Monday, December 7, 2015

Lord be my refuge in the darkest nights

Psalms 16:1-7
16:1  A Mikhtam of David. Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.
2  I said to the LORD, "You are my Lord; I have no good besides You."....

5  The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot.
6  The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

7  I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

When we suffer a severe loss of a loved one every part of our lives feel less secure.  All the plans and hopes we had for that person end.  We feel as though there is no safe place on the earth.   We are very aware of our own frailty.  

The only sure place to go is to look to God to preserve our life and be a hiding place for us in our fear.  In the end, the loss of a loved one forces us to see that the only enduring relationship and good we can have in this life "East of Eden" is the Lord.   The LORD alone is a firm and enduring reality.  Everything else is dust in the wind. 

As we turn to the Lord to give us security in an insecure world, we also find in addition that the Eternal One is also a source of wise instruction and comfort about our loss.   Here as we find our hiding place in God we also find a song of truth to comfort our souls.  The promises and purpose of God remain steadfast and lasting.  They have not been changed in the  face of death.  There is still God's truth that remains secure. 

Prayer:  Lord, I am scared out of my mind.  Nothing is safe or secure.  Be my safe place and person.  Preserve my life and fruitfulness.  Lord, calm my mind and heart with your promises that all things are working together for good.  Remind me that your grace is greater than my failures.  Help me I pray to praise you in the dark.  You always remain the same.  Your steadfast love endures forever and I trust in you.    Amen

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Being A Survivor Is Not Easy!

Zechariah 13:9

9  "And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, 'They are My people,' And they will say, 'The LORD is my God.'"

Within the context of this passage, the third are those who survive a tragic time.  Survivors have a special test to face.  They have lost who they loved.  It is their duty, calling, and challenge to continue on in life. Not only are they called upon to continue, but to do so in dependence upon the LORD of life and death.  
Faith is made more pure from suffering loss.  All the parts of it that were false and just pretense are burned away by the pain of grief.  All the "head knowledge" that was not real "heart knowledge" evaporates under the intense pressure of suffering.  The true faith, that which cries out in desperation for help is what is left in a pure and raw form. 
The LORD does speak to us in our times of grief.  As we cry before the LORD, the SPIRIT says to us "You belong to ME".  In response to this commitment by God in the Messiah Jesus our hearts echo back, "YOU belong to me".    
As we trust the LORD in the dark pain of grief and loss, we find our refuge and home in the Living LORD of all the cosmos.  HE dwells in eternity and also in our hearts.  
LORD, you have chosen that I am the survivor and my loved one has been lost in death.  They are with you according to your promise and WORD.  Give me strength now to endure to my end in faith, hope, and love.  In this testing by fire grant that my core faith will prove true and enduring.  Focus my faith now upon your commitment to me and let me open my heart in seeking prayer before your face to find help in this time of greatest need.   Amen

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Lord be my hiding place when all is lost.

Psalm 32:7-11 NASB - "7 You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah. 8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. 9 Do not be as the horse or as the mule, which has no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, otherwise they will not come near to you. 10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, But he who trusts in the LORD, lovingkindness shall surround him. 11 Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones; and shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart."

At times of loss passages such as this are hard to understand.  The Lord did not seem to be a hiding place that preserved the hurting from trouble.  Whatever songs of deliverance were sung seems now to be only illusions and false promises.  

The Lord promises here to teach us the way to go in the middle of the struggle.  HE urges us not to be in an attitude that requires only painful chastisement in order to move us in the right direction.  The suggestion is to be ready to be sensitive to the Lord’s instruction in the same way that a person can know instinctively how they should act to please a loved one. 

Part of the wisdom is to trust in the Lord in the midst of circumstances that seem to contradict the idea that the LORD is ready to surround us with lovingkindness.  We must come to trust the Lord in the dark of circumstances that seem to indicate we are abandoned by the LORD’s protection and guidance.  At such times we cannot be glad in the situation but in the essence of who the LORD is as good, great, and full of grace. 

We can rejoice in the LORD’s character and competence even when there is little or nothing to rejoice in the circumstances of our lives.   Our trust can be that the Lord will work all these losses and sorrows for eventual good. 


