Posts Tagged: death

Hero or Realist?

1 Peter 3:8To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.

Older brother dies in war, younger rebellious brother inherits his dog–insert tears here. Brian, the kids and I went to see the movie Max today. The key transition for the main character: Was he a hero like his brother, or a realist like the man who let his brother die? The realist perspective (according to the bad guy in the movie, mind you) is that there are a lot of bad people (politicians) sending “wide eyed” boys off to war only to hand guns off to the very people that they sent you to fight. He is not wrong about the facts, but he is wrong about the final outcome, and the best response to evil in the world.

Who is the realist, the one who acknowledges that the world can be a harsh, unjust, selfish and crappy place or the one who knows that all have fallen and choses to rise above and bring others up by their example?

I have been wronged and I have wronged others. Does that excuse me to have the “if you can’t beat them, join them attitude”? No, what it does mean is that I have a choice. I have been angry this week, and nursing the anger at those who hurt Jonathan. I am not on autopilot Christianity! I am susceptible to question God’s justice in all of this.

I can choose to be a hero and love my enemies, or I can join the “realists” and be bitter, vengeful and settle for less than God’s best for me and others.

Father, remove this anger from me. Move my soul towards compassion for those who have harmed my son. May I forgive, because you have forgive me. May I be a hero of love and not a realist of hate. Amen

Suicide Didn't Diminish Worth

Pregnant Scripture

Cradled within the womb of death, scripture beats defiant.

Lean in, to discern hope’s unfolding;

multiplying cells of truth over pregnant centuries. Giving

breath to us, too often, dragged to the grave. 

Soothing empty arms,

with strong proof of life after life.

So soft, it is thunder in the vast

noise of doubt’s marketplace.

Firming

backbone to bow

to no man.

Resolving who knit whom together.

Renewing covenant with an empty

grave.

Our souls

swollen with

grief—for but a while.

Death Touched Butterfly

Cocooned, your wings

folded into cramped quarters of

fragile purpose.

Too young–death has touched

you.

ripped your still forming chrysalis

forced your

eyes open to the dust

of humanity. So you hide deep within

safety, questioning the wisdom of

God. Why did he mold you to fly in a world

chained by gravity?

I Don’t Know What My Life Will Be Like Tomorrow

James 4:14Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

I don’t remember what we were doing the day before my son died. I know that I prayed for Jonathan, I was in the habit of that, and since Brian had taken the week off for vacation we were having fun with Daniel and Natalie, but I don’t remember the details.

We don’t know what the next moment holds–celebration or pain. We are commanded to neither be in fear of the next second nor hold so tightly to things staying the same that we miss out on the joys that come in the morning. Today my kids built an amazing domino tower. I cleaned the garage and started a step program. I held Natalie who doesn’t feel well and scared the snot out of Daniel who was attempting to scare me. I laughed, I sang, I prayed . . . and I turn the page.

Tomorrow I open my heart wide to what the Lord has for me in that day.

Love Always,

Karisa

Not My Will But Yours Be Done: Learning to accept God’s Sovereignty

John 19:26When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.

As I was going to sleep last night, a thought popped into my head. Mary lost a child to a brutal death. In fact she lost at least two! James, her biological son with Joseph it is believed was stoned to death for preaching the gospel. This is no mother’s plan! Mary had to be numb and collapsing as she saw Jesus, the son of God, being crucified on the cross. God did not tell her that this was the road to salvation. It is safe to say that she was not in agreement with the dangerous path Jesus was walking. In her wisdom, she wanted to keep him safe, just as she had always done. She remembered fleeing from Cesar when Jesus was a baby. She remember how this precious life changed her very existence as he grew in her belly. She had done everything she could to sustain him, to keep him alive, to be a good steward of God’s amazing gift. Surely him hanging on the cross was not God’s will. Jesus did nothing as she expected. And yet, even from the cross Jesus was concerned for his mother and providing for her.

