Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Grief’

Grief and Hope

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

~~ 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (KJV)

Grief comes to all of us from time to time. The loss of a friend or family member, loss of a job or precious possession, or wayward children can grieve us. Somehow, I seem always to have known that such grief is temporary – a reflection of our personal emotions at a specific moment in time – not a permanent condition.

It might have been Doctor G. who quoted the phrase “grieve not as them who have no hope.” I was absolutely certain that it came from this passage of scripture. But I could not find those exact words in any of the translations on biblegateway.com. That quote might just have been a paraphrase rather than a quote. At any rate, the sense is certainly from this passage.

Doctor G. stood as godfather at my baptism in the Lutheran church. He was a rock-solid foundation in my life. A spiritually wise man, he taught me many things. But more than that, he infected me with the joy of the Lord and an educated faith in Jesus.

He was a Bible scholar, a student of the word, and a poet. On my twelfth birthday, he gave me a scrapbook which he had put together with his own hands. And he wrote this poem about him and me and heaven. It’s long, so I’ll just quote the pertinent verses here.

You are twelve years old today, dear,
And I’m past seventy-three.
With back to back we’re dreaming,
But it’s different things we see.

You look AT the golden sunrise,
See dream castle in the mist:
It’s the road ahead for you, dear –
Life at its borning best.
___

I look THROUGH the golden sunset,
With its beckoning promise bright
To a day without a sundown,
Where it’s always day – not night.
___

And when you have passed the Sunset
To the day without Sundown,
When Life’s pilgrimage is over,
And you’ve won your victor’s crown;

I’ll be at the gate of heaven,
With glad heart to see you come;
Glad to welcome you, my daughter,
Into our Eternal Home.

~~ HWG

His knowledge of the word and my faith in his always telling me the exact truth – pleasant or unpleasant – gave me the assurance that this life is not all there is. I can grieve a loss, but it doesn’t decimate me.

My friend was the sister in a family with two brothers. She lost first one and then the other. At the funeral of the second brother, I went to hug her. Her grief was not only obvious, but it was painful to see. There was an element of hopelessness in it that I had never seen before. She could not be comforted.

Paul doesn’t say here that we don’t grieve. We simply do not grieve as those people who have no hope of Christ and the resurrection – no hope of heaven.

Father, God,

Grant that we may always keep our eyes upon You, not on the attractions of this world. Let us see with the eternal perspective the ultimate good in Your will, no matter how it looks from an earthly perspective.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

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Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

~~  2 Corinthians: 1:3-4 (KJV)

“Who comforts us in all our troubles…”  This particular passage seems to expect that we will all have troubles in our lives. It states troubles as a foregone conclusion, not just a remote possibility.

So often we ask why. Why did this happen? What use are we to make of it? This verse tells us exactly why. We go through troubles in order to comfort others who are going through troubles.

Our God is a God of compassion – not pity – compassion. The root of compassion is patio, meaning to bear or suffer and the prefix com meaning together or with.

The current definition is:  sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

Yesterday, I visited the local funeral home to grieve with and offer comfort to a family who had lost an infant.

We do not understand why we lose infants and children. It matters not whether the immediate cause was disease, accident or murder. The loss of a child is the loss of a future, the loss of a hope.

There will forever be a blank, open, hurting space in our hearts. We do not “get over” this kind of loss. We simply learn to live in an altered universe.

The one constant in our universe is God. No matter the trouble, the hurt, the grief, He is always ready to hold us near to His heart. When bad things happen, we can always turn to Him. He is always there, loving us, bearing with us through everything.

Father, God,

Help us to remember that nothing happens to us without Your foreknowledge, that You are never surprised by circumstance. Remind us that You are our refuge and our strength at all times, no matter what happens to us and around us. Grant us the wisdom to turn to You, not trying to fix things by ourselves. Help us to understand Your love so that we can extend that same kind of love to others.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

 

The God Who Sees

And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me? ~~ Genesis 14: 16  (KJV)

The local news tonight is full of a man who went on a rampage in a small community in south central Kansas, shooting people at his place of employment.  Incidents of this kind leave us shaking our heads and wondering what happened to cause this. And we wonder if God sees and cares.

The scripture above relates to Hagar. If you don’t remember her story, read Genesis 14 and 16. She was mistreated and ran away from her mistress. The story is a testament to how we mess things up when we don’t wait on God’s timing. But I digress.

The answer to our question above is yes, God sees. And yes, He cares. God loves each of the victims of this terrible incident.

Because there were multiple fatalities as well as more than a dozen injured, there are many households in extreme distress and grief. God is also grieved.

God is grieved because He loves us – all of us. He loves each of the victims and every member of their families. But He also loves the shooter.