Lord, help me take joy in you when every other source of joy has been stolen from me.  When nothing in this life seems right and the ones I valued the most are now gone from my life.   When the hopes I have had now are evaporated and I am utterly confused help me learn from you and trust in you in the middle of the most maddening of days  Amen

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Personal Armageddon

There were signs of the end times
But I denied and ignored them
Fighting the destined end 
I hoped till the very last despairing moment
Even as the sun was growing dark

Rationality leaving 
Soul departing
Yet I tried to resist the irresistible 
Resistance was futile
Yet seemed my duty
But at the ordained time the world was consumed
Death swallowed life
Life swallowed death
Mystery and mourning
The burning consumption of one world and the beginning birth cry of another.
I should have seen the signs of the time
but only after all is lost does one see.
Out of the ashes we gain insight
At a price, at a price
Personal Armageddon 
The end of my world

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Time and Eternity in processing our grief.

2Corinthians 4:16-18 NASB - "16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."

The dynamics here are difficult.  The outer humanity connected to this time and life “East of Eden” is decaying while the new humanity of our new birth is given new life day by day, awaiting its full birth at the final death of our “East of Eden” self at death or the second coming.  The tension here is real and is at the heart of our grief.   For there are some unique realities of this “East of Eden” life that have been part of our relationship with our loved one.  These can never be restored.  They are really past.

C.S. Lewis struggles with this in his “Grief Observed”

 “Kind people have said to me, 'She is with God.' In one sense that is most certain. She is, like God, incomprehensible and unimaginable.

But I find that this question, however important it may be in itself, is not after all very important in relation to grief. Suppose that the earthly lives she and I shared for a few years are in reality only the basis for, or prelude to, or earthly appearance of, two unimaginable, supercosmic, eternal somethings. Those somethings could be pictures as spheres or globes. Where the plane of Nature cuts through them — that is, in earthly life — they appear as two circles (circles are slices of spheres). Two circles that touched. But those two circles, above all the point at which they touched, are the very thing I am mourning for, homesick for, famished for.

You tell me, 'she goes on.' But my heart and body are crying out, come back, come back. Be a circle, touching my circle on the plane of Nature.

But I know this is impossible. I know that the thing I want is exactly the thing I can never get. The old life, the jokes, the drinks, the arguments, the lovemaking, the tiny, heartbreaking commonplace. On any view whatever, to say, 'H. is dead,' is to say, 'All that is gone.' It is a part of the past. And the past is the past and that is what time means, and time itself is one more name for death, and Heaven itself is a state where 'the former things have passed away.’”

Now, this loss is what Paul calls a “temporary light affliction” that prepares us in some way for an unimaginable great eternal “weight of glory”.  Glory is to be in the presence of the awesome reality of God and reflect the character and competence of God in such a way that the deepest potential and joy possible is felt by humanity when it is so filled with God.   The word enthusiasm comes from the ancient Greek word eufousiasmz EN +THEOS meaning "inspired by or possessed by God".  Such possession was to reach the fullest happiness, holiness, and wholeness possible for a human being.  It transforms us into the likeness of Christ Jesus.  This is what the “weight of glory” really is and so will satisfy us at every level.  Nothing experienced in this life can be compared to this encounter with the very presence of God in Christ. 

Our vision must be to see the things that cannot be seen.  To live connected to eternity and God instead of living in this time “East of Eden” as if this was the final and total reality of our existence and life. 

Only the heavenly minded are any earthly good and are equipped to strive in faith during times of deep and painful mourning. 

Prayer:  Lord, help me to see what cannot be seen now.  Allow me spiritual eyes that will find renewal day by day inwardly even as outwardly this temporal life “East of Eden” is growing weaker day by day.  Help me seek to see the wonder of reflecting you before a watching society as you truly exist in reality.  Help me now to handle my “light affliction”.  Lord have mercy on me.  Amen

Monday, September 28, 2015

Mourning "in Christ"

Musing About Mourning

Rom 12:1-2 NASB - "1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."

At that point in our lives when we have suffered loss we are called to remember who we are in our relationship with Messiah Jesus in the gospel.  Paul here is asking us to present ourselves to God in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus and not in our own righteousness (Romans 6). 

