To the question of why there is suffering in the world there is no answer satisfactory to the grieving soul other than the answer they may find satisfactory to themselves. Some find an answer and some do not; some others never search. But to journey with God in matters of loss and grief is courage, and such pluck is rarely, if ever, denied a prize for its persistence.
As far as the felt absence of God is concerned, the following is of remarkable assistance. It holds out, like a flame, an answer with which to bear the pain:
“God left me in silent isolation to help me see what was in my heart.”
Grief As An Important Completion Process
Entering my own stark period of grief, the words of a colleague echoed from the abyss: ‘You are beginning a journey.’ I hated that word: journey. I didn’t want to be on any ‘journey’. I resented the journey. But as truth would have it, a journey it was. There was nothing I could do about it, and there’s nothing now I would change about it.
An important yet shrill part of the grief cycle, this journey that is characterised in silent isolation, where God might appear strangely distant or eerily close, comes as an important test. All of the rest of our lives will come to rely on how we got through this phase. This ‘phase’ is the making of a new identity, given the transformation that’s occurred within our lives—a transformation we must now, in our time, accept.
When I grieved I want to know when it would end; it seems to never end at the time. And ever so frequently, when it seemed it had ended, it hadn’t. Grief is cruel in this way, but she is but a tool in the hand of God. And, despite how despicable this thought is, the Lord has his purpose in it. It is for our best.
Could It Be That Through Grief We Find Ourselves?
How do we possibly get to know one human being, and someone as complex as us?
We have a very good idea of the complexity of humanity by plain knowledge of ourselves. Disregarding how well adjusted we may be, there are complexities, and layers of them, that are terrifically difficult to put a finger on.
Grief may be a process so grim with pain that we must face what’s truly in our hearts. And though we’re tempted to deny, again and again, God will patiently bring us back to face ourselves. Sooner or later we get tired of running. Having the courage to face ourselves, to deal with our inner stuff, becomes a necessity of survival.
There is a purpose in silent isolation. Such unassisted suffering teaches us, beyond our denial, to look calmly within; there we find God leading us to ourselves. There we see what is in our hearts.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.