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by Vicky Graham, Instructor in Church Ministry

One thing I have learned this year is that grief takes many forms as well as how we deal with it. There is the kind of grief we feel when someone in our families have their car totaled and knowing it was not their fault. We can’t buy them a new car, we are thankful that the injuries were minor, and there really is nothing we can do. We can pray for them and grieve their situation, but we cannot change a thing.

Two storms affected my family this year, Matthew and Irma.  Hurricane Matthew did minor damage to my son’s house, Irma did minor damage to our home. I think the level of grief was totally different. I even experienced some “before” grief having survived the three hurricanes in 2004. My thought was, “I can’t go through this again.” I did and Jesus was faithful.

2 Corinthians 12:7 & 10 Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees.

Prayer is one solid way of dealing with grief. Sure, we all ask ‘why?’. Sometimes we get an answer and sometimes we don’t. I was able to see my two youngest children and their families in March during their spring breaks. We had a great time spoiling the grandchildren.

No sooner had April set in when my oldest daughter called us to come to Nashville. She had been suffering with pancreatic cancer and for the first time in four years she admitted she was in great pain. Mostly she kept saying, “It is what it is and God is in control.”

One form of grief for the living is knowing your loved one has been suffering in silence. She admitted to her sister that whenever her pain got bad she would go downstairs and walk and pray. She didn’t want to wake her husband or let him know she was in pain.  She suffered in silence.  I often think of the grief she went through alone while she thought of her 13 year old son and 10 year old daughter who she knew she would never see grow up, graduate, get married, the list goes on. She did not journal or share any of those thoughts although I can imagine the grief was great.

Then of course, there is the grief of losing your first born. When the call came that May morning at 2:15 am I felt like someone had reached inside me and pulled my insides out. That was a grief that went really deep.

Two weeks later it was followed by emergency surgery for me, my appendix burst. My thoughts were I was ready to die if that so happened. In fact when it was all over I was disappointed because I just knew that during surgery God was going to speak to me and give me a reason for everything. Of course that never happened.

After my son had emergency surgery this past October, a tear in his aorta, I knew that Satan was trying to undo me. I also realized that for three years I had been expecting Jesus to heal my daughter and since that didn’t happen I was actually angry with him. Then I realized that Jesus never promised to heal her so I was angry over something that I expected, not that he has promised.

So what have I learned after a year of grief?

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (I Corinthians 12:9-10)

Even though this past year has been filled with various kinds of grief for me, Jesus is still my rock and my strength and I can still live for Him!