I’m going to touch on something today I have not wanted to talk about. I’ve tried to shove it down it down deep where I hoped it wouldn’t find me, but God knows my heart. He searches it daily. And He’s relentless in the things He wants you to examine, and even at times the things He wants you to speak into existence. To breathe life into someone else who may need to hear of His hope in the midst of what you think is no longer possible.
He tells us when it’s just simply time. And it’s time.
I don’t like new things. I don’t like new places. I don’t like meeting new people. What this means is that I often hold tightly to the old things, and the old people of those old places. The places I may not have wanted to leave.
New things. New people. New places. They bring me anxiety. They cause me to think only of the things that are uncertain, and the one thing that becomes certain: At some point these people. These things. This place. It. They. This. Will be gone, too.
Those feelings are borne from the painful and misunderstood cycle of complicated grief. And I know that all too well.
But here’s the thing about grief we don’t talk about.
Grief for the things and people that are still very much alive.
Oh, we talk about grief. We talk about it all the time. See we are acquainted with grief in the ways of death. When a loved one dies, we can commiserate, we can empathize, we can acquaint ourselves with that level of grief. Someone loses someone to death and we can understand why they are angry, sad, confused for months and years to come. We offer ourselves to them to support and encourage. We get it.
But what about other loss. The loss of a job. The loss of a marriage, relationship. The loss of a person due to complicated circumstances…a pandemic for goodness sakes. The loss of a sibling to the system. Over and over. The loss of a person who is very much alive.
We grieve, too. Sometimes over and over. But often without anyone acquainted with that kind of grief. With the need to hold on so tightly as to not have to feel that kind of sorrow again and again. Or detach so greatly as not to dare get hurt.
My way of dealing with this complicated grief? I hold onto people. Probably longer than I should. Longer past their expiration date. But sometimes I give up on them before their prime, too. It takes someone who desires to support you to really understand why you are carrying the baggage in the first place.
And that’s where the time to tell the story of the “blessing” begins
I had started this particular employment journey with a heavy heart. I had vowed not to get involved. Not to get too close. Not to go too far. Because of loss.
And someone could sense this. Someone saw the power struggle. The woman vowing not to do a thing about it. And all he did was tell me this: “Numbers 6:24-26. Pray that. Over he and his family. I know you haven’t laid that burden down. So pray that.“
I was reluctant. I didn’t really know if it would help. But I did. For weeks. Months. Years. That prayer eventually became a song that would make me cry. I started praying it for other people and families. The song became one of my favorites. I had seen changes, in little bitty small ways, and I believed in His blessings.
Until one day that prayer became too much for me to handle. And I stopped. Stopped praying for blessings. That song made me weep more than I could stand, and I hated singing it, hearing it, and I flipped it off every time it came on the radio. I couldn’t see any of those blessings, and I didn’t want to be reminded of those things for which I was grieving.
Loss. It’s not felt. Experienced. Or explained by anyone in the same way.
But it’s still a loss.
Blessings. May not come when we expect them. May not be seen. May not be what we even want to pray for some days, but they come just the same.
See, we pray those verses in Numbers. And we sing that song, but do we understand the context of what any of what God was asking Moses and Aaron to do meant?
God instructs Moses to have Aaron give this very message to the Israelites, a message given to them. A blessing spoken to them. A promise provided to them right before they were to enter into a time of hardship. That time of hardship, you ask? The wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. This blessing was to serve as a reminder that God’s presence was before them, beside them, and behind them. In their coming and their going. In the morning and the evening.
I have not known of the hardship of wandering in the wilderness, but I have known hardship. I have have also known the kind of grief that walks in and out of doors of varying kinds for the better part of close to 30 years. But I also know of His blessings. Some I have seen, and some I have yet to see. Some I may have to wait to see, and some I may never see. The never seen? Well, we will get to those blessings next week. This week?
‘May the Lord bless you
and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace.’ Number 6:24-26, NLT
And just as God promised to Aaron, when spoken in His name, He will bless them.