Tag Archives: loss

October 14 – Calming The Sea

Matthew 13; Luke 8

Jesus calmed the sea. In the middle of a violent storm, Jesus spoke a word and calm came over the water. A boat full of frightened people, tossed by waves and in danger of dying were saved.

I can’t help but think of Hurricane Matthew as I read these verses, and I certainly reminded God of them when I was praying during that storm. But God seems to be asking me to look beyond calming waters.

The real miracle is when Jesus calms individuals in the midst of the storms of life. When the death of a loved one doesn’t steal our joy. When a devastating medical prognosis doesn’t shake our faith. When the loss of a job or a relationship doesn’t shatter our hope. When a hurricane is pounding your house, and you can still trust God with the outcome. When “worry” isn’t part of your vocabulary.

The real miracle is the peace that is beyond understanding even in the darkest moments, in the roughest waters of our lives.

Job’s Hell On Earth

I am reading the book of Job this week as part of my year long plan. I’ve read Job several times, so as I read his words of anguish, I know his turmoil is temporary. Job’s hell on earth will not last forever.

Job is tormented by his thoughts, his memories, his questions, the “what-ifs”. He can find no comfort; not physically and not in his soul. His groans come from deep inside of him.

If you’ve been with me on this blogging journey for very long, you know that in 2012 we lost my 22 year old nephew in an auto accident. I have experienced death repeated times as we’ve buried grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents. But I had never experienced the level of grief that paralyzed me when I got the horrible news of Geoffrey’s death.

I remember sitting in silence in my parent’s family room. My sisters, their families, my dad. Tears flowed freely, but there were no words that could express what we were going through. There were, however, occasional groans.

I can still hear the sound of Geoff’s parents as that mournful sound escaped from their hearts. Our sister, Kathy, Geoff’s aunt, would groan in such a way you never thought could come from a human. I remember hearing a sorrowful groan, then realizing the sound had come from me. I finally understood the definition of “lament”.

That kind of grief cannot be described. It’s too painful, too personal. The sound of that kind of pain comes involuntarily. It’s like the whistle of a teapot. It just comes on its own as a result of the boiling turmoil deep inside. It’s the sound of true anguish.

Dear One, that’s a portrait of hell. Hell is not a giant bonfire. It is the absence of God, the absence of light, of love, of comfort, of peace, of joy. It’s living inside that teapot where thoughts and memories, the “what-ifs” torment. Forever. Where the only sound heard is that of painful, personal groaning.

Job’s anguish was temporary. Even though I still grieve the loss of my dear nephew, the intensity isn’t the same today as it was on June 24, 2012. But here is what God would say to us today: without  accepting the grace God offers to us sinners through the blood of his Son Jesus, eternity will be living with that grief, that agony, that helplessness FOREVER. No relief, no lessening of the pain, no hope that things will ever get better. And if I think my grief was hard to bear, if Job’s grief was devastating, the grief of those in hell, separated from God will be so much more intense.

I can’t imagine living an eternity of June 24, 2012. And hell will be so much more painful than even that day was.

Hell is nothing to joke about, nothing to take lightly. It’s personal, and painful, and devastating, and ugly, and separated from everything good with no chance of reprieve. The good news is, you can avoid that end.

Jesus died so you and I don’t have to ever experience hell. But you need to meet him on his terms. You need to confess your sins and accept his forgiveness. I promise you, he will be faithful to forgive you, to cleanse you, to live inside of you, and one day, to welcome you into his heavenly home where you will joyfully live…

Forever.

Dear God, Hell is scary. And not the sci-fi kind of scary. It’s real. It’s personal. It’s devastating. Thank you for Jesus, for his willingness to die so that I don’t have to spend one second in that awful place. Life on earth is hard enough, is sad enough. I’d much rather spend eternity in Your presence. I pray for each one who reads these words today. I pray that hearts will be drawn to you, that sins will be confessed, that Your grace will be accepted by anyone who doesn’t already know You. May each of us come to You on Your terms, then look forward to seeing You the day you call us home.

October 26

John 11:17-57; Mark 10:32-52; Matthew 20:17-34; Luke 18:31-43

Jesus wept. Our God shed tears over the death of his friend. He cried for Mary and Martha at the loss of their brother. 

As someone who still feels the pain of losing my dad and nephew last year there is a measure of comfort knowing my Savior knows how I feel. When he was sad he cried. And that makes me know my tears are ok.

I’m glad the Bible doesn’t tell us not to mourn. In fact Jesus told us that Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Scripture assures us that as Christians we don’t mourn like those who have no hope. Oh, we mourn. But within that mourning is the blessed hope, the assurance that one day we will be with Jesus and he will wipe every tear from our eyes.

I want to share a verse that has become very precious to my sister since her son’s death. It’s found in Psalm 143:8.

Let the mourning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go for unto you I lift my soul.

Jesus wept. And if you are mourning the loss of a loved one, the loss of your health, a job, or a relationship I pray that you will lift your soul, that you would put your trust in God and allow him to be your Comforter. He knows how you feel.

Dear Jesus, thank you for walking this earth, for experiencing life first hand, and knowing how we feel. I know you didn’t really do that for your benefit, but for ours. It is comforting to know that we can come to you with confidence, knowing you know first hand what we are experiencing. Thank you that we can trust you in our mourning. I pray for those reading this blog today who are sad. May they shed the tears that need to be shed and rest in your comfort. Give strength to meet the challenges of the day and may you be glorified even in our mourning.

January 5

Job 1-3

I remember the moment I learned my nephew Geoff died in an auto accident. I remember the panic, the confusion. I remember how hard it was to breathe. I remember the tears and the pain. The news of that sudden death tore through me like a knife.

Is that how Job felt the day he lost everything? Does losing ten children hurt worse than losing one? How can you measure grief?  I was Geoff’s aunt, not his mom. Does that mean my grief is insignificant?

I have found that grief is very personal. Each member of my family has dealt with Geoff’s death differently. Some cry openly. Others control their tears until they are alone. Some want to talk about Geoff and some still find talking about him too painful.

Job’s first reaction to the news of his great loss was to fall on his knees before God. He said something like… You give and you take away. I have nothing that didn’t come from you. And I will praise you today and every day.

That’s not easy. But it’s right. We were blessed to have Geoff in our lives for 22 incredible years. And now that he has seen Jesus and experienced heaven, Geoff wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. There is an enormous comfort in knowing that.

So it’s not a matter of degree. Grief is grief. Loss is loss. But we can learn from Job to praise God in every circumstance. I don’t know what, if any, loss you are experiencing now. But I do know first hand that God is praise-worthy. I would never tell you to get over it or stop being sad. Those are things you have to deal with in your own time. But I will tell you that there is strength available to get you through today. There is joy in knowing the Lord and trusting Him with every detail of your life, even the darkest places.

May we, like Job, praise God.