An Ephiphany

Have you ever had one of those moments when you suddenly see the why of something? It comes to you as clear as fresh spring water and floods your soul with freedom and peace. I had one of those on Sunday.

In my last post, I talked about all the loss I've faced in the past five years. I said, "... I don't hurt for the departed. I hurt for the people I love who left behind. I stagger between soul deep pain on their behalves, and shutting my heart off. How can anyone continue in such pain?" I've been trying to work through issues of loss for years. (Not just death of loved ones, but the death of my dreams, too.)

When a friend's husband was killed in a car accident this spring, leaving her and five kids behind, I struggled with my inability to take away their pain. Not just the pain of today, but the pain of all their tomorrows. The graduations. The weddings. The grand-babies. And for the little one, the loss of memories to come. This is a hard thing!

Three families I know have lost a Godly husband and father while another family lost a Godly wife and mother  - all within the last 14 months and at a time in society when broken homes are more the norm than homes that are whole.

Why? I don't understand what God is doing. It's devastating!

At the close of service this past Sunday morning, God opened my eyes to a truth about myself. It's true I feel deeply for people. It's true I want to help heal hurts. It's true I want to comfort and encourage and strengthen others. And there's nothing wrong with those desires.

Until they usurp God. 

He gently reminded me that ultimately it's not my job to comfort hearts, to heal wounds, to give encouragement and lend strength to others. It's the Holy Spirit's job. See, I didn't want to simply give comforting hugs. I literally felt a soul deep responsibility to take away as much of their pain as I could. I wanted to pull it out of their hearts, mend the broken pieces - make their problems go away.

I wanted to do what only God should do. 

You would think this epiphany about myself would have broken me, but in truth it freed me. I can give words of comfort and encouragement. I can pray for them. I can love them, but I shouldn't feel guilty for not being able to fix things or for not always being able to be there for them.

God has a purpose for their pain and I have to trust him with it.

This is, at least in part, why he took my health and refused to let me be the wife, mother, friend, counselor -the woman I always wanted to be. I would have spent my life trying to do God's job. I'm sure I'll still struggle with letting go. For now, I'm just glad to know I don't have to be all the things I thought I should be in order for him to love me.

Are there things you're striving to attain?
Things you think will make God accept you and love you more?

Victory in Death?

Death. A word that makes most of us cringe. I've dealt with plenty of it in my lifetime. Too much, to my way of thinking. How do we get over the pain of loss? How do we move on? How is it that the rest of the world keeps revolving when ours has stopped?

"Instead of praying for pain to be taken away, pray that he would not waste the pain... that he would use it to shape and mold us. Jesus is God's grand yes to our most desperate need." ~ Nancy Guthrie

Five years ago, I lost my niece before she was born. Since then, I've lost two uncles, another niece/nephew to miscarriage, two more nieces and a nephew (triplets), a cousin, and two friends. I also watched a church family lose their beloved wife/mother. While these have not been my children or my husband or my mom, they were people dear to me. Yet, I don't hurt for the departed. I hurt for my loss. More than that, I hurt for the loss of the people I love. I stagger between soul deep pain on their behalves and shutting my heart off. How can anyone continue in such pain?

"Sometimes God delivers us out of the difficulty, but sometimes he delivers us through the difficulty." ~ Nancy Guthrie

A friend told me this kind of pure love from the heart is an encouragement. Do you agree? I often wonder if I'm more annoying than encouraging. God knows me. He knows if I could take away their pain, I would! Yet, that's not what he wants. We are to bear one another's burdens, are we not? Jesus's pain was greater than anything we could ever imagine and he uses that pain for us every moment of every day - making intercession. He knows our pain. He feels our pain. He stores our every tear in his bottle. Do you think perhaps the pain we bear on one another's behalf is a way in which we are to be like Christ?

"The Gospel has never been about fairness, but about mercy. Forgiveness (and I would add love) is choosing to absorb the pain." ~ Nancy Guthrie

"You kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?" 
Psalm 56:8 (ESV)

Too easily I forget that Jesus holds me. He carries me. He is my very best friend. I suffer for lack of connection to him, but that is my fault, not his. My pastor, Dr. Derek Thomas, often says we need to preach the Gospel to ourselves every day. Every morning we wake up, we need to remember who Jesus is, what he is done, and cling to him in every season of life. This I need to learn!

In Christ, there is hope beyond death. In Christ, there is victory. Death hurts because sin hurts. I wonder. When we lose a loved one and feel that awful separation from them, do we ever think about what it was like for Jesus to be separated from the Father in his death for us? Do we think about the Father's heart, how it must have broken when his precious, pure son took on our load of sin and he had to turn his back on him? Is the separation we feel possibly a small picture of that moment in history? Do we ever think about how permanent a separation death would be if Jesus hadn't died for us? 

"O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"
I Corinthians 15:55 (ESV)

*Nancy Guthrie is the author of "Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow".