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Posts Tagged ‘grief’

My heart is hurting today. So many friends are experiencing devastating events in their lives. Last year two of my closest friends battled through cancer diagnoses, clinging to God’s promises of healing and coming through victorious. Yet they continue to deal with the aftermath of that long year.

My dear high school classmate is facing another long road in her latest health challenge. And challenge is such a feeble word for what she is going through. She shared just a few of the trials she’s facing – extreme headaches, 4 hour MRIs, insurance company issues, doctors’ appointments in far off places, the uncertainty of medications…and I’m confident that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Yesterday I received news of another friend who revealed her leukemia diagnosis. Just two years ago her son died of an aneurysm…gone in an instance. Now this. Such heartbreaking news as she continues to work through her grief. But she is a faith-filled prayer powerhouse, trusting in the promises of God.

 

This morning I saw another friend post about an upcoming divorce and then another about a road side bomb in Afghanistan killing three Marines…when will it stop? What can I do? Where do I turn?

In yesterday’s blog I wrote about Psalm 121 – God is my Helper, my Guardian. But Lord, there is so much sadness, so much disease, so much heartbreak in this world. Sometimes it seems so overwhelming…and these things aren’t even happening to me!

Even so…

Let me share part of a Instagram post my friend wrote two days ago…”God has been so very faithful – in every single way – and I love Him more than I ever have before. He has never left me, never betrayed me, abandoned me. What would I have done if it wasn’t for Jesus?”

Again – I’m reminded – Jesus loves me. Jesus loves you. Jesus died because of that great love. He endured the ultimate betrayal and abandonment. He was sinless, yet took on my sin. He sacrificed everything for me. He will never leave me. He will never forsake me. He is my Healer, my Strength, my Rock, my Provider. He is where I go when I have no one to turn to. He walks with me in every storm. He goes before me into every battle. He listens to me cry out in despair, and comforts me in my sorrow. He rejoices with me in victories and dances over me with joy. He has written my name on the palms of His hands.

The bad news will never stop. Our fallen world will always encounter disease and tragedy. But I do not have to succumb to grief and sorrow and hopelessness.

I have hope. My friends have hope. His name is Jesus.

His Name is Jesus 30 x 22 LG

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We all need help. No matter how self-sufficient we are, everyone needs a hand now and then. Well, probably more than now and then, but some of us are stubborn and wait until a crisis hits before we cry out.

“Help!”

The lyrics to the Beatles hit record from 1965 rolls through head occasionally (yes – I’m that old) “Help! I need somebody! Help! Not just anybody! Help! I know I need someone! Help!

In the everyday mundane routines of life, who do you go to for help? Are you overwhelmed with a non-stop schedule?  Frustrated by choices others have made? Worried about a health issue? Wondering if you’re doing this parenting thing right? Ever need a kind or encouraging word on a bad day? Having difficulty navigating your grief? Ever just need a big hug? YES – all of this has been me and though I try so hard to be the helper, not the “helpee,” I can’t do it alone. I am constantly in need of someone who can help me!

Psalm 121 tells me about God, who is my Someone all the time. When I’m desperate for help, He is always there. When I’m grief-stricken and cannot see through my tears, He sees me. When I’m worried about finances, He provides. He’s my Healer when I’m sick. When I can’t see a way out of the trouble, He provides a path for my feet. He lights up the way, and I follow Him out of trouble and into the light. He never sleeps, and I can never catch Him off guard. He shields me from danger, no matter what time of day or night.

Do you need help today? Are you feel overwhelmed with grief and sorrow, or feeling helpless and hopeless? Do you just need to be noticed? God sees you. He is your Guardian, your Helper.

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I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever. 

 

Psalm 121 (NLT)

 

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sorrow_longing_tears______by_Westia

(Note: A year ago I wrote the following article and it received the most views of any blog I had ever written, including any since then. Because it’s Black Saturday – that day of sorrow between Good Friday and Easter – and because recently so many friends are going through this grief journey, I’m reposting.)

I’m on my next to last “blogging through the 40-days of Lent” adventure. Today’s topic is hard. A lot of the other blog posts have had some difficulty, but this one today – giving up sorrow – is tougher than most. Because how can I presume to tell you how to grieve or when to stop. So I won’t. But I will encourage you not to allow sorrow to overwhelm you (forever). To choose to step outside your sadness for a few minutes each day…until you can look and see the deep grief is behind you.

I have a dear friend who lost the love of her life last summer. He had been ill and yet the suddenness of his passing was a shock to all of us. He was a wonderful man, loved and respected by so many…a great husband, father and grandfather as well as a supportive and generous friend to me and my family. The grief has been overwhelming for his wife, children and grandchildren. But each one has taken the baby steps necessary to continue to live their lives and honor the memory of this dear man.

