Category: Grieving

Where were you, God?

Where were you, God? – Greg Laurie – and
Have you ever had a crisis so overwhelm you that you thought you could not survive? Have you ever faced a set of circumstances that you simply thought you would not be able to get through?
I have. When my son Christopher went to heaven just a few months ago, it was my worst nightmare come true. It seemed almost unbearable. But God was with our family, sustaining us in each moment through the most radical of circumstances. He has been helping us get through it each and every day.
The Bible tells the story of a tight-knit family who also had a loved one die. They were friends of Jesus, and he would frequent their home in Bethany, near Jerusalem. Mary, Martha and Lazarus were three people who could honestly say that Jesus was their personal friend. But one day, Lazarus became gravely ill. So they did what every person ought to do in times of crisis: they sent word to Jesus to do something about it.
What we first learn from this story is that life is filled with pain, sorrow, sickness and the death of loved ones. When we are younger, we don’t necessarily understand this. But as we get older, our grandparents will die, then our parents will die, and then, as we age, our day will eventually come.
But then there are those unexpected deaths, such as the death of a spouse or a sibling, or someone who is close to us in age. Suddenly we are made aware of our own mortality. That was the case with Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Suddenly one of them was deathly ill.
This brings us to the next thing we learn from this story, which is that God loves us. And God will never allow anything to happen in the lives of his children that is not motivated by his everlasting love. God says, "I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself" (Jeremiah 31:30 NLT).
Mary and Martha knew they were loved by Jesus. But they didn’t say, "Lord, the one who is devoted to you is sick," or even, "The one who loves you is sick." Rather, they said, "Lord, the one you love is sick" (John 11:3 NIV). This is a good thing to remember when we appeal to God: Never appeal on the basis of our devotion, because our love is fickle. Rather, we should appeal to God on the basis of his love for us. Mary and Martha didn’t even tell him what to do. They didn’t say, "So rush over here and do something now." They simply said, "Lord, the one you love is sick."
I find it interesting that in the original language, they used the Greek word phileo, which means brotherly love. But then we are told that "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus" (John 11:5 NIV). The Greek word used here for "love" is agape. This is a different kind of love than phileo. It is God’s supernatural, all-consuming love.
God’s love for us may be demonstrated in ways we don’t always understand. Because Jesus loved Lazarus, he delayed his trip to Bethany. It doesn’t really make sense when you look at it, but God wanted to do more than Mary and Martha expected.
We live in the here and now, while God lives in the eternal. We are interested in what will benefit us right now, but God is thinking about the big picture. We will ask for certain things that seem to work for our lives or make them more comfortable, but God is looking at the broader picture.
And that is exactly what was happening in the lives of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. God was about to demonstrate this in a different way altogether. So Lazarus died. And by the time Jesus arrived in town, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Martha, who was not one to hold her tongue, went out to meet Jesus. She said, "If you had been here, my brother would not have died." To loosely paraphrase, "Where were you anyway, Jesus?"
Maybe you have said that in so many words: Where were you when my marriage dissolved? … Where were you when my parents divorced? … Where were you when my child went astray? … Where were you when my loved one died?
Jesus did not reprove Martha for what she said. Sometimes we may feel as though we can never express our fears or even our doubts to God, but that is not the case at all. It is not wrong to tell God how we feel.
The psalms offer example after example of people who cried out to God with their fears and doubts. And Jesus himself, while he was hanging on the cross, cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46 NIV). The point is that they prayed.
When tragedy strikes or hardship comes, we sometimes withdraw from God or become angry with him. Yet it is in times like these that we need him more than ever. So cry out to him with your doubts. Cry out to him with your pain. He will patiently and lovingly listen.
Not only will Jesus listen, but he will weep with us in our times of pain. The Bible reminds us, "He was despised and rejected – a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. … It was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down" (Isaiah 53:4–6 NLT). He not only carried our sin, but he also carried our sorrows. And the Bible says a day is coming when God will wipe away all of our tears.
So the next time you are tempted to ask, "Where were you, Lord?" know that he was – and is – there. Jesus was there when my son went to heaven. Jesus was there when I heard the horrific news. And he will be with you in your good days and your bad days.
The psalmist David said, "Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me" (Psalm 23:4 NLT). This is the great hope we have when we put our faith in Christ: We will never be alone. God will be with us through everything we face. And the best is yet to come when we meet him in glory.

Joy Comes in the Morning

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5 NKJV).

