Grief. It is always there, lurking overhead like an ominous cloud that waits to drop its pelting rain upon us whether we are prepared or not. Sometimes the drops hit with such force that they seem to cut. They cause a pain that is physical and we want to recoil from their sting. On a “good day”, it is merely a perpetual mist that grounds us in fog. Either way, it saturates us. It is relentless. It shows no mercy.
Grief compels us to find shelter, a hiding place, from its determined force of driving rain and suffocating fog that threatens to overpower us. We want to hide from the grief as if by hiding you can escape its reality. You want to hide from others who have been able to go on with life while you remain forever changed and broken. You hide in public by avoiding others so that you won’t have to engage in conversation. You try to hide your emotions fearing that others will not understand how you can still hurt so deeply. You hide behind a smile while crying on the inside. You are constantly on the lookout for the nearest exit or other detour in an effort to circumvent grief’s next hazard. It is a constant struggle to run from hiding place to hiding place, shelter to shelter as we drudge through the daily storm.
These hiding places are often elusive and deceitful. In your frantic search for security and safety, you look to hide in the wrong places. Maybe you are hiding behind a fake smile. Maybe you are hiding behind a drug or alcohol in an effort to mask the pain. Maybe you are hiding behind a credit card, hoping that material things will somehow fill the void left in your fractured heart. Maybe your hiding place is busyness. Perhaps it is more tangible and you actually are hiding within the walls of your home because you are paralyzed by the thought of being in public.
In his book, “The Necessity of Prayer”, Edward M. Bounds recounts a story by A.C. Dixon.
“A dear friend of mine who was quite a lover of the chase, told me the following story: ‘Rising early one morning,’ he said, ‘I heard the baying of a score of deerhounds in pursuit of their quarry. Looking away to a broad, open field in front of me, I saw a young fawn making its way across, and giving signs, moreover, that its race was well-nigh run. Reaching the rails of the enclosure, it leaped over and crouched within ten feet from where I stood. A moment later two of the hounds came over, when the fawn ran in my direction and pushed its head between my legs. I lifted the little thing to my breast, and, swinging round and round, fought off the dogs. I felt, just then, that all the dogs in the West could not, and should not capture that fawn after its weakness had appealed to my strength.’ “
What a beautiful illustration of our only true hiding place and refuge. When grief releases its dogs that tirelessly chase you, when it has weakened you to the point of exhaustion and you find yourself ready to succumb to its vicious reach, stretch out your hands in faith to the Shepherd Father. He will take you in His arms and fight the hounds of grief with you. When we are powerless, He is able
Scripture offers another comforting analogy.
“He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” – Psalm 91:4
Birds will protect their young by literally covering them with their wings. The downy feathers of the under-wing provide warmth, comfort and repose, while rigid, vaned feathers offer a structual protection. Covert feathers cover the whole wing. The three types of feathers overlap like shingles on a roof to provide safekeeping. This is a picture of protection and love. Don’t mess with a mother’s babies! Our Heavenly Father longs to shelter us under His wing. His love is even greater than a mother’s. He willingly laid down His life for us and He continues to call us to the ever-available security of His powerful wing.
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40:29-31
The same wing that provides a safe hiding place also promises to renew our strength. I can’t think of a better comfort to my weary, grief-worn body and soul than the promise of renewed strength!
There is no hiding place from grief. Its hungry dogs will pursue you. Its acidic rain will pelt you. It’s dense fog will envelop you. But, there is a steadfast place of protection and safety. Christ calls you to find sanctuary under His wing. He will be your strength to fight the hounds. He will be your covering while the rain falls. He is our refuge…our shelter…our hiding place.