Suffering….can it be our finest hour?

Suffering will come to all the saints.  Consider the verses in Philippians 3:8-10…

Paul said that he would gladly suffer the loss of all things to win Christ.  This is in no way trying to earn acceptance with Christ.  Paul is saying that he would gladly give all he had, all the accomplishments, and all that he was as a Hebrew (verse 5) to be unencumbered to know Christ (verse 10).  He makes it clear that he stands in the righteousness of Christ by faith (verse 9).  But verse 10 is telling us that those of us who know Him (Christ), and the power of His resurrection, will suffer.   It says …”the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death”.  We will be identified with Him in His sufferings. The suffering and death of Jesus Christ, He was completely surrendered to His Father at all times.  He was doing the Father’s will, and did that with no thought to His own will, or the pain He would go through. In this …was His strength, courage, peace…and JOY.  In Hebrews 12:1-2, it tells us…”looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”   I Peter 5:10 says…”But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Jesus Christ, after ye have suffered a while, make you perfect (mature), establish (stabilizing grace), strengthen (strengthening grace), and settle you (settling grace).”  Because He is the God of all grace….His grace is sufficient (II Corinthians  12:9)…so He is sufficient.  It is Him who fills…the scriptures say…. “He satiates the soul”….of the weary and suffering soul with His Goodness (Jere.31:13b,14,25).

For those of you who are suffering, may He satiate your soul with His Goodness…He is always Good.  He cannot be anything apart from Good.  (The sovereignty of God does not always “feel” good, but He is always Good.  Rest in Him.

Here are some thoughts:

  • Suffering will come as we seek to identify with Christ.
  • Amy Carmichael said…referring to suffering and not knowing the answer as to why….”We are trusted by God with the unexplained.”  Amy suffered much the last 20 years of her life.
  • Seek the Lord now spiritually, so as to be able to have an attitude of gratitude when the time comes to suffer for Him.  It will take time and discipline now…. to develop a life of praise and thanksgiving to Him in all things.
  • When suffering comes, we will have to dig deeper….for deeper joy in Him.  Remember…gold doesn’t lay on top of the ground; diamonds form from extreme pressure; a pearl starts as a grain of sand irritating…!!!!
  • The Lord’s perspective is different from ours.  He will not withhold from His child anything that will bring that child into greater sweet fellowship with Him…even if it causes pain at times in the life of the child He loves deeply.
  • As we suffer, the pain we experience here becomes part of the process of “letting loose” of the things of this life…”the things of earth become strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
  • As we respond to others stories of grief, suffering, pain, or loss, be careful to be sensitive to their need at that time.  Let them talk, listen carefully…but do not make it “your story” by telling about your time of suffering.  Remember “it is not about you…”  It is their time to grieve, weep, and need support.  They need a friend to listen and support them.
  • Just think ….this season of suffering may be your finest hour.

Five Ways Afflictions Help

“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” (Psalm 119:67)

This verse shows that God sends affliction to help us learn His Word. How does that work? How does affliction help us learn and obey the word of God?

There are innumerable answers, as there are innumerable experiences of this great mercy. But here are five:

  1. Affliction takes away the glibness of life and makes us more serious, so that our mindset is more in tune with the seriousness of God’s word. And mark this: There is not a single glib page in the book of God.
  2. Affliction knocks worldly props out from under us and forces us to rely more on God, which brings us more in tune with the aim of the Word.  For the aim of the Word is that we hope in God and trust him. “Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). “These [things] are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:31).
  3. Affliction makes us search the Scriptures with greater desperation for help, rather than treating it as marginal to life. “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
  4. Affliction brings us into the partnership of Christ’s sufferings, so that we fellowship more closely with him and see the world more readily through His eyes. Paul’s great heart longing was “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship (may share) of His sufferings, being made conformable (becoming more like Him) in his death” (Philippians 3:10).
  5. Affliction mortifies deceitful and distracting fleshly desires, and so brings us into a more spiritual frame and makes us receptive to the spiritual Word of God. “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” (1 Peter 4:1). Suffering has a great sin-killing effect. And the more pure we are, the more clearly we see God (Matthew 5:8). {copied in part}

May the Holy Spirit give us grace to not begrudge the teaching of God through pain, affliction and suffering.  His grace is sufficient. (11 Corinthians 12:9) He is faithful…always. (1 Thess. 5:24; 11 Thes. 3:3;  Phil. 1:6)  He says in Jeremiah 31:13b, 14, and 25 that He will saturate the soul of the weary and sorrowful with His Goodness.  Truly, having the Awesome Lord that we serve saturate our soul …literally with Himself in His Goodness…is an amazing experience.  That means for us who have suffered in life’s trials…maybe through no fault of our own, but just as life brings them to us, we can know in our soul the everlasting, awesome Goodness of God. (This is assuming that we know Him as personal Savior, and accepted Him as the payment for our sins on the cross.  If you need to understand that Bible truth, go to the home page, and click on “Where will I spend Eternity?” God not only wants to be your Father and Savior, but He will walk with you through your afflictions. May He Bless you.)

