Since I lost my dad to cancer going on three years ago, (I actually hate that phrase…he’s not at all lost, just not on earth any longer…) I’ve gained a lot.
I’ve gained deepened reliance on the Lord as Comforter.
I’ve gained an increasingly precious regard for Him as Father.
I’ve gained perspective of Christ’s goodness and nearness even in the midst of hurt, and a sharpened ability to empathize with the pain and disappointment others may face.
I’ve also gained what I can best describe as The Ache.
Years ago, I heard grief described as a brick you begin carrying once you first encounter the loss. With time and care, this brick slowly melts down into a pebble, small enough to be carried in your pocket. Sometimes, you rarely think of this pocketed rock.
But, there are the moments when your hip catches the corner of a table.
And even through your jeans, the jagged edge of the pebble scratches your skin.
And you feel The Ache in such a concentrated way.
And it’s almost annoying that something something so small in size can hurt so much.
Or, there are the times when you know for a fact the pebble is not in your pocket anymore.
But somehow, frustratingly, its found its way into your shoe. And every. Step. Hurts.
For reasons which I cannot surmise, the past couple of weeks were filled with deep awareness of my pebble.
Perhaps it’s because I’m walking into a new season with the Lord.
And in our rearranging of the rooms in the house of my soul, I’m not yet familiar with the layout of the furniture and I keep bumping into table corners.
Sad and clumsy. Not fun.
Anyway, The Ache was strong.
So I did what I often do to alleviate The Ache: read through some Psalms. Like, slowly. Letting even the dissonant verses sink in. And I got some relief when I gleaned this truth from Psalm 84:5-7
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion.”
That little phrase “they go from strength to strength” caught my eye. Believing, irrevocably, that God does not ever leave us to fend for ourselves, I took this literally to mean, “He is with us in the strength season, in the later strength seasons, and in the transition season between them.”
The Father is with us when we have the emotional strength to laugh The Ache in the face.
He is with us when we can’t face the world without tear-filled eyes, our grasp tenderly handling our pain pebble that feels alarmingly brick-like.
And He’s with us when the strength abounds once more.
“…strength to strength…”
He’s with us in the “strength.”
And in the “to.”
And we have to know that this “to” shall pass.