I read an interesting verse today: “Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her; thus Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death” (Gen. 24:67). The last part is what hit me: “thus Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.”
Now, don’t assume I mean the key to comfort is a good rebound. “When one undergoes a loss, just find a mate and it’ll be all good,” said no wise person ever. No, I don’t think that is prescriptive advice.
But what is true—and may be true all the time—is that the best way we deal with loss, with grief, with pain is through love. “Love one another” is not just a cosmic have-to, a begrudging chore, mundane and tortuous. It is also counter-intuitively self-serving. It, in fact, is the most self-serving thing we can do! Now, that shouldn’t be our motive, of course, but man, what a byproduct! It is the sweetspot of a bittersweet life. It is the great cure (doled out by the Great Physician); it is the otherworldly why of the day-to-day on this mortal coil.
Today, I’ve been with some people who are remembering the death of a friend on the one year anniversary of that loss. Among that crew is a person who just lost a grandparent, one who is mourning a lost marriage, and still another who is having to put down the beloved family dog after work. And the answer, over and again, for all of these circumstances is love, love, love.
We are comforted when we find ourselves in the arms of another, and we find ourselves in those arms because of love. We are comforted when we pour ourselves out for another, and we pour ourselves out for love’s sake. We feel better about the loss of a loved one by a good cry with friends, then a good laugh with the same friends, a meal, and repeat. God comforts us with Himself, and we have access to Him in one another—it is a mind-blowing concept when you think about: that transcendence is a desk away, a phone call removed, right next door. In our pain we seek to retreat and focus inward, but growth, change, and healing comes when we go on the offensive of community, connection, and love.
I know another friend who lost a dear loved one. He took the loss hard, and understandably so: the person who was the longest-tenured favorite in the heart of my friend passed away. That is a bitter-cruel reality to face: a new normal without one of the best things life had ever offered him. He’s spoken to people; he’s cried with them. He’s vented. He’s exercised. He’s read books. He’s meditated. He’s gotten his “me-time.” He’s done all the things one is to do in such times. And he’s healing. But not because of those things. At least, mostly not.
He’s healing because he has redoubled his efforts as a father. The loss of his loved one made him cherish the living around him all the more. He loves, and loves, and loves some more. And like Isaac, he has felt the comfort of the Lord. The comfort offered to each of us in the deep dark moments—the comforting light of God-ordained others in our lives, and the love we pour out to them in the times when we are most in need.