Suffering and Trials:

 

         Victoria Falls:

Victoria Falls (or Mosi-oa-Tunya) is a waterfall in southern Africa on the Zambezi River at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer, is believed to have been the first European to view Victoria Falls on 16 November 1855 from what is now known as Livingstone Island, one of two land masses in the middle of the river, immediately upstream from the falls on the Zambian side. Livingstone named his discovery in honour of Queen Victoria, but the indigenous name, Mosi-oa-Tunya—”the smoke that thunders”—continues in common usage as well.

 Victoria Falls is the largest falls in the world.  It is a mile wide and there is 1000 ft. drop.  It also has the world’s largest rapids. In classifying these rapids, they are a “7 & 8”, which by comparison, in the USA, a “5” is the legal rapid on which to raft.

 A man, donning his life jacket, was preparing to attempt to raft these rapids when he was told:

When the raft flips (not if it flips…but when), do not go to the calm waters on the side of the river.  You will be tempted to do so ….but do not.  Lurking in the calm, still, stagnant waters are alligators. They are waiting for you to come there.  Stay in the rapid white water.  The rapid white water is where safety is.

 In life we are tempted to try to go to the place where things are not in such turmoil and the tempest is not raging.  But the Lord has designed the white water for out good and His Glory.  That is where He is growing us, showing us Himself, and proving Himself to be faithful.

 Sometimes in our lives when there is calm, we get lax, let our guard down, and become victim to the things in life that cause destruction.  We can be tempted to trust in our own strength and wisdom, thinking we are doing OK.  We do not grow in the calm as much as when we have something thrusting us into the very arms of Jesus.

 C. H. Spurgeon said…

“I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the rock of ages.”

 Phil. 1:27-30a :

 “Only let your conversation (conduct) be as it becometh the gospel of Christ, that …I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel; and in nothing terrified by your adversaries, which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake….”

 Verse 28: the word “terrified” is referring to a horse that panics in battle (fear in battle that leads to disastrous results)….. scared, and ready to bolt.

Don’t bolt…stay the course…stay in the “white water rapids”:

  • they are by God’s design
  • to draw us to Himself (“be found in Him”…Phil. 3:9)
  • in a closer walk with Him
  • a greater manifestation of Christ in our life
  • to a greater (deeper) belief (trust) in Him
  • through this “suffering” for His sake, He is magnified
  • experience his everlasting arms around us
  • penetrated with His everlasting love (Jere.31:3)
  • saturated with Him in strength
  • fulfilled in His purpose
  • sensing His perspective on the eternal
  • strengthened in spirit by his victory in us and through us
  • ….and knowing in the depths of our soul that… He Is Enough…!!!!

 

The result is that ….

-the things of earth become strangely dim…

-our sight becomes fixed on Jesus….

-we sense what it means to be “crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20)

-we get a glimpse of the “fellowship of His suffering” (Phil. 3:10)

-we see and know the “power of the resurrection” in our lives (Phil. 3:10)

-we see the Crucified with enhanced spirit vision….

 11 Tim. 3:12 – 14

“Yea, and all that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.  But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.  But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of Whom thou hast learned them.”

1 Peter 4:12 – 13

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you, but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, that, when His glory  shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

Elisabeth Elliot says…”Think of your pain, trial, troubles as a challis, to be held up and offered up to the Lord, even in the midst of your suffering…stop what you are doing and offer it up as an act of worship……..anything offered up to God  becomes a gateway to joy.”

What is worship…is it not giving back to Him what is already His?  …ourselves?  our money?

Our praise and adoration already belongs to Him…He is worthy of all of it.

Should we not offer up the trial that He gives us?  The situation is His; it is of His doing;

All things are from His hand (Colos. 1:15-18).  Can we trust that nail-pierced hand?

When we lay it at His feet, are we not worshiping Him in all things?

What work is that doing in our heart…is it not saying to Him exactly what Christ said to Him in the garden of Gethsemane?

 “ Father…  not my will, but Thine be done.” (Luke 22:42)

 Did the Father suffer with Christ in the garden, and on Calvary?

(He suffers with us, as we suffer for Him.)

 Was the Father touched with that suffering?

 He is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities”…

Does he care how we feel?  Yes, offer that up to Him as an act of worship.

