I have a prayer list scrawled on my bathroom mirror in green dry erase marker. Some of the names are of friends fighting cancer and other illnesses. Others are folks weighed down by debilitating depression. My AZ and LA pastors are up there, and so is a teacher friend still displaced from her classroom after a devasating flood wiped out her school. And then there are the grieving ones who just spent their first Christmas without their loved ones.
Grief is like the ocean tide. It may subside for a time, but just when you think you’re okay, a giant wave will send you sprawling and gasping for breath.
Several years ago, my family went through a seering season of grief. Over the course of two years, we lost five family members. Just when we came to terms with one loss, another one came. For the longest time, I held my breath waiting for another loss to come. I turned to alcohol to numb the pain, but all it did was make me unavailable to my husband and sons, who were hurting just as much as I was.
I wish I handled my grief better, but I definitely do NOT want a do-over. I wouldn’t wish that kind of pain on my worst enemy.
Recently, I read a book I wish had been around back then. Julie Hunt‘s new release, I’m About to Get Up: Persevering Through Loss and Grief, is a gentle, truth-filled grief companion. She shares how an ordinary rainy morning turned into a horrific nightmare when her precious husband is killed in a car accident leaving her a widow and single mother of two. With refreshing honesty, Julie tells her story with all of its tears, questions, setbacks, and steps forward. Page after page, I found myself nodding my head and saying, “Me too.” I can’t recommend this book enough to anyone dealing with grief and loss.
One of the biggest things that got Julie through was prayer. Her own prayers and the prayers of others.
Here’s a prayer for the grieving ones.
This grief feels like more than we can bear, but feelings aren’t always fact.
Isaiah 9:6 declares that You are our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, our Everlasting Father, and our Prince of Peace.
We need You to be all of those things to us, Lord. You are the only one who can bring beauty from this brokenness.
Counselors listen, observe and respond. “You, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless” (Psalm 10:14 NIV).
Be our helper, Lord, as we walk this painful path of grief. When the path gets too muddy, swoop us up and carry us through it. Hear our cries and quiet them with your comfort and compassion.
Sometimes, losing a loved one is a messy affair. It seems as if death brings out either the very best or the very worst in people. We need wisdom in how to handle the aftermath of loss. How to deal with people who don’t have love at the center of their words and actions. How to honor our earthly and Heavenly fathers by our words and actions no matter how others choose to behave. Help us, Lord. You say that if we lack wisdom, all we have to do is ask and You will give generously without finding fault (James 1:15). We ask for that wisdom today. We need it. We want it. We need the strength to follow it.
You are “the Mighty One, God, the LORD, [who] speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets” (Psalm 50:1 NIV). “Who is like you, LORD God Almighty? You, LORD, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you. You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them” (Psalm 89:8-9 NIV).
If You cause the sun to rise and set, You can rebuild our broken hearts. If you can still the raging sea, You can calm the turmoil we feel. You are “greater than our worried hearts and know more about us than we do ourselves” (1 John 3:20 MSG).
What a comfort to know that You are our everlasting Father. “As a father has compassion on his children, [You have] compassion on those who fear [You for You know] how we are formed, [You remember] that we are dust. The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting [Your] love is with those who fear [You]” (Psalm 103:13-18 NIV). You are a father to the fatherless and set the lonely in families (Psalm 68:4-6 NIV).
“Lord, You are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8 NIV). We trust You to use the pain of our loss to strengthen our relationship with You. We pray You can trust us to use the comfort we’ve received from You to share comfort with others reeling from loss.
Lord, it’s easy to let the brutality of loss overcome our belief in Your goodness. The evil one would love for us to believe that You take loved ones from us out of sheer cruelty. When he whispers the lies, give us the wherewithal to say to ourselves, “This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this: Our Father in heaven, reveal who you are. Set the world right; do what’s best—as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want!You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes” (Matthew 6:8-13 MSG).
Lead us by Your Spirit, Lord. We are Your children. We’re adopted for good. For eternity. We have no need to live in fear because our Abba Father, our Daddy God is there (Romans 8:14-15). “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1 NIV).
Prince of Peace
Lord, right now, we feel like part of us died the moment our loved one’s heart stopped. Right now, we feel weak, restless, and disturbed. But the book of wisdom says, “a heart at peace gives life to the body” (Proverbs 14:30 NIV).
Please, Lord, replace our weakness with strength and our restlessness with peace (Psalm 29:11).
Steady our minds on the reality of Your faithfulness, for the prophet Isaiah says, “you will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3 NIV). Your peace is perfect because You are perfect. Peace is just one of the many gifts You have for us. “Every good and perfect gift is from [Your loving hand]” (James 1:17 NIV).
Thank you for the gift of loved ones. You give and take away. No matter what, we will declare, “Blessed be Your name!” (Job 1:21).
In the name of my ever-present Savior, we pray, AMEN
I’m giving away a copy of Julie Hunt’s new book, I’m About to Get Up! A random name will be chosen from comments on this post. Looking forward to sharing this beautiful book with one of you! A winner will be chosen on Saturday, January 21.