Renee Mercer loved her calling as a pastor’s wife. She was content in the background, serving next to her husband, Dave, a Wesleyan Methodist pastor. They had just celebrated 30 years of “I do’s” and were looking forward to the next thirty. They had a home with three teenage boys and one girl newly married. Their church was bursting with possibilities and new people.

A knock on the door in the wee hours of Sunday morning shattered their lives. When Renee answered, she received the news that her husband had died while on his mission trip to Nicaragua. Time seemed to stop at 5:20 a.m. as she cried out, “No, this can’t be!”

Renee soon began to ask questions: Where is God’s will in this? David still had so much to do. I can’t do life without him! When no answers came, she did what many of us do in the silent mysteries of suffering: blame ourselves. Did I not pray hard enough? Did I not love him enough, or did I somehow deserve this? God, what did I do wrong? God, what’s going to happen to my kids?

“I don’t think this hurt will ever go away,” Renee said. “Sometimes, the sorrow is so deep all I want to do is throw up. It’s hard to move on when every moment feels like 5:20 a.m. when the news of Dave’s sudden death blindsided me.”

“At my lowest moments, God’s grace often appears clothed as ordinary people who not only grieve for me but with me,” she said. “The first night of being single, he caused someone to slip a verse onto my pillow: ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble’” (Psalm 46:1). Then, in three days, people helped us sell our house and find a new one near my family’s home in just three weeks.

“Some days, I want to sit down and quit because this is too hard, but God’s grace scoops me up and helps me keep doing the next thing. My children and I struggle in our unique ways with the ongoing grief, and as their mother, I wish I could ‘fix it.’”

Many tiptoe around another person’s suffering to not make them cry. But Renee knows crying is part of her healing. She recounts the Apostle Paul’s statement that “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Renee said, “We are learning to daily lean on God and limp at our own pace.”

There are two parts to dealing with a loss like this. First is the grieving process. Here’s one definition of “grief:” It’s what you feel when you reach out to hug someone near and dear to you, and they are not there anymore. The second is bereavement. It is when you try to put your life back together with a piece missing. Renee found out that she couldn’t replace that piece, so she let God do it. You keep your precious memories of the one you lost, but you rebuild your life on what God gives you as a new foundation.

As the Psalmist said, the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. He heals their broken heart and bandages their wounds. (Psalm 34:18; 147:3) And the Apostle Peter advises us to place all our anxieties on the Lord because He cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7) So, whether your loss involves a spouse, sibling, friend, even a job, place the words of an old but blessed hymn in your heart that reads: “Does Jesus care when my heart is pained too deeply for mirth and song. As the burdens press and the cares distress and the way grows weary and long. Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares, His heart is touched with my grief. When the days are weary, the long nights dreary I know my Savior cares.” – Dr. Robert R Seyda

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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