Posts Tagged: grieving with hope

Spring Cleaning

Spring Clean And Find Hope

Spring Clean and Find Hope

May my tears mix with yours, Oh Lord.
Wash the stench of despair from my soil
until blight is pruned and joy
sprouts in defiant abundance.
Lift my head to bask in the sunshine of your presence.

Grow me to be a fragrant delight.

 

Tools to spring clean

Whether you are dealing with grief or despair, you need reminders never to give up. This can come in many forms.

  • Create your own memory garden.
    • Add favorite colors or the favorite color of a loved one.
    • Place reminders, such as butterflies, in the planter to remind you never to give up.
    • Weed and water regularly. This can be hard when grief or despair is at its heaviest, but the habit can also be a reminder and catalyst for healing.
  • Create a file of encouragement
    • notes from others
    • funny quotes
    • scriptures
    • a playlist that lifts your spirit
  • Spend time in nature
    • Engaging all of your senses can instantly lift your spirits
    • Find a local park to walk and observe ways God provides regularly

Lord, as the seasons change, help me to spring clean. Thank you. Nature testifies that what is hidden will be revealed. My life feels cluttered with doubt, but I know that when I think this way, you are stretching and growing me. When I can’t see the flowers, please remind me of the seeds you’ve planted. Amen

For Further Reading: Spring Haiku

One of my favorite devotionals: Streams in the Desert

Iron Out Despair

Iron Out Despair

Iron Out Despair

Wrinkled, unkempt, weary.
Sometimes, the sluggishness of despair,
refuses to stumble out of bed, prepare, or
repair you.

Do the things that made you, you, make you, You,
and will make you YOU again.
Despite the distorted reflection blinking
blankly back, you are still sculpted by a master artist.
Love. Be loved.
Live a plump life, hoping in what you do not yet see.

Once again, run barefoot with giggling wonder.
Know nothing can deplete joy of secure identity.

Splash cool water over wethered soul.
Comb out compassion, understanding, and faithfulness.
Iron out despair again and again,
until dis-repair gets the clue that
you have formed a habit of knowing
who and whose you are.

 

Resource:

Your Hope-Filled Perspective Podcast

A weekly podcast by Neuro-Psychologist Dr. Michelle Bengtson
I have read three of her books, listened to her podcast, and am a regular listener. Today, Dr. Bengtson suggested that those wanting to help people dealing with chronic illness to actively reach out because, often, a chronic sufferer will not ask for help. Example: “I’m headed to the grocery store. What can I pick up for you?”

Trying to make a change in your self-care? Read: Deflate the Bed and Give Me Life

Not Cotton Candy Faith

This isn’t fairground faith,
Setting up temporary attractions to entertain,
This is a battleground.

This is a crawl-on-your-belly-through-muck kind of faith.
Faith like this knows the pain of barbs and mourns the consequences
of not hitting the mark.

Faith
in Jesus Christ doesn’t melt in your mouth
and jolt your system with a quick high. This faith knows
drought and famine and still
chooses to grit it out and hope.

Grieving with hope

Lessons in Perseverance

He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations

(Psalm 105:8 ESV).

Turning My Page

My grandmother giggled like a teenage girl. Her whole being exuded joy at both hanging the sheets out to dry and investing in the lives of those around her. One summer, I spent several weeks with her and heard stories never shared with me before. Behind that giggle was a whole lot of suffering. It was impressed upon me that she had resilience. At the time, I was an Eyore, focused on the gloomy clouds constantly hovering over my life, and had little to no ability to bounce back. Still, I soaked up her stories and wondered how she could have such a great attitude, praise God for her blessings, and serve others wherever God placed her.

So much of Grandma’s life was deeply hard. Her father died when she was three, and when her mother remarried, her stepfather wasn’t keen on the extra baggage of a daughter. She passed from relative to relative until her siblings started arriving, and then she was brought back home to help raise her brother and sisters. She did not hold a grudge. When she was older, she endured the devastating loss of two sisters, who died because they got caught in a whirlpool and drowned. Grandma lived through the great depression, wars, and a husband who was a harsh and unforgiving man.