He suffers with us (Hebr. 4:13-16) (I Peter 5:7)

It is Ok to say …”Lord, you know I do not want to do this, but I will do it for you.”

Then offer it up to Him in an act of worship.  Make daily things an offering up in worship.

 Here are some results of suffering (which is a gift of His grace), and points to the reality that you are genuinely His:

  1. It strengthens the testimony of the one that endures.
  2. Weeds out superficial beliefs/believers.
  3. Crushes our pride (suffer shame for His name).
  4. Adds to our future rewards
  5. Weans us from self-sufficiency and self-promotion
  6. Informs us we are not in control
  7. Causes us to worship God with purified motives
  8. We stop asking for temporal trivial things.

 Acts 5: 40-41…”beaten…rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

Calvary Love:

Calvary Love:

What is Calvary all about…..  Jesus showed us Calvary Love:

…Jesus is God

…Gave up heaven

…Voluntarily took on human flesh

…Limited himself in a fleshly body

…Chose to obey his parents

…Set his face toward Jerusalem

…Garden of Gethsemane decision

…The cross of Calvary

 Amy Carmichael talks about Calvary love….

What are some characteristics of Calvary love?

  1. Humble (James 4:6,10)
  2. self-less…..self-sacrificial (1 Peter 2:15-25)
  3. not feelings oriented  (Hebr. 10:22-25)
  4. focused on others  (Phil. 2:1-4)
  5. focused on a higher plan  (different plan / a greater plan) (Luke 22:42)
  6. dependent on a higher power  (Hebr. 12:1-2;  Rom. 12:1-2)
  7. willing to be used for a higher purpose  (Acts 20:24)

What did that mean in Amy’s life?      And what does it mean in our lives?

(”Grace in rivers is required for this, day by day…”)

Smile, open our eyes, love, and go on!

As widows we must be careful of our perspective.

It is so difficult to find the pieces after the death of our mate.

It seems difficult to sort through the grief, sorrow and pain.

This is a “perspective” that was given to me after the Homegoing of my husband:

 

“We can shed tears that He is gone, or we can smile because he has lived.

We can close our eyes and pray that he will come back, or we can open our eyes and see all that he has left us.

Our hearts can be empty because we cannot see him, or we can be full because of the love we shared.

We can turn our backs on tomorrow and live yesterday, or we can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

We can remember him and only that he is gone, or we can cherish his memory and let it live  on.

We can close our minds, be empty, and turn back, or we could do what he would want…

Smile, open our eyes, love, and go on!”

 

 

Suffer According to the Will of God

In 1 Peter 4:19 it says, “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well-doing, as unto a faithful creator.”  Here in the United States, so far, we do not know what it is to suffer as our brothers and sisters in Christ suffer in other countries.
The very special truth in this is in the word “commit“. The word here is the same word that Christ used on the cross in Luke 23:46. He said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” These are the same word in the Greek.  The word means “to entrust, put in trust with”. Christ entrusted His spirit to the Heavenly Father on the cross, and this is exactly what He asks us to do when we “suffer according to the will of God”.
He asks us to entrust ourselves into the hands of our faithful creator when we suffer according to the will of God. Christ does not ask us to do something that He has not already done.  Do we know what suffering is?  If we suffer, we can commit ourselves into the hands of our Lord the same way Christ did, and know that He is caring for us as He did for Christ.  ( 1 Thes. 5:24 ) “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.”  It is easy to “commit ourselves” to our Lord who is faithful.

The next thought may be…..what if I am the one who has gotten myself into this mess?  Am I suffering according to the will of God if I made this mess that I am in?

If we know the Lord Jesus Christ as Our Savior, are a child of His, will He ever desert us?  No.  We are loved with and everlasting love (Jere. 31:3).  If a human parent would not desert their child in need, even more so, the Heavenly Father that only knows perfect love…everlasting love, would never desert us in our need.  He knows all about the situation, and is seeking to mature us, and bring glory to Himself through it.

Elizabeth Elliot says that “it is not the trial that determines the character, but our response to the trial”.  She went through many things that were totally not what she expected God to do in her life.  She had waited five and a half years to marry the man she loved.  She gave thanks to God in her singleness, and then was only married 2 years and three months when she became a widow.  She came to thank God for her widowhood also, because she realized that it was all from the hand of a loving gracious God.   Her response to the trial is what brought her closer to the Lord than ever before.  She saw that she had a depth in her spiritual life that she would not have known if the Lord had not allowed that trial in her life.

