Saturday we made a quick trip to my hometown. On the way there, I was telling Todd about going to my grandma’s house. She always met us on the front porch. Clapping her hands together she would say, “How’s Grandma’s girl?”
Tears pricked my eyes as I told him. She’s been gone three years now. The memory of those last years, when age ravaged her body and robbed her of her memories, has faded. Now I remember her as she was, that wonderful woman who remained vigorous and vibrant past the age of 90. I think that’s part of why I miss her now more than ever.
My grandma was no stranger to tragedy. She lost her father when she almost sixteen, just before the Great Depression. In one of the last lucid conversations I had with her, she told me of the death of her 18-month-old brother. She described how her father had gone to town in the wagon to get the casket. The casket was so small that it fit on the wagon floor next to his feet.
She was not yet four when this happened, and it had occurred at least 90 years before her telling me, but the memory remained strong to her. We are marked by our tragedies.
I was seven the first time I lost someone I loved. A family member who was quite dear to me was killed in a car accident. I spent that night with my grandparents. I remember standing in their kitchen, next to the table that held the telephone, and crying. I was overwhelmed by the finality of the loss. It seemed impossible to grasp that I would no longer see or talk to this person in this life, but I assumed that this was something everybody else understood perfectly. I looked at my grandma and said, “I’m not used to this!”
My grandma took me in her arms and said, “You never get used to this.”
I realize now that there was a wealth of wisdom in her words. Death, loss, and sadness are part of living in this fallen world. But as tragic as those things are, we shouldn't get used to them. These things are reminders of the effects of sin. This world is broken, and we long for restoration. Our grief in response to the sad things in life shows us our need for a savior.
I will see my grandmother--all my grandparents--again. This heritage of faith is a blessing I don’t take lightly. In my imperfect, human state, sometimes I long to be reunited with my lost loved ones more than I long to see my Savior. But even though my thinking is often flawed, Christ died to fix that as well.
Sometimes Christians think we should to get to a point where we no longer grieve. That is a mistake. Many things in this life are worth grieving. Broken marriages, wayward children, death...they all bring piercing sadness. Instead of grief plunging us into a pit of despair, though, it should remind us of our ultimate hope.
Christ died to secure our salvation, and for that I am very thankful. But he also died to bring restoration. And while we are on this earth, we will groan for this restoration, for the fixing of those things in the world that are broken. (Romans 8:23) We grieve, but we don’t grieve as those who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13)