Sunday, January 25, 2015

Tears and Hope

I walked into the comfort care home yesterday amid the normal hustle and bustle that precedes any wedding. My Aunt and her fiance were getting married and we made the drive from Buffalo to be there. There were more people than usual in the home and my in-laws made the drive with us so my father-in-law could take pictures of the wedding while my mother-in-law helped take care of the boys.

As I took off my shiny, pink coat and hung it in the closet my cousin Heather caught my eye from the half bath across from the foyer. I could see her blue eyes were red from crying and tears welled as she said, "DeeDee, it's bad today." Thoughts whirled through my mind as my expectations and my reality collided.

I walked back to my grandma's room. She laid in her bed, thin and frail. I walked over, took her hand and kissed her cheek. She couldn't get out of bed. My aunt dressed for the wedding in Grandma's room while I sat next to her bed. All I could think was how tiny she looked. And how incredibly hard this road is. I wrestled through wanting to fall to pieces and wanting to have it all together. I landed somewhere in the middle, where tears fell silently while every muscle in my body tightened.

She was in pain yesterday but didn't want to tell anyone to be a burden. And she didn't want to go in the living room for the wedding because she was so worried she would be the center of attention and not my aunt. The sweet nurse calmed her and they gave her an Ativan.  In the end she was wheeled out for the ceremony even though she slept through it all.

My grandmother has never sat on the sidelines of life. While she was never one for the direct spotlight she was always the one making a new friend, talking with people, telling stories and laughing. But there she sat at her daughter's wedding, asleep in the chair. I can still feel the knot in my chest as I occasionally glanced back at her during the ceremony.  This beautiful woman who loved me so, who rocked me to sleep as a little one, who calmed my fears and spoke peace to the fear I often felt every time my mom walked out the door when I was little, asleep in this chair that made her look even smaller. I wanted to crawl into her lap and stroke her hair and whisper truth about Heaven. I wanted to sing the songs she used to sing to me and if love were a blanket I would have swaddled her in it yesterday.

But all I could do was sit and watch. And pray. And praise. Because, yes, this road is hard. It's taking everything out of me and stirring up fears and wounds and sadness. But my hope is in Heaven. The hope is in Heaven. Every single day. Fifteen years ago my grandma put her hope and faith in Jesus and trusted Him as her Lord and Savior. Her hope is in Heaven. As a result there is peace for her now and there will be peace when Jesus calls her to Heaven.

Everyone left to go to the reception and I stayed back with my family. I wept at her bedside as she slept and snored and I was grateful for the sound of her repeated breath. I knelt by her bedside and found myself, a midst the sobbing, praying Psalm 73:26, the same verse I prayed while I was exhausted in childbirth with Hudson. It has wrapped itself around my heart and in these moments when I am weary it is what comes out with my breath. "Though my heart and my flesh may fail, God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

The truth is, my heart and my flesh will one day fail. It's not where my hope lies. My bank account could dry up tomorrow. And all the money in the world wouldn't heal my grandmother. My hope does not lie there. If I were good enough, and how could anyone ever measure that, it could not save her. My hope is not there. No. My hope is in God.

A woman named Laura, who I had the privilege of knowing, loved Jesus with every fiber of her being. She battled cancer and went home to be with Jesus 3 years ago. Before she went to Heaven she penned these words and they have been forever burned on my heart.

"God is good.
He remains on His throne.
He awaits me in Heaven.
In these things I rely and trust. They have not changed.
And there is hope- hope in today and hope in tomorrow."

I don't know if Grandma has one day or three days or ten. And again, I don't put my hope in how many days she will have this side of Heaven. My hope lies in the truth that because she loves Jesus she will walk with Him in Heaven. Her body will not be frail. Her hearing will be restored and her faith will be sight.  And when I am tempted to forget that, when the immense loss starts to block my view of who God is and the hope I have in Him I find myself humming these lyrics-

Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can't see
And this mountain that's in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well
Bridge x3

So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name

(Listen here: It is Well (Bethel Music))

I don't know what road you are walking today. My guess is that we all know suffering better than we'd like to. And if you have never put your hope and faith in Jesus then, sweet one, I encourage you to take a look at who He is. Because even in those moments when I struggle to believe it does not negate who He is. The wind and the waves still know His name. His identity does not waver through my, your, our unbelief. He is God. He remains on His throne. And there is hope. 

Praise God for hope. Praise God for the gift of His Son, Jesus. Amen!