Have you ever received the dreaded phone call? The unexpected one that knocks the breath out of you? Mine came on December 23rd, 2006. I was out doing some last minute Christmas shopping and either my Dad or brother called and said I needed to get home immediately. You heard the sadness in their tone, even over the phone. I got home and found my mom grief stricken as she had received the news that her brother Dale was in a motorcycle accident that afternoon and didn’t survive. To watch one’s parent go through that sorrow was uncharted territory. As a young child, my mom fixed my boo-boos; as a teenager, she listened when my feelings were hurt or I didn’t get the spot I so wanted to get. She was always the one who comforted. And now she was broken.
But even more devastating than my mom was my grandmother. You see my grandmother had already buried one son and at this point in her life, she was the main care giver of my grandfather, a stroke victim. The days, weeks after Dale’s death I observed her and noticed that there was a deep sadness present. A sadness that is only learned when a parent loses a child – an unnatural death order. Yet, there was something else present in her eyes; a glimpse of hope. A sureness that everything will be okay.
I believe that day in December knocked my grandma, my sweet precious grandma, to her knees. But she refused to stay there! Many years later, I learned about a conversation that my mom and grandma had within a couple of months of Dale’s passing. Grandma was sharing with mom that the grief was intense, but not overwhelming as it had been with her oldest son passing. She shared that she knew the Lord was present the first time and He walked her through one of the darkest seasons of life. It gave her confidence that He was already there holding her hand once again.
She wasn’t going to let grief define her. She was going to look and choose joy even when joy seemed to be hiding within the darkest of rooms. The joy that one day she would see her son again and that joy brought hope and peace only the Lord can provide.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7
Are you in a season where you just received your own personal dreaded “phone call”? Maybe it wasn’t a death of a loved one, unfortunately sadness and devastation can be in the form of many things; sickness, financial stress, a child is hurt, you are looked over for a deserved promotion at work, and on and on and on. We all have a choice to make each day. We can choose to focus on the sadness and let the sadness define our movements of who we are. Or we can choose to search out the joy, rejoice that no matter the sorrow we are experiencing, God’s hand is with us and He is for us. We were never promised an easy life, but we do have the promise of God’s love and security. We can stand firm in God’s truth when the wave of sorrow wants to knock us to the ground. We can be like my grandmother and choose joy!
I just spoke to my grandmother on the phone yesterday. Here we are now over 10 years since my uncle passed (my grandfather has now passed away as well) and she never lost that joy. She just said, “Becca, yes I have had hard moments in my life, haven’t I? But I am doing good.” I am so blessed to have her in my life as a role model! I love you more, Grandma!!