief.
Truth be told, I did not want to get out of bed for my then two young boys who were both under the age of 3. However, I prayed for the strength, the comfort and the courage to put one foot in front of the other. Looking back and being on the other side of that “fresh” grief, I can see how he alone was my rock and my fortress. The logistics for getting my dad’s body back from a foreign country was to put it mildly – a nightmare. God alone was with us; he alone was helping to get things “worked out.” I was shaken, but knowing where my dad was in the presence of the Lord, I became less shaken. The key is not to be “greatly” shaken. I was greatly comforted, even if that came months or even years later.
The hope comes in that even in our earthly pain, which is very real and relevant, it will all pass away, and we will be in the presence of our Lord for eternity. This life is real and relevant, and our experiences matter to him. What if we can take our pain and turn it into encouragement for others, knowing that our hurts matter to him, and “He is near to the broken hearted.” (Psalm 34:18) What if we know that our grief matters, and yet, we are able to give others hope in the midst of their suffering while also acknowledging the Lord is healing us from the inside out.
My dad was the person who I went to when I needed perspective, wisdom and hope. While he always directed me to the Lord and to HIS ways, there was something about the way that my dad phrased things that just made sense. What I am grateful for is that although it was such a shock to lose him so quickly, he did not suffer. While others watch parents get old and possibly sick, I did not have to witness that. There were no words that I wished that I had spoken that I didn’t, no regretful conversations that I had not apologized for – for all these things I am grateful.
The phrase, “Time heals all wounds,” does not apply to all trauma and to say it almost minimizes someone’s fresh pain. My “wound” is not as fresh, however, there is a scar where there once was a smooth surface.
The day that my dad died, what I once knew to be true about God and his goodness became questionable. I had to take an honest look at the Bible verses that I had memorized as a child and truly believe the words to be real. Verses like Psalm 139:6, “Your eyes saw me before I was put together. And all the days of my life was recorded in your book before any of them came to be.” The Lord knew how many days my dad had, how many days all of us have. Does that mean we do not mourn or live hap hazardly? No, it means that God alone knows the days we have, he alone made my dad, knew the hairs on his head, and knew when he would call him home. How arrogant of me to think that I know better than the Creator. Does this mean that I don’t miss and think about the significant loss of my dad? Of course not. It means that I find comfort in knowing that I will see him again, that he is worshiping his creator, and even if I want him in the here and now, there will be a time to be with him for eternity. Oh, what a glorious time that will be. “We are sure we will be glad to be free of these bodies. It will be good to be at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8) Until that day, may He be our rock and our salvation and our fortress, and may we not be greatly shaken.