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The black, gray, white process of healing

person, alone, landscape, lonely

I learned that during the first days following a tragedy, everything seems black. We have black-black days, full of sorrow and sadness and morning and weeping. Somehow, by God’s design within our being we are able to function, but just barely. We are not capable of doing much beyond barely functioning. Those days indeed are “black-black” days.

Somehow during those black-black days, God begins to internally give us the strength to go on. We don’t even realize that He is working. During those black-black times we can even be angry at Him. We may say all types of angry things to Him! We question why did this happen. As we run here and there our faith is often trampled under the feet of our confusion. Sometimes in our effort to try to make ourselves feel better, we may even get involved in things, which we are eventually sorry for.

And then along comes something that we really didn’t expect! A “black-gray day”! On the black-gray days things are just a tiny bit better. However, as soon as you have a black-gray day, you may very well go backwards and have a black-black day and then another black-black day tomorrow. But take heart; before long you have another black-gray day and then another black-gray day following that.

In the midst of your sadness and sorrow, just when you think you’re moving along at a little higher level of functioning while the wounds can still be freshly painful something reminds you all over again of that tragic day. Maybe you are suddenly reminded of the day that you first learned of your heartrending loss, or a special day you had with the person you have lost. All of a sudden you find yourself having a black-black day again.

These black-black days usually only last a short period of time before you have a black-gray day again, because you are in a healing process. More black-gray days will come! Then for some reason something amazing happens. All the sudden you have a gray-gray day and perhaps even a second!

However, in a transition only God understands, you go back and have a black-gray day or even a black-black day. It may be on a special anniversary or something happens that reminds you fresh and anew of the tragedy. You can even have a couple of black-black days. Then along comes a black-gray day but then here comes a gray-gray day! The process is slow and there are times you get discouraged. There are times that your faith will be squashed low.

Through it, although your mind may be angry, your heart is offering up prayers to God for help. This is a work in process. It does take time. There are times where it doesn’t seem like it’s ever going to get better.

Then lo and behold you find yourself recognizing a gray-gray day, but on its heels a gray-white day then another gray-white day. Now you can actually see the light of hope at the end of the tunnel! Yes, the pain is still there but somehow it seems to be, profoundly diminished. During the gray-white days you can smile again, you can laugh again. Something sad can happen, however.  You must realize you can have another black-black day or a black-gray day, especially on a holiday or if you encounter something, which reminds you of the person, or the event. A flashback, some dream, some painful thing, or someone you lost in a divorce or separation says something hurtful to you that you deeply love. Perhaps the person who hurt you badly hurts you all over again. You can go back and have a black-black day. Be encouraged! Those black-black days are usually very brief and you’re back to a black-gray and then a gray-gray and before long with God’s help and strength you’re enjoying the gray-white days on a fairly regular basis.

In the Bible, in the book of Joel God gives us a beautiful promise. “I will restore all the years that the locusts have eaten“2:25a (KJV). This is a beautiful commitment of God to his people and you can claim it! For some people, depending on the tragedy, maybe even a few years have transpired since that terrible day. Through this promise, God is promising you that He’s going to restore all the years that the cankerworm or the tragedy has eaten in your life!

All of a sudden, unexpectedly, you have a white-white day! it may have gone by you without you even realizing that it had arrived.! You have been smiling. You are laughing. You are enjoying life. All of a sudden, a light turns on in the inside of you. You say “I have been healed by God’s strength and glory, receiving His love overtime. My life will now go on again! I will have a bright future for God’s glory!”

You see the Bible tells us that we are to consider Job as an example when we experience suffering and loss.  As you study the book of Job, you will see that it was not God that did all the terrible things to Job. It was the devil. God allowed Job to go through this great suffering, and Job was able to love God through it all. Job then reaffirmed that God was his friend and the devil was his adversary. Job is our supreme example when we suffer trauma.

To conclude, if you have gone through great loss in your life, know that you will be able to love others again. You’ll be able to laugh again. You’ll be able to love God again. However, it’s going to take time. Realize that God is walking with you through this process. Your emotions will be high one day and will be low the next. There will be a lot of tears. There will be those black-black days, but be encouraged! Someday in your not so distant future you’re going to have “white-white” days again!

Rev Nolan J Harkness is the President and CEO of Nolan Harkness Evangelistic Ministries Inc. since 1985. He spent most of his adult life working in youth ministry. He also felt the calling of Evangelist/Revivalist and traveled as the door was open holding evangelistic meetings in churches throughout the Northeast. His website is

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