This weekend, our family made the eleven hour trip to visit my parents in North Carolina. Due to our schedules and the age of our children we decided to travel through the night. I was behind the wheel for the last leg of our trip at 3am as fog surrounded our vehicle in the Smokey Mountains. With concrete partitions on my left, a string of semi-trucks on my right and limited visibility, I griped the wheel tightly to maintain my position as sudden curves appeared from the mist. My strategy for navigating through the dangerous terrain in my exhaustion and anxiety was to keep my eyes firmly on the road ahead and trust that the road would become clearer ahead.
As I was in this moment, the Lord reminded me that several families in our congregation have been on a similar spiritual and emotional road this past week – a road clouded with grief. Some have likely felt that they were forced onto a narrow, foggy path with abrupt and uncertain turns. Unfortunately, the fog of grief cannot simply be overcome by keeping one’s eyes on the ‘road’ ahead and hoping that life will get easier. A tight grip and an optimistic mind doesn’t really lead a person through grief. As a matter of fact, some roads do not get easier and sometimes the fog of grief lingers for years. What then? Is there no hope?
Scripture is full of answers to difficult questions like these. However, the answers often are realized and experienced over time - not in the short term. For example, our text for Sunday and reading in Deuteronomy this week reminds us of God’s expectation for his people to tithe. Giving 10 percent, our firstfruit, to the Lord doesn’t make sense in the short term. It is only much later are we able to understand its spiritual and earthly value. Psalm 83, another of our readings this week, describes a person who is witnessing enemies of God conspire and thrive! No immediate remedy arrives to the victim. The only prayer that this psalmist could muster was, “The Lord is the Most High over all the earth” (Psalm 83:18). The psalmist likely didn’t feel immediate relief as he penned these words. In fact, he may not have seen the full impact of God’s strength until years later. Likewise, healing from grief doesn’t come as quickly as we would like, but this does not mean that true peace and lasting healing do not come at all. It was the Lord, in his role as the suffering servant, who rightly declared, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29). This is true, even if you can’t see it now - even if the road ahead is tiresome and long. By faith, peace will come…in His time and by His power. In the meantime, “Cast your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7)…and so does your church family.