“Until the day break, and the shadows flee away…” (Song of Solomon 2:17)
I credit family counselor Gary Smalley with that rhyme, “grief therapy” never is “brief therapy”. Deeper wounds take more time to heal. Burn patients have to endure multiple sessions of stripping away of old dying tissue followed by repeated skin grafts. Sometimes the same painful reopening of sores occurs in healing wounded hearts. Jesus came to “heal the brokenhearted” (Luke 4:18). Grief is the chief wound. I can sympathize with those who have been through it. One of the New Testament words translated as “heal” is the Greek word therapeou. Therapy can mean having a talk or taking a walk. Hugs, not drugs, is the better prescription. The grieving one may need lots of company or they may need left alone. There are as many therapies as there are people, but the key is in understanding that the pain doesn’t normally go away by eight o’clock Monday morning.
I find our text verse very helpful. “Until” is one of the great transitional prepositions in the Bible. The shepherd searches after “that which is lost, until he finds it” (Luke 15:4). Then “when” he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders rejoicing (vs 5). “Until” eventually leads to “when”. “Until” can mean five minutes or five months. Patience 101 is never passed in a single semester. The Shulamite girl committed to persevere “until the day break”. Experience assures that day will break. I said, day will break. His mercies “are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:23). Weeping endures for a night (and sometimes for years), but joy comes in the morning. And when day does break the verse says the shadows will “flee away”. The devil and his cohorts run for the nearest rock. By shadows, we mean confusion, murky understanding and so forth. I’ve known those breakthroughs, that moment when the light switches on and faith becomes sight.
But it takes time. Time takes time. Grief therapy is not brief therapy. You will cry again, but the salt in tears is antiseptic. They cleanse the emotions as well the tear ducts. And anger may surface at times. It is not fair that your husband didn’t get to say goodbye before it all ended in that Iraqi desert ambush. What kind of God would allow your fiancé to be crippled in a car wreck, never again to speak? Grief therapy must become belief therapy. Anger yields to acceptance, as somehow, we choose to believe that God is good and works all things together for our good. The shadow is what is forced to flee away not the heart or the will. Grief recovery is not a shutting down of the emotions.
It is “recovery”, that is, gaining back the inner You that has been on leave for so long. Grief therapy that becomes belief therapy ends in relief therapy. Sometimes just a sigh, just a “whew”, is enough to relax stressed-out nerves. Other times the soul needs thorough catharsis and that is the work of the Holy Spirit. He is the Master Therapist. Sometimes He stirs within us “groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26). The pangs have no expression in words and at times they may become violent, but the Spirit understands all broken syllables. And each pang helps to get something “out” that has been trapped within. He knows when enough has been enough then lets the one He has cradled go free with a pat and a kiss. A scar usually remains but it becomes a badge of honor that declares to all, “I have suffered well”.
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