We are to know we are acceptable to God because of the death of Christ for us.   In addition the death of our old unbelieving self on the cross with Christ has given us a new identity as the body of Christ.  In Christ we now can come before God the Father in open and celebrative worship.   This vision of the gospel and our life before God fully loved and accepted can give us a safe place to heal from our loss.

Now this vision calls us to not look at life according to the unbelieving secular cultures that surround us.  The unbelieving perspective on our loss is without hope and is cut off from eternity.  To gain this by a transformation of our deepest core beliefs and think God’s gospel thoughts after HIM is only possible with the enlightenment of Holy Spirit.

Now part of this is that we will look at our pain, loss, and agony as part of God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will for our lives within the larger loving plan for our lives which has been purchased at the price of the suffering of the Messiah Jesus.   Only by putting our agony, pain, sorrow, and loss in the context of the gospel can we see it through God’s eyes.  The gospel is the only context in which what we have suffered will ultimately comfort our souls. 

The hardest part of the gospel perspective is that God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will includes suffering, pain, and loss.  This is seen most clearly in the Messiah Jesus who alone perfectly loved the Father and yet suffered more than any person, as part of accomplishing God’s redemptive will.  Since now our lives are “in Christ” our suffering will also be used to bring God’s redemptive kingdom to the earth.  But it will come through blood, sweat, tears, suffering, and loss.  The promise however is that none of our pain will be without gain. 

Prayer:  Lord, I really wish that we did not live “East of Eden” and that redemption did not require your suffering and loss.  Yet, it does.  So now out of this sorrow help me see your purpose and trust your plan.  Allow the gospel to be the pattern of my thoughts and therefore allow me to see my loss within the context of your love and salvation.  Comfort me to know that my suffering is part of your plan and is not wasted or in vain.  Help me see that the suffering of my loved one was not in vain.  Give me the faith to believe that all of this tragedy was needed in order to bring your Kingdom to the earth.  Amen

Saturday, September 26, 2015

God of comfort, come and comfort me today! Amen

Psa 94:19 NASB - "19 When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul."

Psa 94:19 YLT - "19 In the abundance of my thoughts within me, Thy comforts delight my soul."

During times of loss our minds function like popcorn machines and all internal order and sense can seem to pass away.  We are torn between past, present, and future.  At such times what can we do?

Center ourselves in the consolation and comfort of our Creator and Redeemer.

What does it mean that God will console us?

1.  God is sympathetic to our loss, sadness, and pain.  He is not mad at us for being sad.   He shares in our sadness.

2.  God has great affection towards us in Christ even though this horrible loss took place.  Nothing can separate us from HIS love in Christ Jesus.

3.  God listens to us in our pain.  The book of Job is clear evidence that God hears the hurting.

4.  God will send comfort to our inner hearts by HIS Spirit but this may take time for us to feel such comfort.   Remembering that all our friends and family members who are seeking to comfort us are really the manifestation of Christ’s comfort can help.

5.  God does not minimize our loss or pain.  Since we are important to HIM as individuals our struggle is very important to HIM as well.

6.   God will give us advice when we seek and ask for it.  At first we may not want to hear from God or the Bible because our pain and anger are so high.  God is patient.  When we are ready to seek HE will be ready to provide insight.

7.  God recognizes the unique nature of your pain.  HE knows that no one has felt like you feel.  Your struggle is one of a kind.  God treats you in that way.

8.  God is with us at those times when we isolate ourselves from everyone else because we just can’t take being with anyone.   He sits silently with us when we need silence as a good friend.

9.  God is our helper at such times.  He will carry us through even when we are angry and depressed. He never abandons us

10.  God is fully committed and will never think you should be “over it”.  He understands that mourning is a marathon for most people and not a sprint.  He never gets tired of hearing you cry or be sad even if it years later. 

Centering our hearts on these ten truths through specific self-talk can help our mental “popcorn” machine to slow down.  It can turn down the heat and allow us to know some measure of calm in the middle of the storm. 


Comforting All Powerful and All knowing lover of my true soul self,-help me to center myself in your consoling grace.  Draw near to me even if I am running away.   Hound of heaven chaise me down in your irresistible love and bring me home to your sane, stable, and safe heart.  Help me during my most desperate moments.