they threw dust into the air

This struck me yesterday:

When Job’s three friends heard about all this calamity that had happened to him, each of them came from his own country – Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They met together to come to show sympathy for him and to console him. But when they gazed intently from a distance but did not recognize him, they began to weep loudly. Each of them tore his robe, and they threw dust into the air over their heads.Then they sat down with him on the ground for seven days and seven nights, yet no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great. (Job 2:11-13)

It’s one thing to read the words and themes in Job and contemplate suffering and pain. It’s quite another to walk with people through it. Grief is something so big, indescribable, painful, numbing… that there are no words to justify it. And so often I forget that.

I feel like I’ve been attending a lot of funerals lately, and that’s because… I have. Death is everywhere and I cannot stop it–no matter how much I hate or wish it would go away. Death is always going to be apart of my life because I am a living, breathing human and until my heart stops beating and my soul goes to Heaven, I will feel and know the sting that death brings. And because I invest fully into relationships and leave very little room for barriers or guarding–I love deeply. And loving deeply hurts.

One of my former students, Tessa, died this weekend. Being a person that believes in something bigger than myself, I know this is not the end. But watching college freshmen grieve their best friend’s death sometimes makes it feel like death is the end. Trying to muster up words to say when a mother is holding her dead son’s hand certainly makes it feel sometimes, although I know otherwise, like there is no life beyond this. I know that the “why?” road is a dead-end one, and that when I get to Heaven, I will be so ecstatic that I won’t even remember all of the why questions, anyhow. And I’m learning that instead of asking why, I really need to ask, “who?” Who gave Tessa life? Who gives us hope? Who do I trust? Who created the sun, stars, and ocean? Who can bind up broken hearts? Who can bring comfort that surpasses human understanding? Certainly not me.

This year has been a rough one. I’m still trying to wrap my heart around it. I don’t know that I ever will. And I am going to ignore the longing in my soul to say cheap words to make this moment much easier to bear, when I know that right now, like Job’s friends, sitting in silence is the only real option.

Party up there for us, Tessa. I’m sure you are busy TPing houses, duct-taping Bibles, making pancakes, and creating a cool-kids-corner in Heaven. And we’re all jealous.

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