That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19

Several months ago a series of strong thunderstorms came through and did significant damage.  Wind and lightening were so severe that they uprooted trees; even old large trees were struck down and trunks fell across landscapes, roads, and houses.  After the storm passed, I went outside to survey the results.

The fall of these trees allowed their root systems to be exposed.  Close examination of the trunks revealed a multitude of dangling roots.  Thick, thin, short, and long, these roots protruded from the base and presented their connection to each other.  In the larger trees, the root attachments seemed larger only because the root systems themselves were more extensive and prolific.  However, root systems in younger trees were no less connected.  While younger roots did not yet possess the girth of their mature counterparts, connection to each other was obvious.  And essential.  Connections make growth possible.  So it goes with human roots and our connections.

Roots.  We each have them, and we create them.  Some of our roots are obvious; some are not.  Some roots are mature, seasoned, and life-giving.  Others are young, limp, and slow growing.  Some roots are diseased.  Whatever our root systems are, they link us to others, and they are a means by which the Lord uses to grow us more into the likeness of His Son, Jesus.

Personal growth occurs in an incremental, prolific, and purposeful fashion when life is rooted in God and Jesus.  Healthy roots make for flourishing that is easy to witness.  However, in God’s method of growth, in spite of weak or course roots—and sometimes because of them—growth still occurs.   Even if a root system appears as though it might stunt growth or choke it off completely, God uses it.  In God’s realm thriving is the plan.

Thriving and growing can be a particularly difficult truth to believe when a loved one dies or a significant change enters a life and grief takes hold.  The loss of a dear person who had a deep impact on us—for a good or for ill—is a loss that brings a host of emotional and sometimes physical challenges.  This is grief’s way.  An unwanted way for sure but an experience that is universal and so very human.  Inasmuch as grief is an experience we shall each encounter multiple times in our lives, it remains quite individual as no two people grieve the same, even those who mourn the same death.

People with whom we have been linked are people by whom we have been influenced.  Sometimes the influence is positive, sometimes negative.  Nevertheless, the Lord—in His merciful and life-giving way—uses each and every connection we have known to foster good.  Even the most difficult connections are transformed by the power of God through Jesus.  The best connections we have known remain alive and still offer nourishment because of the love of Jesus.  Trust that Christ is the center of your root system then you are assured of His transforming touch on every relationship you have known.

Being rooted and grounded in Christ’s love is to be surrounded by holy strength and guided by the Holy Spirit.   There is not another like you.  God loves you as no one else can or shall.  He created you and understands you as no one else does.  He understands you when you cannot understand yourself.  It is wise to remember this in seasons of grief; seasons when actions and feelings are unpredictable and often foreign.   Whatever kind of loss brought you to grieve, the Lord will walk with you through this valley-time. He will see you through.  He will never leave you.  He promised.

Lord of Life, You oversee the losses Your people suffer and share in the anguish of grief.  Be near to those who grieve for Your loving presence alone brings solace, healing, and companionship.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.