In my early days with this unwanted friend called grief, I remember pain driving my thinking processes. I found myself considering things my heart couldn’t have borne in the days before my loss.
I readily identified with a man who suffered a much greater loss than I. His name is Jerry Sittser. Jerry is a professor at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. He was traveling with his mother, his wife, Lynda, and their four children. A drunk driver traveling in the wrong lane hit the car with such force that Lynda, Jerry's mother and his youngest child were instantly killed. In his struggle with grief, Jerry Sittser tells of a dream. In the dream he was facing west, watching the setting sun. He began to run toward the sun to stay within its warmth and glow. In his dream Jerry was running to stay up with the sun so darkness would not overtake him, but he knew he was losing. His sister Diane appeared to him and counseled him to turn into the darkness and run toward the east. By doing this he would soon see the sunrise.
For those who grieve, little things matter. Most things in life take a lesser seat on the bus when you've lost the love of your life. Running from darkness seems natural. Running into or toward darkness is counterintuitive. It requires courage but amazing trust. Facing the uncertainty you fear isn’t easy, but it does have one simple and profound reward. It takes you to a place that only a God who sees in the dark can navigate. He, being the Good Shepherd, leads us through the valley of the shadow of death. Turning into the darkness of grief holds a tantalizing promise. You will again witness the rising of the sun. When I run in the early morning hours, stars dot the Alabama sky above me. I love watching the greater light chase the lesser lights into the day. Jesus has helped me through the dark night of my soul. The most glorious part of my journey is to see Him rise over my darkness and brighten the world I live in.
Jerry Sittser writes: "I discovered in that moment that I had the power to choose the direction my life would head….I decided from that point on to walk into the darkness rather than try to outrun it, to let my experience of loss take me on a journey wherever it would lead, and to allow myself to be transformed by my suffering rather than to think I could somehow avoid it."
Whatever your darkness is, you can face it with the Lord Jesus Christ. He not only refuses to abandon you, He waits patiently to reveal Himself to you. I would not trade the revelation of my Lord in the past thirteen months of darkness for anything. Anything? That's right.
Turning into my darkness!