I’ve been wanting to write about grief for several weeks now. Maybe not exactly wanting to but feeling God nudging me to do so. I have found this to be a hard time of year for me. By November 11 four years ago, Bill had been in hospice for 55 days. He lost his battle with cancer on November 21. His pain was manageable, but losing him a little every day was extremely hard on all of us who knew and loved him. My birthday is in November, as well as Thanksgiving later this month. Those are special times that bring back good memories, but not having him here to celebrate with us is difficult.

I played praise music on Pandora all day every day in his hospice room. After he passed and it was hard to pray and read my Bible, I would listen to praise music that encouraged my faith. When I didn’t know how I would live the rest of my life without him, I would listen to songs like Chris Tomlin‘s “Good, Good Father” to help me remember that God loves me and would be faithful. When one of “our” songs, like “Give me Jesus” (one of his favorites the last few months), “I Will Rise” or “It is Well with my Soul” would come on, I’d be reminded that this is not my permanent home.

When I would think about how Bill wasn’t supposed to leave me and how I had planned on another 20 years together (after all he was super healthy, only in his mid-60s and hadn’t even retired yet), it just wasn’t right. Besides, I had plans for our retirement years and trips I wanted to take. He had been in my life and I had loved him since I was 15; I didn’t know life without him. I would make myself stop, and instead of continuing down that train of thought, I would start to praise God that I knew I would see Bill again and be thankful for all Jesus had done in our lives – how He changed our lives and had given us a special unconditional love for each other. He’d given us the promise of eternal life together with Him.

As I began to pray, some of the sadness left and I could sense Bill cheering me on as well. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Bill finished his race and he finished strong, but now I have to finish my race and remain faithful until Jesus calls me home. 2 Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

I’m not saying it’s easy, but when I do choose to praise, God encourages my broken heart.

~ Pat Estes

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash