Not even a sparrow falls without God’s knowledge and we are more precious than they. Oh, one day, I pray that I embrace this truth with the depth and security of one who trusts God no matter what I experience in this life. I’m not there yet. As the poem reflects this was a tear-streaked day. I have witnessed God’s care over and over, but I still don’t understand why he allowed Jonathan to die by suicide. Bottom line, I just want Jonathan here.
Turning My Page
I wanted your heart to heal from
the world’s unrelenting fists of hatred.
I tried to shield you, but their blows penetrated
to marrow. Broke bone and spirit without pity. They
meant to crush you—rob identity.
Rearranged home until
you no longer recognized love or belonging.
I thought if I cradled your heart
enough with my love, that somehow, someway
you’d emerge from despair.
of your rhythm was never mine. Your
soul was formed and shaped by a God
who knit you together in my womb.
On my knees I plead that His will be
done in your life—from beginning to end.
“DO SOMETHING!” I screamed at a
God who was not deaf to my desperation.
He comforted. He still comforts,
but I will not pretend to understand
why He didn’t rescue you.
Your future—my future—was never
mine to determine. And I pray
one day I walk this path knowing
that not even a sparrow falls to the earth
without God’s knowledge.
Your life mattered, and heaven
mourned you even deeper than I.
Turning Your Page: When Sparrows Fall to Suicide
You may have sparrows who have fallen in your life. Your mourning may be deep and waves of emotions swamp you. Courage! May the promise of God’s care sustain you, even when the feelings simply are not there. You are precious to God. Your loved one was and is precious to a God who was willing to suffer with and for you. As you think about Easter consider the following:
“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners” (Romans 5:6, NLT).
“When He saw the crowds, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36, BSB).
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father” (Matthew 10:29, ESV).
Lord, this sorrow is too great. Carry it for me. Your tenderness and mercy towards my loved ones exceed my own and not one of them falls to the earth without your knowledge and mourning. Amen
Freedom starts with hope. Realizing the power of trust, belief, and faith, inherent in the word has kept me reaching out and allowing others to reach in no matter what crisis comes my way. I have been struggling lately. Sometimes I forget to keep my hope in Jesus and start looking to others or my own ways of self-medicating. These are moments. Despair has an end and knowing that I can turn from sin and embrace the truth of God’s promises, come what may.
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Romans 8:20-21 ESV
Turning My Page: Freedom Starts With Hope
I have struggled to write for months, and the excuses have piled up.
My house is a mess
I’m not sleeping
My physical health is deteriorating
Grieving my grandmother
I am a burden to others
This week, the Holy Spirit interrupted my unconscious mantra and reminded me that I have a vast vocabulary–start with one word. Moving beyond writer’s block, depression, or any other block in my life starts with HOPE.
I may not see the fruits of my hope right away, but the seeds exist. I write one word, and then another, and another and before long I am looking back at the obstacle rather than having it firmly planted in front of me.
My hope in all things is found in Jesus Christ, so yesterday and today, I confessed my depressed state and tuned my heart to my Savior’s voice through scripture.
Worked on memorizing Romans 8
Prayed for my family who is grieving the loss of our grandmother
Acknowledged I am substituting food and mindless activities for the comfort of Christ in my grief
Went to bed and trusted that God would give me the needed rest
Set healthy boundaries with my children
Chose a few small ways to attack the mess of my home
One of the first things the Spirit of Despair attacks is the healthy habits I form.
Notice my list above. I stopped having time in scripture. The house was a deep hole of undone chores, so why try. I avoided grief through food and TV. While these things give me temporary relief, they will never give me lasting help or draw me from the pit of hopelessness because I will always need more and more of those things and accomplish nothing by escaping through them. They do not feed me, mind, body, and spirit.
I know this because at age twenty I almost succeeded in taking my own life. That moment was the cumulation of all my attempts to deal with life’s hardships and pain by burying it and not pressing into hope. At that moment I recognized, rightly, that nothing in this world would make me feel better, but did not press into hope in Christ until the following year.
Only then did my life begin to look more hopeful. I started recognizing Christ died for all of the hardships I experienced and He would faithfully take all experiences and use them to lead others, and offer hope when others can’t yet see the potential. Placing hope in Jesus Christ meant my ultimate failure was not an option. No more throwing in the towel. I do not do this perfectly, but when my footing slips I gain it back more quickly and easily because hope has become the pattern of my life rather than the exception.
Turning Your Page
Freedom starts with hope.