We must also remember that our Lord Jesus is the sovereign God of the universe that “by Him were all things created…in earth, visible and invisible…..principalities or powers, all things were created by Him and for Him, and by Him all things consist.  And He is the head of the body, the church…that in all things He might have the pre-eminence.  For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.” ( Colos. 1:16-19)

Christ is the head of the body, so that everything comes into our lives, He has the pre-eminence in that matter.  We think…”OK, I got myself into this mess….”  No…Christ has pre-eminence in ALL things and is sovereign in all things.  Nothing surprises Him ,,,He knew what you would decide and is in control.

We can trust Him.  He is faithful (Phil 1:6).  May we respond to all things that our Good God allows in our lives in such a way so as to become a reflection of the Word of God, and Jesus Christ Himself to those around us that need to see Him.

Only by His Grace and power living through us.  Praise be to Him.

Depression

Depression is a state of being that is unlike your “normal” state.
You do not feel like yourself, and maybe you are acting in ways that are unlike you normally would act. Sometimes you cannot quite put your finger what is wrong but you clearly know that all is “not right”.
Depression can be caused by many things such as medications, illness, physical conditions, emotional situations, and losses. Many losses are very profound….like the loss of a child, or spouse, or a pet; the loss of a job, financial security, or our home; sometimes an illness causes the loss of health or independence.
Symptoms of depression could be:
1.  ongoing sadness, an empty feeling, or anxiety
2.  tired, easily fatigued, exhaustion, or lack of energy
3.  loss of interest in everyday things, no willing to socialize
4.  difficulty in sleeping, or sleeping too much
5.  loss of appetite, or overeating
6.  crying too often, or for no reason
7.  aches and pains that do not respond to treatment
8.  difficulty focusing, paying attention, making choices or remembering
9.  feeling helpless, hopeless, or suffering a loss of self-esteem
10.  feeling anxious, being grumpy or irritable
11. feelings of rejection and despair, thoughts of death or suicide

If you are experiencing several of these symptoms for more than a few weeks, you may need to see a health care professional, especially if you are on medication.  Depression is a side effect of some medications.
Please do not ignore these symptoms.
Pray and ask the Lord for help.  Ask Him to give wisdom as to the source of the depression.  Many times one is aware of the cause of the depression, and a Pastor or spiritual Biblical counselor may be of great help.  If the source is not known, do seek help in a Godly Pastor.
For those of us who know the Lord, He is the one who can help us the most.  His Word is the “discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” ( Hebr. 4:12 ).  His Word can show us what our need is and, if the cause of the depression is sin in our life, He is able and willing to forgive all sin.
Sometimes selfishness, immorality, pride, arrogance, how we have treated others, and other sins in our life over a long period of time can cause us to walk away from the Lord, and become depressed.
Profound losses that come into our lives are probably the biggest cause of depression.  Depression is “normal” after a profound loss.  It is signifying that a great love was lost.  This depression needs to be shared with someone who can help.  Begin with someone who can be trusted, or a professional that knows what to do.
We may feel our loss is so much greater than anyone  else’s loss and that no one really understands.  But we should not compare our loss to someone else’s situation.  Each situation is so different, and each person responds differently to the loss in their life. Each loss can be significant.  Comparing our situations is unwise.

Please be careful:  Telling someone that they are depressed if they really are not, is not wise.  This person may be grieving very deeply and feeling confused with the changes in their life situation.  It may take them a while to work through the grief, and make some sense of their life.  They need someone to listen to what they are saying, and be a “sounding board” for them.  Do not expect them to make perfect sense, as they usually do.  They are often in a state of numbness/shock after a crisis or loss.  They need someone to listen, but do not keep telling them they are depressed.  They may just be grieving deeply and profoundly.  If they do not come out of it in a reasonable length of time, then stick with them and try to help them to the next step.  This is called the “ministry of presence”.  Be there for them and comfort them as Jesus would do if He was by their side.

But having said that:  we as Christians think that we should be exempt from depression. Why do we think that?  Why should we be exempt?  We Christians love very deeply. We know a very deep love from the Lord and from those around us who love Him. We feel losses very profoundly.  But the Lord deeply loves us and He wants to meet each one of us in our own need. We are each special in His sight.  Each of us can be the recipient of that great love.

If you do not personally know the love of God in your life, I would like to share some verses of scripture with you that show the “heart of God” toward you.

Isaiah 43:1-7

 “Thus saith the Lord who created thee,

 Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name;

thou art mine.

When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee:

and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee:

when thou walkest through the fire, thou shall not be burned,

neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior;

….thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee….

Fear not; for I am with thee…

Even every one who is called by my name;

for I have created him for my glory;

I have formed him; yea, I have made him.”

