Good grief.

Romans 8:28 - And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

How do you put these words up against death? Pain? Darkness? Injustice? Grief?

How can it still stand when precious life is cut short? I know it stands. Somehow, it always does.

I know it as truth, and death can’t even hold a match to I AM’s truth, to His fail-proof, fool-proof promises to us.

But today, though my mind knows, my heart doubts.

It's unsure. Of everything, really.

All I know to do is declare over my own heart and the hearts of those grieving that He is sovereign and that he holds us close, even with our arms out and stiff against His chest.

Grief. What a word. 

​It steals your breath. Steals the rhythm of your beating heart.

It is a vast sadness that makes everything seem dimmer, darker somehow.

And it can make you spitting mad, too. Steeped in anger that burns more bright and hot than you know how to express. Thrown off-balance because how can sadness and anger coexist so completely?

This is where I land today.

The injustice and unfairness and evil that seems to saturate this world - this life, this era, some peoples' minds - leaves me stunned and confused and reeling and reaching out for something to grab onto.

Where’s the steady ground to stand on? Where's the arm rail that keeps us from tumbling?

I know it’s Him. Know it as a fact. But today I am still not sure.

Not sure how to hold all the truth and reality in two weak and trembling hands. So I’ll simply let it all fall out of mine and into His.

And I think He’s okay with that, because somedays all we have to give Him is what we’re not strong enough to carry ourselves.

Why on God's green earth do we say good grief? What kind of grief could possibly be good?

I'm thinking about this today, chewing slowly.

I think that maybe it's the kind of grief that reels freely and weeps for our lost beloveds as Jesus did for Lazarus but knows there is finality and justice and completion and perfection and righteousness within God's sight, within His reach, even if it's not within our own.

Today, I am reeling freely. All I know to do is try to get it all written down.

If you know me, you know my time at Homestead Ministries this past spring was filled to the brim with beautiful, strong women: warriors, to say the least.

We’ve lost one, and it’s unbearable.

Our sweet Ashley - you had so much goodness ahead of you still. You walked through such a deep darkness and somehow came out radiating such light as I have rarely seen. The kind that everyone wants to bask in.

I know it’s all because your love for our Jesus was a flame that burned brightly deep within you and leaked light out of your whole being. He carried you through the darkest years and you gave back to Him all the rest the best way you knew how: loving the people He gave you.

And oh, how He used that love. You had an unmistakeable impact that began echoing into Eternity far before you made it there. Your willingness to share your story, to tell of how He rescued you out of the depths of darkness and had a ripple effect that leaves us speechless in gratitude, in wonder. 

I remember the first time I met you at the Homestead - you were the first to come out and greet me with all your sweetness - and we found out we graduated high school together. I knew by your bright eyes and eagerness to connect with me that we would be fast friends. I instantly wished we had been that way sooner, for those years we walked the same halls.

We are less whole without you. We feel darkness and we sit in it and we wonder how we will smile or laugh or carry on.

Jeremiah 8:18 - My joy is gone; grief is upon me; my heart is sick within me.

We are reeling mad. Hungry for justice where there is none yet. Spitting-blood-angry at whoever would have the gall to steal your precious life from you, from the two of you. Sick-and-dizzy furious. The kind that burns behind our eyes.

Job 19:7 - Behold, I cry out, ‘Violence!’ but I am not answered; I call for help, but there is no justice.

And yet, there is a glimmer of light somewhere in the distance. We can't tell how far out, it might even be farther for some of us than others. It's a light nonetheless, a spark that burns away all the dross and all the despair and makes all this grief somehow good.

It's there. Oh, it's there.

It's there because we know your heart was always ready to meet Him. Though you faithfully walked out His call on your life, you looked forward to Paradise with the pure innocence of a child. I know this with confidence unshakable because it was evident in every breath you took, every smile and laugh you shared with the people you loved.

John 4:14 - but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

It's there because you’re with Him right now; He’s holding you and your precious child you were so overjoyed to one day meet. Now He’s overjoyed to welcome you both into Eternity with him.

It's there because the Lord has capital-p Promised justice to his beloved. He has Promised not to forget.

Job 37:23 - The Almighty—we cannot find him; he is great in power; justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate.

I know it. It's there, the light. Maybe we have to squint for a few weeks, months even. Maybe we can only see it when we focus all our sight on that spark in the distance.

But it's there.

It's there, and I know it because I reaped so much encouragement, so much Holy knowledge, so much hope-saturated perspective from the posture you took as you walked your path, my girl. I am so grateful that my time at the Homestead was marked so clearly by your friendship, support, and love.

We love you forever, sweet Ash. The world is much less bright without you in it, but we carry on towards that light. One day we'll be close enough for it to fill our whole lives again, and then the grief will have burned away and only good will remain.

2 Corinthians 2:6-10 - Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything."

Soon and very soon My King is coming Robed in righteousness and crowned with love When I see Him I shall be made like Him Soon and very soon

Soon and very soon I’ll be going To the place He has prepared for me There my sin erased My shame forgotten Soon and very soon

I will be with the One I love With unveiled face I’ll see Him There my soul will be satisfied Soon and very soon

Soon and very soon See the procession The angels and the elders 'round the throne At His feet I’ll lay my crowns My worship Soon and very soon

I will be with the One I love With unveiled face I’ll see Him There my soul will be satisfied Soon and very soon

Though I have not seen Him My heart knows Him well Jesus Christ the Lamb The Lord of heaven

I will be with the One I love With unveiled face I’ll see Him There my soul will be satisfied Soon and very soon Soon and very soon

Soon - Hillsong UNITED