To say that grief is a sensitive thing is an understatement. And so when people try to enter in with a few words it’s like touching an open wound. And often when people offer words to heal they can unintentionally poke painfully into our open wounds. So many of us are experts at analyzing those words, aren’t we? Why they weren’t helpful or how it was insensitive. The truth is people are often poor comforters (and it’s not just other people, it’s you and me too). Our reaction is to crawl into our shell chanting our theme song, “I am a rock, I am an island.”
Isn’t it interesting then that the Word commands the body of Christ to comfort each other? “May there be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” 1 Corinthians 12: 24b-26
Why? God-incarnate (Jesus!) knows from personal experience that people are pretty terrible at easing the pain. He was deserted in the garden, his disciples often missed the point and made their own needs the point. They promised faithfulness and deserted when He most needed comforters. He could have called down angels to minister to him as he approached the cross. But He didn’t.
Jesus was feeling the weight of his grief, it began to cover and weigh heavy on him. “Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” John 13:1. Did you hear that? He didn’t withdraw himself because they couldn’t possibly understand. He didn’t hold himself aloof but instead He loved them. to the end. He bent down and washed the dirty dusty feet of the one who would soon betray him. He broke bread and fed His friends and again patiently taught the lessons our human hearts have such a hard time absorbing.
Jesus did not hoard his grief. He sets an example for me, for you who are hurting. Going into a solitary place is good. Laying your needs and confessing before the Father in private is necessary. But if we are believers, we have responsibility to the body to not hoard our grief. Do we grieve the body because we quickly take offense? Do we hold believers at an arm’s length, not willing to risk any more hurt?
We’re quick to isolate our hurts from the body of Christ. We don’t let people enter in–we so desperately don’t want people to slight us, make us hurt more or misunderstand our grief. Maybe it’s not just the wider body of believers. Maybe it’s your husband or your sister. Or that close friend you never call anymore because she just doesn’t “get it”. And the relationship withers and the gospel isn’t breathed and the ground get harder and colder between you.
And that’s where grief enters in and sets itself up as our idol. Do you see it? Rather than obeying God we set place our grief as the cross rather than putting our grief beneath the cross.
And this makes us whither. There is no redeeming power in our grief. There is only restoration and healing in bringing our grief to the cross, only relief in putting our hurting load into His hands. Consistently isolating ourselves from others and reminding people that they “don’t understand” doesn’t allow the body to function properly.
Jesus has a purpose for you being with the body you are with, trust Him with that. Let the Church comfort you. If they are terrible comforters, love them to the end. Tell them what it’s like, pray together, confess your doubts and fears, let them in. Give each other the gospel, tell it to each other, remind one another of the hope you have in Jesus. Let Jesus minister to you through the body of believers.
Who can tell the blessings we miss when we think becoming a “rock” or an “island” will ease our grief. I’ve fallen into this many times. The only remedy is fleeing to the Rock, Jesus Christ. Trust Him with your grief. Then you will be free to be in community with other believers, together letting the gospel breathe healing into your souls.Read More
*I already said I knew one thing. I need to add to that list (life is a good teacher isn’t it?). If I know one (more) thing, it is that grief can become our god. The next few posts I want to focus on the symptoms and how Jesus can rescue us from this. Join me? Leave comments? I’d love to hear your thoughts.*
Life hurts. Sorrow and pain is real, it cuts us to our core. It makes us cry out to God, it makes us wrestle with the Word, it often makes the rubber of our faith hit the road of our experience. No matter how grounded we’ve been in the faith most of us do a fair amount of smoldering, questioning, groaning and often crying out in anger and disbelief to God (or if not verbally we do it in the slam of the door and the dragging of the feet).
And that’s natural. It always comforts me to read and imagine Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane groaning and pleading with the Father. If Jesus, the giver and author of our faith, struggled and cried out and shrunk back from his circumstances and future why do we expect believers to go through trials with unwavering faith?
