Posts Tagged Resurrection

Grace and Grief: A Personal Perspective

 

GRIEF AND GRACE“I am the resurrection and the life, and He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:21-24).

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

This is my first post since the tragic loss of my son (Kenny) who was killed in a motorcycle accident on Sunday, March 2, 2014. On that fateful day; he stopped by my house as had become his custom. But that Sunday, church services ran extremely late and we missed each other. So he returned home and said to his wife, “I stopped by to see my mom, but she was still at church.” Then he said, “it’s such a beautiful day, I think I’ll go out for another ride.” He left and never returned to us.
Some hours later, I received a phone call from his wife saying, “He’s gone.” Those words stopped me in my tracks and to this day, still re-echo in my mind.” My child, my only son, a vital part of me–was gone. How could this be?  The reality of this truth shattered me—Instantly, my heart and spirit were irretrievably broken!!
And it was not until I stumbled upon a series of articles by Dr. Ben Witherington, a great Theologian and Bible Scholar who lost his daughter, showed me the great strength I needed for this hour. Dr. Witherington clarified some things about grief and the grieving process for me, and I highly recommend his books for anyone who has lost a child. Clearly, he understands, there is no life event that rivals a parent’s grief at the loss of a child prematurely. He tackles both the practical and theological questions with grace. Here is an excerpt from one of his articles “Good Grief Soundings”:

“Having recently gone through the devastating experience of having our beautiful 32-year-old daughter die, completely unexpectedly . . . I was determined to be open to whatever positive thing there might be to glean from this. I cling by my fingernails to the promise of Romans 8:28 that “God works all things together for good for those who love him….”

I can tell you my friends, that the spirit of this woman of faith, who always had a rhema word for others was completely devastated. I was so lost that day. I cried for hours and days. In fact, the Psalmist paints the picture of my despair when he says, “I am poured out like water . . . My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me (Psalm 22:14).” When I heard those words, “He’s gone,” I ran from room to room then stood in the middle of the floor and screamed heavenward, “No! No! God, I can’t take this! This is too much!” I screamed from the top of my lungs, “No, not my child Lord. Please not my child!”

This is without a doubt, the hardest post I have ever written and I pray I will ever have to write. Dr. Witherington is stronger than I, to be able to debate Theology in the midst of what I am sure is unspeakable pain. But this post for me is not about my Theology–it is about personal grief and loss. I write this post from the depths of the heart and spirit of a grieving mother who is broken. I am completely changed. Life for me will never be the same. How can it be—I have lost a vital part of me. I am in indescribable and unimaginable emotional pain. And as much as I would like to inspire you today—I must be honest and authentic as I  share my truth. I am grieving, but I am trying very hard to move forward and to begin writing regularly again. Please bear with me as I work through my pain. But trust me when I tell you my faith in God has not diminished. It is the very thing that has sustained me and kept me sane. And, I agree with Dr. Witherington when he says, “the beginning of “good grief” starts with the premise of a good God.” He also says, “Christians are the very ones to grieve deeply because they have loved and been loved deeply. For us grieving as those who have hope means grieving knowing that resurrection will reverse Death. It means we grieve knowing that Death will not have the last word about us. Life will.”

Even so, I am still grieving my beloved Kenny’s passing as if it happened yesterday–I desperately miss him every day and I cannot say with certainty when this pain will end. Perhaps that is why I was so deeply moved by the points in Dr. Witherington’s Article, “Good Grief: Soundings, Part Two – Five Things Not to Say to the Grieving.” I found (Point 2) particularly relevant and I pray Dr. Witherington will forgive me for substituting my son’s name in the following:

“People say, “You’ll get over it soon.” “Wrong!! I hope I never get over the loss of my (son). I don’t want to forget (his) love, (his) smile, (his) joys, (his) sorrows, and so many millions of other things that formed the sum total of (his) life. I do not intend to get over it. I intend to get beyond it by the Grace of God, but in no way forgetting what happened to (him) at the end of (his) life in this world. There will always be a (Kenny)-shaped hole in my heart—Period!” (Emphasis added)

BELOVEDS, life happens, and sometimes it hurts. Healing our pain will take as long as it takes–no more nor less.  YES, LIFE MOST CERTAINLY WILL BREAK US, BUT  REST ASSURED WE ARE MADE STRONGER AT THE BROKEN PLACES!!!

