I Know How You Feel

25 Jan

A dear friend of mine lost her baby girl just this past Friday night.

I dug up this old article I wrote last year and wanted to repost it in honor of Kaylen Leigh Phillips. My heart goes out to the family during this time. Please leave a comment of encouragement for this dear family. I will email a copy of the comments and let them know they are being prayed for.

Thank you so much.

“I Know How You Feel”

Just when you think it can’t get worse, some well-wisher comes along to whisper in your ear, “I know how you feel”. They simply can’t find the words to say anything else. Hearing those words seldom eases the pain. Hearing how your friend once lost their home doesn’t solve your money problems. Hearing about their divorce doesn’t erase your spouse’s infidelity. And hearing someone else’s tragedy of loss doesn’t bring back your loved one.

In the midst of the storm, whatever your storm, it’s nearly impossible to imagine that anyone has felt your pain. To know another soul breathing has endured such turmoil just to remain upright is practically unthinkable. As your tears fall, these words are but another mindless background noise left to take up space during the trial.

This trial was no different. For days friends, family, co-workers and fellow church members hovered. Casserole dishes came in and out. Soft music echoed in the sitting room as candles were kept lit in the bathroom. Everyone was there. Everyone except Lazarus and Jesus. With the wake behind them, Lazarus’ sisters were left with the task of entertaining mourners, planning the funeral, and maintaining a smile. Martha had never been much good at putting on a pleasant front. Certainly this day wouldn’t change that. She owned her feelings and had mastered the art of allowing her emotions to precede her actions.

Mary, on the other hand spent the evening smiling, however plastered, and shaking hands. Occasionally, she would share a Lazarus story with a friend wishing a trail down memory lane. With a constant tear, Mary held it together. Martha was not so lucky.

A picture of Lazarus stood on an artist’s easel as loved ones moved in a greeting line, touching his smile with the tips of their fingers.

“Where is Jesus in all this?” Martha would grunt angrily while pouring yet another tray of drinks for the guest. “Why isn’t He here? Why are we alone?” In such a moment loneliness, fear, resentment, and good old fashioned heart ache creeps in to take up residence. When the very one you love has been taken, time is just a word and healing is a world away. Knowing a room full of former broken hearts are standing by to offer apologies does nothing to ease the ruptured vessels that have taken you hostage. When all you can do is scream “why”, nothing else seems to matter.

The entire town had gathered. Flowers covered the freshly turned soil as the box of tissue passed through the crowd. “I know how you feel” didn’t stop the procession. It didn’t erase the scars that had already taken residence in the sister’s hearts. One final kiss on the cheek and Lazarus had just as quickly become a memory.

To be sure, God Himself wiped away a tear. To see Mary and Martha clutching a shirt of his in hopes of holding their brother’s scent for a moment longer. Certainly He whispered, “I know how you feel. I’ve been there. The pain DOES fade. Hold on, you’ll see him again. I know…I know how you feel.”

When the storm is raging and our hearts are broken, seeing God’s purpose and feeling His well earned compassion can be far from present moment. All too often, we stand with the pieces of our world and tattered umbrellas in our tear soaked hands. In our own understanding, we can not see an ounce of healing. It is in those very moments that God calls us to rest. He promises rest, in fact! “Come to me all you who labor and are heaven laden, and I WILL GIVE YOU REST!”  Matthew 11:2

“I know how you feel,” He whispers. “Come rest on my shoulder. Wrap yourself with my arms and wait. I WILL give you rest. The pain does lesson. Hold on. You will hold his hand again. You will touch his face. I know how you feel”. I can only imagine the pain the Father felt as Mary and Martha sobbed uncontrollably as the stone covered all signs of Lazarus’ life. I can picture His arms out stretched in an attempt to share his story of love lost. Surely He knows the feeling of losing the very person your heart beats for. Giving His only son knowing he’ll have to watch Jesus take his last breath nailed to the cross gave Him the ability to say “I Know how you feel”.

In true form, Jesus rides in like the Savior He is. Oddly enough, his steps were slow. There was no anxiety in his movements. By the time Jesus made it to graveside to console Mary and Martha, days had passed. Expectantly, Mary screamed in anger. Jesus was her friend…she was angry! “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died!” (John 11:21)

Haven’t we all felt like that at some point? If only Jesus had been there. When we are looking for someone to blame for our pain, isn’t He the likely suspect? When the world doesn’t seem to feel our pain, isn’t Jesus the one we want answers from?

