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TO GOD AND TO THE LAMB, I WILL SING

 

“Each new morn

New widows howl,

new orphans cry…”

 

Suffering, Shakespeare knew, is a given in life.

Yet God has not hidden His face.

 

Earthquakes come to places they have rarely come.

Hurricanes increase in frequency and ferocity.

Yet God has not hidden His face.


Our own sins reap us sorrow

cut us to pieces

Yet God has not hidden His face.

 

When the storm is raging

When the terror and rumble of

the world, the flesh, and the devil

come to us

He asks us to come to Him

To find shelter under His wings

 

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, would that I could gather you under my wings

 

When we suffer

God is not punishing us

For He took that punishment

He is the Lamb of God

Who takes away the sins of the world.

Francisco de Zurbarán, The Bound Lamb

 

And when the mighty waters come

I will find refuge in Him

and to God and to the Lamb,

I will sing

I will sing

 

We are at the final week of The God of All Comfort, and it has been a privilege to journey with you. This week will be a review, and I have found that reviews are a way to truly etch truths in our hearts. I want to use pictures, for pictures penetrate the heart, and I will share from just a few of you who have journeyed long and faithfully with us. (Don’t feel slighted if I don’t share from you, for I may another time.)

Next week will be an individual study for the Labor Day weekend, and then we will return to The Stonecutter, which is about how God can remove our hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh. I will begin with a review, so if you haven’t been with us, please consider joining us, beginning on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Many of you have been so good at looking carefully at the artwork and photographs that illustrate a phrase from the psalms — and I am expecting that from you again. Take, for example, the beautiful photo Joyce sent me above of the mother bird shielding her babies. When Elizabeth looked at it, she wrote: I want to be the little bird on the right of the picture–eyes shut! trusting and only listening to His voice.

Seeing the Psalms by William Brown

One resource that I recommend to you in praying the Psalms is William Brown’s commentary: Seeing the Psalms.

Brown tells us to read the psalms “as a lover reads, lingering over the images.”  I truly believe this is the best approach to the psalms.

I have been in classes where the psalms are categorized and dissected, and left dead on the operating table.

This approach to the psalms reminds me of a comment Luci Shaw’s daughter Kristen made when she had to dissect a grasshopper in her high school biology class.

Knowing a grasshopper

AS IF THAT’S ANY WAY TO KNOW A GRASSHOPPER!

 

Likewise, we must let the psalms live.

We must let them come leaping into our hearts.

Let us linger over the images and  allow Him to penetrate our hearts.


ICE-BREAKER

A. What stood out to you from the above and why?

B. Choose one image from this study, from Scripture or from the artwork, that penetrated your heart and explain why.

PART I. BIBLE STUDY REVIEW


1. Repeatedly in the psalms of lament, the image of drowning is used. That is how we feel. Silverlene, a new widow, expressed it so poignantly:

In many ways my head knows my husband is gone, but I am still in denial. One month ago, at the six-month mark I had a major meltdown sitting at my desk at work. It seemed that all of a sudden I was hit with the knowledge that everything had just happened. I felt a sharp pain in my chest and then it seemed to move all through my body. All I could do was put my head on my desk and sob. It seems that I am struck with this feeling often at night, which keeps me up or causes me to wake up. I often find myself curled up in a fetal position on one side of the bed; it is the only way I can cope. I am feeling quite overwhelmed and anguished today. To date my response to all of this has been to withdraw from everyone; as a result I have few friends or family I am able to talk to. It seems that everyone wants me to move on, but it is hard to move on from something that my heart screams daily is not so. I dream of waking up and finding out I have been dreaming. My anguished spirit does not feel God’s presence.

A.  Find the image of drowning in Psalm 18:4-5. Linger over the image and let it speak to you of the pain that can come to us in life. Does any of it sound like Silverlene’s account? What do you “see” in the description of this psalm?

B. This Psalm is also filled with images of the Lord’s heart for the suffering and His response. Find one that speaks to you and tell why it does.

Our own Anne, in contemplating the above painting and Psalm 46, which is also filled with water images, said:

It makes me think of the unraveling of creation. The first thing I noticed about the painting is how the waves seem to have claws and the ability to grasp and pull in. Fear seems that way to me.

It was so interesting to me that Anne talked about “the unraveling of creation.” That’s what hurricanes, earthquakes, and death all are — yet God is also the One who can stop the storm, give a new earth, and give us a new raised body.

