I’m in a bit of a mood this week, saddened by the death of my friend. Praying much for the family, grieving with them as friends. And remembering……the time I was where they are now.
Really, it can’t help but bring back memories. And it can’t help but cause my heart to want to pour out all I would long to tell them, if I could. All I would long to tell their closest friends.
“This is what grief looks like from the inside – no matter what it looks like from the outside.”
“This is what you may experience. You may feel like you are going crazy, but no, you aren’t crazy. It’s just grief.”
Yes, things will come back to a new, beautiful normal, in time, because of Jesus.”
“Friends and family – this is how you can help. This is what they may need you to understand.”
So, dear ones. Please join me this week as I tackle pieces of my own story – and how God has taught me to deal with grief. I may get teary eyed a bit, and so may you. Especially if you’ve been there. As the week progresses, if something tugs at your heart – share it. If you disagree with something I say, or have a differing viewpoint – we all come at grief from differing personalities, and vastly varying experiences. So please share. If you find these posts beneficial and know of someone going through it right now – please share with them.
Finally, if this brings up your own story of grief, I would love to share your sorrow. I would love to pray. Feel free to let me know. The contact form below if for those moments when privacy is desired, but total isolation is not.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows… Isaiah 53:4
Since God made us, why does he allow us to suffer? Wouldn’t his love do everything it could to prevent pain? I’ve always thought so. “Protect me” is my cry!
I grapple with these questions, because life isn’t easy. The struggles of life have made me ask, trusting God will answer. They’ve made me study his Word in order to find answers. I really want to know, not in anger, but to understand.
I want to know his answers, and not just assume for or against him by quoting the answers I hear others give.
Does it make a difference to me to know that I’m fashioned and not an accident, as I so boldly spoke of last week? Yes, certainly. Does it fix everything. No. I need more than that. To know that there is a Creator out there who made me doesn’t answer the hard questions. To know I’m not an accident is needful – it gives me a place to start, because it gives me a Creator to whom I can ask questions, hoping he cares enough to answer.
My dog died of cancer, my dad died of bone cancer, my husband of 25 years died of melanoma, and my teenage son with autism fell apart and had to leave our home to go live in a hospital setting for a while – all between Christmas of 2007 and November of 2008. My response was “Why” in the form of a demand, “Okay, God, I’ve suffered enough for your plans. I did my bit, thank you, and it’s my turn now to live in ease.” I meant it.
Job also asked the hard questions.
Job was a godly man, even in God’s eyes. Yet Job literally lost everything – his health, his entire family (except his wife), his wealth, and his social standing in his community because of it all – within the span of a few days. Job had a lot of questions, and he boldly asked them of his Creator and Lord. He only stopped asking questions long enough to defend himself against the accusations of his friends, who assumed he must have done something in God’s eyes to deserve his state. The book of Job in the Bible tells this true account and it’s amazing outcome. It is one of the earliest books written in the Old Testament, simply called “Job“.
To know that I’m fashioned by the Creator gives me a starting place. It gives me someone to whom I can ask the hard questions of life. And the hope that he will care to answer.
The Bible is full of God’s people asking God the hard questions. It’s also surprisingly full of God’s answers.
The starting point for me, Job, and the many others through the Bible who’ve asked God, their Creator, the hard questions, is relationship. You can ask questions of an intimate friend that you would never ask a stranger. You might rant at the stranger, but the intimacy of friendship allows you to ask the hard questions only a friend would accept.
Amazingly, friendship with God is possible. It was even God’s original design.
This week, we will look at “Who Am I?” in relationship to “Who Is God?”, in hopes that we can discover how one can have such a relationship, to be able to ask the hard questions, and have the hope of getting answers.
A Modern Day Job Story Worth Watching
On Netflix, “Hoovey” is the story of a real American family who faced their own struggles, who asked the hard questions of their Creator and Lord, and found some amazing answers. Here is the link to an interview CBN did with the Eric Elliott’s parents prior to the release of the movie, it gives more background on what the family was going through during the time of Eric’s illness and recovery. It is an amazing, uplifting story!
First of all, a heartfelt thank you to all who have prayed and given encouragement the last week. How blessed I am! 🙂 Unfortunately I still have no news!