In a short amount of time (the same night) Jesus submitted his deep grief and dread to the Father, “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” I’m pretty good at praying “let this cup pass from me” but the latter is more difficult. We want proof that He’s going to work things for good. We want to re-define what good is to God. And then, if the results are favorable then we will submit. And in our pain we cling tightly to the pain instead of to Jesus, we cut ourselves off from Comfort and let our spirit be eaten away by the never-ending bitterness of grief.
Are you holding onto your grief more than Jesus?Read More
I know one thing, there is no way to prepare for losing a child. There is no “self-talk” that makes the pain less sharp. I thought I would start to prepare myself but the grief never lessens, no matter how I try to prepare.
And so I’ve given up preparing. We are leaving all (each one of us) in the hands of Jesus. He knows how to carry confused and sad kids, he knows how to carry a mom and dad that feel their own flesh and blood being taken from their hands. He knows how to give breath when it feels you will never breathe again. He knows how to comfort in the dark recesses of providence.
He’s felt the ripping of death. He enters into our pain. He will gather Calvin to his own arms when ours can no longer reach. The reality of the resurrection sweetens all this sadness. He has conquered and because of our mighty Savior we can rejoice even in the darkness.
So many of you have prayed for us and that God would guide our decisions. Yesterday we met the palliative care doctor, Dr. Mulder. Within minutes we knew this was right for Calvin. Our talk was less about medical specifics and more about the hope of the resurrection, the value of Calvin and the joy and hope we have in Christ. What a gift from our heavenly Father to give us one of his own to walk us through these days. We are humbled at God’s provision. Even logistically God has provided, Dr. Mulder’s office is about one mile from our home.
We are hoping to go home today or tomorrow. I’m scared about the next days, weeks, months. There is a possibility that Calvin will do well and rebound. We will all be rejoicing! Palliative care for Calvin will mean house calls from the doctor, meds delivered at home and every effort made for Calvin’s comfort and well-being. It is a bridge to hospice. We plan to use hospice for the last days Calvin has. In the meantime we are hoping for many more days with him. And yes, we are still planning to bring him camping this summer (we did Make-A-Wish for a camper!) if the Lord wills.
We are all rejoicing (and crying…it’s so crazy emotionally) that we will have him with us again. We want him home. His beauty and preciousness take our breath away. Looking into his beautiful eyes makes me see the beauty and goodness of our Creator, our Protector. What a good gift He’s given us.
Please pray for strength for our family. Pray that Jesus will be near in all of the uncertainty.
One of the best tools I have for getting through hard times is saturating my mind and heart with the truth of God’s word. This week, in addition to reading the Word, it meant tuning into the Gospel Coalition Conference and praising with the Getty’s. Calvin was enjoying it too. I tweeted a pic of it and the Getty’s tweeted back, fun!
Therapy dogs visited Calvin again. He giggled when the dog licked his cheek Anybody have a dog that can visit us at home? He seems to get so much enjoyment from them. Noah and Evie loved the dogs too.
Really, if I could do a cartwheel without breaking my leg I would! Calvin has shown significant progress today. After a long week of not making much progress off the vent he decided to step up his performance. Yesterday he was able to be off for most of the day. Today he’s having the same progress. I’m starting to think he will be making it home!!
We couldn’t be more surprised or happier! Obviously Calvin still has serious problems remaining, most significantly weakened lungs and seizures. We are meeting with the palliative care doctor tomorrow as we try to discern the best way to care for Calvin. Thanks to all of you faithfully praying for this little guy.
We’ve been covered in prayer and have seen some results in a very immediate way: excellent caregivers, nurses who’ll take time to give input into Calvin’s situation, nurses who empathize with the decisions and speak into it in a personable and professional way, honesty and lack of pressure from those in charge. I could go on. We’re surrounded by a fantastic team up here on 8, this is a direct gift from God.
We’re so glad to have this temporary gift of strength for Calv. He will run into trouble again, probably sooner than later, which is why we are meeting with the palliative care doctor. Pray for wisdom for our family. In the meantime here’s some kiddo cuteness for your eyes to feast upon Perhaps I’m a little biased though…
Our little girly turned five on Sunday! She couldn’t have been happier with her new camping gear and bike helmet.
