Grief cuts deep. As we seek to process our loss, it can be tempting to reach out to the things that give us earthly comfort, but the relief brought by these crutches is insufficient. To truly heal, we need to return to the source of Living Water, the one who draws near to us and quenches our thirst.
Random shrieks of laughter filled the air; it was a Saturday afternoon and my boys were in the backyard jumping on the trampoline while my husband manned the grill. We were trying so hard to get back to some sort of normalcy. I could hear all of the hoopla from the living room, but I couldn’t bring myself to participate.
Beams of sunlight filled the room, but it only made me more miserable. I silently sobbed as the weight of my grief pressed hard against my chest. Saturday’s were the worst day of the week for me; we’d lost Justin on a Saturday, and I could hardly think of anything else in those early days of grief.
Before I knew it, I found myself planted in front of the pantry door, arm outstretched, reaching for a bag of tortilla chips. I caught myself in mid-air and said out loud, ”Wait a minute, what am I doing?”
Quickly, I removed myself from the pantry, empty-handed, and returned to my chair. I thought back to the promise I’d made to my son Justin, just six days before losing him in a car accident.
One Sunday evening, Justin asked if just he and I could talk. For several months, he and I had gone back and forth about him purchasing a motorcycle.
I was worried about his safety. But, ultimately, he was 20-years-old, and the final decision belonged to him.
That evening, the two of us sat down together and he shared how concerned he was about my physical health. He told me that if I agreed to get healthy, he would agree not to get a motorcycle.
I was floored, and I told Justin how proud I was of him for saying such hard things to his Mama. I immediately agreed to his terms and jumped in with both feet the very next morning.
A HUNGER UNSATISFIED
For decades, I’d habitually turned to food when facing stressful circumstances or any heavy emotions. My unhealthy habits took a toll on my body and my health was rapidly declining.
Since I promised Justin I would get healthy, I knew this type of coping was no longer an option for me.
What was I to do?
I cried out to the Lord, “Please, God, please help me right now. I cannot take this pain another minute.”
For a brief moment, the thoughts crossed my mind, What if He doesn’t answer me? What if He doesn’t care?
Because honestly, in the past, I’d never waited long enough on Him to find out.
Grabbing my Bible, I took a deep breath and waited. I prayed, “Lord, where should I read?” John 7 came to mind, and I read, “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37-38).
TRUE LIVING WATER
For more years than I can count, I tried to comfort myself with a source that always left me in want. But in these sacred moments of grief, the Lord revealed Himself, the true Living Water, and His peace filled my heart.
Since losing Justin, the Lord has shown Himself faithful and true. The more I drink of His Living Water, the more the old cravings show themselves as counterfeits. The distractions and temptations in this life appear at every turn, but they are no rival to the peace and the comfort that the Lord provides.
As we walk through many trials and unforeseen hardships, there is One who never changes; “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He never leaves us alone in our suffering but sustains us with His power and comforts us with His presence.
He draws us near to Him in our distress and tells us to “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8).
When we pour out our hearts to Him in utter vulnerability, it’s an act of surrender and yielding to His Holy Spirit. In doing so, we recognize that He is our perfect refuge from the storm, and He reigns Sovereignly over every circumstance.
WAIT FOR THE LORD
Lettie B. Cowman once wrote, “The present circumstance which presses so hard against you (if surrendered to Christ), is the best-shaped tool in the Father’s hand to chisel you for eternity. Trust Him, then. Do not push away the instrument lest you lose its work.”
Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the LORD, be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD.”
When we are in the posture of waiting for the Lord, it often reveals our hearts. In my case, it showed my unbelief; I didn’t fully believe that God cared about me and the pain that I was facing.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Because, in my bone-crushing agony, the Lord not only met me with His comfort and His peace, but He loosened my chains from something that held me captive for more than thirty years. Because of Him, I could say no to tortilla chips, and yes to His gentle upholding care instead—in terms of relief, there is no comparison.
Only God can take our utter devastation and bring forth such a display of His beauty and freedom.
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