Isaiah 61:1-3

……”The Lord hath anointed me (referring to Jesus, Luke 4: 16-21)

to preach good tidings unto the meek;

He hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted…..

to comfort all that mourn;

….to give unto them beauty for ashes,

the oil of joy for mourning,

the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness,

that they might be called trees of righteousness,

the planting of the Lord,

that He might be glorified.”

Jeremiah 31:3

“….Yea, I have loved the with an everlasting love:

therefore with loving kindness  have I drawn thee.”

Ezekiel 18:4

“As I live, saith the Lord,

….behold all souls are mine.”

(if you do not know Him personally, as your personal Savior, please go to the section that is entitled  “Where will I spend Eternity” for scriptures on how to know Him.)

Acts 20:24

“None of these things move me,

neither count I my life dear unto myself,

that I might finish my course with joy,

and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus,

to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

Philippians 1:6

“Being confident of very thing,

that He which hath begun a good work in you

will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

For those of us who are of “the household of faith”,  and truly believe the scriptures

and the God of the scriptures, when things come into our lives that we do not really

understand, this becomes

 a greater walk of faith than we have ever known before.

We take a step back and say “Ok”……

Where is our Rock and our foundation?

Will we continue in Him?

Is He faithful?

  Will I trust Him really? …even when I do no understand?

The disciples came to this point one day (John 6:66-71) when they were with Jesus.  Some of the disciples heard a “hard saying” and some went away.

But Jesus asked His disciples,  “Will you also go away?”

Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go?

Thou hast the words of eternal life.  And we believe and are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

In Psalm 73, the psalmist begins by saying,

“Truly God is good.”

Then the psalmist goes on to look at his own life and becomes very distressed.  He sees that his foot has slipped (verse 2), he becomes envious of the prosperity of others, kind of like a “woe is me” outlook (verses 3-16), and he becomes very disappointed in his own life.

This is probably where depression sets in.  We only see the circumstances around us and cannot make sense of it.  If we choose to only look around and within, we will get discouraged.

Then in verses 17 to 22, he chooses to look at things from God’s perspective.  He sees what this world is like without God, and he sees his own foolishness.  His heart is grieved, and realizes that God is continually with him.

Verses 23-28:  “Thou hast held me by my right hand.

Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.”

“Whom have I in Heaven but thee?

And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.

My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the strength of my heart,

and my portion forever.

But it is good for me to draw near to God;

I have put my trust in the Lord God,

that I may declare all thy works.”

So the psalmist came to the same conclusion that the disciples came to….

that it is our God who is our refuge and strength (Ps. 46:1).

Jeremiah 16:19 says:

“O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction…”

Psalm 27:4,8,13,14:

“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after:  that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.”

“When thou saidest, Seek ye my face, my heart said unto thee, thy face, Lord, will I seek.”

“I would have fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

“Wait on the Lord;  be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart.  Wait, I say, on the Lord.”

My encouragement to you when things just do not make sense, seek Him as you have never sought Him before.  He never leaves us or forsakes us (Hebr. 13:5).  He chooses to love us unconditionally and always hears our prayers.  Immerse yourself in the  scriptures and get to know the God of the scriptures.  Allow the risen Christ to take over in your heart.  We are saved by His death on the cross, but we are saved by His life….

…”being reconciled we shall be saved by His life,

and not only so, but we also joy in God,

through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom

we have now received the reconciliation.”

We are saved to allow Christ to live out His life in us and through us that our lives can bring glory to Him.  He will do it through us, and we will know joy in God.  That seems like a life worth living.

I have known loss in my life, and suffered with a feeling of deep profound grief that the Lord walked me through.  I was on the verge of depression, but kept looking into the face of the Savior for help.  If I can be of help to you in this, please feel free to contact me through this email:

cajr@ptd.net

 

 

 

 

How To Help Widows

There are so many truly hurting people out there. We desperately need to know how to minister to them. These are hurting, bleeding, wounded sisters in Christ.

My hope is to give some insight in how to minister to widows primarily, but many of these suggestions apply to all different kinds of hurting people.   Some may have a loss of a child, a broken marriage or a loss of a relationship, a loss of a parent.  Some may have lost a job that meant their financial security, their retirement and loss of their home.  Some are grieving the loss of something they never had….. a lady who never had the opportunity to marry and have children, or one who is married that is grieving the children she could never birth.

For some, these losses are so significant that they cannot even think how to go on with life.    I firmly believe that if we cannot show deep compassion to them at this time, we cannot minister to them in their need. There is a broken world out there. The losses that people have are so tremendous….and we need to be there for them.
Here are a few hints of what broken, hurting people need… and maybe what they do not need.

