Gardens, Grief, and Hope

For the 6-month anniversary of my father’s death, I went to visit my mom. She still lives in the home I grew up in with her, my father, and my brother. It is located in the desert: in the summer, the temperatures rise up to 110° F, and in the winters, it gets below freezing. Yet my father took this arid land and filled about a third of our backyard with flowers, vegetable patches and fruit trees. I have so many fond memories of helping him pick fruits and vegetables, and seeing him labor over his garden. He was always generous with his bounty to friends and family, to the point where people mentioned it at his memorial.

A mere 6 months later, the flowers are withered, the vegetable patches are overgrown with weeds taller than my head, and some of the fruit trees are infested with insects and plant diseases, or overgrown with branches broken from unpruned branches and the weight of unharvested fruit. My soul was saddened to see this, and it made me miss him yet again.

So like the Psalmists, I took some time to grieve, and cry out about this fallen world to my heavenly Father, Abba. And He brought to me some of His Words of life:

Psalm 42:4-6

These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.
   Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

Psalm 56:8

You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?

Isaiah 40:6–8

A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
   The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
   The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.

Psalm 39:4-7

“O Lord, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
   Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah
      Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!
   “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in you.

Heavenly Father,
Praise you that when my soul is cast down, I can call to remembrance all you have done, and that you keep my tears in bottle, as precious things in olden days were kept in bottles. Thank you for these reminders that life is so fleeting, that my life is fleeting.  Help me to use it wisely and winsomely for your Kingdom, and not mine. I am so grateful for your constant provision, whether love through my parents and family, food and clothing for my body (Matt 6:26, 30), so that I may lay up treasures in heaven (Matt 6:19-21) and seek first your Kingdom and righteousness (Matt 6:33). Praise you again for the reminder to place my hope in you, as I wait on you alone. Your Word stands forever.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

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