Last Thursday morning as I sat in my Bible study, knowing that Evan’s doctor’s appointment was only hours away, I suddenly began to feel panic rising within me – and there was nothing I could do to stop it’s ugly head appearing after so long an absence. I couldn’t stop it’s appearance, but I’ve learned over the years how to more effectively keep it from escalating.
The things I had written all week weren’t theory. And rehearsing these truths over and over again all week truly strengthened me. I began to learn the power of the truths I shared last week 8 years ago.
About 6 months before Norman’s death, I began to experience anxiety attacks, unaware at first what was happening. I was never given the luxury of a warning. Day or night, I’d sense a sudden rush of adrenaline followed by lightening bolts and fireworks coursing through my body at speeds that made me want to jump out of my skin and run. The more I fought the rising emotion, the worse it became. I felt so hopeless!
The first time I realized Jesus could help, I had just pulled into a Target parking lot, was about to open the door, when wham – “it” began. As the cycle of panic ramped up, I heard the preacher on the radio calmly begin the story of Jesus fast asleep in a boat, as his disciples fought to keep the boat upright in a fierce storm. In their panic, they awoke Jesus. “Master, aren’t you concerned we’re going to drown?” Surprisingly, Jesus chided them for their lack of faith, then spoke peace to the storm, and all became suddenly calm. The preacher then said something I’ll never forget.
“Jesus was in the boat with them, so they didn’t have to fear the storm. They only needed to ride out the waves.”
This statement began my training in learning to “ride out the waves” of panic and anxiety. Over the next several years, I learned the things I shared last week, finding greater and greater victory as time elapsed. I have also learned other needed tools to ride out the waves.
We are made up of soul, body, and spirit – and every aspect of our being is greatly effected by stress. So, this week, as I continue to go “live” in dealing with concerns about Evan’s health and my need to overcome fear, I’ll share how I’m learning to “ride the waves” as I provide what is needed for my physical body and my soul.
Tomorrow, I will share some things I am learning about the effects of excessive stress on the body, and how the Lord used this knowledge to keep those feelings of panic last Thursday from moving into a full blown panic attack. I am certainly not a medical practitioner, so anything I say is solely from my personal experience.
Please join me. I would love to hear how you have successfully dealt with anxiety, since we all deal with it throughout life.
p.s. If you felt last week like I just don’t get where you are in your journey, I’m so sorry. I hope that this week helps!
Advent, Week 2, Day 2 – Grace For Today’s Uncertainties
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (NIV)
2 Corinthians 12:9
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. (NLT)
My pastor once told me as I bawled my eyes out hysterically as I told him the proposed cancer treatment alone could kill my husband,
“God’s grace is for today. So we won’t receive grace for today until it is today. Worrying about tomorrow won’t work because the grace for then hasn’t come yet.”
Wise words, that kept me through cancer wards, ICU, panic attacks, death, uncertainty, and change. Any time I began to think ahead, and began to panic, the Lord would remind me of those words, and I knew I could forgo those thoughts for another time when I was more prepared.
Do I always remember to do this now? No, I too need a lot of reminders as I face new challenges and uncertainties. You have my permission to remind me when you see I need it! Please!
Where do you need to wait for the grace to fill “today”? In Jesus’ nail-scarred embrace.
God offers us his grace to face today’s uncertainties, but not tomorrow’s worries
The teenage boy had been asked by dad to go check on his older brothers out tending the sheep. One minute he’s a favored son sporting the beautifully adorned robe his father had gifted him; the next minute, robe ripped from his back, he’s being thrown into a dry well to await who knows what! All at the hands of brothers gone mad with jealousy. They’d seen far too much lavish attention from their father as he doted on the boy, and had heard one too many stories about Joseph’s wild dreams. “One day you’ll bow down before me.” Arrogant kid! Now they would put an end to their misery!
Anger Gone Wild
Deaf to his cries for help, they plotted their younger brother’s demise…. “Do we kill him and make it out to be an accident, or ….no, we’ll make some money from the deal and sell him to the traders coming up the road!” Covering their actions, they dipped Joseph’s robe in animal blood. “We found his robe, Dad. Wonder what happened?”