That hope does not disappoint. You may not yet see the fruits of pushing back against the doubts or feel anything will change. Hope is powerful! It gives you space and opportunity to discover resources, mankind to reach in and help, and develops muscles of trust. We will get to the other side of our experiences because nothing separates us from the love of Jesus (Romans 8:28). Nothing and no one will ever be able to steal that freedom from you.
What are some of your favorite promises in scripture?
Look at the definition of the root word of depression and compare it to the definition for hope.
Journal about the difference and similarities between the two.
What are some antonyms of each?
Pick an antonym of “depress”, such as rejoice, and begin practicing daily.
Lord, I want to cease spiraling into despair. Help me to look up from the pit and see that all things are possible through you. I’ll hold on until they happen as you promised. Amen
That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
Romans 8:24-25 MSG
Turning My Page
I have a suicide story. My loss and pain connect me to others struggling with and hurt by despair. However, it is hope that moves each of our stories beyond the chapters of despair we experience to deeper love, redemption, and joy.
My guest blogger, Christina Rose is the author of My Appeal to Heaven, and just as she chooses to share her life with you I encourage you to share yours. If you have a story of hope like Christina Rose, I would love to share it on my blog. Email me at email@example.com You are not alone and there are many of us building a mountain of evidence that this life is worth living, come what may.
When I was 21 years old, my father leaped to his death from the top floor of a government building in Washington, DC. Immediately news reporters swarmed our home. I stood at the front door, holding my weeping mother, while my 12-year old sister looked on in shock. After a few months of being on the news each day, they forgot about us, but we never forgot about Dad.
Dad was a sensitive, introverted man and compassionately took care of others while not expecting anyone to take care of him. He kept most of his troubles to himself, not wanting to bother others. He was extremely stressed over mounting bills and kids in college and felt there was no way out. In his mind, we left him to pay the bills and did not appreciate him anymore.
The day after the funeral, Mom left for Greece for three weeks, leaving my sister and me to fend for ourselves.
She was a travel agent and started taking any trips that offered an escape. The trauma of dad’s death and my mother’s frequent absences sent us into constant PTSD and anxiety. Thoughts of suicide started haunting me. We were still in the family home with memories of dad. It felt like an ugly vulture was sitting on my shoulder, continually whispering dark, hopeless thoughts into my ears. I had night terrors with visions of dark, hideous beings running up and down the stairs. Instinctively, I would recite the Lord’s prayer, which was the only way I could get them to leave.
Dad loved to camp, and we had many remarkable adventures traveling in our Volkswagen bus. When my daughters were born, I got my own Volkswagen bus to share my father’s love of camping. I would feel his presence strongly on these trips as I pitched the tent, made campfires, and cooked on the camp stove, just as he had taught me to do. Sitting by the campfire at night, once the girls were asleep, it was so quiet that sometimes I felt that I could hear Dad speaking to me. He seemed to tell me that while he destroyed his body, his soul was still alive, and he had to go to his own funeral. He had to watch us all suffer because of what he did and no longer had arms to comfort us and a voice to tell us he was there. I felt him say, “If only I’d seen the big picture, there was a beautiful life planned for me after that storm I was in, I wished I’d had hung on and gotten through it for all of you.”
I wish he had hung on.
At the funeral, we learned that two of his friends were starting their own business and wanted Dad to join him. He could have quit the job he hated. My brother had recently moved to Colorado to marry his high school sweetheart and join their family. Our families were very close, so a few years after Dad’s death, the rest of my family joined them. Dad would have loved the adventure of living out west with our big family. He never got the chance to meet any of his 23 grandkids or the more than 40 (and still counting) great-grandkids. He missed walking each of us three daughters down the aisle at our weddings and wasn’t there to help us when we needed him when we started families of our own.
My father’s death and my struggle with despair have taught me that change is part of life, and storms always pass. If we are still comfortable, we will never grow. The most difficult tests are often a catalyst that catapults into an upgrade in our life that we may not have considered if we had not experienced challenges. If we can hang on and climb the mountains that face us, once we reach the top, we can see the view of how far we have come and trust that we need not fear the future.
Never be afraid to ask for help in this process. None of us are equipped to live life alone.
Consistent, unconditional love and support are a lifeline to someone who feels hopeless. Reaching out with encouraging words, taking walks in nature, going to dinner, to movies, for coffee, a road trip, buying a puppy – engage in simple pleasures. Life is full of joy. Position yourself to listen; people open up when they feel heard. I pulled myself and my family out of this dark hole several times. I sought the support of community and churches; they lift my spirit when I feel weak.
