What if someone told you that you would recover from this catastrophe? What if he told you that your grieving would turn into mirth, joy, laughter, dancing? What would your response be?
I remember feeling that there could be no full joy without Katie’s presence in this world, so that promise of restored joy seemed pretty empty and irrelevant. It seemed impossible to fulfill. But I read it in black and white in the Hebrew scriptures, (Jeremiah, chapter 31 – funny enough, that was one of my favorite passages back in the days when Katie was still alive). But after her passing, it was certainly a stretch to believe those promises. Yet it was part of my spiritual path to at least try to believe it.
I’m going to loosely paraphrase the passage, using The Message translation as the basis, adding a little bit of my own style into the mix. Feel free to look it up HERE and listen to it for yourself – hear what it has to say to you.
God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will.
Expect love, love, and more love!
And so now I’ll start over with you and build you up again,
dear…You’ll resume your singing,
grabbing tambourines and joining the dance.
You’ll go back to your old work of planting vineyards…
And sit back and enjoy the fruit—
oh, how you’ll enjoy those harvests!
…I’ll bring my people back…from the ends of the earth,
gather those who’ve gone blind
And those who are lame and limping,
gather pregnant women,
Even the mothers whose birth pangs have started,
bring them all back, a huge crowd!
Watch them come! They’ll come weeping for joy
as I take their hands and lead them,
lead them to fresh flowing brooks,
lead them along smooth, uncluttered paths.
Yes, it’s because I’m [their] Father…!
Their lives will be like a well-watered garden,
never again left to dry up.
Young women will dance and be happy,
young men and old men will join in.
I’ll convert their weeping into laughter,
lavishing comfort, invading their grief with joy.
I’ll make sure…that my people have more than enough.
Listen to this … wild and bitter weeping
…Stop your incessant weeping,
hold back your tears.
Collect wages from your grief work…
They’ll be coming back home!
There’s hope for your children.
Oh! [You are] my dear, dear son,
my child in whom I take pleasure!
Every time I mention [your] name,
my heart bursts with longing for [you]!
Everything in me cries out for [you].
Softly and tenderly I wait for [you].
…God will create a new thing in this land:
A transformed woman will embrace the transforming God!
I’ll refresh tired bodies;
I’ll restore tired souls…I am sticking with [you] as [you] start over…”
Five years later, and I am here to tell you that it IS true. I couldn’t have told you how it would come about, and I wouldn’t have understood, if you had told me ahead of time, but it is true. I read those promises now, and instead of sounding ridiculously dreamlike, they are coming true.
He is turning my mourning into dancing. It’s not that I don’t grieve for Katie, or miss her; I do both, deeply and often. But mourning is not a full-time, oppressive state of being nowadays, by grace. Can you find even one part of the “love letter from God” which is Jeremiah 31 to cherish? You can take it to heart, and hold it as hope for your own future. God is faithful, and His promises are true.