2. Read Psalm 46:1-3 and linger over the images. What do you see?

3. Read the rest of Psalm 46 and find an image of hope in the midst of the tumult. What is it and why does it speak to you?

4. Psalm 46 inspired two great hymns — if either has spoken to you during this journey, please comment on how they have helped you and anything you remember learning about them.

A.  A Mighty Fortress

B. Be Still My Soul

Another famous “water hymn” is “It is Well with My Soul,” which Horatio Spafford wrote after his four daughters drowned. Our own Susan wrote:  Jesus takes note we are drowning and comes to shed His own blood to save us; the final day when the clouds are rolled back and He will descend; our sin being nailed to the cross and its awful burden is taken away!

Likewise, Joyce wrote: God is always there, even if he doesn’t answer your prayer like you think he should. And he rescues us, and even in the worst suffering, we grow closer to him and we become more intimate with him. He saves us from that awful drowning or frozen feelings and gives us “HOPE”.


Our own Chris, who lost her teenage son just a year ago, has, even in her fresh grief, been ministering to us. One thing she said that I hope we all have learned is:

I have realized that to be grieving tremendously is not sin.

She also told a story of seeing a painting like the above in the hospital emergency room when they were there with their son. She talked about how it comforted her.

5. Contemplate on the above painting and how it portrays Psalm 46. Can you share how God has been A Mighty Fortress to you in the midst of a storm this summer — whether it was a hurricane force or a lesser storm. (Terri confessed she felt guilty her storms were smaller — yet if we put these principles to work in the “smaller storms,” we will be better prepared for the hurricanes.)

6. There are four water pictures in Psalm 42.

A. Do you remember what they are? What do you learn from them?

B. The last was a waterfall with the famous phrase “deep calls to deep.”

What do you think this means and why?

7. In addition to the psalms, we considered the three appearances God made to Job, where “Deep called to Deep.” Most of us are familiar with the closing of Job, where God does not really answer Job, but points to the sunrise, the stars, and the seasons as evidence that He knows what He is doing. Think about an image from creation that spoke to you this summer, that spoke to you of the majesty and wisdom of God — and share it here with us.

8. In a relatively unknown passage in Job 14 we see the value of the lament, for God actually speaks to Job in his spirit. Do you remember what He tells him and how this shows God’s love for us?

7. The most famous passage, perhaps, becauses of Handel’s Messiah is Job 19 where Job has a vision of the day he will see His Redeemer on the earth. What did you learn about heaven that was a comfort to you?

When Tim Keller gets to the part in his sermon where it points to Christ, my heart always stills. I loved how Keller said that Job demanded to see God’s face and did. But “a greater Job,” when He hung on the cross, and longed to sense God, sensed instead abandonment, for God turned His face away as Jesus was bearing our sins. Then Keller said, and I cherish this and sing of this: “Because He was abandoned, we never will be.” So unto God and to the Lamb, I will sing. I will sing.

8. Many of you listened to Keller’s sermons on Job. Is there anything you would like to share with the group?

 

We studied “sitting shiva,” and Kim tells of how her friends and father lived this out:

The catastrophic loss I will comment on is not a death it was when our youngest son walked out of our home to live in a drug house. My best friends came around me and let me cry. They had no verses or words just love. One day my dad drove out to our place and simply said, “I don’t know what to say.” and sat and cried with us. That divided our pain.

 



9. What will you remember about “sitting shiva?”

 

 

When there is no one to “sit shiva” with you, Jesus, the Man of Sorrows does. Perhaps the hardest thing to trust in the midst of high-tide grief is God’s love for you. The lie that threatens to undo us is that we have lost His love. We think about how sinful we are, and we think, “It makes sense.”  That’s why I loved what so many of you wrote (how you encouraged my heart) after listening to Midday Program 9 on Jesus Lover of My Soul. Elizabeth, for example, wrote this:

“…in our romance with Christ, I am not worthy of His love, I have, by God’s standards, fallen way short- un-loveable on my own. Without Christ, I am dirty, smelly, and even if I clean myself up on the outside, my mind has unclean thoughts. BUT, because of Christ, I am the sought-after, chased-for, fought-for Bride! Through Him, because of Him, I am beautiful, clean, new, and my prayers a fragrant offering. He never, ever gives up on me, He pursues me like the Ultimate Leading Man, and no matter how many times I turn away, I doubt, I use my words for pain…He not only forgives, but He pursues. And His arms never cross or push me out of His embrace.”

