Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.
Grief is part of the human experience. We avoid it, we dread it, but we will all experience it. Grief, when it happens, changes us and our lives and our future. There is no retreat from the loss that caused our grief. We grieve because our lives have been changed forever….in a way we never imagined, never wanted.
Grief is our response to a terrible loss. It’s the right response to loss. How could we not cry when we lose someone we love? How could we not grieve when we are shocked by something that should never have happened? Grief is a right response to the loss. Tears are part of the grieving process.
Grief is also social. We grieve best in community. We need each other more when a loss happens and we gather together to grieve, to cry, to sorrow. Somehow community helps us deal with grief. We have an opportunity to talk about our loss, our pain, our hurt. We have a chance to cry with someone who listens and cares about us.
Grief, believe it or not, is a gift from God. He helps us through our grief to give us peace and comfort. What grief tells us all is that this is not the way it is supposed to be. What has happened to us that has caused our grief is not right, not the way we should live. And our response, as we grieve, tells us this is not the way we were designed.
Soon grief will be done away with. Tears will be dried. Reasons for grief will be permanently dealt with. Soon God will put death to death and grief will no longer be part of our lives. Until then he gives us hope, peace, a promise of eternal life ahead. Until then he gives us each other to hug, to cry, to grieve together. Until the day grief is put to death he gives us the promise of peace and life ahead. This is not the end…..grief will one day be swallowed up in joy.
Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.
Fears in the night are unfriendly visitors. They wake you, trouble you and will not let you rest. Fear of what might be, fear of what you think is happening…..fear for fears sake is as good as a cup of strong coffee to wake you up in the middle of the night, but it doesn’t taste nearly as good.
We are in a time when everything is being shaken to the very core. Jobs, culture, finances and all we have trusted in is being shaken. It’s as if the great earthquake has already begun to rumble and the very tremors we feel cause us to be afraid.
After only a couple hours of sleep tonight I awoke with thoughts of great fear bouncing around in my head. I know fear comes when we feel a sense that we cannot control the things that are happening around us, but truthfully we never could….we only thought we could. Now, realities become clear that we cannot control the world around us and so fear invades even our rest.
Being a pastor does not make me exempt from these fears. All humans struggle with them…the fears that could fill a page if I listed them are all resolved by what we do about them….and so I go to Psalms to read the directions for the indigestion of fear.
Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.
What I hate to admit, but is true, is that when fears invade my mind I’m not trusting God. And so, I must come back to what I know….God loves me, he’s fully in charge of all that goes on in my life, he’s working for my good, my world is not spinning out of control, but is fully in the hands of my Father. When I am afraid, I will put my trust in YOU, dear Father. There is no other place to run, no other place to hide, no safer place to be.
So when you awake with fears racing through your mind affecting even your heart rate, go to this short Psalm and realign your trust….come back to the one who will calm your fears and care for you. Whatever is causing your fears can easily be taken care of by our wonderful, loving Father. Trust in him……now…..back to sleep….
Guest Blog Post: Marie Wikle known as @spreadingJOY on twitter. Full of encouragement and the desire to make a difference everywhere she goes, Marie sneaks away to the beach every single chance she gets. Here is a glimpse of the ocean through her eyes.
My heart is pounding! You’d think I had not been to the ocean in years, but actually, it’s only been a few months. I quickly head to the sandy shores of the Atlantic. I’m giddy with delight! No matter how many times I come here, my heart feels as if it’s the first time I’ve seen it in years. I love the ocean. I love the smell, I love the sound, I love the sights! I simply love it.
The sand feels so cool on my feet. I must remove my shoes to get the full effects. I love walking thru the sand to the water. I reach the edge of the shore, the gentle waves lap up against me, saying “hello my dear friend! Do you know I love having you near me?” I sit in the sand, near the water but not so close as to get soaked.
