Gratitude and Hope Even When You Are Grieving
By Pam Luschei
This is the latest post in a series where guest bloggers share how God has shown up in the stories they never expected to live. May these stories stir you toward hope and give you a glimpse of God’s goodness. Read previously published stories here.
A few years ago I attended a star party. Not the kind of party where movie stars are celebrated, but where galaxies and planets were the main attraction.
I gathered with hundreds of people at dusk to see the sun set and the moon rise as we anticipated the fall of darkness. A local group of astronomers brought their high-powered telescopes and invited people to gaze at the planets and stars through the lens of their telescopes. Waiting in line, it was finally my turn to look through the small hole where my eyes adjusted to see Saturn and its rings. Observing the brightness and beauty of the stars illuminated in the darkness was both majestic and humbling. It reminded me that some things can only be seen in the dark.
The great preacher, Charles Spurgeon says, “Hope itself is like a star – not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity.” Wisdom I’ve come to believe.
After the sudden death of my husband in 2018, I fell into an abyss of grief and darkness. While I was letting the waves of grief crash over me, I wondered if I would ever recover. In the darkness, I saw only specks of light.
I found I could take my dog for a walk and be thankful for both his company and that my legs and lungs were working. I could take in a sunset that spanned the horizon and find myself grateful for the beauty of the moment. Even though I was in the depth of sorrow feeling the emptiness of my husband being gone and grieving his life, I was able to truly appreciate the friend that took time to bring me a meal. I was thankful for so many people that demonstrated their care and concern for me and my two grown children.
My feelings were powerful and demanding, but they led me on a mission to find something to be grateful for even in the midst of my sorrow. It wasn’t either or. It was both and.
Reflecting back on that time, I saw the many ways God accompanied me through those first days, weeks, and months. God’s Word became a source of comfort and hope as I took in a verse or two that reminded me that God was with me — that He would never leave me or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:8). Psalm 46 resounded in my soul, knowing God was my refuge, a helper who is always found.
As I sat in church without my husband, I would weep through the worship songs while feeling a strong sense of God’s peace simultaneously. C. S. Lewis said, “Life with God is not immunity from difficulties, but peace with the difficulties.”
On the day I discovered my husband taking his last breath, our beloved dog, Bear, a German Wire Haired Pointer was with me. He was my husband’s companion for hunting, hanging out, and going for rides in the car. He was almost 13 years old at the time and was my faithful walking buddy. After my husband died, each morning Bear and I made our trek up the street. It was my “next thing” when I could do little else.
I found myself pleading with God to please let Bear live another year so we could have him to comfort us and help us move through those first months. I put my hope in that prayer.
It made me think of when a little boy asks God for a puppy for his birthday. God heard and answered that prayer. Bear lived another 16 months after my husband passed. Somehow that prayer being heard and answered in such a sweet way was evidence of God’s tenderness, grace, and faithful love. It was a deposit of hope I desperately needed.
I desperately wanted to have a formula or equation where gratitude and hope would lessen grief, but that’s not what I found. Grief will not be lessened, diminished, or tamed.
Loss leaves a hole wider and deeper than the Grand Canyon. What I did find in my grief was that gratitude and hope were two candles at the opening of a tunnel. As I entered, the candlelight shone enough for me to see where I was. The light allowed me to take the next step in front of me and then the next step after that. Finding hope and being grateful sustained me in those early days of grieving. From where I’ve been to where I am now, hope and gratitude continually display their brilliance as I journey ahead, aware that some things are only seen in the dark.
About the Author
Pam Lushei has been a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT) since 2000. In November of 2019, she was a co-presenter at the American Association of Christian Counselors on “Grieving a Major Family Loss.” In November 2020, she was an online workshop speaker for the 2020 Christian Women’s Self Care Conference. In addition, Pam has been published on: Widow’s Might, Salt & Clay, and Living by Design. Recently, her story has been published in the book, Sweet Tea for the Soul: Comforting, Real-life Stories for Grieving Hearts by DaySpring. Find Pam on Instagram, @pamluschei, and sharing words of hope on www.gratefulyetgrieving.org.
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