The home of Paul Laurence Dunbar, noted poet, is open to the public in
Dayton, Ohio. When Dunbar died, his mother left his room exactly as it was on the day of
his death. At the desk of this brilliant man was his final poem, handwritten on a pad.
After his mother died, her friends discovered that Paul Laurence Dunbar's last poem had
been lost forever. Because his mother had made his room into a shrine and not moved
anything, the sun had bleached the ink in which the poem was written until it was
invisible. The poem was gone. If we stay in mourning, we lose so much of
Henry Simon Belleville, Illinois 1
Edith Rockefeller McCormick, the daughter of John D. Rockefeller, maintained a large
household staff. She applied one rule to every servant without exception: They were not
permitted to speak to her. The rule was broken only once, when word arrived at the
family's country retreat that their young son had died of scarlet fever. The McCormicks
were hosting a dinner party, but following a discussion in the servants' quarters it was
decided that Mrs. McCormick needed to know right away. When the tragic news was whispered
to her, she merely nodded her head and the party continued without interruption.
Today in the Word, September 29, 1992.
In her book First We Quit Our Jobs, Marilyn J. Abraham writes: "We signed
up for a hike with a ranger, who told us a remarkable thing: when a tree's life is
threatened, stressed by the elements of fire, drought, or other calamity, it twists
beneath its bark to reinforce and make itself stronger. On the surface, this new inner
strength may not be visible, for the bark often continues to give the same vertical
appearance. Only when the exterior is stripped away, or when the tree is felled, are its
inner struggles revealed." God can use our grief to strengthen us in ways that are
not visible to the world.
Terry Fisher, San Mateo, California.
In 1858 Scottish missionary John G. Paton and his wife sailed for the New Hebrides (now
called Vanuatu) Three months after arriving on the island of Tanna, his wife died. One
week later his infant son also died. Paton was plunged into sorrow. Feeling terribly
alone, and surrounded by savage people who showed him no sympathy, he wrote, "Let
those who have ever passed through any similar darkness as of midnight feel for me. As for
all other, it would be more than vain to try to paint my sorrows...But for Jesus, and His
fellowship...I would have gone mad and died."
Daily Bread, August 6, 1992. 1 Thessalonians 4:13
A miserable looking woman recognized F.B. Meyer on the train and ventured to share her
burden with him. For years she had cared for a crippled daughter who brought great joy to
her life. She made tea for her each morning, then left for work, knowing that in the
evening the daughter would be there when she arrived home. But the daughter had died, and
the grieving mother was alone and miserable. Home was not "home" anymore. Meyer
gave her wise counsel. "When you get home and put the key in the door," he said,
"say aloud, 'Jesus, I know You are here!' and be ready to greet Him directly when you
open the door. And as you light the fire tell Him what has happened during the day; if
anybody has been kind, tell Him; if anybody has been unkind, tell Him, just as you would
have told your daughter. At night stretch out your hand in the darkness and say, 'Jesus, I
know You are here!'" Some months later, Meyer was back in that neighborhood and met
the woman again, but he did not recognize her. Her face radiated joy instead of announcing
misery. "I did as you told me," she said, "and it has made all the
difference in my life, and now I feel I know Him."
W. Wiersbe, The Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers,
In a recent sermon, Bill Hybels shared this story: A friend of mine has a brain-damaged
daughter. Sometimes the sadness she feels over her daughter's condition overwhelms her, as
it did recently. She wrote me this letter and gave me permission to quote from it:
". . . I can hardly bear it sometimes. My most recent wave of grief came just last
year before her sixteenth birthday. As the day approached, I found myself brooding over
all the things that she would never be able to do. What did I do? What I've learned to do
again and again: I did what I believe is the only thing to do to conquer grief, and that
is to embrace it. . . I cried and cried and cried, and faced the truth of my grief head
People who face their feelings and express them freely begin the journey toward
Author Edgar Jackson poignantly describes grief: Grief is a young widow trying to raise
her three children, alone. Grief is the man so filled with shocked uncertainty and
confusion that he strikes out at the nearest person. Grief is a mother walking daily to a
nearby cemetery to stand quietly and alone a few minutes before going about the tasks of
the day. She knows that part of her is in the cemetery, just as part of her is in her
daily work. Grief is the silent, knife-like terror and sadness that comes a hundred times a
day, when you start to speak to someone who is no longer there. Grief is the emptiness that
comes when you eat alone after eating with another for many years.
Grief is teaching yourself to go to bed without saying good night to the one who had
died. Grief is the helpless wishing that things were different when you know they are not
and never will be again. Grief is a whole cluster of adjustments, apprehensions, and
uncertainties that strike life in its forward progress and make it difficult to redirect
the energies of life.
Charles Swindoll, Growing Strong, p. 171.