I keep my feet at the edge, enjoying the cool water washing over my toes as I gaze out over the glorious ocean. I look straight ahead. As far as I can see is water. This mighty ocean is so peaceful, so calming as it rocks back and forth showing the world that God is in control of the waves. The gentle rocking is luring me into its massiveness by it mighty power. So gentle, yet so huge and powerful. It can lull the most troubled heart to sleep easily and, yet, wipe out entire cities by its force. I love the vastness of it. I look to the left and the waters are never ending…just like God’s love for me. I look to the right and the waters go on forever. I love that. I look ahead and imagine how deep the ocean must be. No one can touch the bottom of the ocean. I think how wonderful that is, because my sins are buried just that deep – as the deepest seas. And, better than that, God forgets them! He remembers them no more! Amazing!
I look straight ahead and admire the utter vastness of the ocean and think of how big and mighty God truly is and yet – he takes the time to love me – little ole nobody – me. God is bigger than this ocean, mightier than the wildest waves and wind and yet, for some reason, He draws me to Him. He calls me and HE wants me to spend time with Him. He can have anyone on the face of the earth, and he wants me. I look at the sand and the wonderful treasures that are buried there. I see the normal ole seashells, plain, like me. Millions of them are there. Usually, I never pick them up unless they are shiny and beautiful. I smile and wonder why God picks me up. I’m not shiney and mercy, no where near beautiful. Oh, I adore the cool seashells! I love when they are in whole pieces, but I rarely find them – and yet – I laugh to myself – when mom comes to the ocean, she comes back with oodles of cool shells that she found as gifts from the ocean. I smile and think to myself, she deserves those treasures from the ocean, she is truly a wonderful woman who deserves more than I can ever give her.
I sit beside the ocean for hours, soaking up every sound, every quiet clap of the waves, every gentle swoosh of the the water retreating back into its bed. I love the deep and complete peace I feel as I sit there, beside the majestic ocean. Knowing that as God controls the ocean, he truly controls everything in my life.
I look straight ahead, a beautiful orange glow is emerging off of the horizon! I didn’t realize that God was giving me yet another gift! Another desire of my very own heart! The desire to see the full moon rise up out of the ocean, to light my night, to light my path, to lead the way for me. It creeps up, inch by inch, pouring more and more of its light right down upon me. I smile and think “thank you Lord for the full moon” I have always loved how I feel closer to the Lord when it is shining down. The full moon over the mighty ocean – the greatest gift ever.
I love the glory of it all! So majestic! The huge moon, watching my every step, lighting my way. The ocean that is gentle, peaceful, yet strong enough to violently shatter the earth with its great waves. I sit and dwell on His goodness. I soak up His greatness, His wonder, HIS love for me – thank you Father, that I can always visit the ocean in my minds eye. Your grace is enough, and it truly does amaze me. Your grace and love is sufficient and never ending – just like the ocean.
What do you see when you look at the Ocean? Can you imagine how deep God’s love for you is? Can you look out over the ocean and realize the power it takes to hold the water in place?
My Prayer for you when YOU look at the ocean!
When you see the perfect cute litte treasures of the “neat” shells, may you remember that YOU are that special and that out of all the millions of “shells” that you stand out and God is waiting to pick you up and place you with his prized shells so that you may bless the heart of others everytime someone looks at you.
When you feel the gentle waves lapping at your feet – may you be reminded of how tenderly God holds us in his hands – and how he comforts our hearts when we are troubled.
When you see the waves clapping – know that HE is coming for us one day.
When you see the waves crashing on the shore – remember that this is a tiny portion of how much power God holds and ALL THINGS ARE possible by him – for his children that HE adores.
When you see the never endingness of the ocean, may you be reminded of how HE loves us – truly deep down loves us. and that love is never ending.
When you gaze at the ocean and wonder how deep it is, may you be reminded that it is sooo deep that our deepest sins are buried there and even God himself can not get to them, nor can he remember them.
May you feel the love of the LORD sweep over you and on to your life as you gaze at the majestic ocean, that is nothing short of awesome!
Last Thought: Do you know that with all of the millions of “shells” that surround you, that God chooses YOU too! He draws you. He wants you to dwell with him. Are you spending time with Him. Are you being still beside the ocean and enjoying the view? *patting the sand* come…sit right here, next to me and let’s enjoy how awesome God is – together!
In All That You Say…In All That You Do…Represent Christ!