Combat Grief With Praise. Also, read the psalms.
Praising My Way through Grief
Praising God when things are going well seems the right thing to do. But when my world seems to be shattered, praising God can feel unnatural. And so it is.
This is why God rejoices when I do it, and my life is transformed in the process.
There’s no doubt that the Word instructs me to keep on praising the Lord—no matter what my circumstances are like.
I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1 KJV
What a challenge this has been in my Christian life. Too often I want to “bless the LORD” with my praise only when all seems right with my world.
When it feels to my near-sighted soul that He has withdrawn His blessings from me–such as when tragedy or trouble comes–I want to withdraw my praise.
The course in the midst of troubles has too often been: I will praise Him when things get better—when He is blessing me again.
The truth is God never stops blessing me. Every day and every moment of the day He pours His grace on me. He helps me through my troubles—if I’m willing to receive that help. His love for me does not change—even though my circumstances may.
Praises can cease when I start judging God– accusing Him of bringing calamity to my life for all sorts of unholy reasons. The truth is God remains holy and righteous through every season of my life. His view of me does not change just because I think it does or because the way I see Him becomes skewed. He is not punishing me through trials just because my wayward soul determines it is so.
When tragedy struck on February 28, 2012 due to the suicide of my brother, there was a part of me that wanted to stop praising God. How can I praise a God who refused to intervene to save this precious life? But those thoughts were short-lived as I determined to stay in praise no matter what my emotions told me.
As I have stayed in the Word—especially in the Psalms—I’ve been reminded that God is deserving of all my praise. Praise the Lord! I’ve recalled all He has brought me through. Praise the Lord! I’ve recollected how at times He has carried me when I’ve felt too weak to go on—both in this tragedy and in the midst of calamities in the past. Praise the Lord!
Not only do I praise God for His faithfulness in days gone by and in my present struggles, but I also praise Him for His promise to be faithful in the future. I feel excited about what He is going to do next to continue to bring good out of this latest heartbreak as He has done with every challenge in my life.
I’m still going through the valley of grief. This month is hard because it’s my brother’s birthday. Suddenly at times I’ve felt overwhelmed with guilt and anger again. Guilt over not doing more to reach out and encourage. Anger over the devil’s taunts that he has won the victory in this tragedy.
When I look at what has happened from God’s perspective, I see Him bringing triumph from tragedy. Hearts are being drawn closer to Him and to each other. I’ve never felt closer to the Lord.
My heart echoes what David said in Psalm 43:5
…for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (NIV)
Moving From Grief to Grace
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 (NIV)
A romantic relationship gone awry. The loss of a cherished friendship. A puppy put down. Empty arms and a broken heart due to abortion. Infertility. Abuse. The death of a loved one.
Dreams with a hope and future dashed in an instant. I know. I’ve lived it, too.
A phone call changed my hopes and future as Matt, my older son, wailed into the phone about my younger son, “Kyle died last night!”
Hopes, dreams, future …
Wedding invitations from his friends simply ripped my heart apart. Birth announcements of babies from those now married friends rekindled the loss. And the realization that there would be no grandchildren from him — running to me, holding their pudgy little hands or him tossing them into the sky showered with shouts of glee — hit hard.
Yes, weddings, graduations, birth announcements — all reminders of those hope-filled dreams that had been shattered — caused weeping, groaning and bitterness. My heart often wondered: Will I remain bitter or will I get better? Will I continue to dissolve into tears, or will I ever erupt into cheers for these precious friends?
At one of my lowest moments, realization and remembrance flooded my heart and mind: God lost His Son too, His only Son. The Father knew my loss, pain and brokenness oh so well.
That revelation was like supernatural glue applied to bind my wounded soul. The lost, dark, broken part receded as God proceeded to heal my broken heart with His love and light.
How about your lost plans, hopes and dreams?
Are you bitter?
Do you want to be better?
Are you ready to lay your heavy cares at the foot of the cross … and leave that burden there, so you can step into God’s plans for you? Jesus promised, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light,” (Matthew 11:30, NKJV).
God’s plan for His Son was not what the people hoped for and expected as they celebrated the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday, then experienced His death on the cross by week’s end. They did not know Easter Sunday — His Son’s day — was coming.
Remember, friend … Sunday’s coming! Jesus arose from the grave by the grace of God to save and redeem us. He has plans for us that include a hope and a future, even when our plans are dashed and we can’t see beyond the overwhelming loss of now.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).
We lost Kyle seven years and three days ago today. Yet, out of the ashes of grief a story of grace rises — the grace of our Lord, Jesus.
Understanding Your Grief
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. — Isaiah 40:31
Grief is not an enemy or a sign of weakness. It is a sign of being human.
Grief is the cost of loving someone.
Since grief comes to everyone, why do some people seem to work through it better than others?
“Some people think that going through the losses or crises of life are the exceptional times,” says Dr. H. Norman Wright.