Kim said that this truth about Jesus being our “Lover” is something Satan does not want us to know, because it is such a powerful weapon again his lies.

 

10. When the storm hits, what arrows of truth will you have ready to fire at the enemy?

Suffering is a given in life. Death is certain. The enemy will prowl. But we have One who will never leave us or forsake us, and one day, He will make all things right. As He told Job, He will call for us, because He will miss us, He will raise us out of the grave with new restored bodies, and we will be with Him and our loved ones who have gone before forever.

 


11. Psalm 90, which was the psalm I happened to be praying through on my birthday, prays “Teach us to number our days, that we might apply our hearts to wisdom.”

Suffering is a definite in life, but if we do not let go of our only lifeline, He will enlarge our souls and make us great hearts. I am seeing that in you.  I would love for you to share something you have learned here, and how you will apply this wisdom to your life.

PART II. Listen to Midday.

Because we do not know if the tech people at Moody Radio will get the link working, I encourage you to try to listen live on Monday central time. I realize that might not be possible, but if you can do. They have also now fixed the links to programs 7 (A Mighty Fortress) and 9 (Jesus, Lover of My Soul)  if you missed either, you could choose one of those. Here is the link: Link

12. What stood out to you?

PART III.

Heaven is our real hope. You can hear our own Rebecca’s voice singing Sara’s Grove’s song: Going Home. Listen — read these lyrics — and respond. Here is the link: http://youtu.be/EjOgZ2pr9NE

Here are the lyrics to read as you listen to Rebecca sing:

I’ve been feeling kind of restless
I’ve been feeling out of place
I can hear a distant singing
A song that I can’t write
And it echoes of what I’m always trying to say

There’s a feeling I can’t capture
It’s always just a prayer away
I want to know the ending
Things hoped for but not seen
But I guess that’s the point of hoping anyway

Of going home, I’ll meet you at the table
Going home, I’ll meet you in the air
And you are never too young to think about it
Oh, I cannot wait to be home

I’m confined by my senses
To really know what you are like
You are more than I can fathom
And more than I can guess
And more than I can see with you in sight

But I have felt you with my spirit
I have felt you fill this room
And this is just an invitation
Just a sample of the whole
And I cannot wait to be going home

Going home, I’ll meet you at the table
Going home, I’ll meet you in the air
And you are never too young to think about it
Oh, I cannot wait to be going, to be going home

Face to face, how can it be
Face to face, how can it be
Face to face, how can it be

Cuz this is just an invitation
Just a sample of the whole
And I cannot wait to be going home

13. What are your thoughts?

PART IV. EXTRA CREDIT! Listen to this free sermon from Keller called “A Spirit Hath Not Flesh and Bones” Link

I PROMISE THIS IS WONDERFUL — PASSIONATE — WILL GIVE YOU HOPE!!!!

Caravaggio's Doubting Thomas

14. What did you learn from this message?

Angela tells of how God can enlarge our souls through suffering:

When I was very sick with Lyme disease. I could barely function. I wondered where God was but looking back He was there all along showing me Himself as Jehovah – Jireh my provider, Jehovah rappa my Healer, The God who sanctifies, and many other aspects of His character. Many forsook me but He never did even in His silence. I have a much more amazing relationship with Him because of it. It is more special now.

15. How has God enlarged your soul through suffering?

16. What is your take-a-way from this series?

Leave a Comment

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297 comments

  1. Hi Dee and sisters,
    One study that I read and liked most was ‘DO NOT SEND A SYMPATHY CARD”. I also read what you wrote in 2009 here on the blog, Dee. But now it was deeper.

    And I liked comments from my sisters too. I’ll always remember the expression of “Sitting Shiva”. Thanks!!! I liked and I’ll explain this for my group also.

