Return to Me with All Your Heart, Joel 2:12-13
12“Even now”, declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning”. 13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
I’m sure that at one time in your life you’ve felt grief that was crushing and all encompassing. You cry, pray and try to carry on with daily tasks, but feel like you’re underwater. Feelings of loss are different for each person you grieve. Therefore, I was stunned that this time my grief turned to anger; anger at the insidious disease you fought against, that separated us in the end; anger that I didn’t get to say good bye to the one friend I shared HS, college fun, graduations, weddings, and then each other’s children with; anger I’d never hear the reassuring voice of my friend who knew me at my best and still loved me at my worst.
As I held this grief inside it ebbed and flowed much like the tide crashes onto the shore and gently rolls back out to sea. What struck me was that my grief had turned to anger with God. Why had he allowed this person to be taken? Why couldn’t he save him? I still needed him in my life, as did his family. I still grab for my phone on Sunday nights for our weekly “life catch up call“, but he’s not there and so the anger grows. This anger blurred all I had believed and had been taught about God’s comfort in times of hardship and sorrow. So I took my anger and disappointment and turned away from God. I was sad and lonely for a long time. A good friend shared with me that I could keep being angry and alone or let that anger go by giving it to God and letting him carry my grief. I understood in my head what she wanted me to do but my heart still felt hollow.
Later that month my 11 year old son wanted to know why we didn’t go to church anymore and why I didn’t pray with him at night before bed. When I told him it was because I was angry with God because I had lost my best friend. He looked at me and asked “do you think your friend would want you to lose God too”? Suddenly I knew that although it would not be easy, I must return to God’s compassion and abounding love”. I was quick to anger but God is not. He is gracious.
Daily Prayer: Help me today to remember that even in the pain of loss you are there and that I may “return” to you and feel your healing grace. Amen. ~Anonymous