He had softened as a grandfather, and I only caught glimpses of his stubbornness, but I could tell she loved him with every fiber of her being. She lost a grandson who lived with her for a while when his parents discarded him to suicide. I didn’t understand then, but I do now how profoundly the loss of my cousin broke her heart.

Yet, despite all of these experiences, she laughed and celebrated life to the fullest. She shared her faith with me at a little white church in the country. She played cards with me and taught me how to make buttermilk toast when she was sick. I loved her tea, her stories, and everything about this five-foot-nothing, once curly-haired redhead. What I didn’t understand then, I know now as a believer in Christ.

I can now laugh, celebrate, and live life to the fullest, whatever circumstances may come because I recognize that Joy and Sorrow are beautiful companions. Death does not end my story. It is only a part of the story.

Turning Your Page

Start observing joy coupled with sorrow where you are. Who around you is an example of someone who lives life to the fullest amid hardship? What characteristics do you observe about them? Ask them to share the reason for their hope. Ask them what scriptures are foundational to how they live with sorrow and joy at the same time.

Learning to walk with sorrow and joy simultaneously is not easy. Often, our selfish and worldly desires get in the way. A simpler life, with no troubles at all, would be nice, but remembering that God sees you and has kept his covenant to all who believe in Him, what we experience in this life is but a blink. Living life to the fullest is possible because Jesus bridges the gap of our sinful nature and teaches us to take up our cross daily. Here are some other passages to help you practice joy in sorrow.

 

“Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight” (Psalm 119:143 ESV).

“‘Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour'” (John 12:27 ESV).

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV).

“‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid'” (John 14:27 ESV).

 

Lord, thank you for the many examples throughout scripture and in my life who exemplify your attitude of joy amid great hardship. May I take comfort and share that comfort with others because you waste nothing.

Poetry Testifies to What I’ve Seen and Heard

Hero words take up swords
and slice through false beliefs with the authority
of the one sent.
Poetry is a place to find refuge. You are here
in the observations of my soul. Reminding winter of
its boundaries and cultivating plump vines for harvest
in the desert of despair.

Resurrection Battle at the Demoniac’s Tomb

The demoniac:

Forgotten.
Dressed in rags and chains, I was not
ready to entertain kings. 

You crossed the unclean threshold of my grave,
your royal robes billowing in the sea’s warm breeze.
My heart strained to near you.
Dare I hope.

Demons:

Hopeless.
A crown, only seen by our eyes, testifies to us who you are.
Naked, we claw with rocks at vulnerable flesh, mutilating your earthly jewel.
We’ll make you unrecognizable too. Soon. Flesh out, God.

Forsaken

Forsaken

Demoniac:

I scream for
release from day and night horror. While they cried out to
remain fast.
I was a scarred lamb within, and
a roaring lion without.

Demons:

Mighty Samson would not tame we beating beasts.

Demoniac:

You, Son of God, entered my tomb and knocked
the breath out of me.
What man chained you commanded freed.
Clothed in righteousness, I now cling to you.

You are God in flesh!

You are God in flesh!

A demoniac commissioned to share the truth of your
love for mankind.

(Inspired by Mark 5)

Rest in You

So much lures me away from You—
Chores, needs, wants, the “musts” all
tell me I will never catch up to expectations.
But, like a child, I run to You in the early morning.
Share with me the story of Your love.
Let me touch the scars of my salvation in these pages.
In the stillness of Your presence, I remember my worth is found in abiding in You.
God I Did Not Form

Is it Right for Me to Be Angry?

“But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live” (Jonah 4:1-3 ESV).

Turning My Page: Is it Right for Me to Be Angry?

I am angry at God. Probably the emotion will bleed into
tomorrow and the next day. Lots of reasons that
he and I will hash out, but the fish guts
hit the fan Sunday.

