I put the task to the back of my mind for a moment and before I could gather the courage to try again, a friend texted me and asked if I’d gotten my ticket yet. I told her no, and she told me that she was going to take care of it. Her exact words were “Ok buddy — let’s get you a flight.”
Sometimes when we are grieving, it feels like spinning wheels in mud. There’s no clear way forward, and reversing seems foolish, and you’re left moving quickly and simultaneously going absolutely nowhere. What you need is for someone to put on their boots and walk up to your car and knock on your window and try to lend a hand. You need someone to show you that there’s a world outside of these spinning wheels. That’s what this beloved friend did for me. She watched with everyone else for a moment and then said to me, “Ok. That’s enough. I’m here, and we’re together.”
I’m sure you’ve had someone walk through a season of want and not known what to say to them, so I’d like to spell it out for you: put on your dang boots and go to them. Maybe it’s making a meal or offering a plane ticket. Maybe it’s going on a walk or caring for their children. Whatever it is, it will be helpful because when we’re beyond exhausted, everything is effort. Every hour and errand and to-do is soaked in a weighty ache. Sometimes, when we’ve been hurting for a long time, it’s as if our muscles get so fatigued that we can barely lift our own hands.
In Exodus 17, the people of Israel were facing their first battle after being freed from the Egyptians and a life of slavery. It was against Amalek, their staunch enemy. They had made it this far only with the help of God, so their leader Moses carried a staff which represented God’s power. This staff had appeared before when it turned into a snake as he stood before Pharaoh. And he had held it in his hands as he encountered the burning bush before that.
The people of Israel were hardly organized at this point. And they were certainly outnumbered. They were a new nation who had been raised in slavery, and they did not have much to offer, but they did have the sovereign power of God with them.
“Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed” (Exodus 17:11 ESV).
As long as he held up that staff — that reminder of who they belonged to — the Israelites won the battle. But his arms got tired because he was a human person with limits.
The story continues:
“But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun” (v. 12).
They showed up and they held his arms, and this was how the battle is won.
In those dark days after Jill died, I didn’t have a whole lot to offer. I started the day with some semblance of focus, but by the afternoon, I was a mess and barely knew what to do with myself, let alone how to work out logistics for a cross-country trip. I needed backup.
One night, my friend Brooke texted, “I’m sorry this autumn has been grief on grief.”
The next thing I knew, she was at my door with travel logistics and ice cream. Her husband Jon had remembered from months earlier that my favorite flavor — brown butter almond brittle from Jeni’s — was at Whole Foods. She sat with me and let me be sad and helped me come up with a game plan.
I think often of the gift of companionship in those weeks. Friends stepped in and said, “I’m taking care of this.”
The Lord doesn’t leave us to do these things alone and gives us the gift of one another. When all hope was fading, they carried me and it made all the difference.
This is an adapted excerpt from Melissa’s new book, What Cannot Be Lost.
In her new book, What Cannot Be Lost: How Jesus Holds Us Together When Life is Falling Apart, author Melissa Zaldivar talks honestly about losing everything that once defined her and how God used unexpected opportunities, like working at Orchard House, where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women, to spark a journey of working through her grief and encountering the all-sufficient love of Christ.
Weaving inspiring passages of Scripture and insights from Little Women into her personal story, Melissa encourages readers with her discovery that it’s when we have nothing left to offer that we can receive God’s love the most. And that’s something that can never be lost. You will be reassured that God will meet you in the midst of the mess and be urged to look to Him for help, comfort, and strength. What Cannot Be Lost is a great gift for those whose faith is being tested in the face of a loss of any kind — a loved one, a job, or a relationship.
Get your copy today (and pick up a copy for a friend as well). . . and leave a comment below for a chance to WIN one of 5 copies*!
Then join Becky Keife for a conversation with Melissa this weekend on the (in)courage podcast. Don’t miss it!