“There is a hidden spring called En Hakkore. It is a spring reserved for those who cry. If tears have streaked your face, and grief torn your heart, there is a spring of restoration that God has for you. Drink of this spring and be restored.” Passion Translation Judges 15:19
Judges 15:19 “Samson’s spirit was revived as he drank from the spring. So he named it En Hakkore — “the spring for the one who cried.”
The Lord knows the pain of every heart, even yours. He is not a distant spectator, but an intimate Father who sees and knows every moving of your heart, every disappointment of your life. In our first devotional in the Garden Series, we discussed ways to care for your spiritual garden as well as ways to remove the things that stunt the growth of the garden. Even though we may care for our garden well, it doesn’t mean we won’t experience grief. Life and death occur in gardens regardless of how well we may care for our bounty. Recently, a storm rocked my little garden. Buds were everywhere, and it seemed that nothing would grow again. One of my flowers, in particular, my favorite, had the heads come off. I had to cut them down, and all that was seen was the pruned stem. I was sad not realizing that more buds would bloom again because the root system was intact. A few days later these tiny little flower heads were curled under and began rising. Six beautiful bright flowers emerged a week or so later even fuller and more beautiful than before. Not having any gardening experience I thought of the ebb and flow of maintaining a garden one of which is to accept the life cycle and death cycle of what is planted.
Dry seasons where there is no rain can be hard on gardens in the natural and spiritual realm. We all have gone through those desert seasons. Weary and knowing what we have to face we are dreading what lies ahead. It’s too painful, and we cannot seem to breathe much less drink. In Judges 15, Samson made a mess by falling in love with a pagan woman and marrying her. After being denied her, he took revenge on the Philistines. Although Samson made the mistake of marrying a Philistine woman and bringing trouble for his people, God used the circumstances to destroy Israel’s enemy. After destroying one thousand Philistines with a jaw bone of a donkey, he cried out to the Lord for water and the Lord gave it to him. Samson’s strength and body became revived. The irony of grief is that it produces water through tears yet parches the soul. The act of pouring out sorrow is draining and is felt physically as well as spiritually. I’ve been there in those places where my body was producing so many tears, but my intake was low. It felt like anything that was poured in just came right back out again. Sustaining your garden during grief is hard. Isaiah 51:3 says, “The Lord will comfort Israel again and have pity on her ruins. Her desert will blossom like Eden, her barren wilderness like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found there. Songs of thanksgiving will fill the air.” Grief in the garden can make you feel that nothing will grow again.
Jesus understood grief quite well and in fact, when facing the crucifixion, prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, which means Olive Press. Here, in this place of grief, anticipating betrayal of spiritual brothers and torture, Jesus was pressed. He was in such grief that He actually sweat blood. Much was pouring out of Jesus in those moments as He asked His Father if there was any other way. No intercession was happening as His disciples could not even stay awake to pray for their beloved friend and Rabbi. The Garden of Gethsemane was host to Olive trees. Olive trees are virtually indestructible and can grow in any soil, flourish in great heat and with very little water. Oh, to be an Olive Tree in those moments of grief. Even when an Olive tree is cut down new life will grow back from its roots. The Olive tree is a lesson on perseverance and endurance. Interestingly enough the Olive tree has also been a symbol of peace in Israel and here was Jesus, the Prince of Peace, being pressed to persevere in the garden of grief. As Jesus, prepared for death there are a few things we can learn from Jesus while in the Garden of Grief:
Jesus asked for intercession from His inner circle- “Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, ‘Sit here while I go over there to pray.’He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’” Matthew 26:36-38. Grief is isolating in that it makes you feel as if you are cut off from the rest of life. I remember after my daughter Eve passed, I would go food shopping and see people laughing and living. It seemed as if my life had stopped, but everyone else’s kept going. It’s those moments when it’s tempting to believe that no one could understand what you are going through. Friends wanted to meet with me and talk with me, but I had nothing to share. I just wanted to curl up into a ball, but with my newborn son, there was no time for any of it. People would tell me how happy I must be to have a newborn son, but all I could think of was his twin Eve, who I didn’t have. Other times people would tell me that “at least I had Christian” as if he was a consolation prize. Yes, grief is a place that is so tender it seems just easier to avoid the clumsiness of others completely. When we look at Jesus, the most misunderstood man on the planet, we see that although He knew He would be let down, He still asked His inner circle to intercede. He still reached out. He expressed disappointment too when they all fell asleep during His turmoil. When you are being pressed, it’s important to reach out to your inner circle, a safe place to share. The disciples didn’t understand the magnitude of Jesus’s grief, nor did they even understand what was about to take place. Just like no one understood that taking there is no “at least” when your son’s twin dies. There is no “at least” when you are going through grief period.