If you are a parent, you know how distressed you are when your child misbehaves. Your distress escalates as your child’s misbehavior becomes more serious. Imagine if the shooter were your child. How would you feel?  Those emotions are not foreign to God. Because His love is infinite,  His grief may be just as infinite.

Imagine that your child left home and did not communicate with you again. Ever. Years pass, and this child’s place is empty. Eventually, you no longer know if the child is alive or dead. He or she has simply evaporated from your life. What kind of hole does that leave in your heart?

When people turn their backs on God and denigrate the gift of salvation bought with the blood of Christ, God is grieved.  John 3:16 says “God so loved the world…”  It doesn’t say God loved everyone in the world who loved Him. It says the world – no exceptions. That includes those who have turned their backs on Him and create havoc in the lives of others.

God will hold and help and console the victims of tragedy and all the family members involved. If He can see a fleeing handmaiden in the desert, He can see people at work.  He never leaves, never changes, never quits loving.

When we say He loves, we do not say He condones wrong behavior. He does not condone. Nor does He mitigate the natural consequences of our behavior.

 For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: ~~ Hosea 8:7a (KJV)

We live today with the consequences of Sarah’s jumping the gun on God. And we will live with the consequences of this shooter’s choices. There is no circumstance so dire or heinous that God cannot use for good.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. ~~ Romans 8:28 (KJV)

We may never know this side of Eternity what good came from an incident like this one. But God will use this. Perhaps someone who was ignoring God will come to Him.

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. ~~ Luke 15:7 (KJV)

These are the words of Jesus. They remind us that God loves sinners.  Good news for all of us because we are all sinners.

Father,  God,

We ask your presence with all who were touched by this tragedy. Teach us Your love and give us hearts to grow closer to you.  Help us to replicate Your love in this sinful world.

In Jesus’ most precious name,

Amen.

Where is God?

Psalm 139:15.16   My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.     Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

Today, my heart is full of grief for a young family because I know the pain of losing toddlers. This young  family lost a three-year-old in a tragic accident. The adults are numb with grief and guilt. There are so many “if only’s” and “why didn’t I’s…” bearing down on their minds and souls. A five-year-old witnessed the death of the toddler. Can you imagine the trauma?

And where is God in all this?  He is in the midst of it. He knew this child before the child was conceived. He knit the members together in secret in the mother’s womb. And he knew the moment of this child’s last breath before the child took the first one.  He is right beside the grieving parents, if they are able to reach out for him.  He is beside the five-year-old who saw everything, ready to comfort and to hold this surviving child close.

We may never know why this happened. But we know that God is in the middle of it, redeeming what seems to be the ultimate tragedy to create something good. For whom or when, we don’t know yet. But there is a tapestry to our lives. Only God sees the pattern. We see only the tangled under threads.

Let us pray for the family in this tragedy.

Father, God, We ask that you be with this grieving family – and all other families in grief this day.  Help them to feel your comforting presence in this difficult time. Grant that those of us around them be sensitive to their needs, supporting them in prayer, and being any helping hand needed. In Jesus’ most precious name. Amen.

Grief And Hope

Focus verses: I Thessalonians 4:13-18

Grief comes to all of us from time to time. The loss of a friend or family member, loss of a job or precious possession, or wayward children can grieve us. Somehow, I seem always to have known that such grief is temporary – a reflection of our personal emotions at a specific moment in time – not a permanent condition.

It might have been Doctor G. who quoted the phrase “grieve not as them who have no hope.” I was absolutely certain that it came from this passage of scripture. But I could not find those exact words in any of the translations on biblegateway.com. That quote might just have been a paraphrase rather than a quote. At any rate, the sense is certainly from this passage.

Doctor G. stood as godfather at my baptism in the Lutheran church. He was a rock-solid foundation in my life. A spiritually wise man, he taught me many things. But more than that, he infected me with the joy of the Lord and an educated faith in Jesus.

He was a bible scholar, a student of the word, and a poet. On my twelfth birthday, he gave me a scrapbook which he had put together with his own hands. And he wrote this poem about him and me and heaven. It’s long, so I’ll just quote the pertinent verses here.

You are twelve years old today, dear,
And I’m past seventy-three.
With back to back we’re dreaming,
But it’s different things we see.

You look AT the golden sunrise,
See dream castle in the mist:
It’s the road ahead for you, dear –
Life at its borning best.
___

I look THROUGH the golden sunset,
With its beckoning promise bright
To a day without a sundown,
Where it’s always day – not night.
___

And when you have passed the Sunset
To the day without Sundown,
When Life’s pilgrimage is over,
And you’ve won your victor’s crown;

I’ll be at the gate of heaven,
With glad heart to see you come;
Glad to welcome you, my daughter,
Into our Eternal Home.

