Christmas was full of grace.
Grace can mean an enabling, a strengthening. But I think in grief it is sometimes simply a dulling of the senses. Like being surrounded by a foggy haze where nothing is outlined sharply, nothing felt keenly. Both joy and sadness muted with a mostly pleasant kind of lull.
Christmas was candle-lit and dream-like, the sharp corners of it hidden or ignored.
I’ve wondered if this is partly what is meant by being under the shadow of His wings.
I was able to think of Marissa’s joy, to picture her in an atmosphere of praise. To imagine her singing alongside saints and angels with a full realization of what the Christ-child’s coming meant.
I was able to be grateful that she is safe and happy and healed.
The end of the year brings some vivid memories and feelings. It was on this last weekend of 2016 that Marissa began the downward spiral that would end in her death at the beginning of March. A period of trauma and suffering and dark shadows. I remember a kind of helpless exhaustion, repeatedly standing up only to be struck down again.
In 2017 I remember watching my daughter die.
But I also remember a sustaining grace. I remember that always, in every moment, we were under the shadow of His wings. He was always present. He was always near. He carried and helped us. He strengthened and enabled.
He was always loving us.
This new year is beginning, and not one of us knows what it will hold. For most of us it will be a whole lot of normal with some joy and hardship sprinkled in. We will meet some goals and learn new things and live out our story.
But here is a sobering truth. Some of us will face unimagined heartache. Some will face the saddest news, the hardest day. Some of us will even breathe our last breath or say good-bye to a cherished one with tears.
How do we move forward without fear?
We trace His hand of goodness. We remember the truth of grace in hard places. We recall the refuge of His shadowing wings.
We believe in His covenant love.
We have confidence that He will make all things right. That He will redeem and restore and renew.
We trust that He will always love us, always be God to us.
We trust that not one of His words will fail.
For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. Psalm 63:7
Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in His holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in You. Psalm 33:20-22
Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass. Joshua 21:45