Proudly wearing her new dress from Grandma. What a ray of delight this one is!
Calvin checking in on Darryl’s day:
I’m not sure who looks happier here:Read More
Christ has come to be our shepherd, He has come to be our guide.
Though we walk the path of darkness, Christ will lead us through the night.
Christ has come to bring salvation, He has come to be our light.
Christ has come to bring forgiveness, Jesus is the gift of life.
In His love we have victory, in His sacrifice we have hope again.
In His cross we have glory, in His love we have life.
We will dwell in the spirit of God’s holy gift of grace.
We will worship Him and serve Him, we will sing to give Him praise.
We will tell of His goodness, we will share the peace of Christ.
We will tell the wondrous story, Jesus is the gift of life.
In His love we have victory, in His sacrifice we have hope again.
In His cross we have glory, in His love we have life.
God loved the world and He sent His Son that we might believe in Him.
If we believe we will never die, Christ will bring eternal life.
That describes our week.
Jesus, will you come and be with us in the valley?
Recently Gloria Furman recommended A Gospel Primer over at Domestic Kindgom. The book is all about why (and how) to preach the gospel to ourselves daily; the truth of it all is saturating my soul these days. Seems like a no-brainer, right?
I’ve grown up with a somewhat vigorous theological training between school, catechism, countless sermons and books my parents amply supplied. It wasn’t until I was converted in my late teens that the the renewing of my mind actually began and all the old files stored away began to flip open and become alive. And yet today it still seems I am just beginning to understand the awesome totality of the gospel and how it transforms me by putting Jesus and his work in focus.
I’m finding my thinking is often more shaped by culture, assumptions and my own rationale than it is by the gospel. Check this out:
The gospel is so foolish (according to my natural wisdom), so scandalous (according to my conscience), and so incredible (according to my timid heart), that it is a daily battle to believe the full scope of it as I should. -A Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent.
The gospel is contrary to everything this sin-worn world experiences. That’s why I can’t rely singularly on my heart, intellect, culture or popular theory–the Word needs to be my source, my compass. As society we muddle around with sticks and dirty stones of philosophy and human theory and regard our insights as “academic” and “lofty” while the Bible remains a snubbed book. We are missing the power of God with a closed Bible! And I need constant rigorous diving into the Word to wake my heart up and stir my mind. I can ponder ideas or read great books but it is the power of the Word that has the ability to transform my mind and thereby change my life.
Each day I need to remind myself daily of where I came from (sin, death!), how I was redeemed (by Jesus Christ!) and how to live this reality each day. I need to drink in fresh supplies of the gospel daily–it needs to be the oxygen I breathe in, it needs to expel the toxicity(sin!) from my heart, it needs to saturate and inform my mind. I want to be magnetized to the gospel. I’m so quick have my life revolve around the gospel in theory but in actual practice it gets really skewed. We are so quick to have a high opinion of our own thinking and rely so little the Word. I stunt my growth so often.
God did not give us His gospel just so we could embrace it and be converted. Actually, He offers it to us every day as a gift that keeps on giving to us everything we need for life and godliness. We extract the benefits by being absorbed in the gospel, speaking it to ourselves when necessary, and by daring to reckon it true in all we do. ~Milton Vincent
I’m thirsty for this gift. I want to meditate on the gospel in a more meaningful way and I’m so grateful for the help of this little book.
*In other news…our long ICU stay continues. Calvin is treading water. Seizures are under control but his breathing is really struggling. He seems to be so weak. The days are long and we find sadness seeping in often. We’ve received love from some of you by meals, cards, flowers, a note…thank you for your care for us. It feels as if our hospital stay will never be over (we’ve been home 3 weeks of 2013)! We really don’t know what the next few days/weeks hold for Calvin. Please keep us in your prayers. Thank you friends.*Read More