Finding Comfort in the Midst of Grief

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Yesterday was tough.

We buried a dear friend whose love for life far outweighed most. No matter the obstacle, he’d face it with a smile and a determination to keep praising his Creator.

It wasn’t always easy. He’d faced some health issues over the years, even losing a leg and a couple of fingers in the process. But he was a jokester; he’d say they could chop off his parts one by one and his wife could tote him like a suitcase. He would laugh but yet he was serious.

He didn’t care. NOTHING was going to stop him from living life, loving people, and sharing Jesus. That’s just who he was.

Even though he’d faced these health issues, he’d been doing well so his death, mere minutes after arriving home from a 4th of July celebration with his grandkids, was completely unexpected. And devastating to those who loved him.

I know the consolations. He’s in a better place. He isn’t suffering. He’s with the Lord.

I know the verses. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Psalm 116:15

But, while true, they do little to comfort you when grief is so overwhelming it threatens to swallow you whole.

I stood helpless yesterday as I watched my husband struggle to officiate the funeral. Don was one of the best friends he’d ever had and he was grieving too. Watching his wife was just as hard. They’d been married for 31 years, since she was 18 years old. I felt guilty that I was able to leave the service with my husband.

Last night, as I have in the middle of every night since we got the call five days ago, I woke up, grief still at the forefront of my mind. Why, Lord? Why now? I laid in the silence feeling the pain of loss as tears filled my eyes.

In the still of the night, I heard a line from an old country song ….Don’t cry for me down here.

I knew the song well. When I Get Where I’m Going by Brad Paisley

Don and I both loved country music. We bonded over our love of music. We’d share behind-the-story tales of each song. He knew the info you’d find in a songwriting journal; I knew the info you’d find in US Weekly. We made a crazy pair!

I could just hear him singing those lyrics, trying to console me.

“When I Get Where I’m Going”

When I get where I’m going
On the far side of the sky
The first thing that I’m gonna do
Is spread my wings and fly

I’m gonna land beside a lion
And run my fingers through his mane
Or I might find out what it’s like
To ride a drop of rain

Yeah when I get where I’m going
There’ll be only happy tears
I will shed the sins and struggles
I have carried all these years
And I’ll leave my heart wide open
I will love and have no fear
Yeah when I get where I’m going
Don’t cry for me down here

I’m gonna walk with my grand daddy
And he’ll match me step for step
And I’ll tell him how I missed him
Every minute since he left
Then I’ll hug his neck

So much pain and so much darkness
In this world we stumble through
All these questions I can’t answer
So much work to do

But when I get where I’m going
And I see my maker’s face
I’ll stand forever in the light
Of his amazing grace
Yeah when I get where I’m going
There’ll be only happy tears
Hallelujah
I will love and have no fear
When I get where I’m going
Yeah when I get where I’m going

 

It was as if he’d written the song himself…and he wanted me to find comfort in it. I could just see him excitedly getting the answers to every obscure question he’d ever had while dancing around and yes, absolutely running his ten fingers through a lion’s mane…

This is exactly the song he’d want ANYONE to hear if they were grieving over him…. because that’s just who my friend was…

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FULL SONG CAN BE HEARD HERE:

 

 

 

Oops I Did It Again…. (Lord, forgive me)

When I first joined my husband in full-time ministry, I was certain I was heeding a call. And with that certainty came a faith that made no obstacles seem insurmountable.

Of course, that kind of faith is a little easier when there are no actual obstacles.

After the first couple of months, doubts set in. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I need to go back to teaching. (Fill in the blank there, you always want to go back to the familiar.)

I called a good friend in ministry and questioned my next steps. Do I go back to teaching? Do I keep waiting? Our savings is almost wiped out. I was the widow woman with enough left for just one meal.

Do you believe that you are doing what God called you to do? she asked. Absolutely, I replied. I’d never been more certain of anything in my life. But I also knew He could perform miracles and I guess I expected a money tree to sprout up next to the crepe myrtle.

Her reply changed my soul. I can’t tell you what to do but I can tell you two things: Where God leads, He feeds. And where He guides, He provides.

I tucked those promises away deep in my heart and watched amazed as He did just that. We would balance the checkbook with $3 left and a $500 check would arrive unexpectedly. We would eat the last of the sandwich meat and someone would bring a truckload of groceries. They were lean times but there was a lesson. He wanted me to learn to LEAN on Him.

Eventually, He provided in a way that allowed for us to bless others. But every now and then, I start seeing things with carnal eyes instead of remembering my eyes of faith. Like in the midst of a pandemic when everyone’s income, including our own, dropped. Churches aren’t receiving stimulus checks…they aren’t filing for loans. They are just having to trust God. I sometimes forget that part when I’m looking at the bottom line.

The problem there is, JESUS is the bottom line! He knew our needs. And once again, just as we needed it, He provided.

WHY do I ever doubt?

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

It’s 2020. Does anyone really care about Jesus anymore?

The Lighthouse by the Crabb Family is one of my favorite songs. I’d listened to my husband sing it for twenty years but last week it took on a whole new meaning.

         Everybody all around us….they say tear that old lighthouse down

         The ships don’t come this way anymore. There’s no use in it hanging ‘round…

My heart began to weep inside.

That’s where we are in this country. The nation formed UNDER GOD. They say they Bible is archaic; Jesus was a mere man, if not a myth. No one believes like that anymore and if you do, you’re wrong.

Christians are a hate group. Christians are ignorant. Christians are intolerant. The claims against Christianity abound.

Many Christians back up. Humans have an inherent need to be accepted. They aren’t tearing the Lighthouse down, but they are standing by silently as it is dismantled.

Do you not remember?

       But my mind goes back to that stormy night…where just in time I saw the Light

Does the praise of men mean more to you than that day of salvation?

This is my featured song for July in my Media picks. If you haven’t heard it before, listen to it. Jesus was YOUR Lighthouse. Jesus is THE Lighthouse. And yet, our world thinks the flashlight it created works better.

I’ve shamelessly plugged one of my new books as well. Surfing, Dancing Seeds of Glory is a metaphor for life. Seeds are all born different and lead different lives but in the end they all have the same opportunity: to surf down the river of life and dance on streets on gold! The book was designed to open communication about salvation and the promise of Heaven. It is a children’s book that was designed to also use with elderly and mentally-compromised patients who need to hear the good news of Jesus.

I also am featuring a study by one of my favorite Christian authors, Elizabeth George. This is a study of Esther and I’m particularly interested in Esther because of where we are right now in this country.

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I know what Esther’s role was. Now, do I know mine? Actually, I believe I do, and I strive to meet God’s expectations for my life every day. What about you? He has raised you up for such a time as this. Are you doing what YOU are supposed to be doing?

For the movie, I realized I never featured the very first advance screening for pastors I attended. Do you Believe? came out in 2015, after the nation hungered for God’s Not Dead. I found it to be complex and heartwarming, and it set a high standard for screenings to come. If you haven’t seen it, download it today.

I hope you enjoy July’s featured media! If you decide to order a Surfing, Dancing Seeds book, let me know and I’ll send you a free bookmark that goes with the book. It contains a poem called “Take Up That Cross” on one side and salvation verses on the other. Images and ordering available on the author page.