    The “image” that I liked most and penetrated my heart was “Jesus ‘sitting shiva’”. With Jesus at my side, the moment is ‘agridoce’ (the dictionary says – bittersweet) – Still living a sad thing what happened but have the sweetness of Jesus. Feelings come and go, but faith remains firm.
    This will be in my mind to always do the classic question: In my place, what would Jesus do?
    I did a course in pastoral counseling and family that helps me a lot (at work as a pastor’s wife and also as lawyer). In the course I participated in a theater where we train the “put the shoes” to try to learn this- what you taught.
    As a lawyer, I have seen hard cases. Because the profession is tempting to give immediate solutions. But we can’t because of the emotional of the people we are serving. So, “put the shoes” and “sitting shiva” is ideal. So, only then we’ll help more, walking slowly with the person. Let me share an experience. I attended a man who wanted to divorce immediately. Because his wife had left home (I do not divorce, only in extreme cases). So, I talked to him a lot (I wore the shoes). After I called his wife to talk. Heard, heard, heard, and even prayed with her (sitting shiva). In the same week they made peace and she returned home. This case taught me so much.
    As I read the study ‘DO NOT SEND A SYMPATHY CARD’, some cases and some situations were going to like a movie in my mind. It was great to think about what I was right and what I did wrong.
    Of course, because people are different we miss and wrong sometimes. But what I have experienced is that we can always be sincere in love. Hardly anyone made ​​serious mistakes when they truly love. People recognize love and can even forgive the wrong words. But hardly forgive the lack of love. Because we identify words without love (they are superficial – even if they are right words). And it hurts deeply.
    Thanks for all publications, Dee. especially – “DO NOT SEND A SYMPATHY CARD”.
    Ah,Dee, I bought 5 books women series (yours) on the internet. My books Arrived today. I’ll start using in my discussion group. I’m so happy!
    Dee, I’ll ask any question for you. sorry… haha ;))
    hugs for you all.
    Com amor de Jesus, (with love)
    Polly

    1. Pollyana–I learned so much from you in this post! I love your phrase “I wore the shoes” when you listened to this hurting couple, such a good example of patiently loving–and seeing how God used that to bring restoration for them. what a ministry you have–that really encouraged me! And this “Hardly anyone made ​​serious mistakes when they truly love. People recognize love and can even forgive the wrong words. But hardly forgive the lack of love.”–that spoke to me today with an issue I am dealing with–so thankful for your wisdom and sharing.

    2. POLLY, YOU ARE DOING THE WORK OF THE lORD…YOU ARE LOVED SO VERY MUCH BY HIM AND ALL OF US!

  2. Sisters

    I have a prayer request… I am having a very hard afternoon.. lots of crying… i had a talk with my clients mom and she told me that her daughters needs come first and i am to do what she wants to do.. last night i was listening to the christian radio station and she didnt want to listen to that she wanted to listen to rap, hip hop etc.. and i have been having a hard time latley listening to that. Its junk! I dont like filling my mind with that kind of stuff! So please pray that i would be a good testimony.. and if i should look for something else all together….

    Thanks Sisters!

    1. Dear Meg, there is nothing else to look for, except the Lord, or to have hope in. Keep your eye’s on him and Trust in him. He will make right the path for your mother to come unto him. You may not be the one to plant the seed in her, but if you keep praying, someone will. God will not fail you. Love and praying for you and your mother. My mom died two years ago and gave her heart to the Lord before she died at 89 years old.

  3. Joyce thanks for praying its not my mom its my clients mom who is giving me the hard time.

  4. Tammy, I can’t find your original post here but you recommended divorce care for my friend. THANKS! I will pray and look into that! 🙂

  5. 5. In the lighthouse there is refuge from the stormy sea. It is built of stone on a rock foundation so it is strong and not likely to be ruined in the waves. It is also a helper in that it warns sailors of the rocks that would sink their ships. If the keeper of the house is diligent the light will always burn. The color of the water is remarkable because it is foaming so that it looks light green and white from all the air that is in it.

    God has been a refuge for me this summer. It has been stressful because of so many dynamics in my family. They are just too numerous to name. In each and every one he has been faithful. When tempers flare, if I bring it to Him He calms the storm. Today I flared up but the other morning the Holy Spirit helped me to be the peacemaker and I could tell that my oldest was particularly blessed. I pray that the Lord will help me to do this more and also that he will help me to speak up when things are not right and be heard. Anyway that is one of my little storms. They are all relatively small right now but put together they make a pretty good squall.

    1. Anne, I know how you feel. You summed up my life in yours! I have also learned to be still and know God is near me. I tend to get wound up in life’s storms and unfortunately it had taken me 47 years to figure out that is not the way He wants us to handle problems. I am a slow learner!

      1. Me too Laura! I am just now getting my mind wrapped around the idea of Jesus sitting shiva with me.

  6. 6a. The four water pictures in Psalm 42 are thirst, tears, the waterfall and the breakers of rough seas. I think that the main thing I learn from them is that God is in all of it. If I thirst, it is a good thing because I will come to Him and He will quench my thirst with Himself. If I cry, He will sit shiva with me. I loved what someone said about tears being bittersweet in this case. In the roar of the waterfall He speaks to the deep places in my soul and that is a riveting experience. In the waves and billows He teaches us to take refuge in Him.

    b. It means that the deep voice of God calls to the deep place in our hearts. It seems to me that this is preceded by pain in our lives. Annie suffered deeply with Steve’s death and was in a state of unrest when she found the note in Steve’s Bible. Job was certainly in pain when God called to his soul. I have a picture in my mind of a soul being like a well that is covered over by the cares of this world but when suffering comes the well is opened up to God.

