C.S. Lewis, in A Grief Observed, states that grief causes you to really look at what you believe. His analogy is that anyone can state that a rope is sturdy, functioning, and trustworthy. But until that rope is the only thing keeping you from plunging to your death, you don't actually have faith in the rope.
Until now, I didn't realize how Grandpa's death affected me.
My Grandpa Joe is one of my heroes. I loved him. I idolized him. I viewed him as...untouchable, sainted, perfect. I tend toward the idealization - and that is definitely how I viewed him. My grandpa lived with failed kidneys for three years. 3 YEARS. I couldn't understand it. I couldn't understand how - why - God allowed him to suffer for three years, for his body to just slowly fail...for his (my grandpa's) desire to not be burden to anyone become dependent on everyone.
It wasn't fair.
And because it wasn't fair, it certainly didn't seem merciful...or in the very least, loving.
...and I think that is where I started to question just how loving God really was. I just didn't get it. I couldn't reconcile it.
...and because I didn't really trust the love of God, I just couldn't imagine how heaven could be better than earth. Maybe it was the start of me trusting what I could see more than faith, or maybe I was just now becoming aware of the rope, the invitation to swing out off the canyon, and how much more I preferred my feet on the ground, but with the rope tied around me, just in case.
Yes, that's it. I didn't doubt the existence of God. I just doubted his goodness.
[and let me just say that when you doubt his goodness, it makes it really, really hard to love him. he becomes hard to approach because all you want to is his love, but you are so scared that his love is not good - that instead of mercy, you'll get chastisement and condemnation)
Who would think that through the trial of my husband's cancer diagnosis and his subsequent death that I would more firmly, more tangibly, more deeply experience, believe, and trust God's goodness? Yet, that is what has happened.
This is why I share my story. Death effects each of us in unique ways. I had no idea that Grandpa's death resonated with me in that way until I thought about it this week. That was 7 years ago. If you read what I wrote/spoke at his funeral, what I continued to write after, I still said all the right things about faith and dying, our hope being Jesus. But, my heart had a barrier to trusting the rope-bridge Jesus. When the time came, I'd be ready - but I was not looking forward to that time, and I was secretly hoping that time would never come. I would rather trust in myself.
Just as many people loved Grandpa Joe, many people loved Dan. When we love our people, and we like God, it can be very hard to comprehend death. Like so many themes in life, "He gives us more grace," and we are invited to continue standing on the cliff with a rope tied around our waist, but trusting the firm foundation beneath our feet - or we can grab hold of the rope, jump, swing out from cliff and swim in the deep waters of goodness and love.
He gives us more grace.
He is faithful, always near - always providing the lesson, the teacher - always gently knocking.
He gives us more grace.