I can still remember vividly visiting Mum regularly after my Dad had died, as we had moved to be closer to her as she battled with terminal cancer. Mum was always in the kitchen, doing something that gave her the excuse to be by the back door so she could see me as I pulled into the drive. The door was always unlocked and open by the time I was out of the car and after we had embraced she would always ask if I wanted tea or coffee even though she knew the answer and the coffee was sitting in the pot keeping warm.
Then, as I always did after exchanging a few words, I'd wander off to the lounge to say hi to Dad who would have his head in a book and would be oblivious to the fact that anyone had entered the house. About half way to the lounge it would hit me with an almost stabbing pain - what am I doing? Dad isn't here.
Grief hits us in so many different ways doesn't it? It isn't just in the loss of loved ones, although that is the grief that hits most of us the hardest. There will be many of us who will be grieving other things as well at this time. For some it will be the loss of work and the sense of identity that is tied to what we do. For others it will be being with friends and loved ones at home or on holiday. Perhaps it is the fact that working patterns have changed and that we are not going to return to previous ways of living. There will be others who are grieving at the senseless of all that is happening and the tremendous loss of life that we seem to be able to do so little about at the moment. It is wonderful to hear that vaccines are on their way and there is light at the end of the tunnel, but many, if not most, will emerge in grief.
It is for times such as this that even what might appear hard in Romans 8 is a real comfort. Verse 28 tells us about God working for our good. "How can this be good?" the doubters cry. "If God were good, he would never have let this happen" the mockers add. It is why we need to read verse 28 carefully. "In all things" that is, in whatever situation we find ourselves, no matter how hard, God is at work.
We live in a broken and groaning world, full of sin and injustice and pain. As much as we wish it were not so, it is. Yet the wonder of what we read is that even in the midst of this difficulty God is at work for our good. For our good! I am not alone or without comfort, God is with me and at work. Even if I can't see it right now I can trust him for his Word never lets me down. It is the comfort I hold onto in my grief. It is the hope that brings me light.