To be without God and to die of it.

I find myself in a phase of grief where from time to time during the day I feel acutely lost without my husband, the absence of him like a soreness in my spirit, an ache in the middle of my chest telling me that something is very wrong with me. Yes, something is wrong!! It’s death that is wrong – it’s wrong for us to be separated, for me to lose the heart of my heart. I have known this truth in my mind and for the world generally – now I understand it in my bones.

Crucifixion wikimediaBut as I’ve said here more than once already, I have the peaceful assurance that we are not absolutely separated, and a huge thankfulness as well that neither of us has been cut off from the Source of our life and existence. Sometimes we humans use the figure of speech that we will “die of grief,” because it feels that wrenching. But I know even as I am feeling it and railing against it, that I will live through it. This is all because Christ suffered for us, and he overcame death. My pain is like a pinprick compared to what Christ endured on our behalf. As  for my husband, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.”

These words from Metropolitan Anthony Bloom that I first read in God and Man two years ago are even more meaningful to me on this Holy Saturday:

When in the Apostles’ Creed we repeat “And he descended into Hell,” we very often think “That’s one of those expressions,” and we think of Dante and of the place where all those poor people are being tortured with such inventiveness by God.

But the Hell of the Old Testament has nothing to do with the spectacular hell of Christian literature. The Hell of the Old Testament is something infinitely more horrid; it is the place where God is not. It is the place of final dereliction; it’s the place where you continue to exist and there is no life left.

Harrowing-Dionisius

And when we say that he descended into Hell, we mean that having accepted the loss of God, to be one of us in the only major tragedy of that kind, he accepted also the consequences and goes to the place where God is not, to the place of final dereliction; and there, as ancient hymns put it, the Gates of Hell open to receive Him who was unconquered on earth and who now is conquered, a prisoner, and they receive this man who has accepted death in an immortal humanity, and Godlessness without sin, and they are confronted with the divine presence because he is both man and God, and Hell is destroyed — there is no place left where God is not.

The old prophetic song is fulfilled, “Where shall I flee from thy face — in Heaven is thy throne, in Hell (understand in Hebrew — the place where you are not), you are also.” This is the measure of Christ’s solidarity with us, of his readiness to identify himself, not only with our misery but with our godlessness. If you think of that, you will realise that there is not one atheist on earth who has ever plunged into the depths of godlessness that the Son of God, become the Son of Man, has done. He is the only one who knows what it means to be without God and to die of it.

— Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

10 thoughts on “To be without God and to die of it.

  1. Beautiful: I have the peaceful assurance that we are not absolutely separated, and a huge thankfulness as well that neither of us has been cut off from the Source of our life and existence.
    Praying for you, sweet friend.

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  2. We cannot fathom what Jesus went through for us. We read and see only glimpses of the horror through the Bible and other readings and movies. What we do know is that He came out the Victor.

    I enjoyed the writing you shared with us here, in spite of your grief. God uses our grief to be a light to others. Some days you will feel like you are in what they call ‘the widow’s fog’. It lasted for me well into my second year, but it does lift. Missing our dear husbands is something we live with, knowing they are with Jesus gives us peace, and one day we will be reunited and will live with Jesus forever and ever. No more death, sorrow, sickness, sin, all will be joy unspeakable and full of glory.

    Have a lovely, peace filled weekend ~ FlowerLady

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  3. Dear Gretchen,
    I pray for you daily as the Lord brings you to my mind. This is beautifully written. I am thankful that you have Jesus.
    I am thankful that we don’t sorrow as other people.
    I am thankful you are you.
    Sending you prayers and a giant hug O
    Kim

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  4. Since God is Light to be without God is darkness.

    Before I was born again I did my living in the night. I even worked nights. Since I wasn’t born again until I was 47 it was very obvious the change that took place. It was night and day! The birds begin to sing here at before 5am, I love to join them!

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  5. God bless you, dear Gretchen. Our hearts are so bound up in our husbands. That special friend we shared everything with is no longer beside us. It’s quite an adjustment. But God is so good to give us hope of a reunion and a knowledge that our loved one is more than just okay. They are experiencing things that we can’t even imagine until we join them. I still shed tears now and then, but not from sadness for my husband. He’s doing wonderfully! Instead they are for realizing what a blessing my husband was to me. Many times I didn’t recognize all of his good qualities. But even more, in thankfulness to my Savior for all He’s done for all of his children. He was especially fond of saying, “Be not afraid!” His love gives us courage for the rest of the journey. Thanks for continuing to share your love for God and these inspirational writings. Praying for you!

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  6. Offering my prayers for you also! I can only dimly imagine the pain of losing your husband, your own flesh, but there must be much comfort in knowing he, and you, have tasted something of redemptive suffering that now is only redemption and no suffering. Thank you for sharing your experience and insights – you have a gift for providing a regular reminder to focus on the beauty of the every day, and not the trivial travails of the daily grind.

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