“Woman overboard!”

God had the audacity to
compare me to Jonah. I haven’t run from him—
lately— but his mercy. The word
is like placing a sour warhead in my mouth.

“I want justice. I want a front-row seat to ‘every knee
shall bow, and every tongue confess!” Hurt. The
pain rolls around in my soul like a stirred-up
sea.

“How can God ask me to do justice but love mercy?”

Eventually, I must let it go because it isn’t right for
me to be angry. Sin tainted, I will always misjudge myself and others.
God shows mercy to me,
even in my questioning His justice.

If I hold onto anger, then I take hope to the grave with me.

 

Turning Your Page

Anger is a tool. Nothing more, and nothing less. It points out that there is something not right in the world, but there are several crucial things to remember when feeling anger:

  • Clearly identify the source of your anger
    • Is this something that makes God angry?
    • What does God say for me to do with my anger?
    • Am I dealing with my anger or nursing and stirring it up?
    • Is God using this person to reveal my own sin?
  • You are not God, and therefore, your anger is often faulty
    • tainted with sin
    • meant to tear down rather than build-up
    • lacks mercy
    • forgets God’s forgiveness for your own sins
  • God has a long-term plan, as well as a short-term plan for humanity
    • He will use whatever means necessary to bring His people into humble obedience to him
      • He uses evil men to do this. Some of our greatest stories of hope come at the hands of evil men
        • Joseph
        • Moses
        • Any of the Prophets
        • Daniel and his friends
        • Jonah
        • Hezekiah
        • Jesus

Lord, help me to put away my anger and to love mercy. Amen

 

 

Black Hole of Sorrow

Light in the Black Hole of Sorrow

Turning My Page

Today is a black hole.
 
It sucks out all good and feeds off my brokenness. No light gets near my sorrow without getting sucked into the density of problems and crushed.
 
And God has most certainly been sending light. My prayer group prayed for me and lifted my soul. A stranger plopped down a sign on a coffee shop table near me that said, “NEED PRAYER?” and took the time to listen and pray for my family. Others encouraged there’s purpose in your children’s suffering. Hold on.
Scripture encouraged. I read Acts 8-10, where Saul was blinded by the light of Christ, and his whole world turned upside down as he is chosen to go from persecuting Christians to preaching the good news to the Gentiles. When persecution seemed to be taking hold of the church, God stopped it in its tracks so that the church could take root and grow.
My black hole is the illusion of control. I’m not in control of the outcome for my children. God has chosen a hard path for them both, but when I wallow in the fact that I can’t remove their pain, I miss out on the comfort and understanding they give to their classmates and friends who also struggle. I miss out on their laughter, and I miss out on my own comfort.
I see in acts that God did not choose an easy path for the early believers either, yet they were joyous as they were beaten and cried out for forgiveness for their persecutors. What they set in front of them mattered. What I set before me matters. I can look at the waves (troubles), or I can look at Jesus. I choose Jesus. His light cannot be swollowed by the darkness.

Turning Your Page

 
Do you have days where from the moment you wake up (assuming that you slept at all), you feel like a black hole has swallowed all hope through Christ? It can’t reach you. You can’t hear it, no matter how loud others shout, “DON’T GIVE UP!” In those moments, be still, and know. God created the universe. He created you. Though you can’t see the light. It does exist. Jesus had a moment, too, where the black hole of the grave was sucking him in, and he could no longer see the light of his heavenly father.  

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:45-46 KJV)

In crying out that his task on earth was done, he opened the door to the light. A joy that overwhelms the darkness. Stand firm in the darkness, not because you come to see God in your moment of desperation, but because Christ died so that you and I will never be sepperated from God. Know that truth forward and backward. He is faithful to see you through your darkest hour, even if death looks like it may have the final victory.

Lord, I know that the darkness does not have the final say in my life. When my desire to control the outcome of my life blinds me, remove the scales that see you, that I may that you are Christ, and there is no other way! Amen

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/