“…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalms 30:5)
The past few days, I have been pondering the meaning of this verse. We are still experiencing the various cycles and stages of grief. This week, we have shed many tears for our dear son and brother, Austin. I shared with my husband that it seems like “morning” will never come! We are still experiencing the cold, dark, and foreboding “night” of sorrow. I wondered what this verse means. Is it a promise we can cling to today, or is it talking about when we get to Heaven?
Those of you who have lost someone close to you, know how difficult the special and memorable events can be. They stir up emotions and feelings that we have found are important for us to talk about and process. This past Sunday, our daughter, Alisha, was baptized in the same creek where Austin and Brianna were baptized a few years ago. Of course, as we drove to the property, our emotions felt a bit raw as we remembered that special day with Austin. His presence was now replaced with the cold reality that he was no longer (physically) with us, to share this special day. Because God knew that it was going to be an emotional day for me, He gave me a reminder of His love (which I will share in conclusion). The following evening, our family had a heart felt time of sharing and crying with each other. We are still a bit new to this journey, but we’ve come to the realization that although the stages change, the pain and loss can never be avoided. Will the pain and sorrow of missing Austin ever go away? NEVER! We will experience it until we get to Heaven.
One of our girls shared a painful struggle she has right now. It is the realization that we are no longer daily experiencing as many of the strong, painful reminders of Austin’s absence. We no longer have to think twice every time we set the table, because we forget to set it for one less person. Our daughter no longer walks habitually into Austin’s room to get his dirty clothes when she starts some laundry for me. This is a painful realization because, although we miss him just as much, we are learning to adapt to the gaping hole that is now in our family. Some of the normal functions of our family are changing and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.
I remember when Austin was around three or four years old. Someone gave him a helium-filled balloon, and, although he tried to hold on tightly, it escaped from his little hands, drifting high into the sky. With tears streaming down his face, he watched it disappear. We offered to buy him another one, but he was heartbroken because he could never have that specific balloon again. I had to think about this incident, and how I can relate to how he was feeling. The family we once were, is evaporating no matter how tightly we are trying to hold on. We have concluded, however, that we will never forget these special memories because Austin is such a vital and defining part of who we are. He has had an impact on our lives like no one else.
Since grieving is a lifelong process, does Psalms 30:5 mean that the joy that “cometh in the morning” will never be experienced until we are finally with Jesus and our loved ones? I believe it involves much more than that; we can still experience joy today.
In the first few weeks and months after Austin’s home-going, I felt like I was trying to keep from suffocating in the deep, black pit of sorrow and despair. I was facing the darkest night that I have ever experienced! It was hard to even begin feeling God’s love during this intense grieving stage. Although I will grieve for Austin until the day I die, my heart has now begun to heal enough to again feel the love of my Savior. I am no longer as consumed by this unwanted intruder of despair that wants to rob me of all joy. I believe that our souls become enlarged when we respond in a godly way to sorrow. We can begin to experience both sorrow and joy at the same time. The opposite is true as well. Our soul will begin to shrivel and die when we become bitter and respond in a selfish way.
I would like to share the story of how God reminded me of His love this past week. For quite some time, I have been wanting to buy a photo pendant pin so I could wear a photo of Austin. I had not been able to find an inexpensive, yet decent quality pendant anywhere. Earlier in the week, I was searching for one online and concluded that I would probably need to spend more money than I was hoping. I breathed a short prayer and said, “God, You know how hard I have been looking for a photo pendant. I just can’t seem to find the right one. God, if You want me to have a pin, please provide one within my price range. I am going to quit looking and give it to You.” I left it at that, and didn’t think any more about it for the rest of the week.
On Saturday, my sister-in-law asked if I could pick up some photos for her at a store that I hardly ever go to. Just as I was ready to leave, something caught my attention. I saw a display of photo accessories, and among them, was a photo pendant. There was only one left. I asked the clerk,“How much is that photo pin?” He replied, “I’m not sure, but I will check.”I was holding my breath, expecting it to be between twenty and thirty dollars.
I was astounded when he exclaimed, “Oh, I guess it’s only fifty cents!” As I was leaving, I was thanking God for caring enough for me to answer my prayer in this specific way. The emotional day on Sunday was much easier as I wore my little pendant, not only because it contained a photo of my dear son, but also because it was my reminder of God’s special love for me.
This is just a bit of the joy that we experience even as we continue to grieve. We will continue experiencing much joy-filled sorrow until that great “morning” when our mourning will entirely be replaced with indescribable and eternal joy! Hallelujah!