Posts Tagged: suffering

The Object of Our Agitation

My son was very agitated today about surface things that I could see had nothing to do with his anguish. Finally, I heard him sobbing in the other room. “Mommy I can’t stop crying.” I wrapped him up in my arm and rocked him as he continued to talk about the object of his concern, but quickly shifted to crying out for Jonathan. “I miss him so much!” he sobbed.

My heart broke for his grief! Oh Lord, equip me to comfort him. How many of us have those moments, we feel anxious about our broken toy, the car that just cut us off, the snow trapping us inside, the phone ringing–all the things that on another day wouldn’t bother us, but today it is just too much. All the time brewing beneath that agitation is real heart ache, longing, brokenness, fear, and sorrow.

Why did God create us with emotions? Emotions tend to squish out in strange ways when we deny them their purpose. I believe that our emotions were created to feel joy, pleasure, interact with each other and our God internally and externally–literally to be stirred by God. When the fall occurred our emotions were suddenly stirred by sin, which will always point to us away from God. But, we can learn to lay out our heartache, our pain before his throne so that he can replace our burden with healing. Our emotions always long to be in right relationship with God! Don’t be afraid to lift the veil to reveal your heartache to him, He longs to hold us, and is moved with compassion for our sufferings. He may prune away what we think is causing us grief to reveal the root.

If someone around you is agitated about things that don’t seem to match in value do a little gardening. Dig past the surface to the root pain; much easier to heal when we correctly identify the source of our anguish. It may just be as simple as being present with your loved one and listening, but it can make all the difference in the world.

Perseverance: The “Hooah!” of Christian Discipleship

Romans 5: 3Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

My sciatic nerve is damaged. I have had pain every single day for the past eight years and it would be weird if one day the pain was suddenly gone. I have learned to adjust how I sit, stand and move to keep the pain at a tolerable level.  My grandfather, on the other hand, burnt his foot because his nerve receptors were destroyed and he didn’t know he had stepped on hot coals. Which would you rather?

Losing Jonathan hurts worse then any other pain I have experienced. I could try to avoid it, many do, or I can allow it to teach me perseverance. Some translations use the word endurance, but I see perseverance as the “Hooah!” of Christian discipleship. Perseverance comes from the gut of our spirit, and is an outward acknowledgment that I hear, understand, and obey the will of the Lord. When I persevere I am allowing God to draw out my character, which makes the impossible possible (hope) and displays God’s glory. At my core is the knowledge that God will not fail me.

Many of us endure trials, but not many allow those sufferings to complete the work in us so that we are not lacking anything (James 1).  That is what my suffering has the potential to do. Jonathan death motivates me to speak boldly on the behalf of others, to be aware of depression and suicide in a way that I never have before, and to seek the face of God every day. I know the pain will not always be this severe. But until that moment comes the pain is necessary and teaches me the discipline of perseverance. Hooah!!

The Shortest Route through Grief

Turn the Page:

Proverbs 3:5-7Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.

Simple is a loaded word. It carries the weight of my desires, failures, and pleasures. I have complained a lot, through the years, when things break down, or seem to take too long. “Why can’t things be more simple?” Obviously, grief is no exception to the rule. We must go through it if we want to live life to the fullest. If there were a short cut through suffering and loss, I’d take it.

But scripture states clearly that there is! The shortest route between two points is obedience to God. For all of my complaining I am my own worst enemy when it comes to simplifying life. What makes my life more complicated is sin. I don’t want to go through suffering, so I have tried to avoid it, medicate it with alcohol, bad relationships, and running away or fighting my way through. None of which have ever worked. God has offered all of us a shortcut through Christ.

Since the moment the officer arrived on my doorstep with the nightmare of Jonathan’s death I have had a choice. Do I go through grief my way, or God’s way? He told us we would suffer and grieve in this life, but he also promised us that we would be comforted. The short cut is to love the Lord my God with all of my soul, heart, and mind. To lean not on my own understanding, but to acknowledge him in all my ways. God will make my paths straight!

By no means have I fully accomplished this, but it is my goal. When I accomplish the above command, I will go through this grief the shortest route possible and be comforted along the way to boot. Grief will be but a speck! It is when I disobey God and go my own way that things get more complex. Just ask the Israelites who spent forty years wandering through the wilderness when they had had God himself leading the way! If I want a shortcut through grief then I’ll keep my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of my faith.

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If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to the website at  SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.