It was this book.
The One Year Book of Hope
by Nancy Guthrie
But today I decided that I needed to crack open its cover.
Today I needed to know that hope still exists.
Because some moments, I just don’t see it.
On one of the first pages, there is simply this quote:
If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end:
if you look for comfort you will not et either comfort or truth–
only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
I took off my glasses, wiped my cheeks with my sleeve, took a sip of tea, and turned the page.
Two sentences into the “Introduction,” I lost it again. Something about the phrase “loss that changed everything about your life in an instant” hit me hard. She gets it. The author gets it. It isn’t just one thing in my life. It’s one thing in my life that suddenly, instantaneously changed everything.
She goes on, and another phrase pinpointed reality for me when she mentioned “all the questions that taunt us in the midst of tears and keep us awake in the night.” I’m not sure which is worse — that scenario or the nightmares when I do sleep. But either way, she gets it.
The author shares the story of losing their baby girl due to Zellweger Syndrome. She says, “Though we had shed our share of tears during her life, and while I was hopeful that those tears would lighten my load of grief after her death, it didn’t seem to work that way.” During Peace’s life, I hoped it would work that way too. But nope, it didn’t. She goes on, “It seems to me that most losses aren’t just one loss, but a series of losses. For a while I grieved Hope [her daughter]‘s death. Then I grieved her limited life. Then I grieved our loss of potential.” A series of losses. Oh God, how true.
Later in the “Introduction,” the author explains something her sister-in-law shared with her. When asking how you can get through and deal with the death of such a dearly loved one, her sister-in-law said “‘Manna.’ She explained that just as the children of Israel were dependent on God to provide manna to sustain them every day while they wandered in the wilderness, I had to depend on God to give me the manna I needed every day to sustain me as I grieved my loss… Every day.“
Wipe those tears, Melissa, you’ve gotta keep reading.
Look at the next page.
“Processing pain and embracing its lessons are daily endeavors. Every day we need a little more light to illumine our darkness.”
Oh praise God, I am not alone.
Good sentences: “When we are hurting, it seems like everyone wants to fix us… Well-meaning friends and family tell us what to do and how to feel, only adding to our confusion.” “Oh, the painful thoughts that go through our heads when the hurt is deep!” “God’s Word speaks the truth we are desperate for, even as we weep with grief.” “Honestly, I resent it when someone seems to pat me on the head with a Bible verse in a way that seems to devalue my genuine hurt and dismiss my deep questions.” “The truth is what we need most when the hurt is the deepest.”
The exercise at the end was reading Psalm 119, and writing down what the psalmist asks God for that I also want to ask of God.
Second lesson, focusing on Psalm 56:8. All my sorrows… All my tears… Each one…
Good sentences: “I used to rarely cry, but now tears are always close to the surface, just waiting to be released. It is as if there is a broken place inside me where tears are stored. Letting them out has been the only way to release the pressure of the pain.” “Some see tears not only as a loss of control but also as a lack of faith. It is as if the physical manifestation of tears gives evidence of a spiritual deficiency–that if our faith was big enough… we simply wouldn’t be this sad.” “It is as if we think our grasp of spiritual realities can erase the hurts of being human.” “God does not discount or dismiss your tears.” “He wipes them away.” (Isaiah 25:8) “And Revelation 21:4 tells us that not only will He wipe away tears, He will remove all of the sorrow that caused them.”
The exercise at the end was reading Psalm 56, and writing a list of what David determined to do despite & through his tears.
It’s my new lifeline, I think, really.
I made it through the first two devotional pages/meditations. The pages are already getting dimpled with salty tears, and covered in blue ink from my ready pen.
If you know someone who is grieving — I think I can safely say (although officially only on page 3), that you need to give them this book.
Pray that God would use this book in my life, that He would renew my hope, and that I would have the courage to continue reading.