|This is my sister and I on New Year's Eve, 1995.|
Have you read the book "Hinds' Feet on High Places" by Hannah Hurnard? It's the story of Much-Afraid on a journey away from her fearful family into the Shepherd's "High Places." She's given two companions along the way. They are Sorrow and Suffering. At first they are dreadful to look upon! Indeed, how many times do we cower in fear in the face of Sorrow and Suffering? Naturally, no one wants to take the hands of these two sisters, Sorrow and Suffering. At first, the grasp of their hands is excruciating.
As a child of God, I've been on a journey too. This journey has had its share of ups and downs, but it wasn't until 1997 that I was first introduced to Sorrow and Suffering. At the time I did not realize that Sorrow and Suffering were to be my new sisters. But you see, God did. When He suddenly took my 22 year old sister, Sherri, home to be with Him, He replaced her with two more sisters: Sorrow and Suffering. They've been with me ever since. Sherri's loss came without any warning; we couldn't prepare. . .it just happened, but in my eyes, it seemed like "it SHOULDN'T have happened!" Even though I still don't have the answers as to "why," the Lord has been faithful to reveal some good that has happened as a result of her untimely death.
Every year, as the anniversary of her passing would come around, I'd take "the good that came from her loss" which He had begun to reveal to me and mentally place that "good" on an imaginary scale. Then I'd place the grief of losing my sister on the other side. For many years Sorrow and Suffering would tip the scales...The grief from losing Sherri far outweighed any good that God had brought from her loss.
Like clockwork, another year would roll by, and still, the good never outweighed the bad. But deep down, a tiny glimmer of faith that He would bring more good out of this devastating loss kept me hanging on to hope. "My child, this too shall be worked out for thy good and My glory, if you allow Me to." (Rom. 8:28)
It wasn't until May 2009, on the 12th anniversary, that the Lord opened my eyes. As those scales were brought down from the dusty shelf, and Sorrow and Suffering stood nearby, the Righteous Judge and Comforter said, "Tammi, I've allowed this loss to happen, but it's been for a reason. Even though I do not have to reveal ANY good that has come as a result of her passing, I have shown you some things over the years. But haven't I been there for you during the grieving process? Haven't I carried you...comforted you...and healed you? Yes, I have drawn you closer to Me, increased your faith in Me; even made you an instrument of encouragement in My hands when others have suffered such a great loss as you did. You've had Me with you all the way." Then it hit me---Place God on the side of the Good that's come from this tragic loss. When I did, the goodness of God's presence far outweighed all the grief of losing my sister, Sherri. And speaking of sisters....for the first time, my sisters, Sorrow and Suffering, were no longer cloaked in a shroud of mystery! I finally saw them as necessary companions on my journey to the Higher Places with my Lord.
Have you encountered my sisters, Sorrow and Suffering, along your journey with the Great Shepherd? If so, take heart! Do not cower as you stand in their dark shadows! Have no fear, because, in time, they will become less frightening, and more enlightening. And besides, if you've been joined by these two sisters, as have I, that can only mean one thing: WE ARE SISTERS TOO! And to think, my sweet sisters, that from the loss of my one dearly cherished sister, Sherri, could spring forth an abundance of precious sisters in Christ---well, then, God's goodness has overflowed in abundance, as only He could do it! Because Sherri accepted the Lord as her Savior, I find comfort in God's promise that I'll see her again. She's His child so that means we were not just "Earthly Sisters"---we're Eternal Sisters!
If you've experienced a deep loss, consider taking a moment to let us know how our Lord has used those times to bring forth some good in your life. This will bring hope to others who may be grieving and unable to SEE Sorrow and Suffering as "welcome companions." Perhaps you're walking through the Valley of Grief right now. Please let us know, so we can join you as Sisters on your journey to the Higher Places. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. Eph. 3:20, 21 (KJV)
Oh Dear Sovereign Father, we seek Thy face in our times of deepest grief. May the goodness of Your presence and comfort bring hope for a brighter future, one that will far outweigh any bad that has been allowed to touch our lives. I thank You for promising to work out the deepest losses in our lives for something far greater and for Your glory, if we allow You and continually present our lives to You on a daily basis. Thank You for never leaving me, and for the two 'sisters' You gave me in 1997: Sorrow and Suffering. I know that one day they may have to again cover themselves with the cloak of mystery and pain, but help me to remember who they really are beneath the shroud---they are instruments in Your hands to bring me closer to You...on the Higher Places. Bless my sweet sisters out there who may be walking a similar journey this very day. May it help them to know that they are not alone! In Jesus' Name, amen.