Several months after my husband died, a friend helped me sort through his belongings. She plowed through his jackets and winter coats at lightning speed while I picked up the last shirt he wore and brought it to my face. It still smelled like him. How could he be gone? Despite my medical knowledge of what happened, why, and when, it still felt like he’d simply vanished. I wiped my tears with his shirt, unaware my friend had seen me. I gave an embarrassed smile.

She dropped the last of the jackets into a box, folded her arms across her chest and looked at me. “What’s God been teaching you through all this?”

I shook my head. What was the right answer? Was she looking for something specific? Some glaring flaw I couldn’t see until now? Would any object lesson soothe my ache? The Lord promises to draw near to the brokenhearted and rescue those crushed in spirit (Ps. 34:18). I needed compassion, not a spiritual assessment.

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