  7. 7. Oh, I have a good one for that. We have been going to the same place at the beach for over 20 years (timeshare). Only this year did I realize that if I got up early enough I could watch the sun rise over the water. I watched every morning for the whole week and it was beautiful. Not only that, but it was never the same, something different every morning. Some were more beautiful than others, because of clouds. The clouds magnified the beauty (there must be an application there). There were three of God’s largest creations right there together, ocean, sky and sun. All of them reflect His majesty and faithfulness, never failing to do what He created them to do.

    1. I love the sunrise part! How beautifully you describe it.

      1. I also loved, Anne. God smiling at you from a beautiful way.
        After that, I’m willing to see the sunrise every day 🙂

  8. Lily is doing so well! she is in very little pain. she threw up a lot after the surgery but we came home today and she is eating and watching “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” right now. thank you all for your kind prayers.
    you will not believe what else happened today right after we got home from the hospital…I found LICE in MY hair! I helped a single dad get the lice out of his daughters hair last week so I have been keeping an eye out….soooo my mom came to see Lily and instead she went through my 2 and a half feet of hair with chemicals and a lice comb….. I just have to laugh. thankfully i was looking and we only found one and 2 eggs. but all the laundry and, well its just a lot of work:)
    if you don’t laugh you will cry!
    then mom calls tonight to say to expect a funeral next week because her aunt is dieing tonight.
    I start school with the 4 girls on tuesday, and they are all excited to be homeschooled, I can not tell you what a blessing that is! the older two did not want to be for the last 2 years so i let them go to school even thought i really wanted them home, and now that they have had a taste of public school they are THANKING me for homeschooling them:) I am so grateful!

    1. Cyndi,
      I have to laugh. A few years ago I got lice from a boy in my Sunday school class and also gave them to my daughter as we did our hair together. We have some funny pictures of us in our shower caps (with the lice treatment on our hair) and we called ourselves “The Lice Busters”. I had long, thick hair and no one to help me comb through mine – I told my husband to grab the kitchen scissors and I cut off my hair – gave myself a very short layered haircut! I would have shaved my head to get rid of the lice! Anyway I laughed when I got compliments on my new hairstyle!

      Glad to hear Lily is recovering!

      1. Susan, lol! 🙂

    2. Oh Cyndi! Well, girlfriend you have been through just about everything! That is the last thing you need to go around your home. It used to be the stomach flu I feared in the past but since we get it every year, I am used to it. But Lice is one of the things I hope God spares us from. we haven’t had it YET. I can’t imagine having to keep everything totally clean with four boys around here. Yikes! 🙂

    3. Cindi, I am so glad Lily is doing well. I am sorry she had to go through surgery (and all that terrible throwing up!).

      Speaking of lice, my oldest had a battle with bedbugs when he was in college. I was so afraid they would spread to our house but thank the Lord, they did not. And I saw the Lord’s leading in showing us how to battle them because we had no idea! So now he refers to himself as the ‘bedbug commando’. lol!

      1. glad I could be your comic relief:) we are all well today. Lily is doing so well, thank you for all your prayers!!!!

  9. Part III

    13. I think when I sang that song it really spoke to my soul as to what i was thinking and feeling, feel so out of place here on Earth-like an alien, yet God has given me a foretaste of glory divine-just a little taste of what being with Him face to face will be like. The closer I draw to Jesus while here on Earth the more sweet it becomes as I age-the more I don’t feel I belong here, and I don’t-I am a citizen of heaven-I am His. That isn’t some pie in the sky thing to say, it is reality because I am living it here yet not perfect.

    We are flying to Tennessee this weekend to see my stepdaughter and her husband. I am embarrassed to say this but after 9/11 I became afraid to fly, now I am not. If it is my time then take me Lord Jesus! 🙂

  10. Thank you all sweet sisters – your love and encouragement always mean so much! I just want to say that God has been good to me ALL of the time, and He has used you also more than once – thanks for your words of encourgement! God be with you sisters! 🙂 As He has been with me – your fellow sister in Christ! I love sisters, I have 6 of them, each one is different and totally unique – beautiful in the way they were created as you are!
    Love to you sisters,
    Fellowsojourner.