– HWG

His knowledge of the word and my faith in his always telling me the exact truth – pleasant or unpleasant – gave me the assurance that this life is not all there is. I can grieve a loss, but it doesn’t decimate me.

My friend was the sister in a family with two brothers. She lost first one and then the other. At the funeral of the second brother, I went to hug her. Her grief was not only obvious, but it was painful to see. There was an element of hopelessness in it that I had never seen before. She could not be comforted.

Paul doesn’t say here that we don’t grieve. We simply do not grieve as those people who have no hope of Christ and the resurrection – no hope of heaven.

Father, God,

Grant that we may always keep our eyes upon You, not on the attractions of this world. Let us see with the eternal perspective the ultimate good in Your will, no matter how it looks from an earthly perspective.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Grief And Hope

Focus verses: I Thessalonians 4:13-18

Grief comes to all of us from time to time. The loss of a friend or family member, loss of a job or precious possession, or wayward children can grieve us. Somehow, I seem always to have known that such grief is temporary – a reflection of our personal emotions at a specific moment in time – not a permanent condition.

It might have been Doctor G. who quoted the phrase “grieve not as them who have no hope.” I was absolutely certain that it came from this passage of scripture. But I could not find those exact words in any of the translations on biblegateway.com. That quote might just have been a paraphrase rather than a quote. At any rate, the sense is certainly from this passage.

Doctor G. stood as godfather at my baptism in the Lutheran church. He was a rock-solid foundation in my life. A spiritually wise man, he taught me many things. But more than that, he infected me with the joy of the Lord and an educated faith in Jesus.

He was a bible scholar, a student of the word, and a poet. On my twelfth birthday, he gave me a scrapbook which he had put together with his own hands. And he wrote this poem about him and me and heaven. It’s long, so I’ll just quote the pertinent verses here.

You are twelve years old today, dear,
And I’m past seventy-three.
With back to back we’re dreaming,
But it’s different things we see.

You look AT the golden sunrise,
See dream castle in the mist:
It’s the road ahead for you, dear –
Life at its borning best.
___

I look THROUGH the golden sunset,
With its beckoning promise bright
To a day without a sundown,
Where it’s always day – not night.
___

And when you have passed the Sunset
To the day without Sundown,
When Life’s pilgrimage is over,
And you’ve won your victor’s crown;

I’ll be at the gate of heaven,
With glad heart to see you come;
Glad to welcome you, my daughter,
Into our Eternal Home.

– HWG

His knowledge of the word and my faith in his always telling me the exact truth – pleasant or unpleasant – gave me the assurance that this life is not all there is. I can grieve a loss, but it doesn’t decimate me.

My friend was the sister in a family with two brothers. She lost first one and then the other. At the funeral of the second brother, I went to hug her. Her grief was not only obvious, but it was painful to see. There was an element of hopelessness in it that I had never seen before. She could not be comforted.

Paul doesn’t say here that we don’t grieve. We simply do not grieve as those people who have no hope of Christ and the resurrection – no hope of heaven.

Father, God,

Grant that we may always keep our eyes upon You, not on the attractions of this world. Let us see with the eternal perspective the ultimate good in Your will, no matter how it looks from an earthly perspective.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

What Friends – Part One

Focus verses: Job 7:17-21

Job’s friends were a comfort to him as they sat in silence with him in his grief. Then they opened their mouths and blew it!

Chapters four through seven are the admonition of Eliphaz and Job’s response to that instruction.

You see, Eliphaz subscribes to the theory that if you prosper on earth, you have been faithful to God. And if calamity befalls you, it’s because you are harboring some secret sin. Calamity and tragedy are somehow the result of your own improper actions.

It’s a very human response. We seem to need simplistic answers. “If this, then that” is the heart of our cause and effect, linear reasoning. If something bad happens, you must have done something to deserve it.

What Eliphaz doesn’t know is that spiritual warfare is taking place here. There is a battle in the heavenlies that neither he nor Job can see or understand.

Job, however, does know something about proportion. He asks “what is man?” and the inference is “in comparison to God.” Job recognizes the difference between God and man in a way that his friends seem not to understand. He doesn’t really understand it himself.

Eliphaz is caught up in the “blame the victim” mind set. If something bad happens, it’s because you did something to bring it on. That isn’t necessarily so.

Job did nothing to bring on this sorrow, He was simply faithful to God. Eliphaz has failed the test for comforting friend. He has brought judgment and condemnation rather than solace.

Father, God,

Deliver us from a judgmental spirit. Fill us with faith that whatever happens, You are aware and You are in charge. Grant us the grace to rely upon You in all circumstances.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.