Wistful Peace and Long Unwanted Journeys

Wistful Peace and Long Unwanted Journeys

“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” Luke 14:28

I’ll never forget the day. I wasn’t sure it would ever arrive, honestly. But I had been told it would come. Eventually.

Within hours of Kim’s death, I had quickly realized that I had a long journey before me. Unwanted. But it had already begun. Within a few weeks, I met with Dr. David Fort, a friend and counselor. He helped me think through much of what was before me. And one thing he told me gave me some hope. He assured me that a day would come when I would experience what he called “wistful peace.” I wasn’t convinced in my current state of mind. Feelings are a powerful force to contend with in loss.

Eventually, I looked it up in a dictionary to make sure I had a good understanding. “Wistful” refers to a vague or regretful longing. But what does that mean when using wistful and peace together? To understand it fully, you need to take note of something important. Wistful is one letter away from wishful. Wishful is hopeful of something to gain. Wistful, while looking forward also, carries with it a regretful longing about something lost.

Add peace, and it signals trust for the journey. And peace signals and leads to healing while on the journey. Wistful peace recognizes loss but embraces a confidence in the present and future regardless of how painful or chaotic it may be. Wistful peace acknowledges loss—faces the loss squarely—while experiencing and enjoying healing peace.

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

Again, I remember the day. Shortly after nineteen months on my long and unwanted journey, I was in my house alone. I started singing about the steadfast love of the Lord. I was taking care of some chore and heard myself singing about his mercies that are new every morning. It was different. It surprised me, too. Caught me off guard.

But it was welcomed.

Sure, I have worshipped in song since losing Kim. But not spontaneously. Singing was a worship discipline. I sang in church during worship times. I sang sometimes even in my quiet times. But anytime I sang, it was intentional. I don’t want to say it was forced. It was planned. It was an act of worship, but it was a disciplined act of worship. Heartfelt but doggedly delivered.

And then on this particular day, I heard myself singing. I had a song in my heart. Spontaneous declarations of praise out of nowhere. Unintentional. Escaping from within my heart. The pain, while still very real, was vague at times. The pain was distant in some moments. Not top of mind. Other important thoughts could also invade my mind. Other people. Other callings. Other duties. Songs. Peace was present.

I am convinced of two things: First, unwanted journeys must be intentionally faced and endured. Second, wistful peace comes after a period of healing.

If you’re in an unwanted journey, stand firm and do not waver. Rest on the solid promises of God. Trust and obey. Walk by faith. Believe him. Healing will come, and wistful peace will visit you.

Vague. Yes, regretful. But peaceful.

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called…” Colossians 3:15

Note: This entry—written a long time ago—is being released a few days after my marriage to Amanda. How appropriate!


  1. Crystal

    Beautiful reminder of powerful truth! And joyous congratulations!

    • D. Ray Davis

      Thank you, Crystal!

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