In the more than 40 years since my father’s suicide, I have learned many valuable lessons. The way the universe, stars, sun, and moon operate daily testify to a perfect, divine order to all of life, down to the most minute, microscopic detail. The earth is complicated. Millions of inhabitants and their diversity, the vast number of species and plants, and the millions of years that we have all existed, we must know that there is a perfect design for everything, including each of us. It is not up to us to figure out the future but to trust that the creator already has a big picture of who we will be on his mantle.
About the Author
Christina Rose is an author, trainer, and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership. She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs and auntie to over 40 nieces and nephews. Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself. After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and freedom. Follow her at: christinarose.org
Turning Your Page
Compiling evidence that life is worth living requires placing hope in what you don’t yet see. Every single person who has ever moved beyond despair has taken that first step to hope for something different and then step into another unknown and then another. What step can you take today.
Observation is crucial in embracing hope. What are some characteristics you see in nature that reflect trust in the unseen provision of God?
Who in your life steps outside their current circumstances to trust in what they can’t yet see? What work or effort do they put in to maintain that hope? Do they experience set backs and disappointments? How do they get back up.
Meditate on Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Lord, my life is a mess and I am tired of the constant fight. Help me to see your promises and keep pressing into the fact that you are with me. Amen
“Such an ugly duckling.” the others cackled, slapping the water in agreement.
(Your head ducked), Under the burden of shameful stares.
(You swam away), Inclined to believe what others say.
(You) Couldn’t see the swan swimming smooth as silk on the other side of the reeds.
(Searching) Inside yourself for true identity.
(Your answers) Decidedly never came.
(You) Ended the story before your clouded reflection cleared.
So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.
Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT
Turning My Page
I didn’t look at the calendar–I knew it was May from head to toe. Grief is a seed also planted every year into my spring. It is a heaviness that grows when May begins. This year, as it did the first year after his death, Jonathan’s birthday falls on Mother’s Day. With my foot still misbehaving and quarantine my yearly tradition of hiking at the cemetery with my family may have to change. I felt angry that something that brings me good memories and joy would have to shift. I was tempted to give in to the anger and spiral down into despair.
I received cards this week from friends who know the difficulties of walking through the next three months. Thank you. I was especially struck by the quote in one card, Deuteronomy 31:6 because the NLT translation used the word “personally”. I love a God who gets personal in my grief because he reveals the truth of his character in my soul and lifts my head to see hope.
Today, he showed me the gifts he already is giving me in my first days of deeper grief. Saturday night I lay in a field at dusk with my family and watched the stars emerge. I didn’t want to go in! The delight of each star, the brilliant moon, and even catching a glimpse of the comet and Venus had me filled with joy. The symphony of sounds in the field soothed my heartache.
Sunday morning I let my husband have fun cutting my hair. I promise, he did a shockingly good job, Michelle! Each moment of joy and laughter reminded and testified to God’s deep love, compassion, and provision, for me. There is an undercurrent of movement of the Holy Spirit I never see with my head down. I must press into experience.
God gently nudged me to look up. See hope in this season of grief, and offer it to those who neither hear the voice of God nor see anything beyond the darkness of their circumstances.
I am weeping for any of you who only see the darkness and right now are contemplating suicide. Hope! I see you turning this page, and then another, and another. One day you will look back on the story God is writing into your life and say, “Wow! I see the stars. I hear the music through the darkest nights.”
I know there is a vast world beyond my brokenness and sorrow because God himself, is involved in my life. I promise he is personally involved in your circumstances.
Turning Your Page
You will have seasons you wonder where God is in your circumstances. Look up, don’t stop experiencing life, and allow others to speak hope and truth into your life. You may not yet feel the hope in your grief, but as you make yourself available to hope, you will not be disappointed.
What is one adventure you would like to take this week? Set up a time, location, and invite someone to experience with you and or hold you accountable to step into the moment.
Describe a part of nature that reminds you to hope. Try to use as many senses as you can to describe the experience.
Meditate on Matthew 6:25-34 What in nature can you consider as a display of God’s extravagant love, provision, and personal touch in your life.
Thank you Lord for getting personal in my grief. Lift my head from this pit that I can once again see the stars in their place, hear your presence in my life. Amen
Come over to my Facebook Page for our Facebook Live Discussion and question and answer time on intense grief.
Hold me Lord, as grief empties me of child, and yanks soul to the floor. Cover my naked sorrow with your lullaby of peace, and drench me in your tears of understanding.
