Remembrance: A Gift of Grace in the Midst of Grief
January 16, 2021
I am currently looking out at a fresh white snow covering our front lawn. At the same time, I am feeling a new blanket of grief gently falling upon me as an anniversary arrives, reminding me anew of who is missing. The metaphor isn’t lost on me. Neither is the gentleness with which it enters where it once came crashing down, wrecking me in many ways.
January 16th doesn’t ever have to be marked with a star to remember its place in history for my husband and I. Whether consciously or not, sorrow is drawn to the surface through the rhythm of time and season. Whether we invite it in or not, it comes.
Our son, Ryan, would have been 23 years old today. Oh how I wonder what if…
As there is no way around the grief, I decided to allow it to enter. I pulled out a small scrapbook of memories and gently opened its cover. A smile emerged as I saw his picture while tears simultaneously ran down my cheeks at the longing within.
The hospital records took me back to the place, time, and smells, and a great intermingling of feelings floated in and out.
I carefully turned the yellowing pages to the cards and notes handwritten to encourage us in our pain. Promises of better days. Declarations of love. Offerings of prayer. And shared stories of pain.
And I paused to give thanks for the gift of written words and the power of remembrance. Those thoughts penned over two decades ago are still speaking to the broken place within where I need to know my son was valued. My child was loved and seen…not forgotten as an event gone by.
I would say that those tenderly crafted words are more powerful today, as I could barely read them at the time – my wounds drowning out the truth of their meaning. But through the years, as I revisit them, I can see the sentiments as intended. I can see the faithful words of Scripture mercifully healing the shallow places. And I have seen God’s goodness strengthen me to hold them both with hope.
There is no denying pain in this broken world, and though our humanity grows cynical in grief, there is also no denying the beauty of the presence of God to withhold us through the darkest of days. In sorrow and depression, it is hard to see and believe that anything will ever shine again…but God.
He is faithful to those who seek Him.
At times, remembrance feels too painful. But as I read through Scripture God uses the concept to teach us to keep hoping and trusting Him. It isn’t easy for me to think about the gruesome crucifixion of Jesus, but He gave a command to the Church to partake in communion to commemorate His sacrifice for us.
“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
Luke 22:19 (ESV)
It is a grace to remember. To look at all God has done to rescue us and to preserve us until we are eternally home with our Father. We have our eyes set on Christ, fueled by remembrance of what our hope costs Him and what will be redeemed on our behalf.
And so, today, this 16th of January, I remember. I share with you to remind others that my son mattered. His life impacted us greatly in such a short time. One day those in Christ will one day meet another Prahl…I don’t want you to be surprised. 🙂
And I write to remember a way to fight bitter cynicism from creeping in and stealing my joy in Christ. We have space for both tears of sorrow and souls of hopeful promise. 23 years ago, I might not been able to believe that, but I want you to know it’s possible. I am living it today. He has never asked me to pretend it doesn’t hurt or be thankful for death, but He does ask me to give thanks IN the pain, because He knows that is the only way to true peace.
Much in God’s economy seems counterintuitive. Praising brings comfort where bitterness does not. Strength comes from being weak and asking for help through reminders of His presence. And beauty conquers the darkness when we remain faithful even through doubt.
Because He contains no darkness. In Him, we find the light we need to keep moving forward. Remembrance is a grace to those who are stumbling for the light switch and wondering where He is.
From the beginning of creation to His death on the cross, He was busy making a way for us to survive the consequences of sin and death. And if we remember, we will find grace to sustain us through our grief until He forever makes it right.
Is it easy to do? No. I have to keep pursuing it, but I can testify to the peace and joy He promises being possible. Praising in the pain may seem impossible, but it’s the only true remedy for pain so deep no man can fix it. Being busy living out this reality of redemption and spreading it to others, also keeps us hopeful.
Today I remember. I feel. I write. I wrestle with truth. I look back on how far God has brought me and the salvation He gives, and I live in the place where both sorrow and joy coexist…held together in the presence of God.
If you are struggling to see God’s goodness and need prayer, please feel free to leave a comment or email me at email@example.com. Much love to you all.