Thursday, March 31, 2011

Give Us This Day

Among all the other things we do when we are wrenched in the gut with grief, we grope for answers. Perhaps one of the more difficult things to do when you long to comfort the one who is most gripped by the grief is to keep those answers, the ones that may be comforting you, to yourself.

I heard sweet, salve words once from a deeply honest and personal talk given by Joni Erickson Tada, where she walked through the heart horrors of her tragic accident at age 17. I wept as I folded laundry on my living room floor, listening to her talk of a friend who crawled and crept through a closed hospital wing, to climb up onto the bed and lay next to her, weeping silent tears with her, singing "Man of Sorrows" to her bruised and broken friend. Joni talks about how in those dark days of questioning and grief, many answers (sure and true answers, answers that she would later grapple with and hold to with security) were given to her by well meaning friends and family who were hurting with and for her. But they fell flat and cold on her angry and stricken soul.

C.S. Lewis writes of the same thing in his A Grief Observed, the journal writings of one of the greatest Christian thinkers and apologists of our time, when his dear wife died of a horrid battle with cancer. It was not the answers that brought comfort initially. But God in his mercy knows how we are formed, and he knows that it is not the sterile feel of doctrine that we need to be blanketed with in those moments, but the Presence of our Savior- the one who knows our Suffering.

My friend, on her way to the hospital just a few days ago, not knowing what it was she could or would do for this family, this mother, this father who were sitting with their son on the threshold of death, was reminded as she prayed that because He lives and is present with us, she was going to be the embodiment of that presence. This is one of the Gifts of the Body of Christ- the church: to be His presence for one another. And yet He, our Great Comforter, goes beyond even that, to a comfort and a peace we cannot give to one another through our hands and feet. It is a mysterious, but promised thing. And He is always faithful.

Today, if it were up to me, I would think that what we need is this boy back in the thriving midst of his family, in the arms of his mother and father, in the throes of baseball and legos with his brother, holding his new baby sister on his hip. I would think that we need to be staying here in this place instead of planning to leave it in a few short months. But that is not what we have been given. And I cannot see, cannot imagine how to get through the days ahead.

So give us this day our daily bread... give us what we need for right now. And then, when it is given, help us to somehow take and eat and have it be enough.