God’s promises in the Bible are for you. Choose to embrace them and live them out in faith. Beth, who lost both her husband and her mother within a year, read God’s promise in Psalm 30:5 (above). Not only did she find comfort in this verse, but she also acted on it in faith.

She says, "I had a difficult time in the mornings waking up, facing the day; it’s sort of that ‘what do you have to live for?’ feeling. So, particularly special to me was that verse about joy coming in the morning. Every morning I’d say, ‘Lord, what day is my joy coming? What day is my joy coming?’

"Finally I woke up one morning, and my joy had returned. That doesn’t mean that I was fine from then on. It doesn’t mean I didn’t cry and break down and so forth. But there was that peace and that joy that had been missing for those months. It was just wonderful to have that back again."

Lord, I believe Your promises. May my actions be a reflection of my beliefs. Amen.

The Bible: Read It

No matter how difficult it is for you to concentrate, no matter how busy your schedule, no matter what emotion you are feeling—discipline yourself to read the Bible daily.

Kay Arthur says, "Many times it’s very hard for people who are grieving to read the Word because the pain is so great, because they cannot concentrate, because their thoughts keep running back to their pain or to the situation or to the wound, and it’s hard to focus."

God’s Word brings healing, growth, and life. By reading His Word daily, you will be prepared to face anything the day may bring. You will be victorious in all areas—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual—through Christ.

"He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions" (Psalm 107:20 nasb).

I need You, Lord Jesus. I need Your Word. Deliver me from myself. Amen

The Bible: God’s Inerrant Word

"All the thousands of books in my library and the libraries of the world combined cannot even begin to compare with this holy, inspired, inerrant Word of God," said Dr. Bill Bright.
God’s Word is holy and perfect, relevant and true. If you only believe parts of the Bible, you are limiting your view of God. God is revealed throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament. We encourage you to take a step of faith to receive the whole Bible as true. You may still have many questions about it, but God will answer those as you go along.
God’s words in the Bible are a reflection of His nature. To show His matchless power, God used many different men to write the Bible while at the same time making sure that every word written was exactly what He wanted. So although many men were involved with the writing of the Bible, the Bible shows a wonderful unity of God’s plans and purposes for life.
"But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God" (2 Peter 1:20-21 nasb).
Sovereign Lord, You are immeasurable. I will never fully grasp and understand Your great love for me, but I earnestly seek to learn more about You in Your Word. Amen.

Prayer Is Vital

The moment you surrender your life to Christ, the Holy Spirit comes upon you and lives in you to guide you and intercede for you. When you do not know what to say to God, when words completely fail you, the Holy Spirit is always there speaking for you.

Dr. Norman Peart says, "It’s somewhat like in a wartime scene where there are those who are right on the edge of the battle with the walkie-talkies, communing back with the base and saying exactly what was needed on the front. In that period of time, I believe the Holy Spirit is doing more than most people give Him credit for or realize."

Through the power of the Holy Spirit you can do more than just exist from day to day. You can live life at a higher level than the world has to offer. Listen to His Spirit today. Believe that His awesome presence is filling you. Trust that He knows what you need better than you do.

"In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God" (Romans 8:26-27 nasb).

Holy Spirit, I do not know the words to pray. Intercede on my behalf because You know exactly what I need. I bow down before you now with a listening heart. I want to experience the fullness of Your Spirit within me. I want to live Your way. Amen.

Enjoy God’s Creation

Open your eyes today to the gift of God’s creation. Make a point to look up and notice and savor what you see.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world" (Psalm 19:1-4).

The beauty of creation is crying out daily for you to see and to worship the Creator in response. Live life on a different level today—a higher level.

Elisabeth Elliot says, "It’s our human nature to fret and stew and try everything in the world to satisfy ourselves, but that is never going to be the answer. I myself have found tremendous comfort and joy in observing God’s creation."

Creator God, what treasures and beauties do You have in store for me today? What new wonder is just waiting to be seen? Amen.

Desire to put an end to that pain

I have rheumatoid arthritis and have been in pain for years. My husband retired in part to care for me. He’s a wonderful man and would do anything for me, but all I want to do now is die. I can’t take the pain anymore; even medication can’t get rid of it all. I don’t want to hurt my husband and I can’t tell him, but I want to end it all. Can you understand why? ‑ A.L., Scottsdale, Ariz.