…….Their greatest need is for someone to listen. Sit with them, listen, and scripture says in Romans 12:15….”weep with them that weep”. Christ did this. His dear friend died, and the sisters who were dear friends as well, we heartbroken ( John 11:1-44). Christ felt their pain and sorrow. He wept with them.  He showed the compassion that we need to show for those who grieve, are in deep sorrow, or have a loss in their lives that has caused them to weep.  If we as Christians do not have this compassion, the world surely will not.  This is a wonderful opportunity to allow Christ to minister through us.
Why don’t we weep with them?  I submit to you that we do not have the heart of Christ, if we cannot weep with those who need someone to feel their pain and sorrow.  Many times in the Gospels it says…Jesus had compassion on them.  Isaiah 53 verse 3 says that Christ was “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and we hid as it were our faces from Him…”.  This is indicating that we put him out of our mind, as people of that day put lepers out of their presence.  The proud sinful heart of man put Christ out of his presence of mind. We need NOT duplicate that sin if we know Christ and have an opportunity to minister to another hurting person in need.  Many of these are in the body of Christ and “the body” is hurting ( 1 Corin. 12:13,14,18,23-26 ).

…….Time is precious to the hurting.  Sometimes they just need someone to sit with them, and by that show they care and “are there” for them.  Can you spend some time to be with them?  They may feel all alone and the presence of another person may help greatly.

…….Let them talk. They sometimes need someone with whom to talk.  When people are deeply hurting, they do NOT need advise or someone “throwing scripture at them”.  They need a person to sit, listen and maybe weep with them. Deep, deep grief cannot handle “lots of advice” or accusations of what they did wrong or needed to do, or need now to do.  Job had friends like that and God reprimanded them for their actions. They did not help Job when they did that.

…….Pray when you are in the presence of a deeply grieving person.  Ask the Lord to guide you in what to do.  When they are deeply grieving, their need will be different than when they have walked a while in their sorrow and grief.  After the Lord has ministered to them in their soul and spirit, they will be more open and able to think through Biblical council, and even suggestions for help.  Praying with them at this time may be a tremendous help to them.

…….People say, “Give it time”  or  “It just takes time”.  It is not really time that ministers; it is Christ and His Word that makes the difference.  It is the strength and comfort that a loving, caring, omnipotent, sovereign God can give over time, that brings the healing.   It is what those who are grieving do in that time that makes the difference between resolving the grief, or going on for a long period of time with unresolved grief.  Christ is the only one that can fill and fulfill the need of the heart.  He is the only one that can meet the need of the heart, because He is the only one that truly knows the deep wound of the heart and soul that this person is experiencing.  Christ’s compassion shown through us at this time is so crucial.  Seek to be the comforter (“parakletos”….consoler-advocate ) that comes alongside them and walks with them.

……..Someone said to a really grieving person,  “You just need to be thankful for what you had….”  This is not really helpful.  That person may truly be thankful for what they had, but that does not make the grief and sorrow any less.  A statement like this to a severely grieving person only succeeds to heap guilt on an already wounded soul.  It is difficult to be able to rejoice when the heart and soul is so heavy with grief and sorrow.  If this person truly knows the Lord, it will come.  The joy of the Lord is there, and it will bubble forth in due time.

……..Some say,  “You should not be sorrowing as those who have no hope”( I Thes. 4:13).  This statement is not helpful either.  The person may have great hope in the resurrection.   (If the truth is known, they may want to be “raptured” out of here immediately, if nothing else than to escape the pain of heart and soul.)   This only succeeds in heaping more guilt on an already grieving person.  Be careful of your words.  If you have not experienced the exact loss that they have, then you cannot possibly know how they feel.

……..Yes, there may come a time when the person grieving needs wise council, but make sure the Lord has given you the right words of council for them when you seek to help them.

……..Who is to say how long it takes to “be able to go on” after a loss.  Remember each person grieves at a different pace.  They usually do not  “just get over it”  like it was a bad cold!  Give them the time they need, pray with them and for them.  Be the friend they need to walk this journey with them as much as you can.  God in His sovereignty is doing a work and has a purpose for all things that He allows.  Pray for the Lord’s healing for them.

About Me

Hi……Welcome to a small “nook” of encouragement.

I am no one special, but the Lord I serve is very special.  I am, first and foremost, a born-again Christian who has my sins forgiven, and am on my  way to Heaven, by no merit of my own.

I am a mother of four, grandmother of ten, and now I am a widow.  Very unexpectedly, my husband was taken home to be with his Precious Lord he loved, on September 12th, 2011.   We were married for 35 years, and now my life has changed forever.

This “nook” is not really about me though, it is about a decision everyone needs to make and that I made when I was 20 years old.  It is about knowing the God who made us and loves us more than anyone else in the whole world.

I am not talking about a “religion”,  but a “personal relationship” with a “personal God”.

I trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior from sin years ago, and it was the one most important decision that I ever made in my whole entire life.  It was foundational.

( If you want details on that kind of decision, go to the section with the question “Where will I spend Eternity?”)

In this section of the  “nook” of encouragement, I want to tell you some, as my girlfriend calls them, “God stories”.   These are true events in my life and in the lives of others, that have shown me the heart of the Lord that I serve.  They reveal the struggles of the human heart, but  more importantly, the tender loving care of a Gracious, Ever-Present, and Awesome God.

“The Cross and a Hymn”

I was traveling home after a stay at my daughter’s in North Carolina.

It would be a  ten hour  drive, alone.  My husband had passed into Glory

ten months before, and I travel alone now wherever I go.

It is a very tiring drive, and I did not leave until 4:30 in the afternoon,

which meant I would not arrive home until 2:30 am.

I knew I could not make it.  I needed to get a hotel room.

I started crying and praying.  I had not stayed in a hotel alone since

my husband died.  When we had stayed in a hotel in the past,

it was always with my husband, and usually on our anniversary, so it was very special.

I just cried, sobbed,  “Lord, I can’t do this.  This is too hard!”

I prayed and asked Him to give me the strength to just drive

until 2:30 am.  As the time passed, I knew I was too exhausted.

By this time I was really upset.

I had been listening to a Christian radio station, and realized that I had

lost the station.  I hit the radio button only once, and a hymn come on.

That is very unusual.  Usually I have to search for a long time to

find another Christian radio station.

At the very same time, on the southbound lane of I-81,

I saw a 60 foot lighted cross!

The really amazing thing

was….it wasn’t just any hymn that the Lord gave me

on the radio just at that moment.

It was the hymn “Does Jesus Care?”.

The song says, “Does Jesus care when my heart is pained

too deeply for mirth and song;

As the burdens press,  and the cares distress,

and the way grows weary and long?….

When for my deep grief I find no relief,

Tho’ my tears flow all the night long?…..

Does Jesus care when I’ve said “good-by”

to the dearest on Earth to me,

and my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks,

Is it aught to Him? Does He see?”

“O yes, He cares;  I know He cares,

His heart is touched with my grief;

When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,

I know my Savior cares”.

I just listened to the hymn that the Lord gave me,

and let it penetrate into the depths of my soul…..

as I watched the 60 foot lighted Cross come closer and closer.

The Lord at that moment brought peace into my soul

where there was deep loss, grief  and anxiety

from my being alone.

I said,  “OK, Lord, I get the message….. you are  with me

and you are going to walk with me through this.”

The Lord was so “present” with me,  so I got off

the road and stayed over night.

I did cry, but my anxiety was gone,

and I had peace because the Lord was so

faithful to care about  me….enough to put a hymn,

but not just any hymn…that hymn,

on the radio at the same time as a lighted cross….

a 60 foot lighted cross,

to show me His presence with me.

Our God is Good, and He is Faithful.

Another time………..

Holidays are very difficult for those of us who have a very special person missing from our lives.

There is a very big void in our lives when that person is gone, but the empty place at the table is almost unbearable.

And it just so happens that our wedding Anniversary is two days after Christmas.

My husband was called home to Glory in September.

Also, exactly three weeks to the day that I buried my husband I buried my Mother.

That was October.  Thanksgiving and Christmas, November and December, were very difficult,

but on top of all of that, I had to face my wedding anniversary all alone….without my spouse

…my better half…that other person with whom I was “one” .

I was visiting my children in NC for Christmas.

I dreaded the anniversary because I did not know how to get through the day without overwhelming grief.

Several precious friends had sent me books to read when my husband died, and I had taken them with me.

The book I chose to bring and read was about a nurse who had lost her husband very suddenly.

What you should know is that I am a nurse also.

When she started relaying the story, and mentioned her husband’s name, I just cried.

Her husband’s name was Cecil and so was my husband’s name Cecil.

That is not a common name but the Lord was in this.

This lady wrote this book several years before, and the Lord was going to walk me through our anniversary

reading about another born-again Christian nurse who had a husband named Cecil, who had also died very suddenly.

I cried and hung onto every thought.  The Lord that I serve had taken care of her, provided for her,

and  He was encouraging my heart that He would do the same for me.

The Lord in His sovereignty allowed me to have that book just when He knew

that my heart needed encouragement to look to Him for strength, courage and comfort.

Psalm 37:23

” The steps of a good man (or woman) are ordered by the Lord.”

A “good man” is one that is “upright in their manner of life” (37:14), one that has “peace” (37:37),

one that has his strength in the Lord (37:39), and

is helped, delivered, saved by the Lord, and trusts in the Lord (37:40).

