My thoughts (Lynnette Pullen-Bradford):
Have you ever experienced a deep grief, the kind where human language falls dreadfully short of expressing the pain? When tears are unable to ease the hurt, but they seem to flow endlessly, anyway? There’s a guttural wrenching that seems to dissolve me into subconscious rocking and fits of moaning. I naively thought this sort of grief was saved only for the death of a loved one. Oh man, was I wrong. I remember when I attended a graduation program in the past when we lived in Indianapolis, something struck me. I was going through some major life changes and I was avoiding them. I knew my emotions would eventually come to a head, but I was so hoping that I would be alone where I could emote in private. But that’s not the way it happened. I sat in my seat feeling this swell of tears roar up from my gut past my chest and gather behind my eyes. I fought it back as long as I could. A few escaped but were quickly extinguished with a tissue. I smiled. I applauded and joined the standing ovation when it was over. I quickly excused myself and made a bee line for the ladies room. Ten feet shy of the door, a friend stopped me and asked me how I was doing. That was all it took. “Fine,” I said, now running to the bathroom. Thank God that there was an open stall. I quickly shut and locked the door and tried to cry as quietly as possible. Between sniffles and nose blowing, I heard something interesting. The lady in the stall next to me was crying. She too was stifling sniffles and covering whimpers with a fake cough. It was weirdly comforting to know that I wasn’t alone.
It was also comforting (although not weirdly so) to read Psalm 130. Verse 1 says “Out of the depths, I cry to you, O Lord.” When I could not find the words to express my pain and all I could do was cry, the Lord heard me. I don’t have to try to find words to cry out to the Lord. My heart cried out from the depths of my sadness, and the Lord understood. In times of grief, we are never alone. We never have to find the right words to say. We can just “cry out.” I know God heard me in that bathroom stall (I think the lady next to me did, too). I thought I would be stuck in there for a while, but God gave me a supernatural peace. The flow of tears dried up, and I felt a calmness blanket my spirit. I walked out of that stall with my head high and a smile on my face, a real smile. I wasn’t smiling because I was okay. The grief is still like a gaping hole in my heart. I was smiling because I felt the presence of God swaddling my spirit, and I knew I didn’t have to face this alone.
Prayer for the day: God, thank you so much for hearing our cries when we don’t have words. Lord, there are many people crying out to you. Some may be closer to us than we think. Help us to be a light for each other in those dark times. In Jesus’ name, we pray.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.