Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Anger (01/24/05)
TITLE: Anger, a Part of the Grief Process
By Chris Miller
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I can never walk through colorful, crunchy leaves without remembering that fall of 1993. Coming in from raking one chilly October evening, I found a startling message on my answering machine. “Hi, Chris, this is your dad. I just wanted to let you know that your mom had her tests today. We’re just waiting for the results.” Unaware that she was even having tests, I immediately dialed the familiar number. My dad reminded me that my mom hadn’t been feeling well so they thought it was time to have her checked out.
The next couple days of waiting crept by while we all prayed for her well-being. My mom called me with the test results, which were even more serious than I’d imagined. The CAT scan showed spots on her pancreas and liver, which Dr. Ramasamy believed to be cancer. Because of my mom’s firm faith in God, she accepted the news graciously. I, on the other hand, felt as if a truck had run over me. After I got off the phone, I lay on the floor and howled with grief. Jezebel cautiously approached and licked the tears from my cheeks. My feline friend would be my weeping pillow much of that month between my mom’s diagnosis and death.
Throughout our trial, the believers at my parent’s church showered us with love. Following the admonition of James 5:14 and 15, Pastor Liddick stopped by to pray. “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.” (NKJV) Somehow, I clung to this promise until the very hour of her death. Reality told me she was going to die, but my heart hoped for a miracle.
In the middle of the night on November 29th, my sister and I were awakened by raspy breathing from my parent’s bedroom. When Pastor Liddick arrived at 3:00 a.m. we were sending my mom off in the ambulance. I raged at the pastor, “Why is God making her suffer?” Like Job, I wondered about God’s purposes in our lives.
Watching someone die in an emergency room is surreal. The “peace that passes understanding”, however, filled my heart as I thrilled to know she was with Jesus.
Somehow, Christmas came and went. Knowing my mom was in heaven sweetened the painful memories from the night of her death. January, however, blew in with a vengeance. Upon waking each morning, I would be reminded, “She’s gone; she will never be in my house again. There is NO place, anywhere, that I can go and see her.” The incongruity of that fact took a long time to sink in. How can someone be there one minute, and gone the next?
February brought the Olympics and major sadness. The two are entwined in my memories of that dark month. I didn’t want to live if my mom wasn’t going to be a part of my life. Sleep helped me escape my sorrow as Mom often lived on in my nighttime dreams.
As the sadness lifted, I struggled with the verse from James. Anger consumed me. Why did God even bother with these kinds of verses if He didn’t intend to keep his promises. I could barely read James 5:14 and 15 without feeling bitter. A patient friend explained that this was no absolute promise that all sick people would be healed. It dealt with spiritual healing, he claimed. That didn’t necessarily make me feel better. I still felt jipped, betrayed by God.
Spring seemed to melt the sadness around my heart as the snow receded from the frozen landscape. I’d feel better and then fall into a snit when my friends got to shop for Mother’s Day cards. I took one step forward and two steps back.
Nonetheless, the Lord was big enough to handle my anger and all the other emotions I experienced through the valley of my mom’s death. One evening, I had knelt by my mother’s bedside, weeping and claiming I couldn’t get along without her. Always practical, she let me know, “You’ll be fine because the Lord will help you.” Looking back on these last eleven years since her death, I can say with thankfulness, “Mom, you were right!”
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