One of the most puzzling aspects of grief is the ongoing challenge of seeking. Even if our life has been relatively sedentary - physically or mentally - when one we love dies, suddenly we’re in full-tilt seeking mode. We’re forced to look around and see where we are in life and somehow fashion a new existence for ourselves, which requires an inordinate amount of seeking.
Most of us are pretty adept at the daily, superficial seeking out of life – we shop until we find exactly what we’re looking for, we read for pleasure and meaning and understanding, we pursue career goals with an eye to promotion and a better standard of living. We seek out those we love for connection, affirmation, support, and encouragement. By nature we’re seekers – rather intuitively we access the energy, focus, and enthusiasm for pursuing what we desire and those we hold dear.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven… a time to seek, and a time to lose..." (Ecclesiastes 3:6 NRSV). Sometimes grief knocks us down so far we feel as though we’re crawling around in the dark on all fours groping for anything that might light the way and show us how to live again. We’ve lost our way because we’ve lost the one we love. As we search the corners of our grief-stained heart, we realize what we’re really seeking - the light of our loved one’s spirit. We want to feel with certainty that there’s light and life beyond the darkness of death.
And most of us seek answers. We want to know what happened - many of us seek the “why” of death. And although some of our questions can be answered, despite our most desperate seeking we’ll never know the “why” of them all. In his book Cries from the Cross, my beloved husband Leighton wrote, “What most of us need in our adversity is not to find an explanation - but to find a victory; it is not to elaborate a theory - but to lay hold upon a power. Even if the best and most completely satisfying answer to our question “why?” was available, that would not alter the fact that the actual suffering would still have to be endured. There is a deeper question than “why?” - namely, “how?” The ultimate question is not “Why has this happened to me?” but “How am I to face it?” . . . Not an explanation of what has happened, but the grace to . . . bear it.” This is the best answer to our fervent seeking.
After Leighton died, I was forced to look inside my broken heart to seek answers, "In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying” (Psalm 77:2 NRSV). As many of us experience, seeking can be a day and night occupation to the point of becoming a preoccupation. And to be honest, at first I did much more seeking than finding. What’s important, though, is that we persevere, that we’re active, relentless even in our pursuit of spiritual comfort and help, “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually” (Psalm 105:4 NRSV).
We’re promised that God is faithful to us in our seeking, especially when we grieve, “And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you” (Psalm 9:10 NRSV). Our comfort is in God’s steadfast love, “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me” (Proverbs 8:17 NRSV). We seek, and through the presence and power of God we find answers that direct us toward new life, hope, and joy.
The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.
Lamentations 3:25 NRSV
Keep me this day, O God, in the quest for your answers. Amen.