Our “steps” are our every day, every part of our day events, thoughts, actions and

even our feelings.  It is who and what the Lord brings into our lives.

He oversees, directs, orchestrates, purposes, plans, designs and brings to pass

all that comes and goes in and out of our lives…..for His purpose and Glory.

All that to say this……

These “God stories” are specific ways that our God we serve is working,

designing, planning and purposing.

It says in Philippians 2:13,

“For it is God who worketh in you to will and to do of his good pleasure”.

The Lord orders our steps.  Those of us who walk with the God we serve know this in truth.

Another time…..

Without revealing too many details in the lives of the ones the Lord has brought into my life,

I would like to tell you about a dear Christian lady, who through various circumstances,

invited me to stay in her home after just meeting me and realizing that I really

had no place to stay that night.  We had a mutual friend, but did not really know each other

and had just met a couple hours before.

As we talked, we realized the Lord had orchestrated this.  We  were both recently widowed.

We cried together and prayed together as we saw that the Lord had brought together two

grieving souls, who desperately missed our mates,

and needed someone to talk to who understood.  It is such a comfort for a widow to

find another widow to share our grief and sorrow.  It seems that the Lord ministers to

our hearts, eases the burden some, and comforts us when we find in another soul

who has this deep understanding of our grief.  That was the beginning….

we loved the same Savior, liked the same organic food, had the same ideas about many things,

and most unusual of all, our husbands had the same name.

I only spent one evening and night there, but we parted as friends

that felt like we had known each other for ever.

We live 2,200 miles apart but now pray for each other.

The love of Christ is an amazing thing.  As soon as we find out that a person is a

born-again Christian, there seems to be an immediate bond, and the love of Christ

in our hearts is immediately offered to the other person with joy and thanksgiving.

To God be the Glory…praise His name.

Another time…..

As a widow…who was used to having a mate walk with her through life….

who had someone there to see her through the times that are difficult…

times of hurt and times of stress and distress….

like when going to the doctor for “not fun” procedures…

(Pray for the widows and widowers in your circle of acquaintance because

they now have to walk in this life without the hand to hold of their

best friend, without the reassuring smile, and the

prayers of the one they so closely depended upon).

I needed to go to the doctor.

But this doctor was almost an hour and a half away, and no one

could go with me on this short notice.

Then when I was told where to go, it was possibly in the place

where my husband had died just a short time before.

I was not really familiar with all these places that far away,

but this was not going to be easy.

I just took some time to pray.

I asked the Lord to go with me, work out the details,

 and give me peace in this whole situation.

As I arrived where my GPS told me to go, it was not exactly the same building

where my husband died, which was a relief.

I breathed a prayer of thanks and praise to the Lord

for His care.

Now I had to face the doctor…alone.

As I spoke to the doctor about not having any health insurance,

he went to the computer and said that he could fix that.

He cancelled the office fee and his personal fee.

His manner was so kind, gentle, and gracious….

When I left the office, I had this overwhelming feeling that the presence of

 the Lord Himself had been there taking care of me…. (which He was),

I was so overwhelmed with His Goodness,

I went to tears as I walked out of that office….

tears of relief, comfort and peace.

His presence in the life of the believer is so precious.

Another time….

I needed a fairly minor surgical procedure,

I experienced His vivid answer to my earnest request.

I was to leave very soon for the surgical appointment,

no one to go with me….except Him.

I “needed” my husband who was in Heaven with the Lord,

so that wasn’t possible.

But I knew that in the Bible, the Lord tells us that He will be the

husband to the widow.  I started praying….asking the Lord…

“Lord, I do not know how you can be my husband right now,

but I need you to be with me in this… now…

I need to know that you are going with me …I need You now.”

Just as I paused in my prayer…. (my computer was on the

web site for bbnradio.org.  It is a Christian radio station on line.

It is my habit to have this on much of the day.)

…..a hymn was being sung…

It said,

“Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,

For I am thy God, I will still give thee aid;

I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,

Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.”

(…..the hymn “How Firm A Foundation”)

I did not have the hand of my sweet husband as I thought that I needed,

but I had the promise of the Lord I serve

that His omnipotent hand was to uphold me !!!!

This is the “presence” of the Lord Himself in dealing

with the “beloved of the Lord”.

Deut. 33:12 says  “The beloved of the LORD shall dwell in safety by Him;

and the LORD shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders.”

Then in:
2Thes. 2:13, the Lord tells us, “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you,

brethren beloved of the Lord,

because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation

through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.”

We widows who miss our sweet mates,

come to understand that we have the Lord Himself as our “husband” now.

In scripture we believers are called His beloved: