Family Grace
By Shawnelle Eliasen

Putting Trust in the Empty Places

Our sweet girl greyhound, Sis, died two months ago. And today, we’ve lost our boy greyhound, Flash, also.

The house is too quiet. There are empty places.

There’s the place where the afternoon sun stretches over the living room floor, and a dog would be caught in the rays. There’s the place on the porch where Flash would sit when we left the house. The place he’d be sitting when we’d return.

Shawnelle and her dog.There’s the cushion he’d sleep on, covered in soft fabric with a damask print that will stay, for a few days, by the side of my bed. There’s the grassy spot by the swing where he’d rest when I pushed the kids.

But mostly there are empty places in the heart.

“I miss my dogs,” Gabe says. His eyes show his heart. His heart holds the hurt.

“I understand,” I say. I put on a brave mom-smile, but I know he sees my sadness, too.

Sometimes there is pain. Sometimes there’s the sting of loss. But now, as Gabe and I sit together, when words aren’t so much spoken but drift like shadows through quiet inner places, I decide that there are three reasons I’ll choose to trust the Lord in the empty places:

1.  Our hearts are precious to our Father. Our pain does not go unnoticed. He sees our pain. He numbers our tears

You keep track of my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. (Psalm 56:8, NLT)

2.  The Lord tends to our hurts with personal attention. He comes close. He brings aid. He sees our wounds and is compassionate to provide care. His love is salve to our spirits.

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. (Psalm 147:3, NLT)

3.  God is with us in this pain. He doesn’t leave us alone in our trials. He walks alongside us. He wraps His hand over ours as a father holds a child. He offers the comfort and help of His presence. There’s not a path of pain that we have to traverse alone.

For I hold you by your hand–I, the LORD your God. And I say to you ‘Do not be afraid, I am here to help you.’ (Isaiah 41:13)

I sit for a moment and think about times in life that I’ve worked through loss. A miscarriage. The loss of a friendship. The loss of a job. There have been others, too.

And the Lord has always been faithful.

So today, I’ll share these truths that have moved through my heart. I’ll speak them aloud, into the emptiness, in hope of comforting my son. It’s my prayer that he’ll find peace in God’s presence, too.

Empty places can feel vast and dark and void. But the Lord is right here with us.

And His grace is sufficient. Sufficient enough for me.

Shawnelle Eliasen and her husband Lonny have been married for twenty-five years. They have five sons and raise their bevy of boys in an old Victorian near the Illinois banks of the Mississippi River. Their sons, Logan, Grant, Samuel, Gabriel, and Isaiah, range in age from twenty-one to six with Shawnelle home teaching the youngest three.

Shawnelle has been writing for six years, contributing regularly to Guideposts magazine, Daily Guideposts devotional and other inspirational publications.  She would say that life with her men moves faithfully, on fast forward.  But it’s her heart’s desire, her passionate prayer, to see God’s goodness and glory in the fullness of her days. She longs to see Him in the unexpected moments, unexpected places, changing the ordinary to extraordinary and bringing quiet, sustaining grace.