The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”Psalm 34:18 (ESV)
My daughters were ages 2, 5 and 8 when their daddy graduated to heaven. We received his cancer diagnosis in May, and he soared to heaven four short months later. As a suddenly single mama, my world felt like it was turned upside down.
My husband and I were directors of a nonprofit organization in Haiti. I made the difficult decision to step back from the ministry so I could make space for grieving with my girls and find a new normal. We moved back to central California so we could be close to family and our community.
During that season, the grief felt hard and heavy, like I was carrying around a boulder on my back. Not only was I grieving the loss of my husband and the loss of our ministry; I was also helping my three daughters navigate their own losses. I knew we couldn’t just pray away our pain or rush through the process of grief.
Every grief journey is unique. Each of my daughters had different needs and different ways of processing. We tried to make our home a safe space for all the feelings and all the questions.
In that season, I started a nightly rhythm of pausing to watch the sunset together. We would sit on our back porch or pull over on the side of the road and savor the sunset colors dancing across the sky.
Our Creator God, the Master Artist, met us in the brushstrokes of sparkling gold and emerald green. The girls would point out the ribbons of ruby red and deep amethyst sashaying across the sapphire-blue sky. We would smile and delight at the jewel-toned colors. Each night the sunset was unique.
This was God’s way of offering us comfort in our grief. It felt like a kiss from Daddy in heaven. God offered us His presence through creation. He felt near. I couldn’t explain it, but my little girls felt it too.
Psalm 34:18 is one of my favorite Bible verses, as David offers up this reminder: “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
David faced much opposition, loss and grief in his life. But this psalm and others remind us that God does not leave us alone. We will experience trials and sorrow, but He is always near.
As the girls and I chased sunsets together night after night, God began to heal our hearts.
I don’t believe we can ever “get over” our grief on this side of heaven, but we can learn to dance with it. We can learn to share tears and embrace the memories when they are fresh and full. We experience God’s glory in the midst of our grief … and He helps us to move forward in big and small ways.
Dear God, when grief threatens to take us out or weigh us down, would You meet us there? Show us Your glory in the sunrises and the sunsets. Remind us we are never alone. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.