Sunday, July 5, 2015

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          God is always amazing but, in the dull headedness of our humanity, we are unable to walk in the full realization of just how wonderful and amazing He really is.  Perhaps because He is “all knowing” about our weaknesses and human frailties, He puts limits, even when it comes to pouring out His own goodness and blessings into our lives, so as not to overwhelm us.

          Generally speaking, we would not ordinarily think of periods of grieving as an opportunity to experience the joy of the Lord.  Rather, we would think of grieving and mourning as periods of excruciating pain and sadness, accompanied by an unbelievable sense of loss.  To the natural mind, even with the Lord to show us the way, the death of a loved one seems to be more than we can bear.  Grief seems to come in like a heavy cloud of endless fog, surrounding and following us everywhere we go, as if it is a thick set of woolen clothing which is worn in the summer heat, but cannot be shed.  The fog of grief can bring with it a weight and density so heavy and thick that it makes one feel the terror experienced when trapped within a never ending tunnel, filled with darkness and unsearchable space.  Somehow you are so encapsulated within it; even the voices of your loved ones seem to be far off in the distance, unable to break through to you, causing a fear to rise up within your heart, making you feel as though separation from both the living and the dead is going to be a forever state of existence.

          Panic grasps your heart, and fear would tell you that the breath of life itself is but a thin vapor, soon to be cut off.  I speak from experience when I say, that God can intervene on our behalf, even at times such as these, to lift and even carry the burden of grief for a time to give a moment of relief as it is needed.    When there seems to be no end to the solitude and separation from all that is good and right, He will suddenly spread a sheet of peace that settles over you as a shield against the sadness, and the sweet presence of the Lord pushes all the darkness aside.  The light of the “Son” breaks through the darkness of the fog, casting His light so bright that it invades every pore of your body and all that exists around you.  Even the foundations under your feet seem to be permeated with it.  Before you have realized what it is, the joy of the Lord has come in like a flood to sweep you up, above, and beyond the clouds of darkness which, just the moment before, had seemed so dense and endless. 

          Has the loss of your loved one, and the grief that it carried with it, suddenly vanished and become as a distant nightmare?  No, the loss is still there, and it really has happened.  Yet, somehow the Lord has broken through to speak to your heart saying, “Patience, my child, the separation is real, but it is only for a moment in time, not forever.”  The Lord knows how to comfort the heart of those who are truly His.  In His wisdom, He doesn’t reach out to me in the same way as He would to you, but in a manner that takes our differences into account.  Maybe the depths of your inner being are more easily reached through sound, while I may be reached more easily through sight, not the sight of physical eyes, but the eyes of His Spirit within.   Perhaps He will implant a scene of your loved one as she romps through the glory that is in Heaven; at peace, made whole, unencumbered by any of the troublesome cares, sorrows, or maladies of this world, released into the magnificence that can only be found in the realm of the kingdom of our Lord.

          Perhaps the fog of your grief may still try to enter in, attempting to pull you down, with all its force.  Yet, with time, those dark moments will become less frequent.  Do you still miss and love the one that has gone on before you?  Naturally!  However, you can no longer be dragged into the tunnel of darkness and separation.  There will always be a kind of yearning to be joined with your loved one once again, but somehow it seems to always be accompanied by a gentle and soothing reminder that your waiting will only be “for a little while longer.”  That scene that He enabled you to see, with the inner eyes of the Spirit, of your loved one so totally happy and healed at last, you now play and replay, over and over again, whenever the need arises.  The realization that she is not suffering but is experiencing the best part of her life, brings with it a peace and joy that satisfies your soul.  It is that scene which now springs up as a vivid memory, appearing to be far more real than the moment of her loss.  Your spirit speaks to the Lord saying, “Now I see; this is that which the Lord has done!”  When I was down, He became greater within me than anything that was in the world.  He came to heal my broken heart, and set my spirit free.  He became the Balm of Gilead, a soothing salve, to heal all my wounds.  He provided His written word, giving me the Bread of life and water from the Fountain of life, that I may be renewed, and experience His unending mercy and grace day by day.  This is the water given by Him, which is that spring within, from the Holy Spirit, which never runs dry, that bubbles and gushes up, filling us to overflowing. (John 4: 14) 

