For the first time since her mother died, my wife is spending time alone. And with the alone time comes the sadness. I have no experience with the death of someone close, but I have experienced the pain of loss. A few times my strange ways have lost me friends (thank God, I sometimes got them back). My situation was very different, and not something most people would even recognize as comparable, but I think perhaps the pain, the feeling of loss, was the same.
Think of what it is to lose even a little thing, like in the example our Lord gave about the woman with ten coins who lost one. When we lose something it becomes the most important thing in the world to us. Perhaps this lasts for just a moment when it's something small, but it can last for weeks or years if it is a family member or a friend.
The sadness of a lost loved one is a terribly lonely thing. Other people can help ease the pain, but each person who is important to us fills a unique role, holds a unique place in our heart, and nobody else can fill it entirely. So the pain of waiting for our loved one to come back to us, or waiting until we join them in Heaven, is ultimately between us, God, and the one we lost.
In this lonely time a shadow descends upon our lives. The emotional pain becomes tangible, like a stabbing in the heart. And while we may have prayed all along, now we call out desperately, knowing only God can comfort us. But where is he?
We need to see him. We need to hear him. But when does Jesus come down, and give us a hug? When does he speak up to us, and tell us our loved one is fine? When does he show us we will not be alone, and the hole will be filled?
The miracles of God are so hard to see. How can we find any peace in this life? Where is the joy we are promised? Is there a joy even in our sorrow? Can we find in our sadness the seeds of true love? The loved one we lost reminds us how precious our loved ones are... but can't God show us this truth a different way?
I do not begin to understand God's plan for suffering. I keep hope that he will one day answer me more clearly, and show me a love and a light that is more tangible than the pain and the darkness.
For now, in the shadow of death, I can only cry out in prayer:
Oh Lord, shine your light into this darkness. We know you are there, but we feel so alone. Help us find peace in our sadness. Help us to hear your voice. Help us to feel your invisible arms. Lord, comfort your broken children, and help us to comfort one another.