November 16, 2023
Today’s blog post was written by Dorina Gilmore-Young. This devotion is from her latest book, Breathing Through Grief: A Devotional Journal for Seasons of Loss which was released this week. It is my prayer that this sneak peek of the book brings encouragement to whoever may be grieving.
I HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT: KILLING PLANTS. I know plants provide great color and oxygen in a space. I love to buy them and set them on my porch or around my house, but I always forget to water them. And before I realize it, my lovely, robust plant is looking droopy and thirsty. Desperate, in a way in which I am all too familiar.
In the early years, I often found myself wondering if I would ever find my way out of grief and suffering. Everything in my life looked dead, dry, and malnourished. I felt like a shriveled, thirsty plant, grieving my past and uncertain about my future. I had experienced life in a flourishing garden, but suddenly I felt uprooted and alone. Once confident and courageous, I was suddenly unsure of myself, my decisions, my parenting—everything. If you have ever left a home or a church or a job, lost a loved one, suffered a health condition, or watched a dream die, perhaps you can relate. You know the thirst for God to do a new thing in you, to breathe new life into your lungs. The need for Him to root you deeply in His truth and cultivate your heart for a new future.
One of the Bible passages that has provided water for my parched soul even on the darkest days is Isaiah 43:19: “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth; do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (ESV). Three words jump out at me from this passage. The first is “springs,” which always reminds me of the season of spring, usually marked by new growth and blooms. “Springs” is also an action verb. When I hear it, I visualize something moving forward with energy and direction. In this passage, God is speaking to you and me about a new thing He is growing for our future. His work may be underground right now, but He is working all the same.
The second word from this passage that I find myself meditating on is “perceive.” According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, perceive means to gain awareness or understanding through the senses. The question, “Do you not perceive it?” urges us to look for an understanding of what God might be doing in our lives today. God wants us to seek Him.
He wants us to have our eyes wide open to His glory—not just when life feels easy and blessed, but also through the challenges. The word “way” also makes me pause. The imagery here is that God provides a way in the wilderness, where there normally isn’t a path. He provides rivers in the desert or living water for the brittle places of our lives. You don’t normally think about a nourishing river in the desert.
Similarly, God’s ways are unexpected. We see Him on the crimson petals of a winter rose. We feel Him in the cool rain that comes after the devastating fire. We experience Him in the new love story that unfolds after a heart has been broken. The Holy Spirit continues to whisper these words to me on the difficult days: “I am doing a new thing.” He has proved faithful again and again to provide a way.
Friend, God created you and me to flourish together. My flourishing depends on your flourishing. Sometimes we need to remind each other that He is at work in our lives and in the world. In this way, we can offer breath and water to each other. We were not meant to navigate grief alone. We belong to each other.
Perhaps one of the greatest gifts I have been given is connection with others who are walking a journey of grief. I have met other widows or people who have experienced great loss, and somehow we always find a kinship, even if our lives on the outside don’t look anything alike. Together we discover a depth and understanding that sometimes goes unspoken. Don’t miss the opportunity to minister to someone else who is grieving. It may be as simple as telling your story or sharing tears that can water their parched soul.
Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young is a writer, speaker, teacher, and former journalist. As the founder of the Widow Mama Collective grief support group on Facebook, she is passionate about helping people navigate grief and discover God’s glory on life’s unexpected trails.
Dorina enjoys meeting God as she runs trails through mountains or near the ocean.
She and her husband, Shawn, are raising three daughters in central California.