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.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Can God Sill Have A Plan After What I lost?

Musings on Mourning

Phillippians1:6 NASB - "6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."

When we suffer a loss one of the things that we lose is our expectations for our future.  Our dreams will not be happening.  It is easy to feel like the direction of even God’s plan for our lives has been derailed.   Our security and sense of being safe is lost. 

This hits us at many levels.  Nothing seems real.  They call this denial at times. We live day by day and try to act as if the loss has not occurred.  We dreamed our way through the memorial services and the rites of death.  At times reality crashed in on us, including the horrible weight of the loss, but it still seemed like a nightmare from which we could not wake up. 

In the midst of this it is important for us to preach to ourselves the good news.  God is committed to us beyond all of our hopes.  God’s own blood was shed in the Messiah Jesus to righteously forgive us.  HE is fully committed to me.  

His good work in me and for me included this great, horrible, and numbing loss.  HIS tears were mixed with mine, but knowing that this was part of an eventual and necessary aspect of bringing about some greater good. 

The LORD is good and using all my grief for gain in Christ Jesus.  This is the promise of the gospel.

Nothing can separate me from God’s love in Christ Jesus.  Even my life changing and crushing loss cannot separate me from God’s love.  In addition, the good work that God has been working in me is still intact  and will be brought to its full maturity. 

This is what I must preach to my soul in the midst of my deepest sadness.


Dear loving Father, help me now to confident in my deepest soul that the good work you planned for me in Christ Jesus before the creation of the world will be accomplished even out of the ashes of my dreams and hopes.  Lord, grant me faith in your plan and purpose for me.  Help me see that YOU invested your blood in me and for me.  Lord, I believe help me to believe.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

In the garden with Jesus

Psalm 37:4-5 NASB - "4 Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it."

Psalm 37:4-5 YLT - "4 And delight thyself on Yahweh, And He giveth to thee the petitions of thy heart. 5 Roll on Jehovah thy way, And trust upon Him, and He worketh,"

These passages hit us who have suffered loss as difficult to comprehend or make sense of in our pain.  The literal translation really seems to be saying that if we find ultimate and supreme pleasure in the LORD Himself then our prayers will be positively answered. 

How do we reconcile this with our situation where our petitions were not answered with a yes and in many cases the prayers of a multitude of believers were given a negative response to their cries.  Did none of us delight ourselves in the LORD? 

Now in a very strict sense this is true.  All have sinned and fallen short.  None but those already in the kingdom of heaven with God actually delight in the LORD, as they should.  So in this very narrow sense none of us could claim God failed to keep this commitment, because in fact we have all horribly come terribly short of delighting in the essence of God alone. 

But this answer does not help us much practically.  We have a relationship with God and HE is our Father, how could HE not hear our prayer at such a desperate time?

Perhaps the answer to this is found in Messiah Jesus.

Luke 22:41-44 NASB - "41 And He withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done." 43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground."

The Lord Jesus does delight in the Father perfectly.  But due to this HIS ultimate petition is “not My will, but Yours be done.”  God’s will in this case is very hard and includes horrible pain.  So there is the natural desire to have God deliver us from times of great agony and loss, but for those who delight in the LORD, only if avoiding this loss will not hurt God’s redemptive kingdom.  To the degree we “delight in the LORD” we want his glory and kingdom more than our comfort or even the healing of our loved ones.  Then, if this cross is needed for some ultimate greater glory for God and HIS kingdom, with tears and with bloody sweat we pray, “give me the cross.” 

It is hard in the middle of our struggles to pray such prayers.  Most of the time we are desperate for a miracle and hoping against hope that our loved one will be restored to us in health.  But eventually, either during the dark night of suffering or later as we process our agony, sadness, and grief we must come to this garden of Gethsemane moment and surrender to God’s difficult redemptive will.   It will not be easy and we will emotionally, if not physically, sweat blood as we come to that moment of ultimate delight in the LORD HIMSELF. 

LORD of mercy and love.  Help me surrender to you even the broken prayers for my loved one and their deliverance from pain and death.  Desperate prayers and fervent they were and now I give them to you accepting that for your glory and kingdom they could not be fulfilled.  Help me move into the place in my heart that I can echo the heart of Messiah Jesus; “Not my will but your WILL be done.”   Lord, have mercy on me for this is a very hard thing to do.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Finding God's Strength When We Are At The End Of Our Own

2Co 12:7-10 NASB - "7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."

There is a danger of our pride in the midst of our lives of service to the Lord  becoming a sense of self accomplishment and a feeling we a sense of control which denies our entire dependance upon the LORD for every good thing we have every moment and in every endeavor.  

So this is one reason the Lord will allow times of struggle and loss come to us.  Such times remind us of our weakness and dependance upon the LORD.  They force us into reality and motivate us to seek the LORD for strength.  Normally our prayers will be for better times.  In this case Paul was struggling with persecution both from within and without the church.  He just wanted an end to opposition and physical torture so that he could have a more effective ministry. 

The Lord after not replying to Paul three times gives him wisdom instead.  The wisdom is that the gift of God’s power comes to its full maturity when we become weak.  So Paul actually begins to boast in his times of weakness because at such times the power of Christ more and more is in me at such time.  It is at such times it is only the power of Christ and nothing else that can be seen for I have nothing else. 

This reminds me of the famous foot print poem.  

Footprints in the Sand

One night I had a dream...
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord, and
Across the sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand;
One belonged to me, and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of my life flashed before us,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that many times along the path of my life,
There was only one set of footprints.
I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in my life
This really bothered me, and I questioned the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
You would walk with me all the way;
But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life,
There is only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why in times when I
needed you the most, you should leave me.
The Lord replied, "My precious, precious
child. I love you, and I would never,
never leave you during your times of
trial and suffering.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you."

So I must accept that the Lord is with me at times of grief and suffering.  That HE will even be more and more becoming my strength.  The bad times are actually being used by HIM to bring greater good and glory through my life.  My pain and loss is not random but part of a bigger plan.  All of this horrible struggle will be used for good.  Even as they take from me my natural strength, yet they will reveal HIS power. 

So I do not can trust there is power and purpose even in the midst of my darkest moments when I most doubt power and purpose. 


Lord, please show me how your power is coming out of all this. It looks random and senseless to my eyes.  Yet, you say your grace will become greater the weaker that I become.  Let me experience that grace and power right now.  I am in need of seeing you work in me.  I am more aware of the reality of my weakness than the reality of your strength.  Come to me now LORD of grace and give me inner grace at this desperate moment in my life.  Amen