Left on the Curb
By Robyn Bloem
After our daughter died in 2001, we had a special speaker come to our church. He was a young dad with little children. As I have grown older, I’ve seen a certain naiveté in young people; that may sound harsh or condescending and I don’t intend for it to sound that way. But life’s trials and experiencing God for forty plus years has shown me a side of Him I cannot reduce to human parental feelings.
In his sermon, this young speaker gave an illustration of his trip to watch a parade with his young son. After walking a few blocks his son got too tired to walk anymore. He told his dad he would sit on the curb and wait for him to come back with the car. Obviously, Dad would not leave his boy there alone. He picked him up (as he affirmed that God does with us), put him on his shoulders and carried him for the rest of the way. He correlated that act with the way God deals with us. When we are worn out or weary in the way, God picks us up and carries us.
|Lindsay as a teenager|
In A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis addressed this exact feeling when he said,
“When you are happy, so happy you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be — or so it feels— welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence.”
After Lindsay’s death, I probably thought life would come under a heavenly state of over-indulgence. I mean, God saw our suffering and the excruciating pain we were enduring. Although, nothing could come close to compensating for losing Lindsay, certainly He would shower us with other blessings to encourage us in all of this. He is God, after all. If we ever felt like the fibers of dust we were, this was the time. We were weak and weary of life trying to understand what had happened so suddenly to violently disrupt our weeks, our days, our moments with insurmountable grief. We determined by His grace that we would hold on to Christ. I told myself that I was going to tuck myself up under the Lord’s armpit and stay as close to Him as possible; this was so far beyond me that I knew if I got out in that vast sea of life alone I would never make it. I felt sometimes that I was praying the longest version of Peter’s “Lord, save me” prayer on record. Sometimes that was all I could pray. How He would make something beautiful out of this was beyond me. But we had to believe the things we had said in other difficult circumstances; we believed. That was all we had.
When Steve came down with clinical depression in 1985, he was in pain that only those who suffer that kind of mental anguish can understand. We had seen God use that episode of our lives to build character in us and to help others with what we had learned through that trial of our faith. We had to believe He also had a purpose in our loss of our only daughter and first grandchild.So, I was experiencing a side of God that really wasn’t like the father who picked his child up from the curb and carried him. I would never say that the Lord didn’t come to me, He did, but He required an effort from me that I didn’t have, at least not in my own flesh.
My testimony at the time was that if I made an attempt to find Him in my grief; I would walk a few steps in His direction and He would walk a mile to meet me. I read sermons by Charles Spurgeon from a set of books that Steve had “all the way downstairs in his office.” That is how it felt to me; “all the way downstairs.” That long and deliberate walk down those steps was so difficult then. I felt a weight of grief on my shoulders that almost made that walk impossible, but here is where God met me. When I got to the books and started to read, God showed up. He met me very personally and lovingly and spoke to my heart as only Someone who understands can speak. The Bible and Spurgeon were the tools God used to help me the most. Those times alone of weeping and weeping with those books in my lap, a highlighter in my hand and divine peace in my heart were precious and personal as I grappled with God and my own severe grief.
I had always thought when Christians suffered a difficult trial that God somehow opened up a hole in our heads and poured grace, God’s grace into the hole. I thought the peace that passes all human understanding would engulf my heart and make me not only endure the suffering but cause me to count myself blessed to suffer for Him. My pastor said, “Well, you will understand the fellowship of His suffering in a way others do not.” I told him that I didn’t want to understand that; I felt I knew Him “quite well enough, thank you.” I don’t know that even now I understand the fellowship of His suffering, but I understand my suffering- and if your child lies in a grave somewhere- I understand yours, too.