“I see it differently. I see the times of calm as the exceptions. Life really is going through one loss after another, one crisis after another. Instead of avoiding talking about these times, let’s do our homework. When you know what to expect, you’re not thrown by them as much, and you’re going to be better able to recover.”
Lord God, teach me to embrace my grief and not fight it, so that I may experience the true healing that comes from You.
Grief Is a Unique Experience
O LORD, You have examined my heart and know everything about me… Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex… You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. — Psalm 139:1,14,16 (NLT)
You may feel it is useless to talk about your grief because no one truly understands what you are going through.
“You sometimes feel after an experience like this that you’re talking a foreign language,” says Dora, whose daughter died. “You feel like there’s no way anybody can know what you’re feeling. There is absolutely no way anyone can know the depth of your pain. So you feel like it’s futile to talk about it because words can’t express the pain.”
Although countless people have experienced grief before you, each person’s response to grief is different. Your path of grief will be uniquely your own.
Be encouraged that regardless of how your grief appears to you or others, it has a precious uniqueness to the One who created you.
God, who knows intimately your personality, your relationships, and the experiences of your life, knows your grief and isn’t shocked or surprised by your responses.
Father, thank You that my way of grieving is distinctly my own, reflective of all You have sovereignly created me to be and experience.
Grief Runs Deep: Where Is the Hope?
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD. — Psalm 31:24
Dr. Joseph Stowell says, “Even though your heart is breaking and tears are clouding your eyes and staining your cheeks, God does give us something worth trusting in tough times. And that’s Him, and Him alone.”
When your heart is breaking, you can place your hope and trust in the Lord.
Anne Graham Lotz defines hope: “Biblical hope is absolute confidence in something you haven’t seen or received yet, but you’re absolutely confident that whatever God has said is going to come to pass.”
She also declares that “Jesus is your hope for the future. One day Jesus Christ will come back, and He will set all of the wrong right. Good will triumph over the bad. Love will triumph over hate. Righteousness will triumph over evil. He’s going to make it all right, and you can have absolute confidence that that’s going to take place. That’s your hope.”
Sovereign God, I choose hope. I choose faith. I choose life. Give me an unshakable faith in You.
Grief Lasts Longer Than Expected
Grief ’s unexpected turns will throw you again and again. You may feel that for every step forward, you take at least one step back.
The grieving process generally takes longer than you ever imagined. Please don’t rush this process. Remember, what you are feeling is not only normal, it is necessary.
“It’s been seven years, and I’m still going through it,” says Dr. Larry Crabb, whose brother died in a plane crash. “I don’t know if it’s a very holy thing to admit, but when someone says, ‘Well, it’s been a week, a month, a year — Larry, for you it’s been seven years. Get a grip. Where’s your faith in Christ, for goodness’ sake?’ I get really angry.
“Knowing the Lord and His comfort does not take away the ache; instead, it supports you in the middle of the ache. Until I get home to heaven, there’s going to be an ache that won’t quit. The grieving process for me is not so much a matter of getting rid of the pain, but not being controlled by the pain.”
We read in the Psalms that David grew weary with the process of grief and cried out to the Lord. Then he left the timing in God’s hands.
Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long? Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of Your unfailing love. — Psalm 6:2-4
I am weary with my sighing; Every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears. My eye has wasted away with grief. — Psalm 6:6-7
Heavenly God, I cannot even begin to put my grief in a time frame. Thank You that I don’t have to. Comfort me and support me as I lean on You.
He Will Carry You
Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to You, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. — Psalm 61:1-3
The Lord will carry you if you ask Him. When you are feeling so weak you cannot take another step, ask Him to lift you high into His loving arms. Then rest in Him with an open and listening heart. This does not mean your problems will disappear, but it does mean you will have Someone to share them with.
“If you are someone who does not know Jesus Christ as your Savior and you have just been widowed or bereaved, you have a tremendous burden,” says Elisabeth Elliot. “You are tired, and it is too big a burden to carry. The Lord says, ‘Come to Me, you who are tired and over-burdened, and I will give you rest.’”
To receive peace and rest in Christ, the instructions are clear. Jesus says, “Come to Me.” You must first approach Him and then talk to Him and quietly listen.
The Waves Were None of His Business – Streams in the Desert – June 23
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
So he said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind he became afraid. And starting to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:29-30)
Peter had a little faith in the midst of his doubts, says Bunyan; and so with crying and coming he was brought to Christ.
But here you see that sight was a hindrance; the waves were none of his business when once he had set out; all Peter had any concern with, was the pathway of light that came gleaming across the darkness from where Christ stood. If it was tenfold Egypt beyond that, Peter had no call to look and see.
When the Lord shall call to you over the waters, “Come,” step gladly forth. Look not for a moment away from Him.
Not by measuring the waves can you prevail; not by gauging the wind will you grow strong; to scan the danger may be to fall before it; to pause at the difficulties, is to have them break above your head. Lift up your eyes unto the hills, and go forward—there is no other way.
“Dost thou fear to launch away?
Faith lets go to swim!
Never will He let thee go;
’Tis by trusting thou shalt know
Fellowship with Him.”