Grief is grief no matter what the source. For many people, grief is caused by the things that they’ve lost or sacrificed. This was the cause of the grief, and the resulting deep depression, that God faithfully walked me through in the summer of 2016. It is also the focus of today’s article.
In 2016, God instructed me and my husband Patrick to move to the Middle East to learn Arabic. We didn’t think that we were ever coming back to the States, so we willingly sold or gave away everything in our possession, including our two fur babies (Maggie and Fritz), to make that happen. (Don’t mistake willingly and easily as the same thing.) I repeat, we did it willingly, which is why the grief I experienced over the things we had given up took me completely by surprise.
It seemed to me that everything we had worked so hard for, and the life that we had built, was lost. One minute it was there, the next minute, gone. I found myself asking, Was it all for nothing? Was it all just a waste? My life had been so full just a few short months before, and now I felt like I was standing before God empty handed and empty inside. I thought, What was the point of it all? Did the first 40 years of my life mean anything at all? Forty years and I had nothing in the natural to show for it.
I know those are all terribly wrong thoughts and questions, but they were coming from a heart that was grieving and desperate for answers. As I sat on the couch with Father one night on the verge of a mental breakdown, He showed me through His Word what I needed to know: I wasn’t alone, the enemy is a liar, He knows me and understands what I’m going through. (Read more about that in our article “Overcoming Grief 1 – What You Need to Know.”) But before I could move beyond the grief, I had to face my feelings about the things I had sacrificed.
The Right Perspective
I needed God’s perspective to bring me out of the darkness and into the light once again. To help me get there, He did what He always does: He brought me to His Word. His Word is where you will find every answer to every question you could ever have. I was surprised when He brought me to the account of the woman with the alabaster jar. I had read that record of history a million times, but it had never meant anything to me before that night. But when He opened it up and spoke it to me, a deep wound was healed in an instant.
Let’s read it from Matthew’s account:
While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Matthew 26:6-13 NIV)
A Beautiful Thing
What this woman had was precious. It was precious, expensive perfume. It was estimated to be a year’s worth of wages, which in our day would equate to between $30,000 and $54,000. It is possible that this was her whole life’s savings. Maybe she had gathered everything in her possession, sold it, and purchased that alabaster jar of sweet-smelling perfume with the sole intent of pouring every drop out on the head of Jesus.
In the natural, that single act may have left her with nothing to her name. And in the eyes of those who were present, including the disciples, she had wasted the precious perfume that she had. Can you hear Judas gasp as she began to pour it out? After all, he thought Jesus was only worth 30 pieces of silver, which is only about $600 by today’s standards.
In many people’s eyes, when Patrick and I gave everything up, we wasted what we had worked so hard for – good jobs, a home, paid-off vehicles. And I have to admit that in the midst of my grief, I was having some of those same thoughts. I was questioning the value of the things we had sacrificed and the reason for it all. The memory of the things we gave up didn’t smell like sweet-smelling perfume to me. They smelled charred and bitter.
But recorded here, despite what those around her thought – and despite what I thought in that moment – in Jesus’ eyes what she did was a beautiful thing. In fact, it was so beautiful that her single act of sacrifice is recorded in the most important Book ever written. It is shared over and over so that all will know and remember what she did.
It’s All Perfume
Then the moment came and I saw it. The truth broke through the lies of the grief and stone wall of my emotions, and God was able to speak directly to the wound that was festering in my heart. Suddenly, I understood what He was trying to tell me, that every single thing we gave up was a drop of perfume in our alabaster jar. Maggie and Fritz were two sweet-smelling drops. Our vision of the future, our home, our vehicles, our family & friends, they were all drops that filled up our alabaster jar. And when we willingly poured the contents of our jar over the head of our God and Savior, it was a beautiful thing to Him.
The things we offered were precious to us, and they were precious to Him. Knowing that they weren’t meaningless, that He placed great value on everything we had sacrificed, took a huge weight off of my shoulders that night. He had revealed to me His perspective, and I suddenly felt like I could move forward. For the first time in months, I knew that I could look back on the things we lost without feeling an ounce of regret. I could start living in the present and looking forward to the future.
The Next Step
Having God’s perspective clear in my mind paved the way for Him to continue to reveal the path of healing to me that night. Knowing what I needed to know, He went on to show me the things I needed to do in order to successfully eliminate the grief. There are things you need to know, but there are also things you need to do.Healing from grief is not a passive process. There is action you must take to overcome it, and we’ll talk about what that action looks like in our next article. Until then, read the account of the woman with the alabaster jar again and let God speak to you through it. Let Him show you that what you value, He values. It is a beautiful thing.