On 14 February 1884 Theodore  Roosevelt’s wife, Alice, died giving birth to their daughter, also named Alice. Roosevelt was so distraught with the loss of his wife that he never spoke of her again. But reminders of her absence haunted the family. Because the newborn had the same name as her mother, she was called ‘Sister’—never Alice. On Valentine’s Day few in the Roosevelt household felt inclined to celebrate it or Sister’s birthday. Broken hearts made moods strained and stoic.

Burying our feelings doesn’t help, but prayerful grieving can. Jeremiah’s heart was broken by Israel’s disobedience and the Babylonian captivity that followed. Memories of Jerusalem’s destruction haunted him (Lam. 1–2). Yet he had learned how to lament. He identified what caused him grief, began to pray and let his tears flow. Soon his focus shifted from his loss to the steadfast grace of the Lord’s provision. “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (3:22-23). Grief gave way to thankfulness.

Learning to lament can give us a fresh vision of hope and begin the process of healing and restoration.

Grief is itself a medicine. —Cowper


Dennis Fisher


Our Daily Bread