“Your brother WILL rise again” ( John 11:23) He promises with a strong look of “I know how you feel”

Lazarus did rise again. Jesus called him, by name to walk out of the grave and he did. We can’t always see the outcome while clinging to a mangled umbrella. There are times when we can’t see past our tear filled, blood shot eyes. It is in these times, God calls us to lay our head in his lap and simply rest. He doesn’t call us in for a lecture of lack of faith, but to run his fingers through our hair and offer rest as he whispers, “I know how you feel”.

When the family and friends leave, when the last casserole has been eaten and the flowers fade, there is a place to rest. He does know how you feel, even if no one else does. He offers hope and promises peace. Cry for as long as you need to. Hurt as long as it takes. He is there holding the tissue.


Posted by on January 25, 2009 in encouragement


23 responses to “I Know How You Feel

  1. Lea Schizas

    January 25, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    My deepest thoughts and prayers go out to the family.

  2. Ginger Simpson

    January 25, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    I’m borrowing parts from a poem I wrote when my best friend passed from Cancer and sending it to the parents so they know we understand their grief, and even as strangers, we are touched by their loss.

    A new angel dwells in heaven,
    she moved in just today.
    I’d only begun to love her
    when my baby went away.

    I can’t see her face or touch her hand
    or tell her not to go.
    I didn’t get to say, “goodbye,”
    or say, “I love you so.”

    But, I know she still can hear me.
    She didn’t go far away.
    She dwells within my memories
    and all my yesterdays.

    I’ll hold her image in my heart
    and remember what I see.
    I’ll not forget the special child
    Who touched the depths of me.

  3. Teresa Hall

    January 25, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    I have lost loved ones in my life, but I do not begin to know the wrenching pain of losing a child, a precious baby you didn’t have time to watch grow up into all the potential her little soul had.

    I am praying for you that He would bring you peace and comfort in these lonely dark days. I don’t know exactly how you feel, but He does.

    I do know that as time passes, much time, your pain will lessen slightly and you will begin to breathe again. Until that day, we will stand in the gap and breathe for you.

    With deepest sorrow for your pain,

    Teresa Hall

  4. empty envelope

    January 25, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    My thoughts and prayers go out to those suffering from this loss:(.

  5. katie schwartz

    January 25, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    I am so sorry for your friend’s loss. I can’t begin to imagine her overwhelming pain, so I won’t be presumptuous and try to. My heart breaks for her. Though I don’t know how she’s going to get through it, with friends like you, somehow she’ll find her way.

    My sincere, heartfelt condolences.

  6. Jill N. Noble

    January 25, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Adding your friend and her family to my prayers. Please pass along my condolences.

  7. Connie Arnold

    January 25, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    God understands your great sorrow, Jesus holds you and your precious baby in His strong hands of love. Those who know and love you and we who don’t know you but long to ease your pain, offer prayers on your behalf. May your suffering be eased and God’s comforting peace surround you.

  8. Deb Hockenberry

    January 25, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    All of my thoughts and prayers go out to you at this time. Please know that with His help the pain will pass but your memories will last forever. My prayers are with you.

  9. Joyce A. Anthony

    January 25, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    Midnight only hides the sun
    It never really goes away
    It’s there to greet the waking birds
    At the dawn of each new day.

    The daffodil will hide its face
    When snow glides gently down
    But Springtime’s song will find it
    Peeking shyly through the ground.

    The Lord above took you my child
    And filled my heart with sorrow
    I know however I’ll see your smile
    Some soon to be tomorrow.

    Child-of-my heart
    I love you
    Always remember
    Never goodbye…
    Only later
    There are no words I can say that will comfort at this time–but know our prayers are with you and your family!

  10. Penny Ehrenkranz

    January 25, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    As has been said before, a parent is not meant to outlive a child. I cannot begin to imagine the depth of grief your friend must be feeling. I do know that as long as we keep our loved ones in our hearts, they will always be with us. My condolences.

  11. Tom Sadler

    January 25, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    our thoughts are with you. may you find comfort in friends and family.