Jesus accepted Father God’s decision- “He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Matthew 26:39 When we are facing grief do we accept the decision of God our Father? I struggled with this. TIme after time I heard testimony after testimony of healing that took place in babies. I wondered “Why not my Eve”? It was difficult to fathom that God would allow Eve to die but save other children. This was where I was challenged because the truth is if I believed God is good all the time then can I say He is good even though He allowed our family to suffer so much? The answer is yes. Circumstances change but God never changes, and if we treat this as the absolute truth that it is we, like the Olive tree, will be able to grow strong again even if chopped down by tragedy. Knowing why will not change your circumstances beloveds. It doesn’t matter. Loss is loss, and it still hurts. Jesus could have made so many other choices other than enduring the cross. He could have utilized His power and authority given to Him by the Father. He could have questioned the goodness of His Father. He did no such thing. Instead, Jesus ended His prayer with “Thy will be done.” Submitting to God’s will no matter how painful is the only way to heal. Grief if left to fester will try and convince you that God is not good, resulting in roots of bitterness. I have seen the hardened hearts of those weathered by grief, and I have also seen fear take root as well. For me, grief that I had held in resulted in fear. I stayed up all night after taking Christian home from the hospital days after losing Eve. I wondered if he was breathing? What if he dies too? How can I protect him when I could protect Eve? Do you see how that works? The Bible says that there may be tears in the night, but joy comes in the morning. How is that possible that grief and joy can coexist? Pure grief, given to the Father in trust will heal. It will even create a spiritual strength and enduring roots like the Olive tree. Grief handled our way will ruin our Garden until nothing new will grow, and all that was there choked out by fear and bitterness.
Jesus still ministered: “But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.” Luke 22:51. When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, one of the disciples cut off a soldier’s ear. Jesus immediately put a stop to the violence and healed the man’s ear. Can you imagine? Here are the soldiers who will play a major part in the torture of Jesus, and He heals one? Grief convinces us that we are too traumatized to be of any use. While I agree that there is a healing time necessary for self-care to take place, my testimony of trusting God through Eve’s death became a way to witness to people about the goodness of God. People saw faith, perseverance, and endurance in my story and it encouraged them that they too can be victorious rather than staying a victim. Sharing Jesus has always been a part of who I am. That didn’t change because Eve died. In fact, letting God use it for His glory brought more healing than I could have ever imagined. Jesus healing the man’s ear was just who He was. Jesus was a prophet and a healer as well as a teacher. Even in the midst of chaos, betrayal, and grief, He ministered to the soldier. While before the council, Jesus did not deny who He was even though it meant death on the cross. Grief can cause us to lose our identity if we are stagnant. It is important to remain in Him as Jesus remained in His Father. Jesus gave His life for us, are we willing to give our grief to Him?
Isaiah 40:29 tells us that “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” We can rely on His strength as we find safe places to share our grief. Even in our weakened state, we can minister because of His power and strength flowing through our veins. We are not alone in the Garden of Grief, much can and will grow there if we follow the principles of Jesus.
Prayer Starter: Lord, I am taking inventory right now of this garden, and all I see are tears. Tears can grow the seed buried in sorrow if I just release it all to You. Take me deeper in You, Lord, deeper into Healing, even though it hurts, even though I am weary and just can’t take another hit. You are my fortress, my strength, and my shield, and I declare and decree that I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. Thank You Lord for your mercy and your unfailing Love, In Your Name, I pray, Amen.