“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” – Isaiah 26:3
It had been a few weeks since my grandma was called home to heaven. We were having a family gathering for Father’s Day, but it was hard for me to enter a celebratory mood. Instead of looking around the room and thanking God for the many people He had blessed me with, all I could think about was grief. I kept pondering, “Are all these people I love also going to be ones I will lose in the future? Will I just be in a circle of grief for the rest of my life?”
Before my grandmother’s passing, I felt like I was doing things I cared about – working, serving in church, making music, spending time with people I loved. But none of these gifts provided lasting fulfillment, even when I wished they would.
All of this came crashing down in my mind that June day. I didn’t want to think about life, so I attempted to drown out sorrow with sin. In the moment, sin seemed like a helpful escape to run away from my problems. Ultimately, sin is not even a temporary fix for a hole that only God can fill. It’s a fleeting entanglement that deceives us into thinking it’s good.
Over the next week, I tried to put the pieces of life and death back into perspective, not through my own eyes, but through God’s. I realized that even pursuing good things in life could not satisfy me. God’s gifts were just that – His gifts. They weren’t God himself. If my joy was in the gifts, what would happen when the gifts were no longer present? Pursuing sin didn’t help either. It was like trying to quench thirst with water from a dead lagoon.
The book of Ecclesiastes reminds us that though life is a vapor, we can still enjoy the things God has given us, as long as we remember where our ultimate satisfaction lies: in God Himself. If our joy is not in the Lord, it will not be lasting joy. Perfect peace only comes from delighting in the King, from honoring Him, and from making Him our life’s purpose.
In the aftermath of grief, I wrote these lyrics to remind myself of this: “King over life, Victor o’er death. When all things change, God stays the same. The solid Rock I stand upon – I cling to His Word, I cling to His Name, I give Him the praise! And I’ll pursue Your righteousness, and I will seek lovingkindness. Fullness of life is only found when I put You first”.
Let’s continue to put Him first, family of God.
*Song lyrics from “My Joy is in the Lord”, written and performed by Tim Ketenjian