  12. Mark Nolan

    January 26, 2009 at 12:02 am

    Kind thoughts and prayers going out to you and your family.

  13. Kathy Helmer

    January 26, 2009 at 12:26 am

    Losing a child has to be the most difficult to deal situation to deal with. I just finished reading a most inspiring book. I read it because I personally know the author, a member of one of my writing groups. The book is Forgiving God, a woman’s struggle to understand when God answers no by Carla Killough McClafferty. Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI, 1995. If the book is not available, I will be happy to share mine or get one from Carla. I send blessings for the family.

  14. Ellen

    January 26, 2009 at 12:26 am

    Your friends innocent child is gone…and I cannot begin to imagine her pain and grieving. We are assured that God has the final victory over death and that we will be re-united with our loved ones. My thoughts and prayers are with her.

  15. Vivian

    January 26, 2009 at 1:05 am

    Even though I lost an infant, I don’t walk in your shoes. I can only say I hope and pray God will wrap you in His love and comfort you until you can bear the pain.

    I wrote the following poem after the loss of my baby girl:

    In Memory
    Vivian Gilbert Zabel

    A flutter of life is swiftly felt,
    Then more pressing is the moving
    Until ‘tis almost a constant thing,
    This tumult beneath my breast.

    A time of waiting, of wonder, of want
    That slower and longer seems to grow.
    Each time seems newer than before,
    Although birth has happened times untold.

    At last the days of waiting are over.
    The time of work and pain is here
    That soon will be but a dim memory
    In the love I already feel.

    A cry, a smile, a heart full of yearning
    To hold this small thing of ours,
    Then news so sad, so uncomprehending
    Leaves arms aching with empty longing.

    A small white box in satin wrapped
    Is brought beside my bed at last.
    It cannot be – she is only sleeping!
    Yet her sleep is that which shall not pass.

    God be with you.

  16. Marvin D Wilson

    January 26, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    So touching. Needed this one today. My daughter just miscarried and she and all the family have been feeling such pain. But she nor any of us are alone.

  17. Margaret Fieland

    January 26, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    My heart goes out to this family. They are in my thoughts and prayers.

  18. Jenci Spradlin

    January 26, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    I am thankful that the Kingdom of God is so great and so large that we can all join together from across this great and amazing and mysterious world and offer prayers and words of encouragement out of our sincere love for one another. My own words cannot express how my heart feels for this family, but I know the Holy Spirit will speak on my behalf and offer them the comfort and healing that I never could.

  19. Margaret Tanner

    January 26, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    I am so sorry to hear such terrible news. To your friends, my thoughts and prayers for your tragic loss are winging their way to you from Australia.

    Best wishes

  20. Kristin Johnson

    January 26, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    My thoughts and prayers are with this dear family.

  21. Beth Bence Reinke

    January 27, 2009 at 2:52 am

    My heart breaks for you at the loss of your little baby girl. I pray that God would wrap his loving arms around you and bring you comfort.

  22. Teresa

    January 27, 2009 at 4:48 am

    Christi & family, I am so sorry to hear about Kaylen. She was such a special little girl and I was so excited to hear about her arrival in your home. Your Mom was so thrilled & she & your Dad loved all of the other grandchildren, but Christi had a little girl & I don’t think I have ever seen our pastor smile as wide (& he smiles more than anyone I have ever known!) & he seemed to be almost speechless to describe this precious little girl. Oh yes, even though we were in the funeral home parking lot going to visitation—–the picture came out!!! You know I think I saw a slight resemblence to you in her. I guess now that it was the look of God’s love. You have always seemed to have that special something even through all of your trials and pains. I have always admired that about you. Ya’ll will get through this (not over it) but through it and be stronger in your faith for this journey. God placed Kaylen with a loving Christian family because He knew her time would be short & He wanted her to be loved and sung to & told about Jesus so He just naturally gave her to your family. Christi, He could never have created a more perfect place for Kaylen to spend her 4 months on earth. You were blessed to have her & now I know your family is heartbroken, but God is carrying you all & wrapping ya’ll in His wonderful loving arms. Love, Teresa

  23. agnes d.

    January 30, 2009 at 2:14 am

    I’m sorry about the loss of your little one, and you have my prayers.


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