Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thoughtful Thursday ... Overcoming Life

About six weeks after Hannah went to Heaven, I attended my first (and nearly my last!) grief support group meeting. I drove to a town about a hour away for this meeting … and I was scared to death. We sat in a circle, and our first task was to go around the room and share our stories. By the time it came around to me, all I could do was choke out, “Pass.” I literally could not speak the words aloud that my daughter had died.

I left that meeting more depressed than I was when I arrived, and here’s why. A few (not all) of those people, as they shared their stories, said something similar to this … “It’s been ten years since my child died, and it has never gotten any better,” or “It hurts just as much today as it did the day my child died.” Anybody ever heard someone say something like that?  I was so upset all the way home … How was I possibly going to live for the rest of my life this way?  If it wasn’t going to get any better, Brad might as well just bury me now, because I was done.

But deep inside, deep down in my spirit, I knew that wasn’t true. I knew that God was a good God and that He would never leave me stuck where I was in this pit of grief.

He tells us in His Word that He came to give us life, and life more abundantly (John 10:10).

John Chapter 5 tells the story of a man in need of healing from the Lord. It’s familiar to many of us. Let’s pick up the story in Verse 2:

“Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate, a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids – blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, He said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’”

Now, that’s a strange question, isn’t it? Of course he wanted to be healed … he’d been sick (he hadn’t gotten better) for 38 years!

“The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.’”

So yes, he did want to be healed. But no matter how hard he tried, he’d been unable to get better on his own. He didn’t have anyone who could help him, and he couldn’t do it himself. He had probably given up hope of ever getting better.

But what did Jesus say?

“Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk.’ And at once the man was healed and he took up his bed and walked.”

Jesus didn’t say, “Here, I’ll help you get into the water.”

He didn’t say, “Well, good luck to you, keep trying, and maybe someday you’ll make it.”

He didn’t say, “Oh well, it is what it is … you need to learn to live with it.”

He didn't say, "Why don't you just get over it already?"

Instead, He told the man to do the impossible. He asked the man to take an action that he was clearly incapable of doing on his own. But in that moment, He gave the man the ability to do it.

He also told him to take up his bed, indicating that he wasn’t going to need it anymore. He wasn’t going back to THAT place again.

Then He told the man to walk, clearly indicating that he was to move forward from there.

Isn’t that amazing? Can you see how that relates to us, lying helpless on our beds of grief? He is reaching out His hand, saying, “Do you want to be healed?”

Sometimes there’s a measure of comfort in staying where we are. We become familiar with the pain … it becomes like a friend to us … and we feel that it keeps us connected to our child. And in a sense, it does. But here’s a quote from Nancy Guthrie that I think is so true … “Your love for your child is not defined by the level of your ongoing misery.”

Of course, we will always have a place inside that hurts deeply. We will miss our children until the day we are reunited with them in Heaven. But must we live in misery for the rest of our lives? I don’t believe that’s what God wants for any of us.

But we must take the initiative. In Matthew 12:13, Jesus tells the man with the withered hand to “Stretch out your hand.” When he did so, his hand was healed. But he had to take the initiative to stretch out his hand.

Oswald Chambers, in “My Utmost for His Highest”, says, “The remarkable thing about spiritual initiative is that the life and power comes after we get up and get going. God does not give us overcoming life – He gives us life as we overcome.”

Thank You, Lord, for the strength to overcome!


Kelle said...

Amen & Thank You For Sharing

Unknown said...

I have been struggling so much as I compare my level of grief and the way I am handling the death of my son with posts that I read on a variety of grief related websites and FB pages. I even read a book that stated that the "level of your grief is proportionate to your love for the one you lost." That shattered me, as I am working hard to allow myself to feel my grief, but not to wallow in it. I want to honor God and my son by giving myself permission to move forward, and at the same time allow myself to cry when I need to cry. When you wrote about your first grief support meeting I can relate -- I have avoided going to my first meeting for exactly the same reasons. It's just so hard to hear how people can't function after years of loss, etc. It scares me to think I could be that person. But at the same time I am very clear that I can't stuff my feelings and pretend they don't exist. I can't hide them, or I risk my health - both emotional and physical. Such a dilemma! Thank you for sharing your heart.

The Sullivan Four said...

Thank you, Denise, for sharing so honestly. I love what you said about honoring God and your son by moving forward and crying when you need to. That's exactly what our While We're Waiting ministry is all about. We always say that very thing at our retreats ... That our children and our Lord are more honored by our healing than our brokenness. I've also seen quotes similar to what you read in that book. I prefer what Nancy Guthrie had to say ... "Your love for your child is not defined by the level of your ongoing grief." I probably didn't quote her exactly there, but it's close. I added you to our WWW Facebook page this afternoon, and I pray that it will be a blessing and encouragement to you. ~Jill