Handing Grief Over to God

As a daughter struggles with a life-threatening illness, a mother hands her battered heart to God.

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Posted in , Jan 13, 2016

A worried mother hands her grief to God over a daughter's illness and anorexia.

Last week we learned that my daughter Elizabeth’s potassium and phosphorus levels were dangerously low, putting her at high risk for heart failure. This is a result of malnutrition brought on by her anorexia. She was quickly sent to the hospital, and I flew out to be with her last Saturday.

On Sunday I went to church alone. Midway through the service, as preschoolers bounced up the aisle to plunk their offerings in the children's basket, I had a vivid recollection of Elizabeth’s glowing eyes and enchanting smile as a little girl. The contrast between remembering that little-child joy and holding her grown, gaunt body in a cardiac ward was excruciating. I rummaged frantically in my purse for tissues and used them all.

Parents envision good and healthy futures for their kids. We need to, because it helps us set our priorities and guides us in our parenting. Yet it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to learn that Mary, who’d been warned ahead of time that a sword would pierce her own heart, moaned, “I never imagined it would be like this” as she gazed on her son bleeding on the cross.

It’s the groan of mothers and fathers the world over. It’s the grief of not understanding, of heartache, of wanting a bit (or a lot) more heaven on earth than we currently have. We didn’t imagine it because we couldn’t, for we never would have said yes if we had known in advance.

After my little breakdown it was super obvious (partly because I was in church) that what I needed to do with my battered heart was give it back to God. So I did. Then I thanked Him that my daughter was still alive. I inhaled deeply a few times, breathing in the Spirit and blowing out stress. And then I returned to the hospital, to do whatever it was I needed to do that I’d never imagined.

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