My friend shared some of her grieving process with me. Losing a husband is different than losing a parent. The “oneness” feels broken. The grief includes anger, fear, sadness, loneliness, feelings of loss and even rejection. People’s attempts to comfort her often left her emptier, not encouraged; sadder, not exhorted. “You’ll always have your memories” turned into a trite phrase because it’s the remembering that hurts the most.

So, for those of you who are “walking through the shadow of death,” please know that “life sucks sometimes.” (Thank you, Ben Rector, for those poignant and truthful words.) We must keep going – we have responsibilities, we have people who count on us, we have a Father God who loves us unconditionally, even when the grief is so deep that you can’t get dressed or face another human being.

Try to get one thing done….mark one thing off your “to-do” list. Put sorrow away for a couple of minutes and face your day. Do a little more each day, or week, or month…than you did before. Meet someone for coffee. Write a few “thank you” notes. Bake a cake and take it to someone. Watch an episode of your favorite comedy and give yourself permission to laugh a little. Call someone you haven’t seen for a while. Read a new novel. Take a walk. Buy a new pair of shoes. Indulge in a rich, chocolatey dessert. Take a friend to a movie. Pray for someone else who’s facing a similar situation.

Jesus was a man of many sorrows, according to the prophet Isaiah. He knew suffering and grief. He knows your pain and sorrow. Lean into His grace today. He’s more than enough.

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Sometimes grief comes like a hurricane – a huge tsunami of emotion that engulfs and destroys everything. It swirls and chokes and blows and destroys – leaving only shells in its wake.

Sometimes grief is as a still small voice, a whisper of a memory, a glimpse of remembrance. Maybe it only takes the aroma of a familiar casserole, a drive through an old neighborhood, a picture of a birthday party, a holiday or anniversary, a common name.

Often grief is agonizing but as time passes it can transform into a familiar presence. Years away, it creeps back only occasionally, sometimes bringing guilt, but more often leaving a beautiful taste of what was, but will never be again. A taste to savor, not with regret, but with smiles and a shadow of happiness once again.

I had one of those moments this week as I took an extra long walk over my lunch hour. I wandered farther than usual and found myself on a sidewalk outside Cargill, a grain plant here in Cedar Rapids. Seems a funny place to experience that touch of grief, doesn’t it? But for me, Cargill’s semi-truck parking lot holds quite a few happy memories. Memories of taking donuts to my dad as he sat in line waiting for hours to dump his truckload of grain. You see, my dad was a truck driver and he’s been gone for 12 years now. He lived in northern Illinois and for many years, drove two to three times a week (sometimes even twice a day) to Cedar Rapids, the grain truck capital of Iowa. Sometimes he went to Quaker Oats, sometimes Cargill on the river, but more often, the Cargill plant right off  Interstate 380. He was often in line by 2 or 3 a.m. so he could get his load dumped and be back in Illinois in time to load up once again for another trip to Cedar Rapids, or the Illinois River, or any number of farms in the area. He was a well-known and well-loved driver. He worked hard to be the best he could be at his job, backing his semi-trailer into the tightest of spaces and always making sure the farmers got the best service available. He had an amazing memory, knowing hundreds of farmers, plant workers, waitresses and fellow drivers by name. Way before anyone had heard of Map Quest or Google Maps or even GPS, my dad could tell you the best route to get from Point A to Point B…and it usually didn’t involve any interstate driving.

Sometimes my dad had to sit in that line of semi-trucks for hours waiting, waiting, waiting. He couldn’t go anywhere, just in case he needed to move forward, so he’d give me a call to let me know he was in town and we’d head down to see him. The boys and I would crawl up into his truck and dive into that Donutland dozen. I always brought coffee with plenty of sugar packets for Dad and small bottles of milk for two small boys who adored their grandpa. Sometimes the wait for him was long enough that he could actually leave the truck and we’d drive quickly to the downtown McDonalds for a literal fast-food break. Once in a while Cargill would shut down before his grain was off-loaded so he’d get to stay over night at our house. I’ll never forget the proud looks on those little boys’ faces when their grandpa drove up and parked his semi-truck cab in front of our place. He was always up and gone long before sunrise but I knew I’d get another call telling me he made it back fine, “thanks for letting me stay and for supper” and “I’ll see you again soon.”

You never know when the memories change from painful grieving to sweet remembrances, but they do. And you’ll never know where you’ll be when it happens. Could even be on a warm spring day, standing on a cracked sidewalk across from a smelly grain plant surrounded by diesel fumes and truck drivers.

With Grandpa 1

 

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