“Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also.” Psalm 31:9
Okay, we’ve had a lot of the Psalms pop in our 30 days so far, and depending on your mood-of-the-day, they may or may not strike a strong chord with you at the time. This one works with me today because, referencing my recent sickness AGAIN, I’ve had severe sinus pressure right behind my eyes since this morning. So when the Psalmist starts talking about eyes wasting away, I am right there. Maybe you’re not. Not physically, anyway. Maybe the word grief is what stands out for you. With all its complicated mix of feelings, how is grief a part of your day today? Is it for someone, someone who’s passed or someone who’s still living but permanently different? Do you grieve the person that you once knew and loved? Do you grieve something or someplace? Grief is about loss, so we can sense it in a lot of different ways.
For me right now, I still sometimes grieve my grandparents, and their home, and what it meant for me. “Ganny and Gandaddy’s” house was the place that didn’t change for us moving-around-preacher’s-kids, and when the seven of us were there on a regular visit, or the 40 of us all were there for holidays, etc., that was a strong sense of home. It had a nostalgia to it, old Southern traditions and culture and a still-active farm with all its smells, tastes, sights and sounds. It had stories from our people going way back, and stories that deeply informed our identities. It had more recent stories from our parents’ younger days, and their time dating each other, the time before we were in the picture. So now with none of my grandparents living, and their house a rental, it’s a mixed bag. They still live in us, and those days are never returning, and these days are good ones too, but I miss it all. There’s grief there.
We’re coming to the end of another season of life, too. My sister and I have lived in the same town with our families for the past 5 years or so, with our parents and brother in Columbia. We never thought that would be possible, all of us in ministry, but we’ve been here together through the births of all 3 of our babies, and more. We’ve had good partnership in ministry. But she is taking a position in Gainesville, FL, my parents will move out of state if Dad is elected a bishop, and there’s a chance we could be moving to another appointment, too. No matter how it plays out, this season is coming to an end. There’s some grief there. There will be other kinds of grief if we move from this place, too. This is the longest I’ve lived in one house, I think, ever. It’s been my first churches. Wild.
I’m not trying to go “Debbie Downer” on this, and it is overwhelmingly a hopeful, exciting, and wide-open time. It is good to carry my grandparents’ memory, the blessing that they all were, and pursue a life that is worthy of that legacy. But there’s still some kind of grief, and the Psalmist teaches us that grieving times are times to call on God. To call on God’s grace, and tell God how we feel, and then to listen. If you’re not having a “wasting away in grief” kind of day, then pray for those who might be, all over the earth today. And remember this Psalm when the tough time comes.