When my husband died, my heart felt like paper again, as did yours. And Valentine’s Day became not a romantic fulfillment of all our hopes and dreams, but a mockery of what was lost. How can a day of paper Cupids and candy define love? How can it hold such sway and power?
Join author/speaker Susan VandePol and dynamic duo “Perri & Shawna” on Moody Radio West Michigan as they discuss grief & loneliness during the holidays. Listen and be encouraged!
I found her name in my Bible among the other noble women of faith: Queen Esther, Ruth the Moabite, Mary, Rahab, Sarah, and Shelly.
...Shelly? On a 3x5 card, in the middle of the Psalms, there she was - Shelly Beach. I didn’t know her, but she was intruding on my anniversary getaway.
Certain goodbyes mark time forever, not because they ease the transition into the next thing, but because they feel like the perpetual film glitch at the Saturday matinee when you were a kid. Those goodbyes make you want to scream.
Our word “goodbye” literally comes from “God be with you” and as all true definitions, this one begins and ends with God. For most of us, saying goodbye to our beloved (and all that is connected to their life and death) is seldom good, but when we put God into the picture, when we insert His inscrutable name into the goodbye and dare to believe, perspective changes. I’ll show you.
To encourage doesn’t require courage. Nor is expertise a prerequisite; just humble willingness.
The quiet action of it always speaks of the goodness of God and the future, but it doesn’t have to involve words. To encourage another, we go “in” to their life and encircle, enclose and entwine them in the love of Christ - not in our ability, and in return, we are mysteriously encouraged too.
Dear Believer, how is it, in the heat of this life and its battles left seemingly half-fought and half-won, and so often poorly at that, are we able to abide and to be pressed into fragrance? How can there be a “giving back” born from no effort but the resting in God’s care? How are we not crushed beneath it all and left to perish on the trail?
Because there is a promise; His sure and victorious promise.
I’ve never been able to get out of my head the uncomfortable truth that enduring and joy seem always to be mentioned together, like parallel rails on a train track. The natural inclination would seem to be for each to travel in direct opposition to the other.
How are we to simply consider it all joy when we encounter various trials just because it produces endurance? Why is the joy of The Lord strength? Why doesn’t the strength of The Lord produce joy?
My Friend, it is true that death can make “lost and wandering” the rule for the grieving saint, but “Christ in you, the hope of glory”* is the believer’s reality, and says that your beauty is growing where nobody sees; at least not yet. But it is, nonetheless… there and growing. The work of its toil must be done behind the facades of life and alongside the gray where other aching saints and sinners feel lost and wandering too. They will see your beauty where nobody else sees because they walk where you walk, and the seed that is sown when you are spent will gently cling to their pain and spread alongside their journey to bloom and flourish when the season comes.
Once upon a time, while I was going on and on about my very first new grandchild, an old friend pulled a quip from his back pocket and wryly gave me a line I’ve never forgotten, not because it’s true in my case–it isn’t–but because it’s probably true in every case.
“You know why grandparents get along so royally with grandchildren, don’t you?” he said.
I shook my head.
“Simple,” he said, “mutual enemies.”
I know, I know–it’s a dirty rotten thing to say, but you got to admit it’s funny.
You reflect the brightness and best of Him when you rest your grief in the care of His expertise.
He will accomplish what you don’t expect and orchestrate your future into a type of music you didn’t know was possible, even though the notes and chords are unfamiliar to you now. Grief has up-ended you and turned you on your side and you’re facing the other direction now, but remember, the greater the complexity of the song, the more astounding the Master’s ease of effort. What seems unnatural will declare His glory and the magnitude of your pain will transcend your hopelessness and turn to beauty.
Defer to him. He is The Master and He knows you. He made you. The new song will come.
The Psalmist tells us: “Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you.” (Psalm 55:22 NASB) At the same improbable time, the Love of Christ also asks us to “bear one another’s burdens…” because Love always “fulfills” or “fills-full” what is lacking in us, and in others. (Gal. 6:2)
The casting of one’s burden must be done before one can “bear” another’s. In Psalm 55, “burden” means “thy gift.” It seems as though the possibility of viewing a burden as a gift must be pre-empted by the casting of it into His care. Then the capacity and willingness to take on someones else’s gift of “burden” is born.
We “walk” through the valley of the shadow of death; we were never meant to live there. It is in Him, the Light of Life, in Whom we are to live, move, grieve, and exist, not in death’s charade and gloom.
Death and its accompanying darkness & pain are an obscene mockery of Life and God’s accompanying light and healing. It is life’s antonym, but it does not have the last word because The Word, the First and Last Word became flesh and dwelt here, then left His Spirit to continue on in us as The Light to mankind.
Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, guidance, are given.
Fear not tomorrows, Child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus. Do the next thing.
...sometimes, the longer we are without the loved one we crave… we crave them more.
The world seems to rush about in a blur while the griever stands still in their craving, and for the grieving clock-watchers, each tick-tick-tick pushes us farther away from the hour we last saw our beloved’s face; the hour the clock became heavy and its weight chained itself to our hearts. Life feels like the battery just ran out and the proverbial “ticks” that used to proclaim your future are stuck. You hear the sound but the hands don’t move.
I could count on the sounds of his departures; I knew them so well and by heart.
After he made his last departure, the comfort of his sounds became void of his presence and I wonder even now – what fills the space he used to occupy in this world?
For us, the mornings became like the night and were filled with the sound of pain and immeasurable, overflowing emptiness.
You probably know what I’m talking about – the pain and its stabbing, uninvited ever-presence.