          As we seek the Lord, through prayer and the reading of His word, His truth and knowledge enters our head, and then His Spirit writes it on the tablets of your heart.  That word does not lie there dormant, but bubbles up from the Holy Spirit, the source of strength and power that has no end.  Through spiritual ears, given unto us by the Holy Spirit, we can hear Him saying, “Today, my child, you have need of this “truth”, take it with you that it may do its work within you, to equip you to stand against the sadness that may try to creep in and tear you down.  And then He causes to bubble up within you a power ball promise as He speaks to your heart; “The joy of the Lord is your strength. My grace is sufficient within you to meet your needs, no matter what situations or circumstances may burst forth into your life.  No, you will not be spared suffering or hardships, but I am with you to help you through them.  So when you may ‘feel’ downhearted, let it not overtake you, but trust in Me, knowing that as you go through each moment, I will activate this promise to make you better and stronger than you were before.”  We don’t have to fear trials, loss, or any earthly thing when we realize that He is going to use all of it, even the times of hurting, to produce that which is His best for us and within us.

          Even while going through the deep waters of grieving, He can restore our soul, for He goes through them with us to show us the way.  Everything that happens to us, even that which seems to be bad, can be used to work His purposes in our lives.  There is nothing that we have, which we did not first receive from Him. (I Cor. 4: 7)  Even in grief, we can ask the Lord; “What is it that you would have me learn and receive from you in and through this?   Help me not react as a victim who dwells upon perceived grievances, such as: Why me Lord; how could you let this happen; I thought you were a loving God?  Instead, help me to respond to you with a humble and contrite heart that is willing to be changed: melt me, mold me, and shape me that I may become increasingly more of you and less of me.  Help me to accept that there are some things which I may never understand until I see you face to face.”

          No, He doesn’t expect us to go through mourning without tears of grief and sorrow, as if we had a heart of stone, instead of a heart of flesh.  Grief is meant to be for a moment in time for the healing process to take place within us.  However, grief is not meant to be given time to set up housekeeping, as if your house, or body, was its permanent domain.  Its temporary presence can produce patience, compassion, and a heart that desires to draw ever closer to the Lord; but allowing it to take root and grow can only produce bitterness, resentment and a hardened heart which is no longer able to respond to the Lord.

          We must not hold tight to grief and make it our friend.  Rather, as the Lord enables us, we are to release it, and grab hold evermore tightly to the hand of the Lord.   Let His love and blessings flood into our soul as we learn not to dwell on the loss, but to praise and give thanks unto Him for all that He has given us.  We will see more clearly, not the loss of what we once had, but the blessings that were brought into our lives through the gift of shared time and loving one another.  We learn not to fret over what was, but to give Him praise and thanks for all that He has done, is doing, and will do.   How can we possibly stay down trodden when He is our Hope everlasting? 

          What has He promised us about mourning, which is to bubble up from the spring of living waters of the Holy Spirit within?  His words of hope come forth: “give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified!” (Isaiah 61: 3)  “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken,; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.  For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” (II Cor. 4:8 – 11)

          Yes, grieving has its purpose for a period of time, but be not overtaken by it.  Remember what the Lord has taught: this too will pass; He makes all things beautiful in His time; “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philip. 4: 8)  “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep.” (I Thess. 4: 13, 14)  Every time you feel that yearning to see your loved one tugging at your heart again, listen and you will hear that gentle soothing voice reminding you; “Only a little while longer, and then you will be reunited, with her and with me, and this time it will be forever and ever.” 

          Make sure that you are safe and secure in the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ.  If you have not already done so, confess your faith in Him as your personal Lord and Savior; repent of your sins that you may receive the free gift of salvation.  Trust in the Lord, that He may carry you through every trial and tribulation, even your own death or the death of a loved one.  When grief may try to trample you underfoot with sorrow and pain, turn your thoughts and heart unto the Lord. He will turn your sorrow into joy, and your tears of grief into praise and thanksgiving unto Him for all He has done.  He will give unto you the “oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”  Knowing the great love that is poured out upon you, even in grief, choose to play and replay that wondrous scene of your loved one as she is welcomed into his heavenly home.  As you do, you too will rejoice and dance in the spirit, if not in body, as King David danced in joyous abandonment before the Lord.  And as you do, sing out unto the Lord, with all the gusto that is within you: PRAISE YE THE LORD OUR GOD; HIS MERCIES SHALL NEVER END!
(Written in loving memory of our three babies lost in early miscarriages, and our baby girl, Candace, who lived for only one hour, and was mercifully taken home to be made whole, to live the best part of life in the loving presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.)


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