When it comes to loss, losing Kim was not my first experience. It is by far the most difficult loss I have faced, but I have been through a few experiences of loss. Kim and I lost her brother, Scott. Later, we lost our first granddaughter a mere two weeks before her expected delivery. Losing little Scarlett Ray was heart-rending. We needed to stand like “oaks of righteousness.”
And Kim did stand firm. She expressed faith during our loss.
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3
During loss, everyone plays their part in comforting one another. It’s organic and relational. When our family lost Scarlett Ray, Kim was broken. We were all broken. I’m reminded of the verse in Ecclesiastes 3 when I think of how we served and comforted one another.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 3:9-12
Kim definitely played her part. God’s Word encouraged her, and she shared from Isaiah 61:1-3—the passage above—with all of us. Truth such as this passage shared in the middle of a painful experience undergirds sufferers. Remember, every experience of loss is a reverberation of the ultimate brokenness of the world. Likewise, ultimate rescue, redemption, and reconciliation echoes into every loss with hope. Phrases such as “bind up the brokenhearted” and “comfort all who mourn” met our family with the ministry we needed in a difficult time. One phrase came alive for us and delivered a sliver of hope. We longed for “a beautiful headdress” and “oil of gladness.”
“…to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning…” Isaiah 61:3
We were overcome with grief, but he promised gladness would return. The gospel takes the long view, and that’s especially important when the short-term view is difficult. We embraced his Word, and we held on tight. It’s amazing how the truth of God’s promises can act as a bastion against the onslaught.
“…God’s comfort comes to his people—not in the lifting off of their weight of sorrow or pain, but in strengthening them for victorious endurance.” J. R. Miller, The Ministry of Comfort
And God used Kim to encourage us then. Today, I’m reminded of her ministry to us then. And her trust in God’s Word encourages me now. Kim walked by faith through the heartbreaking loss of little Scarlett. And Kim was right. God helped us all recover, and he has blessed Emily and Michael with sweet memories of Scarlett and three beautiful children later.
God has given us a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning. Peace and steadfast love have been our companions. And we’ve also been blessed with new blessings in our family. Violett. Beckett. Oliver. Owen. Camden. These are just a few obvious gifts of gladness. Need I say more?
Kim’s faith strengthened me then, and her example of faith strengthens me now. And I’m watching, once again, for a beautiful headdress and oil of gladness.
“The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.” Psalm 34:22