Have you ever felt like you swallowed your heart and now it sits in your stomach waiting for it to be regurgitated back to its rightful place? You’re left unsure whether it’s your stomach or your heart or mind that’s unsettled. Sometimes this feeling comes when I long for something; more often it comes when I long for something I’ve lost. Losing someone you love to a break-up or death or distance is what I imagine causes this feeling. For two dozen families in Connecticut as well as a family here in PA whose 16-year old son was hit by a train on his way to school, this holiday season they will be dealing with an extreme unsettling.
For the next few days, even weeks, months and hopefully not years, they will be holding their heads in their hands shedding tears and asking why. There will be denial and acceptance and feeling alone, like something is missing and even moments of hope that it all isn’t real. Their and our greatest hope in mourning loss is that there is comfort in Christ that His presence is closer than we know and that He is the only one that can always guarantee to be there. To me it’s the only hope that satisfies my longing.
The common question associated with all longing is, “How long?” Wherever there is desire, wherever there is creation groaning you will find someone along with nature itself crying out “How long?” Whether it is longing for freedom or for grief to end or for a lover or for the beloved we find this question stirred in someone’s heart or rather mind or rather stomach. What makes longing even more curious is separating its end from its beginning.
Scripture reminds me of this in 1 Peter 1. The whole chapter is amazing and talks about living in light of a heavenly inheritance but in verse 13 as if Peter is confused about his anatomy says, “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober and rest your hope fully on the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ not conforming yourselves to your former lusts as in your ignorance.” His only practical solution when we are sick with longing and grieving in light of various trials is to get up, get ready, try to think clearly and relax. Just don’t return to what your former sinful pleasures were for comfort. Eventually your heart will be get back to its rightful place, which is where? …Not in your chest but in His hands.