So begins the tale of a 17 year old Jewish boy who lived a very long time ago. Even now, through him I learn how to handle life’s winters.
One Bad Thing After Another
Nightmares of his brothers’ faces as he cried for help. Recollections of his father, worrying what he’d endured. Shackled. Helpless, he’d been sold to a prominent Egyptian named Potiphar, an official of Pharaoh, Captain of the Guard.
After being sold, Joseph’s life was nothing he’d known before.Once a favored son of a prominent shepherd, now an Egyptian slave with a despised past.
The Bible says in all he did, God blessed Joseph. He learned the language and prospered. He learned the social customs and prospered. He learned how to run his master’s estate well, and prospered, so much so that his master saw God’s favor, and eventually put Joseph in charge of all he owned.
Joseph remained true to serving God, rather than becoming bitter. Rather than bowing down to the multitude of gods the Egyptians worshiped. He chose God and honoring his master even above his own safety.
Joseph knew his master’s wife wanted him. She’d daily made her intentions known, but he refused to shame God or his master. One day, she called for Joseph and enticed him once again. When he ran, she grabbed his cloak. With pride well trampled, and rage at his refusals! When her husband returned home, she produced the cloak and swore she’d escaped Joseph’s grasp. Joseph was immediately thrown in prison.
While in prison, Joseph prospered as God continued to train and hone his son into one who would exhibit humility, honor, and integrity in the face of extreme hardship. One who’d long ago left behind the spoiled son of his father, Joseph persevered and learned his lessons well, choosing to trust God.
Turn of Events
When he was ready, God gave Joseph the opportunity to accurately interpret the dreams of 2 of Pharaoh’s servants, also imprisoned. One to the servant’s demise, and the other to the servant’s elevation, returning him to the courts of Pharaoh. Two years passed, and Pharaoh himself had 2 very disturbing dreams. The servant whom Joseph had assisted, remembered Joseph, and told Pharaoh of this young Jewish slave who could interpret dreams.
Pharaoh had Joseph brought to him. Joseph was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams, warning Pharaoh the world would soon enter a famine so great that eventually all food supplies for hundreds and possibly thousands of miles, would be destroyed. God wanted Pharaoh to know there would be seven good years followed by seven bad years. After Joseph also shared a plan to save Egypt, Pharaoh realized that the “spirit of God” was in Joseph, and so placed him in charge of all of Egypt.
Joseph’s strategy for saving Egypt, brought about by years of hardship and unknown training, saved not only all of Egypt, but eventually his own family. His brothers eventually traveled to Egypt for food for their families. When they saw this Egyptian leader, not knowing it was Joseph, they bowed low before him, just as he’d dreamed as a teenage boy. In time, Joseph was completely restored with his family.
The names of Joseph’s two sons, born to him during this time were Manasseh and Ephraim, both Hebrew names. Manasseh’s name meant, “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household” and Ephraim’s name meant “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.” Both telling statements of all that he had gone through, and all that he had given God credit for accomplishing in and through him.
God Has A Good Plan
Joseph’s ability to pull off the task of ‘saving the world’ required a lot of preparation and training. Amazing since Joseph didn’t know he was going to need such preparation! Saving the world wasn’t really in Joseph’s long-range life’s goals, and neither had his life seemed to be pointing in that direction.
Joseph must have had a lot of hard, unanswered questions. Enduring circumstances that must have made him reel in anguish. Yet, Joseph continued to trust God and recognize his abilities and gifts were from God and not his own strength and intellect. He maintained a teachable attitude, so much so that his masters recognized that God was with him, and so each elevated him in position. Joseph’s humility allowed him to bless those over and around him.
Am I willing to do the same?
Can I trust this time didn’t surprise God, even if it did me? Can I acknowledge he is and has been with me, even in this? Am I willing to thank and cling to him, trusting for that which I can’t yet see? Will I bend my knee and continue to yield to him as I wait on him to deliver me?
Note: This is my rendition of Joseph’s life, a true Biblical character. You may want to read it from the Old Testament book of Genesis, Chapters 37-50.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NIV)