Monday, August 31, 2015

Search me Lord!

Psalm 139:23-24 NASB - "23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; 24 And see if  there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the  everlasting way.

When we suffer loss it is easy for us to lose touch with our own souls.  We compartmentalize to survive.  We shove our most painful and struggling parts into boxes and seal them off because of the need to function day by day in as normal a way as possible.  Sometimes it is hard for us to really reopen these boxes or be in touch with our emotions. 

Yet, we need to really know what is going on.  Therefore, to ask the Lord to search us and bring to the surface any painful, grief filled, and hurt aspects of our lives is a vital prayer.  We can only seek help, healing, and hope to those aspects of our lives that we see are weak, harmed, and confused.  Only those who see they are in despair will value hope.  

So part of the process of dealing with our loss is to try to get honest with God.  Our desire must be that the Lord will push aside all of our social masks and denials so that we can be before HIM as we are with pretense.  We need to see how we may not be handling our losses in faith and how doubts may be growing in us as a cancer.  Only in this position can we begin to process and lament our deep losses before the LORD.

The everlasting way connects us to the eternal.  By being heavenly minded we can keep our loss in the  perspective of the larger love and plan of God in Christ Jesus.  

Colossians 3:1-2 NASB - "1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth."

So to manage the pain within us at this moment in time we must remember the eternal love of God for us in the person of Christ Jesus.  We must see that ultimately we are promised the help and hope of the eternal kingdom bought with the blood of the Messiah. 

This balance between asking God to help us look within and see ourselves as we are and at the same time remembering that there is a “everlasting way” and the truth of the kingdom of heaven are going to make all the pain of our lives eventually work for God’s glory and gain.  


Lord, help me be honest with you and myself.  Come an show me the real condition of my soul and heart.  Let me be honest with you about my hurts, pain, doubts, and despair.  In your presence let me seek the healing, help, and hope I need to grow into a mature faith.  Help me remember the eternal reality of your victory on the cross and let me see all my struggles in the context of your unending love and promises.  Amen

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Lord is my Shepherd

Psa 23:1-6 NASB - "1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

This Psalm is filled with memories in my mind.  My mother read it every day before she went to work.  I remember reading it for the first time at seven years of age and thinking “why would I not want the Lord to be my shepherd”.  It would also be a significant focus during the illness of my wife that lead to her death. 

As I mused upon this I combined it with the “Jesus Prayer” as I struggled with my wife’s illness and her eventual death. The prayer that came out of me was:

"Jesus Christ, Son of God have mercy on me a sinner.  Remember we are but dust and so very frail, Good Shepherd come and lead us through this dark travail.  Jesus Christ, Son of God have mercy on me a sinner."

This psalm admits that we will be led into the very “shadow of death” yet we are not to fear because the Good Shepherd is with us.  Death has been defeated ultimately by the Shepherd Jesus.   So we are called to not fear but trust that in the end goodness and loving kindness will be with us forever. 

So as we go through this process of suffering loss, enduring the pain of grief, and wondering how to think about the LORD in the midst of all this confusion, one of the answers that is given.  Remember, HE is the good shepherd. 


Good Shepherd, I neve thought we would be in this place as we followed you.  It was beyond my understanding of life at the beginning of this journey that life could be filled with so much sadness, loss, and grief.  I was naive about the struggles that can be found “East of Eden." 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Isa 41:9-10 NASB - "9 You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its remotest parts And said to you, 'You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you. 10 'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'"

It is easy to think our lives have lost their purpose when we suffer a major loss.  Our dreams included the person we are now living without.  It seems like God’s plan for us disappeared with that person.  The vision of the future we had was with the two of us together and now that future is never going to happen.  It has been blown away like smoke.  There is nothing left.  

In the middle of this new reality we must fall back on a much more basic and eternal reality.   God has called us to be with HIM and live for HIM and this has not changed. 

God was never basing HIS vision of our future on the idea that our loved one would be with us.  HE always knew this day would come when we would have to build a new life without the companionship of the one we loved.  God has chosen us to live this current day for living a life worthy of the great gospel of sacrificial love in Messiah/Christ Jesus.  Everything is going in accordance with HIS strategic, merciful, loving, difficult, painful and effective plan for our lives.

This is hard for us, so God comes to us and says

You are chosen
You are not rejected
I am with you
 I will strengthen you
I will hold you up and not allow you to fall

The Messiah Jesus will lift us up by HIS power in the days that seem impossible do the impossible for us not by keeping us from hard times but getting us through hard times. 

So -  DO NOT BE AFRAID of the a future alone without your beloved companion of life.  They are gone but the LORD is with you in a specific and special way.  HE will get you through and allow you to finish running your own race well.


LORD, let these promises and commitments from you not just be words on a page.  Make them a living reality and truth.  LORD, comfort me about the loss of the future I thought I was going to have and took comfort in.  Give me courage to face a new future, one that you are making which is radically different that what I expected.  Provide me the trust in your character and competence to rest in this new future even though I have no idea what it will be like.  LORD open my heart to your real caring for me.  Amen  

Thursday, August 27, 2015

2Co 1:3-5 NASB - "3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ."


At the time of suffering and loss few of us have a vision of God as a heavenly Father of mercy and comfort.  In the darkness of our grief, pain, struggle, and confusion many times the Father seems to us distant and silent. Our circumstances don’t seem to reflect mercy but harshness.  

