Good Grief…

“The weariness of grief”….I wish I could remember where I first read that phrase. I just remember stopping mid sentence and thinking, “how perfectly stated”. Grief is exhausting. Our hearts and minds seem to stay engaged in wanting to recover something we have lost and can do nothing about…grasping for some part of life we can never get back; the loved one died, the child left the nest, the friendship ended, we’ve moved a million miles from home. Whatever it may be that brings us to a season of sorrow, it seems even when the tears are not falling, a weariness remains.
Psalm 42 is a good go-to scripture for the season of deep grief. The writer seems to completely get it. I love what Charles Spurgeon says, ‘‘Most of the Lord’s family have traveled the path which is here so graphically described…… This psalm is eminently calculated to instruct those pilgrims whose road to heaven is of the same trying kind as was the writer’s.’’

Psalm 42

As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember
    as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
    under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
    among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
    therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
    the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,
    at night his song is with me—
    a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
    as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”

11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

This Psalm seems to offer an honest picture of the cycle of grief in the lives of we pilgrims walking through trying times. I never really noticed the progression until this morning…

We begin with….feeling dry and alone.

1 As the deer pants for streams…My soul thirsts for God…

Where can I go and meet with God? (…I feel so tired and numb)

And move to….missing the way things used to be.

4“These things I remember as I pour out my soul,

how I used to go with the multitude…” (I like the way things were…I miss it.)

Then the writer talks to his soul, asking it questions, telling it where it should be putting its hope…choosing to praise God even though nothing has changed. (verse 5)

Next, we see him really start to pick himself up. He says to God, “My soul is downcast within me, therefore I will remember YOU from the land of Jordan….” (My heart is broken, but I know you are the faithful One who has always cared for me.)

Now he has moved from thirsting for a stream to diving into deep waters!

7“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls;

all your waves and breakers have swept over me”

…and then this beautiful prayer:

8 By day the Lord directs His love,

at night his song is with me- a prayer to the God of my life”….

(Comfort, rest, songs in the night…I’m doing so much better.)

Next thing you know, we are at verse 9…

9“I say to God my Rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me’??”….

(Wait…What?! We were doing so well!)

And so goes the cycle of grief. It is a very weary one. In this verse he calls God, “my Rock”. The word “rock” is both a shaky verb and a solid noun. When our world is rocked we need a Rock. So it seems, maybe, he is not in complete despair, but rather grasping for grounding. And by verse 11 he is speaking to his soul again, asking it the same questions, telling it where to put its hope…choosing to praise God even though nothing has changed.

See! Isn’t that exhausting? Good grief is hard work and we often feel a bit out of control. We want to hold steady in the boat. We want to participate in life, as it now is. We just tire so easily. I happen to think there are times it’s perfectly fine to sit and pant and tell God all about it. But we can’t stay there. We have to do the cycle. We have to pick ourselves up and keep moving…knowing that if we continue to tell our soul to put its hope where it belongs, offer a broken hallelujah in the middle of the pain, and dive deep into God’s ocean of Comfort and Love…then, each time we step back onto the shore, our footing will be more secure. God our Rock will continually steady our gate.

This pilgrim’s path can be very trying. Our journey takes us down roads of sorrow we would never, ever have chosen. But ALL thanks be to God!….we do not walk alone…

”By day the Lord directs his Love, at night His song is with me…

a prayer to the God of my life”

Published by: Mishelle Phillips

I’m an empty-nester mom from Franklin, Tennessee. I live with my husband of 25 years, Richard. I am blessed with friends and family who love me, encourage me…and talk me into doing stuff that scares me. Over the years I have shared my writings with them and they suggested I start this blog. So…. here it is. I offer it with one hand over my face, peeking through my fingers as I click on the word “publish” … hoping with all my heart you find something meaningful here. Mishelle Phillips

6 Comments

6 thoughts on “Good Grief…”

  1. Mishelle, how you blessed me. It is such a solace to know that we have such a solid Rock on which to place our hope. A rock that will not move. I love you girl!

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  2. Michelle you are amazing. God has anointed you for such a time as this. May HIS anointing lead you victorious thru this journey of grief. Love you sweet woman of God.

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