Today at first light, in the presence of God, a question I was asked by an Occupational Health doctor a few years ago now, came back to me. He was listening to my being grateful for the measure of health I still had, grateful for all the church locally and centrally were doing to help me, but he burst into my litany of thankfulness with exasperation to almost shout a question at me: “But have you mourned the loss of your health?” I hadn’t, nor did I intend to. I pushed the question away as the devil’s temptation, and could immediately think of selected verses of Scripture to justify my reaction.
Today, a few years on, with more health issues to contend with than ever, mostly as a consequence of my original lung condition or its treatment, Jesus my friend seemed to ask me the same question, and in the asking infer I had not heard his tone, heart or care behind that doctor’s exasperated question.
So, I pass the question on to some of you at least, to those of you who are in a fight with illness, who have faced it with the weapons of counting your blessings and trusting God. Jesus would commend that I am sure. However, would he ask you in a tone of caring exasperation a question to which he already knows your answer but needs you to hear it too, “Yes, but have you ever mourned your loss of health?” It seems from my sense of his presence drawing near as a friend today, that is not only allowable, but necessary in order to enter into his comfort more truly. Perhaps with me you need his help to mourn?
Actually, this is not just for those of you who have health issues now I come to think of it. Loss comes in all shapes and forms, right through a spectrum of every day losses which everyone who lives goes through, to the deepest darkest most horrendous losses way beyond the norm that many will never experience, but you may be facing right now. I am even thinking of friends, as I write this closing sentence or two, who at this very moment are living through one of those darker losses, one of the very sorest trials into which human beings can be plunged.
Perhaps you are finding a way through your loss by thankfulness and trust, but perhaps for you too what I am saying here is relevant. Have you allowed yourself to mourn? The thought of allowing yourself to do that might terrify you. If it does, read Luke 24 sometime soon. When Jesus draws near into expressed mourning and the grief of loss, and listens and talks as He walks with us, a miracle happens in the mourning: our hearts begin to burn within us.