I recently lost Mom. In the days after her death, the tears ran down my cheeks in never-ending rivers. Congestion choked off my breathing and rage threatened to overwhelm me. I cried out to Jesus, “Why can’t I just be calm?”
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2
I thought I had peace in my heart about my Mom’s impending death. She was sick, very sick, and I knew what was coming. But now that her death was a reality, there seemed to be no end to the waves of anxiety, depression, rage, despair, agitation, frustration — and every other emotion but peace — rushing at me. I had so much faith in God and I had not wanted my beloved mother to suffer. I could not understand why I was so angry.
Then one day my pastor called to ask me how I was doing, and I honestly shared the truth with him. He prayed that I would allow the Holy Spirit to comfort me in my grieving, and that I would accept the truth that my mother was now experiencing Jesus himself.
That is when it hit me: I was angry at God because while I wanted Mom to stop suffering, I had wanted her to stop suffering here! The Lord had not done things my way, and so I did not accept her death. I was in denial, and the rage I was experiencing prevented me from entering into the loving arms of my Savior. I needed to surrender my emotions to him. Without that surrender, I could not find peace.
Now when I close my eyes and see the beautiful blue eyes of my precious mother and best friend, I let the tears flow. I have allowed them to become the river of tears that I am passing through with Jesus, as I thank him that my Mom is dancing in his loving arms. She loved to dance. When I picture my Mom’s gentle face, I do not try to block the view — even though it’s painful to know I can no longer see her. Instead, I give thanks and praise to God that we will embrace again when we he calls me home to be with him.
When I am reminded of the softness of her skin, instead of wanting to run and hide, I am grateful for God’s faithfulness in allowing me to be with my mother in her last moments. I thank him for letting me hold her hand when she went home, where her Abba Father now strokes her hand and holds her in his everlasting embrace.
I know I am not finished grieving the loss of my mother’s physical presence. It has only been a few weeks since she left her earthly home to be with her Savior. But I know that as long as I keep bringing my hurts, joys, memories, pain, trials, highs, and lows to my Shepherd, I will not want for anything. He is truly faithful.
Though I may feel overwhelmed, he is right here to scoop me out of the waters if my face threatens to go beneath the surface. When I feel I am aflame in the rage of an emotional storm, he is right here with me to wash me with the waters of his soothing mercy and compassion.
He is right here to reassure me that I am unconditionally loved and accepted. I am walking in his grace and I do not have to be perfect. I am allowed to feel my way through the anguish of this valley of physical death, even while I celebrate the joy of my Mom’s eternal life. Praise be to God: “He will feed His flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those who are with young” (Isaiah 40:11, NKJV).
I know that my mother, who was like a gentle lamb, is now in his arms, held tenderly against Jesus’ bosom. He is feeding me on his Word, nourishing and nurturing me through this torrent of emotions.
He assures me every day, whispering in my ears, “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed” (Isaiah 54:10).