Shalom In The Presence Of Sorrow

English: Shalom
English: Shalom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The  outrage, passion, and  “bargaining “ I hear in all the media since the  Sandy Hook tragedy is too much to bear. I use the word bargaining as it is a familiar term in the grieving process. All of this clamoring is not what is needed right now!


I sat at the local coffee shop this morning, gazing out the front window at the heavy falling snow, my mind opened a file from long ago. This file is 30 years old. It was December of 1982 that I was ‘lost in the abyss of ‘bereavement’; the month previous, on November 6th, I buried one of my children. The weight of loss so enormous I wanted to die, I could not. Megan has brothers and a sister who needed me, and God had other plans for me too.


Following her death, I awoke each morning with heaviness in my heart that was as much physical as emotional.  Opening my eyes I immediately felt nothing, no agony, it was a brief respite from the sorrow, if only a few seconds. Then, as consciousness engulfed me the searing, stabbing pain of her absence covered me. Sleep is evasive and I coveted the temporary relief from the hurt it brought. That is, unless she was in my dreams.


Parental patterns and instincts are etched in a mother’s total being. The child may be gone but her heart, mind, and body continue to seek that which is absent. For many months especially in the morning, I listened for her, expecting to hear her voice as she called to me. I longed for her with every one of my senses. I wanted to see her smile, hear her baby voice, and brush her soft brown hair. I would clutch the clothes  she had worn shortly before her death, closing my eyes I smelled them,  taking in long breaths filled with her scent, hoping beyond hope this was all a bad dream that would be over when I opened them.


The sadness was paralyzing. No matter what the circumstances of a child’s death you are disoriented by the strength and stages of grief. My energy in every realm was depleted. I believed in God at the time, but I really did not know Him, and that fact handicapped me.


It will always be the hardest time of my life. So many unanswered questions, the biggest of all was WHY? The classic stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It was bargaining that I clung to for months. I believe parents of deceased children do this incessantly as we are the caregivers of these little souls who entrust us with their lives. Our brains scream at us saying “what went wrong, you should have been able to protect her, or him”.


Thinking that if I had a ‘do over’, change something, figure it out or fix it, she would return. Playing over and over in my mind the incident that caused her death; what could I have done differently? The “what ifs” were maddening. What if I had done this or that, turned left instead of right, gone to another doctor, fed her green beans instead of peas…pleased God more, sinned less. It was all futile to relive this night and day, but it was part of the process. Finally, I could do this no longer. That is when the realization that she is not coming back, sets in…along with depression, then finally acceptance.


I understand the parent’s grief, I relive my own. The distressing, shocking way these innocent ones died makes it all the worse. I pray as I know everyone else does that God in His mercy eliminated any suffering. It is with tears that I type this, my sympathy and compassion goes out to all the families of all those who died.


What I find disturbing are the personalities in the media, government officials, and a president himself that thinks a finger must be pointed at who or what he deems responsible. This is done before these beloved bodies are even buried. It is precisely at this junction that all persons resist the temptation to “fix” the problem, and blame.


Instead of humility in the wake of the horrendous crime, and loss, we have hostility, malicious and offensive behavior. Restrain our need to “make it better” for we cannot. We must not rush to judge, and let anxious emotions rule and continue the chaos, or use this to further one’s ideological agenda, and selfish ambitions. Sowing contention and strife is not helpful. I am calling for respect of the bereft during their incredible suffering.


Yes, we will look at any and all things that may have contributed to this catastrophe. We will analyze, and rationally consider the causes and what is reasonable for the prevention of potential future incidents. Equanimity is required, composure, calmness, and shalom. The Hebrew word shalom means more than peace, hello or goodbye. Hebrew words convey emotions, intent and emotion. According to Strong’s Concordance 7965 Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full.


I know that this shalom is not known by everyone, for it comes from YHWH, the God of Israel, and is personified in His Son, Yeshua (Jesus). Trusting Him, Yeshua’s bloody atonement for our sin, and keeping His commandments is our part of the Covenant. Knowing the One True God, who made heaven and earth and all things in it, will gain us not only eternal life  but wisdom and shalom.


Being a child of the Most High through trusting does not take away our feelings, or insulate our life from hurt, suffering, or pain. Quite the contrary, it often brings more as the enemy assaults those living holy lives.  But He will give us the strength through the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), to endure, grow, love-even the unlovely, and forgive, especially ourselves, as He has forgiven us.


Another well known Jewish writer said “The Tanakh says, ‘I trusted, therefore I spoke.’  Since we have the same Spirit that enables us to trust, we also trust  and therefore speak; because we know that he who raised the Lord Yeshua will also raise us with Yeshua and bring us along with you  into his presence…This is why we do not lose courage. Though the outward self is heading for decay, our inner self is being renewed daily. For our light and transient troubles are achieving for us and everlasting glory whose weight is beyond description. We concentrate not on what is seen but on what is not seen, since the things seen are temporary, but the things not seen are eternal.”                                                                   1 Corinthians 4:13-18


English: "A symbol that Messianic Jews be...
English: “A symbol that Messianic Jews believe was used to identify the first Messianic congregation, led by Yeshua (Jesus)’s brother Jacob in Jerusalem” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Rav Shaul,  the Apostle Paul, was later  beheaded.


The world does not know Him.  Therefore, I cannot expect most behaviors, attitudes, and self interest to be absent on the airwaves, satellite beams or whatever.  I can point the way. It is the only True Way of hope, healing, and shalom.


Sarah Anne.


Scripture quotations are taken from the Complete Jewish Bible, copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. Published by Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc. Distributed by Messianic Jewish Resources. All rights reserved. Used by permission.