No matter how great the plan we make as a mother, God’s plan is better. He has the end goal end in mind, when I cannot even see the finish line. His love is for all of humanity. My love is for a few. His judgment is not clouded and mine is darkened by my own selfish desires. His path is consistent, he neither wavers nor stumbles. God’s plan for Jesus was perfect. God’s plan for Jonathan was perfect. Oh, how weighty those words are for me! They are bitter in my soul. Please hear me, while God did not cause my son’s death, he didn’t stop it either–AND HE IS COMPLETELY ABLE TO! To accept God’s sovereignty in my son’s death is one of the hardest hurdles in my faith. Yet I have believed that he is sovereign in the good things in my life. Why not in death as well?

He has a purpose in allowing Jonathan to die, and as I learn to open myself to the possibilities in his purposes may the friction between my will and God’s will be removed. What is happening in your life right now that you find yourself saying, “Surely this is not the will of God.” Are you battling cancer, is a loved one ill, have you lost your job, is your marriage in shambles. Can we pray as Jesus prayed?:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
    as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
    Yes. Yes. Yes. (Matthew 6:9-13, The Message)

Embracing Suffering as a Ransom for Many

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:18-25 NIV

Turning My Page

Embracing suffering requires us to accept that God subjected all of creation to futility and frustration. When my son was three he would say, “You got me in trouble,” as my husband and I disciplined him for disobedience. In those moments Daniel forgot that we loved him, he forgot we wanted good things for him, and he didn’t understand the purpose of our saying no. We frustrated his plans.

I don’t tend to struggle so much with rejecting discipline when I have done something wrong, but sometimes good plans, plans of following Jesus and living life to the fullest have been frustrated,  not of my own making. This was a stumbling block for me growing up and still trips me up as an adult. I was abused, neglected, and experienced injustice after injustice. Now, I have lost a son, a son that turned me to God. What kind of God allows this kind of suffering for a daughter that he loves?

Paul tried to make clear that the suffering we experience (whether a believer in Jesus or not) is so that we can be free from death (a consequence of sin) and made alive through Jesus. This can be extremely hard to accept for three reasons:

  • It is the complete opposite of our worldly thinking
  • No one wants to suffer, and
  • We don’t always see immediate results in our suffering.

I think that if I do good, such as raise Jonathan as a Godly mother, I should receive good outcomes.

Turning Your Page

How often do we say, “I deserve this?” TV commercials dangle their items and encourage us that we deserve whatever item they are selling. If God gave us what we deserve it would be death, an eternal separation from him. (Romans 3:23) I forget that Jesus was perfect and we crucified him. If doing good was enough for our salvation then he should not have been put to death.

So if the son of God wasn’t spared suffering, then maybe my definition of suffering needs to change. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” God prepared me for Jonathan’s death (my current suffering) with this verse. I don’t know about you, but I tend to bristle when people throw out this verse when we suffer. I can tell the difference when someone clearly knows and believes what they are saying and when someone is just spouting something that sounds good. THIS IS A CRUCIFICTION BELIEF! I am saying that I believe that everything that I have experienced, the abuse as a child, the despair as a teen, the suicide of my son works to glorify God! That has to be a core transformation because it goes against my desire for self-preservation. God even uses fleas; just ask Corrie ten Boom who scoffed when her sister praised God for the fleas. God doesn’t use fleas for his glory! She found out later that the prison guards did not interfere with the bible-study that she and her sister led with the other prisoners because they did not want to get fleas. (The Hiding Place) Not a single bit of our experiences are wasted.

We need to look no further for an example of struggle with suffering than the Rich Young Ruler. For the disciples Mark 10 is a lynch pin moment. The rich young ruler runs up and bows to Jesus. He calls Jesus “Good Teacher”. And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” Already we can see that his thinking is not the same as Jesus’ on what constitutes goodness. 18The rich young ruler wants to know what he must do to inherit the kingdom of heaven. They run down the list of the 10 commandments and the young man has to be getting excited, because he has kept those commands. But, wait there is more! Jesus tells the rich young ruler, whom he loves mind you, “Sell everything you have, give it all to the poor, come follow me and store up treasures in heaven.” The rich young ruler loses heart and leaves because he has great wealth. Jesus, thinking is the complete opposite of the young ruler, as well as the disciples. Jesus tells the disciples that wealth cannot save us. “We have left everything to follow you.” The disciples say. They might as well have said, “We have left everything, because we thought you were going to make us rich.” The cup that Jesus drinks from is one of suffering! The rich young ruler was going to have to trade in his “tangible” results for the intangible, not yet seen results in heaven!!! Many walk away from Jesus today for this very same reason. I’m first to admit that I often struggle with a desire for immediate results in my obedience to God!

