Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Oil of Joy For Mourning

The past few days have been difficult. Although the New Year has come and it should be a time of celebration and renewal, I've been in a season of mourning. My mother died on December 23. We'd been expecting her death but losing a loved one is never easy. I do take solace in knowing she was a believer and now that she's absent from the body, she's present with the Lord. That gives me great comfort and I know I'll see her again one day but in the meantime, the grief of losing her has come. Try as I might, I never know when it's going to overpower me. Everywhere I look, I see her. In my children's mannerisms, in photographs, in nature. Even though she's no longer here in bodily form, she'll always be with me. 

Some days have been harder than others. This morning, as I was having my devotional, I looked up from my Bible to see a red rose that I'd been given from her funeral service. The smell of it was heady. I took the rose in my hands and held it there. Each intricate and beautifully delicate petal reminded me of God's perfection and His handiwork in nature. Surrounding the rose was a cluster of Baby's Breath. Mama always loved Baby's Breath. We used to have it growing in a small section of yard behind our house. I'm not sure, but I think Mama said she got a start of it from my Great Uncle L.M. who often saved family heirloom plants. Beneath the Baby's Breath was another of Mama's favorites - Lily of the Valley. To this day, I can still smell the wonderful fragrant bell-shaped flowers of this plant. I even have a perfumed oil scented with Lily of the Valley. I bought it specifically to remind me of Mama. 

My heart was heavy as I continued my devotion. Thinking of the brevity of Mama's life consumed me but also helped remind me that we are all just vapors, here today and gone tomorrow. At 79 years young, she lived a full and happy life often revolving all of her time and attention on her children and grandchildren. 

I continued reading Scripture and was reminded of the verse in Isaiah where God speaks to Zion and tells the people He will comfort them their time of sadness. He promises to replace their sorrow with beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for their mourning. As I read the verse, I knew God was speaking to my heart, too. He knew my pain. He knew I missed my Mama and even though grief is part of the healing process, I felt He wanted me to focus more on the oil of joy He was pouring out to me. 

In the broken pieces of my heart, He was pouring in the healing balm of Gilead. All my hurts were being soothed by His gentle hand of comfort. As I cried out to Him in my brokenness, I felt the sweetest peace envelope me. I knew His Spirit, the Comforter, had come to minister to me. 

Sitting quietly at my kitchen table, eyes closed, I listened to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Words of love filled my mind and heart as let go of my emotions. Knowing my Heavenly Father is well acquainted with my grief, I rested. 

I'm sure there will be more days when the grief of losing Mama will be powerful but I also know God will be with me. He's promised to never leave or forsake me. And though I'm now technically an orphan by earthly means, my Everlasting Father will always be by my side to comfort, soothe and encourage me. 

Grief is painful but God wants to give us the oil of joy for our mourning. We only have to be willing to accept it. If your heart is hurting today, please turn to Him for relief. He wants to ease your pain as only He knows how to do.

"To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
Isaiah 61:3New King James Version (NKJV)

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