I have been pondering rest. Is it possible?? Everyone says, Rest, Natasha. I need rest, but it's complicated...
Here is an exert from Lament for a Son, by Nicholas Wolterstorff:
Someone said to Claire, "I hope you're learning to live at peace with Eric's death." Peace, shalom, salaam. Shalom is the fulness of life in all dimensions. Shalom is dwelling in justice and delight with God, with neighbour, with oneself, in nature. Death is shalom's mortal enemy. Death is demonic. We cannot live at peace with death.
When the writer of Revelation spoke of the coming day of shalom, he did not say that on that day we would live at peace with death. He said that on that day "There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
I shall try to keep the wound from healing, in recognition of our living still in the old order of things. I shall try to keep it from healing, in solidarity with those who sit beside me on humanity's mourning bench.
The church says, Heal! Rest! Rejoice! Be at peace! Really, though, it feels like, Move on! Be okay! Get over it! Look happy! :)
I can no longer take for granted the things that once were. The church I am familiar with in my culture (generally speaking) understands peace, joy, rest, and rejoicing in terms of all things being good, of all things being made right... But death is a force to be reckoned with in the church. It challenges the typical ideology of all things good. All things are not good. Death is not good. Sin is not good. And they happen.
My girls ask me repeated questions about death. They are unsatisfied with the answers because the result is messy. All things are not good. They ask, Are bad people real? Like the scary movie characters they see on TV. Well, no, they are not real, I say, But there are people in the world who are bad, who make bad choices, who do not allow Jesus' love into their heart. How do children cope in a world not made right?? I could lie to them, I suppose, but it wouldn't work. How am I safe? they wonder. How do I cope in a world where my Daddy can die, where life can suddenly end, where there is loneliness, grief, and fear? How do I cope in a world where bad men exist, and mean girls, where all things are not made good...?
Rest. Peace. Shalom?
This is why Jesus said, Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14:27)
To be at peace in this life, to rest, is much more profound than the perspective that all things are made good... I have been in inexplicable chronic pain for 12 years, served in ministry with my husband until he dropped dead at the prime of his life, am now a widow and single mom... And I am immeasurably blessed. I have been well provided for, adore my amazing children, have friends and family who love me. Honestly, it is insane how blessed I am. I am thankful. And I am blessed to be a blessing... I hope to be a blessing to others... God has worked amazingly in my life and heart... But this is not the source of my peace. It will never again offer me rest. None of these things will ever give me peace because I have seen death come and steal it all away.
[God] put everything under their feet. In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. But we do see Jesus... (Hebrews 2:8-9a)
Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us... (Hebrews 4:1-2a)
Jesus, you are the only source of peace that remains after death. In the wake of catastrophic loss, the explosion of sudden death, when the dust settles, and the air begins to clear, You are the only thing standing. You are the only One Sovereign. You are the only One. The Great I Am. I will praise You, and adore You forevermore. I will worship you in this land of death. I will join with all mourners and grievers, all people who labor and toil, with all of creation, crying out, How long, Oh Lord!! How long until all things are made right? How long before shalom?
Bless us, and keep us. Make your face to shine on us. Be gracious to us! Turn your face toward us! And give us Your peace. Amen.