Earlier this week, my wife shared with me a very sad story. One of her friends has a daughter who’s been diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. It is inoperable in addition to having a 100% mortality rate. The little girl is six years old. She has two older siblings and one younger one. This is the sort of real life story, which seems so unjust. How is it that I have been granted thirty-eight years of life, but this little girl might be lucky to live to either eight or nine even with successful radiation treatment?
There is grief and then there is grief. I cannot fathom what is going on in the hearts and souls of this girl’s parents. They are staring down the prospect of burying their daughter either in two months or two years. Right now, I feel the weight of this as I write this entry in my in-laws’ place. Like I said earlier, the heaviness that I feel pales in comparison to what this mother and father shoulder at the moment. Their pain only increases as they prepare to explain to their two oldest children the reality of their youngest sister’s health. How do they do this?
I do not have any answers. In fact, I’m not even going to speculate. When I think of the friends and relatives of this family, I wonder what supporting them looks like in this season. The most reasonable thing to do seems to be to grieve alongside of them. I am not suggesting to engage in a pity party, or to wallow in the mire. It is important to see the hard circumstances of life as hard. The Lord does not teach me to bury my head in the sand about life’s difficulties. Neither does he call me to pour syrup over them.
What does the Lord say to his people who face intense grief? Here is a verse from the Psalms that provides a genuine promise fom the Lord: “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves those crushed in spirit” (Psalms 34:18, ESV). The last part of the verse is my favorite. I do not think that the Psalmist could have used a better metaphor than crushed in spirit. This is exactly what I feel for the parents of their little girl. I join them in praying and seeking our Heavenly Father to heal this little girl. He is their God of comfort and mine, too (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, ESV).