This vision of our Father can only be found when we remember that the true God is revealed in our Lord Messiah/Christ Jesus.  The Messiah is loved by  the Father and must suffer to save us and the world. Therefore, as the body of Messiah in the world we must also know the sufferings of Messiah. 

To follow Messiah Jesus we must take up our cross and follow in our times of grief.  The cross of Christ makes sense of our struggle because even God the Son who becomes the Son of God faces horrible pain and loss during HIS life.  How could it be different for us?

That suffering was needed so that God could show us just mercy.  We have forgiveness in the Messiah Jesus and ultimate loss and sorrow have been removed although they remain in the present moment, here “East of Eden”.  

God comforts us with the assurance that our suffering is also for the good and redemption of the world even as ultimately the infinite suffering of Christ won us salvation.  There will be good produced and given birth through our grief.  The Father is with us in our pain, loss, sorrow, and grief.  HE cries with us.  He cares for us.  

How do we know?  Because Messiah Jesus has come for us.  The Lord Jesus has suffered for us.  The blood of God has been shed for us (Acts 20:28).   This is the evidence of the love of God that does not change.  

Another good that comes out of our sorrow is that our ability and capacity to bring comfort to others becomes greater.  There is more comfort in the world because there are wounded comforters.  God is a wounded comforter as well.  This can become a comfort in itself. 

Open yourself to the comfort of God found in the gospel of Messiah/Christ Jesus.  Connect your pain and loss to the larger picture of God having a plan and purpose for this struggle.  

What is it?  Hard or impossible to define that plan or purpose many times.  But we must trust in the goodness of the God who sent Messiah Jesus even when we are in the dark about specifics.  

The Father is one of mercy and comfort.  But we must understand the difficulty of “East of Eden” and everyone here suffers, even God himself.  


Prayer - Lord help me to see you as merciful and comforting even when my circumstances seem harsh and cold.  Sensitize my spirit to sense your SPIRIT at the worst of times.  Save me from the illusions and lies that would deny your great grace and goodness.  Hold be close to your heart    Amen 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Seeking the protection, presence, and peace of the Lord during mourning

26 NASB - "24 The LORD bless you, and keep you; 25 The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; 26 The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.'"

One of the hardest aspects of losing a loved one or suffering a great loss of any type is that one feels vulnerable, alone, and in great internal conflict.  Times of grief and mourning are denied and avoided because the experience of deep and profound loss places us in a state of great fear and frustration. 

So we must ground ourselves in the reality that our devastating experience of death, defeat, and disaster does not mean that we our outside the reach of God’s merciful blessing.  That in the midst of our ruins the LORD is with us and shining upon us HIS love and logic. 

We have HIS unconditional favor and support to get us through this time of deep sorrow.  HIS face is one of empathy, support, kindness and love.  In the Messiah Jesus there is no condemnation to us and only an offer of a inner peace that goes beyond understanding. 

For me during my worst times I repeated to myself a self constructed creed. 

God is good
God is great
God is full of grace toward me in Messiah Jesus
God is with me in this time of grief
God will use all my grief for good. 

Telling myself this truth over and over out loud would help me to get through those dark times when it seems like the pain would devour my soul and spirit.  Combined with cries of prayer from the gut seeking in my experience an emotional encounter supporting my creed.  


Lord help all of us who are struggling and in sorrow.  Remember we are but dust and so very frail.  Good Shepherd come now and lead us through this horrible travail.  Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us.  Amen 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Jeremiah 29:11-13 NASB - "11 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12 'Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 'You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart."

Calamity does come to us.  Moments of such crisis and loss that we have nothing left in us and wonder if we can keep ourselves sane.  Our stability is gone.  The sense of God's Spirit seems distant to us.  Times like this are very dark.  

Jeremiah wrote this at such a time.  War, famine, and plague filled the land.  Funerals were common and cries of mourning could be heard in every village in Israel.  It was not just the aged who were dying but the young.  Many times their deaths were brutal and painful.  So clearly calamity has come. 

But God's long term plan was not to leave them in calamity.  Calamity like a time of pregnancy had an aim to bring them to a better place.  In the crisis of such times they would be taught to pray and seek instead of living is self sufficancy, pride, and self righteousness.  

The welfare of thier souls would be gained through the hardships they now suffered.  This was not only true of Israel in the days of Jeremiah but is true for us today.  

When death, sickness, and failure come in a wave that will surely crush us our hope, the ultimate purpose of God in the mercy of Christ, is not to utterly destroy us but to utterly restore us.  

This does not mean that our pain does not hurt.  It is normal and necessary that we cry and express our grief, confusion, and struggle.  We can lament before the Lord.  

It may be good to read the book of Lamentations also written by Jeremiah to gain perspective on the role of crying out to God in the midst of calamity is to our walk with God.  

So there is a time to cry but not a time to give up hope that the kingdom of Messiah will make itself known to every nation.  Calamity does not endure.  God's plan to bless us in HIS kingdom will stand.  Amen

A Christian Sister gave me a book of handwritten verses to help me deal with the lost of my wife on July 14th 2015.  I felt that I wanted to share with others these verses and also my musings about them as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.  May the Lord of Comfort come to each of us to help us through dark times.  Amen