Isaiah 40: 27 – 31 (The Message)
Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
or, whine, Israel, saying,
“God has lost track of me.
He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind.
As the first anniversary of my Mum’s departure for heaven crept ever closer, I was genuinely fearful of what this day would bring. My heart was heavy with grief and my mind anxious from the memories of crippling flashbacks. And yet, God chose this day of deep mourning to display the wonders of His compassion. He chose to bring deep, abiding joy into the depths of loss and sorrow, not just for me, but also my Dad, who was staying with us at the time.
I recorded the day in my journal:
Yesterday, we commemorated one year without Mum and Grandma. I was fearful of what this day would bring, fearful of the tears, of the pain. Yet, as the day progressed more and more joy took hold of me, held me and embraced me.
Balloons bubbling into giggles of delight. Joyful purple bubbles catching a powerful gust of air and being drawn up high, high above the cloak of mist that covered us below. Delighted girls watching the sight and thinking of their Grandma, a warm embrace from a Dad whose heart felt as heavy as that cloak of mist, but whose tears found release.
A café of remembrance bringing God’s gift in a basket speaking of a Grandma’s kindness, of a Grandma’s deep love flowing over, from beyond the grave…speaking of a God and Saviour sowing a garden, a Garden of Joy, Gladness, Peace and Thanksgiving, where a wife’s, a mother’s, a Grandma’s soul can find a rest eternal in the Sun and Son of Life. A Garden waiting to call all its children home to their Father of compassion and love abounding.
As the afternoon dawned, so did the sun in all its warmth, as children played and laughed, sliding, jumping, swinging high and adults smiled, joy lifting heavy hearts. Children’s joy a balm to weary souls. A day ending in thankfulness for gifts overflowing from a Father of Grace.
Everything about the day reveals God’s deep abiding Presence to me:
- the heavy mist that covered us as we arrived at the beach (my Mum’s favorite place) to release the purple (my mother’s favorite color) balloons, which mirrored the heaviness of our grief,
- the delighted giggles and energetic limbs of our little girls, who lifted our heavy hearts,
the strong gust of air that lifted the balloons up high and away, which spoke of the strong arms carrying our mother, grandmother and wife into His Presence,
- the basket that met us in the café we went to, a café we had taken my parents to many years ago, that was filled with happy memories.
What is so astounding about this basket, is:
- the words inscribed on the signs were in English, not Dutch,
- that it was about a Grandma, what my Mum was to her six grandchildren, a role that gave her such incredible joy, especially in her final days on earth, when the biggest smiles would spread across her face at the sound of her grandchildren crying, giggling or playing, or as they would come sit at her bedside to clasp her hand in theirs or playfully run around her bed,
- that at the bottom of the basket there was a pine cone, something my parents would often go out to collect at the back of their beach property with their grandchildren.
We ended the day with our girls at the outdoor playground of the pancake restaurant we visited, delighting in their exuberance and reflecting on the wonder of the day.
God truly is the God who “knows [us] inside out” (John 4: 29), “the God who sees [us]” (Genesis 16: 13), the God who comforts us “as a mother comforts her child” (Isaiah 66: 12 – 13) and the God who, full of compassion, pours out joy, gladness, thanksgiving and the sound of singing into the depths of our grief.
On this day, He brought the Promise He had given me, not long after we had buried my Mum, to life. And He would continue to do so in the years to come:
Yes, only His tender compassion, His decision to suffer with us, can reach beyond our weakness to our need. In each and every tiny detail, He cries: “I Know You” until we too begin to cry: “Now, I know You too.”