hope and joy in the midst of sadness

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I listened, cradling phone to ear, trying to digest the news. A long-lost cousin had managed to track me down to say my uncle (her father) had passed away and the funeral was scheduled for the next day.

She had left it deliberately late to pass on the information, because she knew what a long journey it would be for me, and the strong likelihood of my being too unfit to travel – right on both counts.

When I came off the phone, having stayed calm in my concern for her and the rest of the family, I couldn’t help tears flowing freely when I related the news to my husband. He held me close as I cried.

My cousin had a year to adjust herself to the prospect of losing her father, fearing the worst many times over the last few months. But I had blissfully assumed he and his wife were still enjoying a fairly active retirement, pottering about in their beautiful garden, the joy of their lives.

Memories and sadness sat with me as the day slowly unwound. I went out into the garden for a breath of air and a brief time of prayer. God always meets with and speaks to me most through creation.

With eyes downcast, I was well placed to spot a feather flying with the wind. I snapped a few photos, hoping to capture those moments when ground was its mattress. And this is what emerged…

As a white flag

Spotting a white feather on the ground

is often seen as a sign of God saying

‘I do not forget’ as he gently whispers

his balm to our broken hearts

 

When I stepped outside for a while,

needing air to breathe as I assimilated

news of a relative’s demise, feeling low

and aching inside with sad hollowness,

 

before long I spied this feathery

friend beckoning me as wind tossed her

hither and thither, and I shivered

in an autumnal breeze, hugging myself

 

with folded arms to ward off the cold

It felt like God was speaking soft into

my emptiness, reminding me how much

 

heaven aches in sympathy with us

And how his bright light feathers down

sometimes, as white flag lying on the ground

©JoyLenton2016

“For his anger is but for a moment; his favour is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning” ~ Psalm 30:5 NRSV

What is the joy we have in the morning? I believe it’s realising we are accompanied in our sadness and sorrow. There is no experience we go through which is out of the reach of God’s love and compassion.

God holds out a flame of hope in painful circumstances, a balm of peace and calm. He brings unexpected joy and strength back to hurting hearts. He is the lifter of our head, Comforter for wounded souls.

Getting through grief can be painful and lengthy, especially when we lose close loved ones. Scripture reassures us that  joy will return, difficult as it is to believe when we’re grieving. We will have days where we can see light breaking through, sense God’s comforting presence, as we gradually begin to smile and laugh again.

As I mourn my uncle’s passing, I think about how we often take life for granted. May I suggest you hug your loved ones closer today, appreciate their presence in your life?

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Welcome to #day14 of #write31days of journeying into joy. You can access #day13 over at wordsofjoy.me where I am sharing a few posts in this series. To catch my reflection on beauty and butterflies, please click here... How have you experienced hope or joy in the midst of life’s painful circumstances? Please share in the comments below, so we can pray for one another.