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“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.”

C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

C. S. Lewis penned the above statement (among many others) after the death of his wife, Joy Davidman. Now I find myself navigating my own journey of grief after the recent loss of my mother. It is a journey not to be wasted, and one I learn to walk step by step.

I do not yet know all the pathways grief will take. I’ve entered the murky waters of uncharted territory. 

But, I do know the One who goes before me, who takes my trembling hand in His steady one and upholds me.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

isaiah 41:10

Sometimes, like the late, great Elisabeth Elliot, I know to simply do the next thing, trusting God will meet me there. Other times, like Lewis, I find myself figuratively wringing my hands, pacing. What exactly am I to do in this moment?

I believe both are appropriate responses to grief. But, in either scenario we can attempt to power our way through in our own strength, or we can yield our hurting hearts to Jesus. He understands, He cares, He comes close to broken hearts, (Hebrews 4:25, 1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 34:18). Elliot and Lewis are good teachers.

My heart has been restless today. Searching. Needing somewhere to land but the plane just keeps circling. Isn’t that one of the things they say about grief — it’s love with no place to go?

And yet, love perseveres.

In my brokenness, I know the deep persevering love and presence of the Lord. He is continually with me, even if He doesn’t give me tidy answers to all my questions.

The consistent theme He speaks to my circling heart is Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know I am God.” I’ve acknowledged it, agreed with it, but still I continued my search. Fluttering in the stomach. Restlessness.

Finally, when He pressed those words into my heart yet again, I acquiesced. “Okay, Lord. What do You want me to see?”

Be still has all the meanings I am already familiar with: cease, relax, sink, loosen, become helpless, etc.

But I almost missed this beautiful and profound connection. The Hebrew word for “still” is raphah.

I know this word — where have I seen it before? To “be still” is directly tied to rapha which means “to heal.” Stillness and healing are intertwined.

Jehovah Rapha

“I am the Lord who heals you.” Exodus 15:26

That’s what my kind Father wanted me to see.

Healing takes time. A lot of time. I’m not sure our grief ever truly leaves us this side of eternity. But I know my God is Healer. And if I’m to know Him as my healer I have to slow my heart down and rest in Him. The binding of wounds doesn’t happen on the run. We don’t heal if we don’t stop moving. I’m not held if I don’t heed His call to come close.

“Stop circling, daughter.”

“Be still and know I am God. I am the God who heals you.”


Infinite, holy God of hope, thank You for another window into Your heart along the pathways of grief. You are the God who stills and heals my restless heart. Jehovah Raphah, Jehovah Rapha. Let Your constant love comfort me, as You have promised, (Psalm 119:76).

I offer up this gift of grief to You once again. An empty cup is all I have. Provider. Sustainer. Healer. Faithful friend. I’m still learning to be still.


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