Not only do I understand, but I was reminded by your words of another who suffered greatly in a physical sense.  After days of intense pain, Job came to the same conclusion as you.  "Cursed be the day of my birth, and cursed be the night when I was conceived. Let that day be turned to darkness. Let it be lost even to God on high, and let it be shrouded in darkness.  (Job 3:3-4 NLT)  The book of Job records for us the sentiments of a soul that is tortured by physical pain.  Although not many can relate to this forlorn man, I do not believe that anyone would question his or your desire to put an end to that pain.  In fact, mankind has so identified with your dilemma that they have begun to embrace the concept of assisted suicide.

 But let me help you just for a moment to think past the pain.  People many times resort to death over pain because they have no alternative.  Because you have written for spiritual consideration, may I encourage you to remember that God offers you an alternative?  You may know that Job suffered, but did you know that the outcome of his pain was a greater capacity to experience the presence and love of God?  When we come to that place in our own human strength, when we feel that we are unable to continue, that is the place God desires to under gird us with a supernatural ability to endure, if not for our own sake, for the sake of others.  Although ending your life might stop your immediate suffering, it would not be the end of the matter for your husband. 

 As one who sits with those who are left behind by a loved one, please let me encourage you to hold onto the obvious love you have for your husband and his for you in fighting the natural desire to stop hurting.  I cannot tell you how many times a husband or wife has wept bitterly on my shoulder over not being able to have just one more conversation or hold their beloved’s face in their hands.  Allow God, through prayer, to give you the strength to fight your desire to quit.  And don’t forget that God is willing to work not just through the supernatural, but also natural means.  

 There is a very interesting story in 2 Kings 20, concerning one of Israel’s Kings that shows the delicate balance God uses between our physical world and faith.  King Hezekiah was suffering from a disease and had been told that he that was going to die.  He turned to God in prayer and the Lord responded to his faith by answering his prayer and giving him another 15 years of life.  However, God healed him through the practical application of medical treatment to his body.  I give you this example from God’s Word to show you that God is willing to meet you at your point of need through not only the medical means of pain management, but also through the supernatural empowerment of prayer. 

So, while I do understand your human desire to “end it all,” I pray that you will consider the ramifications that decision would have on your husband and that you would allow God, through prayer, to strengthen you so that you, too, would be able to say with Job:  "I had heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance." (Job 42:5-6 NLT). 

Learning Helps Bring Healing

"Take every counsel, every word that has come to your heart in the deep place where you are, because it is in that place that you surrender," says Shelly, who lost a son. "It is that place where your will is broken. It is that place where the veil is lifted, and all of a sudden you see what you need to see, and the instruction will come into your heart.
"So embrace it and hold on to it until you can see the image that God wants you to change into while you are in that deep place. Then look forward to the mountaintop again. There was a time when I couldn’t have said that, but I can say that now."
Jesus instructs you to learn from Him and follow His teachings: "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:29).
It is through a life dedicated to Jesus Christ that you will find healing for your grieving soul. At the deepest place of despair, God is there. He wants you to look to Him and learn more about Him through Bible study, prayer, church, and through a mature Christian mentor.
Lord Jesus, open my heart to Your instruction. Give me the strength and the will to get deeper into Your Bible and to be committed to a Bible study group. Amen.

Learning Through Grief

Adults generally change through a significant emotional event. What more significant emotional event is there than the loss of a loved one?

When logic doesn’t seem to apply and being in control is not an option, you are left feeling vulnerable. This is the point at which you are ready to learn. Recognize the need to learn more about God in order to live.

"He learned obedience from what he suffered" (Hebrews 5:8).

Father God, I am ready to listen and learn from You. Help me to be still before You in worshipful silence. Amen.

What Next?

"The most exciting thing that ever happened to me—the greatest decision I’ve made in my life—was to turn over my life to Jesus Christ and have a new life and be told that God has a plan for my life," says Chandra.

If you have surrendered your life to Christ, you are a new creation. You have entered into a new relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. This is the first step on an exciting spiritual journey.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

When your old habits and patterns of thinking try to come back—and they will try—immediately turn them over to God and choose instead to do something pleasing to Him. It is helpful to have a plan in place. Find a Christian friend whom you can call at any hour of the day for encouragement and prayer. Be involved in a regular Bible study and keep up with the study. Help others in the church and community through volunteer work.

Jesus, I am a new creation! The decision to follow You is life changing, and that’s what I want and need. Lead me to new activities and relationships that honor You. Amen.

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