Turning Your Page
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
Matthew 6:28, ESV
Life, as you expected, may have just crumbled. Tears. Jesus sobs with you. That loss you think he doesn’t care about, that you judge as God’s cruelness, heaven mourns. Not a sparrow. Not a sweet child leaves this earth without his knowing. Without his weeping the losss.
Who in your circle of influence is mourning a loss today? Cry with them. Hold them in the bone crushing shock of grief. Comfort with the comfort you have been given.
If you don’t yet know how to comfort another in their loss, slow down, study scripture, and ask God to guide you. Ask others who have grieved what brought them the most comfort.
Lord, teach my soul to mourn with those that mourn, and rejoice with those who rejoice. Amen
Romans 8:15Â For you did not receive a spirit of slavery that returns you to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
I do not grieve like someone who is a slave to my son’s death. Sometimes, just like the Romans, I need a reminder that I can cry out to my daddy when fear is attempting to chain me again.
Yesterday I met a friend to study scripture and pray together. I made it through all the markers of Jonathan’s death and did not break down. But grief is not dictated by routine or schedule.
As I walked into the restaurant two police officers were waiting in line to place their order. I have yet to overcome a visceral response to police officers, since it was a sheriff who had to deliver the news that my son was dead. Every encounter since has been sweaty palms, shaking, and near breakdown.
I want to overcome this reaction, but am not sure how. My friend, aware of my struggle asked if I was okay when I came to the table. I struggled to not completely melt into tears. She assured me, it is okay if I cry, each moment is valuable, even the hard ones. We began catching up, but the officers sat only a few booths away and I was barely holding it together.
Finally I asked, “Can you do me a favor? . . . Oh, never mind.”
But my friend wisely didn’t leave it at that. “You want me to ask them if there is anything we can pray for them?”
All I could do was nod.
They asked her to pray for their safety, and we did just that. She redirected my overwhelmed feeling into meaningful, and purposeful care for these two men. As a result it also brought peace and calm to my soul.
What are you facing right now that causes an uncontrolled, physical response? It doesn’t make logical sense, but you can’t stop reacting to past trauma. I encourage you, just as my friend took the reigns and led me through the dark moment, to find a purpose in your grief. Begin with prayer. Lift up the person, circumstance, or fear to God who loves you perfectly and can cast out all fear!
Thoughts:Â How do you turn the page on the hardest days of your life? In three years I have learned:
Be with family and friends
Be present in today (pain, tears, joy, love, all is useful to God)
Prayer:Â Lord, you are faithful in my sorrow today as I turn the page on the tragedy of Jonathan’s death, and another year begins. May others learn, live, love and grow because they see your presence in our lives. I find joy today because you are faithful. Thank you that Brian journeys through grief with me. Â Laughter is not distant because you have given me Daniel and Natalie. Thank you for time with friends this afternoon. I feel pain, but know it does not last. Your love, instead is eternal! Amen
John 3:16 For God so loved the world: He gave his one and only son, so that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life.
Daniel, age 10, asked if he could write for my post. So, I am honored to have my son be my first guest blogger.Â
Even the smallest of us can make a difference to family or a person hurt by loss. When I lost my brother, I asked everyone I met if they knew Jonathan. I wanted them to know he lived. By talking about Jonathan, I discovered that others had lost someone they loved. I could encourage them with Godâ€™s word and by listening and praying for them. John 3:16 helps me to remember that Jonathan is with Jesus, and his story did not end here.
God comforts me. Jonathanâ€™s death has made me more scared of losing my parents because they have been very sick. I tend to cry when others lose someone in a movie, or I faced the death of my dog last year. I talk to God and he tells me I will be okay. He helps me to remember playing Nerf with Jonathan, creating a football field every Christmas as my present. I would wake up and look out the window and there would be a freshly painted football field and we would go out and play as a family. Sometimes when I go to bed, I ask my mom to sing a special song, because that is when I especially get sad or scared. Even though Jonathanâ€™s death is tough on me, we have new family activities that we do. We are reading through the Bible and praying for Compassion International Families, together. We take a Motherâ€™s Day hike every year at the cemetery where Jonathan is buried. Last year we made ornaments for Christmas, and crafts to remember favorite moments with Jonathan. Â There are so many ways to remember him.
Anytime you feel the urge to pray for someone, I encourage you to lift them up to God. Loving others as God loves me helps me know that the sad times will pass and that he has a good plan for our lives.