When my focus is on the immediate results that I think that I should obtain, such as I accepted Jesus, I turned my life around, I raised Jonathan as a godly mother . . . I, I, I . . . should have a son that succeeds in life and does not die. You owe me God for all that I sacrificed to follow you. This thinking is small, whereas God’s is so much bigger!!! Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” My current suffering, the loss of my son will be to God’s glory! What if the suicide rate, the hopelessness felt by so many turns around because God allowed this suffering in my life? I know it is hard for us to embrace the truth that God works even horrid things in our life to his glory, but I have seen way too many examples of that occurring to dismiss it as “Christian silliness”. Not the least of which is the Son of God, being mocked, lashed, and crucified by men and women wanting immediate results from this supposed king! Only to have Jesus turn the tables on death and save those very same people who put him on the cross. Over 2000 years later my faith is a result of Jesus’ suffering. I am grateful that God caused all of creation to be frustrated in sin, so that I now have hope that is not limited by circumstances and that I can offer that same hope to you.

Join Me in my Tears

John 11:35 “Jesus wept.”

“Oh let me join you in your tears.” Natalie said cheerfully bouncing over to me last night as I broke down in tears during prayer time. After some great weeks, I once again feel as if my heart can’t withstand the loss of Jonathan. The silence of his presence is deafening! Sometimes I just need someone to join me in my tears.

Jesus didn’t have to cry. He knew what he was about to do. He didn’t say, “Buck up Mary, don’t you trust God, don’t you trust me?” He missed Lazarus too. Jonathan may be in heaven, but his body is still here. I truly believe that God mourns with us our loss. It may be temporary, I am learning to see Jonathan’s death in light of eternity, but Jesus had eternity in mind and still wept. Loss is real, loss is present, and loss is ongoing. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. I take comfort that Jesus joins me in my tears.

A Tree Planted for the Lord’s Splendor

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

I have a tree, just outside my office window that I love. When we first moved here, it was clearly diseased, but I just kept holding out as long as it had some semblance of life to it. A couple of years ago a tree expert gave it a death sentence and last year, it had a few branches with buds on them, but the rest was dead. Jonathan and I began to remove the tree. We trimmed the branches back to the trunk and Jonathan started cutting into the trunk, but because Jonathan was so ill, he got tired quickly and we took a break. That break extended out to this Spring.

Now the tree is loaded with new branches and full of leaves. In the midst of the very dead tree, life still existed, and where there is still life, there is still hope. Jesus died so that I could have abundant life, before I even knew that I was dead in my sins. Sometimes the weakness of our flesh must be trimmed, and the very marrow of our bones broken to reveal new life. Don’t give up, if there seems to be no fruit currently in your life.

Life Emerges from Death

Life Emerges from Death

You may be in a season of pruning, painful though it may be, the Lord promises a harvest in due season, if we do not give up. My little beautiful tree, is now a symbol, and it isn’t going anywhere!

You Knit Motherhood into my Soul

On this day you knit motherhood into my soul

Sweeping away cobwebs of brokenness and rebellion

Filling my world with the vivid colors I grew up missing

You deepened my breath, made me reach deeper inside

for strength that I had never explored, laughter never expressed, and hope unquenchable

by death.

On this day you made me a mother, and not even the grave can swallow my

joy.

A Little Closer to Death

Short visit among the gray stones of remembering

Words emptied when you sunk into the earth

Silence

our new conversation.

In the quiet bosom of your death the throbbing heartbeat of creation

draws my attention away from you

and I watch life flit like spirits dancing amongst

gray stones, a little closer to death than they want to be.

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Suicide & Prevention Hotline

National Suicide Hotline

If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call the National Suicide Lifeline at 988 or go to the website at https://988lifeline.org/