A PRAYER FROM “THOUGHTS IN SOLITUDE” BY THOMAS MERTON
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does, in fact, please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this
you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore, I will trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

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WHAT ABOUT SATURDAY?

530201_518804881498870_1932376402_n“And they returned and prepared spices and ointments and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment, Luke 23:56

The Saturday of Holy Week is that day sandwiched between “Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.  It is the transitional time between doubt and faith. It is a bridge between tragedy and triumph when there is no choice but to cope with what is in between.  It’s that gray day of uncertainty about what’s going to happen next and how things will work out. God willing, we can deal with Saturday!!

Jesus said, “I’m going to be handed over to the enemy.” “I am going to be crucified.” “The Elders are going to deliver me up.” But then also said, “Don’t be concerned about all of that because on the third day I will be raised!!  He told them, “Yes, I’m going to be crucified.” “Yes. I’m going to die.”  But for some reason that’s all they heard. Maybe it was because after everything negative had spoken, they couldn’t hear the truth of what God was saying.

Isn’t that what happens to us? Life speaks discouragement and negativity and we listen intently as if it has the last word. Sometimes, it’s the doctor who speaks words we rather not hear, the funeral director speaks, the judge speaks, pain speaks, heartbreak speaks, the bill collector speaks, jobs speak, spouses speak, friends speak, and even our children speak. And with all that speaking, somehow we miss what God is saying!! But make no mistake; God is always saying something–even on Saturday to remind us in our waiting, worrying and wondering – God is still working!!

Saturday will remain that transitional time between Friday and Sunday. But will it be for you, a day of angst and uncertainty or a day of Sabbath rest? Saturday is not dark and gray—cloudy or uncertain. It is live and in living color. It is a time of anticipation and celebration in honor of the Love that would not let us go!!!  In fact the promise is,

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Saturday is the day that the Lord has made.  Let’s rejoice and be glad in it because our   SAVIOR LIVES and because HE LIVES—we live to  face our tomorrows!!

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Perfect Peace

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.”
St. John 14:27 (New International Translation)

As I sit at my desk watching the tree on my front lawn move furiously in the wind — a tornado watch has been issued and the dark clouds look ominous.  Suddenly, my computer screen fades to black and the higher speed internet I just ordered is indicating that the system is down. I have to postpone again — this already late post I am entitling “Perfect Peace.”

I continue to wait for the system to restart and I reflect on the past week that has been particularly Blessed — all plans flowed effortlessly.  But today, as I attempt to get back on schedule and to write this post — things are falling apart.  Could it be a reminder that when all is well with me and mine that I simply take life for granted?  Could it be that I have been so busy being busy that I forgot to remember what is truly important to the Lord?  I have not listened to the news.  I have not thought of the wars and other disquieting situations at home and abroad — that is: not until this hour of angst in my own world.  As I continue to wait and reflect on God’s goodness — as suddenly and abruptly as they began — the winds calm, my tree stills, the sun returns and so do the lights on my modem — lesson learned!  Peacefully, I get back to work.  Isn’t it amazing how the Father gets our attention!!

Jesus tried to tell His disciples from the beginning that this day would come, but they would not hear Him.  He knew they were upset by the talk of betrayal and the thought of His leaving them.  He knew what they would face in the coming days, and He was concerned about the effect his death would have on them.  So, He tries to get them to understand why it has to happen. Jesus knew His time was at hand and the end had come, but He was ready for it. We saw in the Garden, how He dreaded the pain, but we also saw how He kept His eye on the joy beyond the pain.  That is the picture of “peace in its perfection” that He bequeathed to them and to us.

During this High and Holy season of celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord, let us remember amidst all the chaotic noise and constant upheaval of this world, we (His followers) own a legacy from the “Prince of Peace!”  “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) 

 

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