I can't remember who originally posted about How to Handle Grief; Tracks of a Fellow Struggler (it was Brooke over at www.reflectionsinthemirror.blogspot.com...thanks Brooke!). But I ordered a copy immediately and read through it quickly. There were two instances of "ah-ha" for me, involving two stories in the Bible that have been reiterated for me as the basis for blind faith in God and "His plan."
First, the regarding story of Abraham, Claypool writes,
Though intellectually he realizes that the worst could very well happen, he does not try to run away but sets his face steadfastly for Moriah. Yet emotionally there is a hope within him that something will intervene even at the last moment to reverse the process. Abraham gives expression to this residual hope there at the foot of the mountain when little Isaac asks about the lamb for the sacrifice, and I know exactly how he felt. (Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.")...
This fascinates me. Because I've studied this passage many many times and never noticed it before. But there is a distinct LACK of emotional insight into Abraham during this very important episode. I always wondered...how could Abraham do such a thing? But I see it now...he did it because he felt he HAD to. Nowhere does it say he was happy about it.
It is at this point that Abraham's experience and my own break off in different directions. He got to go down the mountain with his child by his side, and, oh, how his heart must have burst with joy at having come through so much so well. But my situation is different. Here I am, left alone on that mountain, with my child and not a ram there on the altar, and the question is: how on earth do I get down and move back to the normalcy of life? I cannot learn from Abraham, lucky man that he is. I am left to grope through the darkness by myself, and ask: "Where do I go from here? Is there a road out, and if so, which one?"
Exactly! Never mind that when this story is thrown at me it typically is done so in a way that implies that my children are dead because I did not have enough faith...but the confusion for me comes in the form of the same question this author (who was a minister) had...How do I learn a lesson of faith from someone who was spare the agony of losing their child?
And even more perplexing...why does God command Abraham kill and then later dictate the Ten Commandments to include, "Thou shalt not kill?"
Then I read the portion of Claypool's book that addresses the story of Job...
Not until Job got to that level-to having it out with the Ultimate One Himself-did healing begin to flow for him. Stage five, the climactic stage, came when Job, the one who was made, stood face to face with the One who did the making.
To me, this is a VERY important point. Yeah, God tells Job not to question...AFTER he has already questioned. There was a voice...there was an answer...telling Job that somebody was in charge...somebody was responsible. I can not learn from Job in this regard because all there is is SILENCE. There is no voice...no answer...no God reassuring me that it's all under control.
I know those who will tell me to take it on faith that what God spoke to Abraham and Job is what God would speak to me today...if... If what? Why doesn't He speak to me? Why am I left to interpret text that is thousands of years old when I so desperately just want some sign that He is there...listening, at the very least? Why is God so distinctly NOT present in my agony, when He was so distinctly present during Abraham's or Job's?
These are points I will have to revisit. For now it is enough to know that I am not alone in my confusion over the lessons I'm supposed to learn from these stories.