Fortitude in the Flood

Grief. It is heavy as it sounds, wrenching with desperation toward the flatness of the word’s final f. Flat like the smack of an anchor hitting the water before it sinks, downward, downward to the bottom of the sea.


Yet Handel’s Water Music Suite cascades over the airwaves, regal in its procession, glorious and joyous, as I write.


Days later, grief continues to swell after the muddy Cumberland drowned my city’s treasures, including the Schermerhorn Symphony Center and the Opryland Hotel, not to mention personal homes, businesses, livelihoods, memories and family members.


Family members and friends whose faces and voices will never grace this earth again.


Flood waters recede. Happy music plays on. The sun rises on a new day, and birds come out to sing. But loss doesn’t fade away. Grief doesn’t float.


But, as a little plaque of my mother’s says, for this we have Jesus. Only in Him can we find such a thing as comfort. For this very reason He sent us His own Spirit, named the Comforter.


I heard the breakdown of the word comfort at my GriefShare class the other night. Co indicates the coming alongside, the Spirit working together with us, and fort is grounded in the word fortitude. The comfort the Spirit gives us is strength.


This word study expanded my understanding of what comfort is and enabled me to better identify how God has administered it to me since the day my mother died. The pain hasn’t lessened. But somehow in spite of it—in spite of the muddy water that continues to swirl around my heart and in spite of time’s refusal to stop moving forward—I remain standing on solid ground. Every time I feel weak and unable—and there have been so many of those times in the past two months—He girds me with strength. He comes alongside and bears me up on His wings. He has helped me think clearly, teach sessions, lead discussion groups, draft manuals, drive to church, get out of bed.


Sending comfort is one of the ways God has proven Himself to be a very present help in time of need. Grief is powerful. But its heaviness can’t prevent me from doing what the Lord has called me to do, whether it’s going to work or reaching out to someone in need.


Though grief belongs to this broken world, it gets shaped into a tool that displays God’s great strength and faithfulness when we submit ourselves to His loving hands. I pray that the flood victims in Middle Tennessee will look to His comfort to bring them through their grief into a season of restoration.



One Response to “ “Fortitude in the Flood”

  1. aimee says:

    beautifully said. and, I like the word "fortitude."

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