No one understands like Jesus (ripples, still, from dad’s passing)

Don’t fear, because I am with you;
    don’t be afraid, for I am your God.
    I will strengthen you,
    I will surely help you;
    I will hold you
    with my righteous strong hand.

Isaiah 41:10

A few days ago I wrote about the “endless details” aspect of my dad’s death, settling accounts and contacting friends and transatlantic phone calls and more (see My dad’s papers are an ongoing archaelogical dig…).

The other and more significant concern is helping and encouraging my mother in her journey forward (or not) from this point. It bears remembering that my parents started a serious relationship when mum was 17, and married when she was 21. They were together 74 years, and that’s not something it’s easy – or even possible – to start over from when you are 91.

Mum has some good friends, and they do visit. Then she is connected with the deacons’ ministry at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church. And of course she has this really attentive neighbor – and his dog – who is at her house five times a day and even has her over to dinner! Plus she has grandchildren who call and talk and encourage her. But, and this is the dominant theme, she feels isolated and alone in her grief.

Yes, I know she is not alone. So does she. And, yes, she understands that she is well connected with people and church and family and more. But there is a curtain that has been drawn across the light that flooded her life for 74 years and, so far, there is still much more shadow than light.

But there is a curtain that has been drawn across the light that flooded her life for 74 years and, so far, there is still much more shadow than light.

I felt this profoundly Wednesday evening. Our routine is for me to play a few hymns on her piano before praying together and saying goodnight.

Typically I turn hymnbook pages at random – we use four different hymnals. This one was, I believe, Hymns for the Family of God. If I recognize the title and the music looks playable (not too many sharps or flats), I will give it a go.

So I started to play the engaging melody of, “No one understands like Jesus.”

No one understands like Jesus;
He's a Friend beyond com-pare.

Meet Him at the throne of mercy;
He is waiting for You there.

No one under-stands like Jesus
When the days are dark and grim.
No one is so near, so dear as Jesus;
Cast Your every care on Him.
(John W. Peterson)

The tears came. Quiet at first then sobbing.

“I don’t know why it comes over me sometimes,” mum said. “I don’t mean to cry.”

“It’s because the words of the hymn so true,” I replied. “Nobody knows the inside of your heart like Jesus. Isn’t it wonderful that you understand that! Isn’t it beautiful that God reaches through and touches us in this way!”

We live in a world where our emotions are often routinely tucked away. But sometimes they spill over and there is not a thing we can do about it! This is the beauty and the comfort of being in an active relationship with God. Because of Jesus, through Jesus, we can be safe in our emotion, we can be embraced – enfolded – in God’s loving arms.

– Derek Maul lives, writes, and talks about Jesus in Wake Forest North Carolina

I love the implication of this idea: Jesus is God’s hug. The arms of Jesus are around my mother. God holds us in our grief and absorbs our sadness the same way a mother – or a father – holds a child who is hurt beyond the comfort of words.

No one understands like Jesus. No one is so near, so dear as Jesus. – DEREK

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