You’ll get through this.
For all the parents and students out there who are so disappointed because graduations have been canceled or postponed, God sees your disappointment and knows your heartache.
I’m here to tell you, you’ll get through this.
I don’t claim to be an actual prophet, but I have definitely have some prophetic gifts. One of the things common to biblical prophets was that they got to experience the same things as the people they served, to help the people see God’s hand and leading. Often, prophets had to go before the people they served, to give the people an example for how to get through the calamity. Nothing is wasted in God’s economy.
So mom and dad, I’m here to tell you: you’ll get through this.
I hold graduations much more loosely than I did when our kids were small. Our experiences with graduations have forced us to focus on loving our kids for who they are as people, not just their accomplishments. Don’t get me wrong: we want our kids to do well in everything they do, and we celebrate their successes. But these things have been laid down as luxuries, no longer necessities.
For our son, the week of his high school graduation was frankly one of the worst weeks of my life. But God worked good from it: we were put in a place where we had to confront some ongoing mistreatment by our son’s school and by some family members; ultimately everything that happened led to his autism diagnosis. God also used that terrible week and what He had been impressing on me–that is, the need for Mental Health Ministry in churches–to launch a mental health ministry and later become mental health ministry director for Key Ministry.
Mom and Dad, you’ll get through this.
The following year, my daughter made a poor choice that completely upended her world. Within six weeks, she went from being at the top–the TOP–of her high school class in her junior year, to leaving her high school to finish at the local community college, as a registered homeschool student.
No proms. No junior and senior honors that were already starting to come her way. No valedictorian or salutatorian designation. And many questions and frankly fears about how this sudden change would be interpreted by the colleges where she would soon be applying. And by the way–no more friends. You really do learn who your friends are in a crisis.
You’ll get through this. And so will your child. But YOU have to deal with your Grief with God RIGHT NOW, and help your child process his or her grief as an aspect of growing in faith in Him.
The hardest part for me was senior recognition Sunday at our church. Our daughter refused to participate, and we understood. I stayed home from church that day, keeping busy. By that point, most of my tears were done. I’d cried nearly every day the previous year, and daily, the last few weeks before that Sunday.
So what lessons learned do I have to offer you?
1 – God told us He would be with us THROUGH, not remove us FROM. Yes, acknowledge the pain, shed the tears. Comfort your child, let yourself be comforted. Look to God by being in regular prayer, and look to His Word for answers and guidance. Then look for how He answers your prayers. You’ll see some amazing things. This is how He is with us in trying times.
2 – God has positioned YOU to be the parent, to be spiritually mature. Now is the time to use that wisdom to see the bigger picture, and help your child do the same. Be strong for your kids, and take care of yourself. If you have seen a counselor or therapist and need someone to help you process your grief, do that now. Many are offering telemedicine services for the first time. I made an arrangement with the counselor I had seen over the years to call me whenever she had an opening. I distinctly remember getting off the exercise bike at the YMCA to go cry in my car and wrestle with my fears with her wise counsel, on more than one occasion.
3 – Expect that God will reveal something amazing in this time. Pray that He uses this time to direct your child in the way that He really wants him or her to go. We’re still waiting to see fully what God will do because of the experiences our family went through, but we do know that our kids have been able to experience hardship and grief–and see that there is life beyond the difficult times. There is great value in knowing that many difficult times come to pass, not only come to stay. And we experienced some truly jaw-dropping miracles during that time.
One of the spiritual practices I often follow is to spend time in listening prayer. It’s not meditation, it’s an invitation to the Holy Spirit to reveal whatever He would like while I am simply quiet and still. This morning, a quick perusal of my prayer journal for the past couple of years yielded some unexpected results.
About six months ago, in my time of listening prayer, I recorded this impression: “a person coming forth fairly quickly from the darkness. A coronation? A person putting a crown on another person’s head? But the hands holding the crown are shifting, like the crown isn’t going to go on the person’s head right, or the person holding the crown is indecisive.”
I did not remember this until today. In the past six months, I’ve also recorded several listening prayers about elephants, and even something specific about lungs and yellow coverings over the chest. People with coronavirus often describe the experience as having an elephant sit on your chest, with agonizing pneumonia.
You’ll get through the grief of the things laid down in this season. Grief and worship are not incompatible. In your grief, let God grow You to be more sensitive to His leading, to hear his Voice more clearly. And then go and help others do the same.
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