      1. Yesterday I had a patient who was one of 4 sisters and when I looked at the 3 standing together after the 4th went back to surgery I thought what a sweet fortress that was. Fellowsojourner, I love how you describe them, each one unique, what a treasure you have. I am so sorry for all that you are going through but so glad for the sisters you have. Love to you also.

  11. 8. In a relatively unknown passage in Job 14 we see the value of the lament, for God actually speaks to Job in his spirit. Do you remember what He tells him and how this shows God’s love for us?

    14 If someone dies, will they live again?
       All the days of my hard service
       I will wait for my renewal[b] to come.
    15 You will call and I will answer you;
       you will long for the creature your hands have made.

    Sometimes I talk to myself and say things that remind me that God really loves me and I am not alone. In reference to another question here, I suppose this is my take away from this summer. I never used to remind myself of these things. I remember Dee telling us early on in the study(?) to find a scripture that we could use when we felt low. Actually, it might have been from the idol study now that I think of it. Anyway, my thought when I find myself feeling low is “STOP, he loves every hair on your head!” My paraphrase of course.

    This is like Job here. He remembers that God will take him after he dies because he “crafted” him and longs dearly for him. How sweet it is!

      1. what do i need to do for tommorrow dee? just come to the website like i have been doing?

        1. yes Meg–just go the the website and the new post will be there 🙂

        2. Thanks Elizabeth 🙂 I am looking forward to doing The Stonecutter!

  12. 9. What I will remember about sitting shiva is that while I am there to bring comfort, there is nothing that I can do or say to ‘make it better’. I learned from experience that this behavior is difficult to overcome. It requires prayerful thought before speaking and that no words at all are really better.

    10. When storms hit I want to remember that Jesus’ love for me is unchanged, no matter what the circumstance and to remember to invite Him to ‘sit shiva’ with me. My first thought is to have verses memorized, but I wonder if it would not be better to remember pictures, such as our lighthouse picture and also the sacrificial lamb. These pictures are based on truths that we have learned. The lighthouse is a mighty fortress like our God. The lamb is a picture of the calm sacrifice our Lord. His suffering was for us and this picture helps me to remember that my suffering is also for a purpose and I think that will help me to endure in a much smaller way as He did. Dee I like what you said about possibly getting a print of this one for your home. I think that is something I should also do. If you find a good place to get one would you share it with us?

      1. I was thinking of the lamb picture too. I would like to have a print of that one.

        1. I found Chris’ link. It was at Family Christian Stores.

  13. I’ve been looking for a painting that reflects Psalm 18:16 which I have loved from our study-“He reached down from on high and took hold of me He drew me out of deep waters”.
    This isn’t quite what I have in my head, but I like it. I don’t know if this will work but this is a Rembrandt drawing called Jesus saves Peter from drowning: http://www.thewords.com/gallery/images/rem16.jpg

  14. To Dee and all my sisters I thank God for each of you, your prayers, love, support and fellowship. I have not been able to post for a while, but I have been reading and listening to the radio broadcasts.

    My journey of grief has taken many turns and yes there are still moments when I feel I am drowning. This past Thursday I celebrated my first wedding anniversary without my beloved husband, Jeff. I cried and looked at pictures and tried to think of the happy times. I tried so hard on my anniversary I was exhausted and gave into the grief the next day by staying in bed and just crying a river of tears.

    Later when I could finally get up I was reminded in a very precious way of my most important take away from this series. I listened again to radio message #6, which tells me a powerful message: To remember that losing Jeff does not mean God does not love me and our children. During the early days and months of my grief Satan pounded me with that lie on a regular basis. There were moments when there seemed to be a literal ‘war’ in my head. The pain was so strong I could feel it physically beating my body. I now understand spiritual warfare as I never did before.

    This radio lesson #6 contains three powerful truths that I use to speak to my anguished spirit; Remember
    Gods Heart
    God’s History
    God’s Word on Heaven

    These truths help me speak to my anguished spirit when I cry out in the middle of the night when I awaken and see the other half of the bed is empty; they speak to me when I am at work at the elementary school and need to get into the classroom, but I am crying a river of tears, because it is the 23rd, which is the date God called Jeff home. It is the truth that comforted me when I had to face what was the happiest day of my life without the one with whom I made a covenant before God.

    My journey is not over, but I am not where I began. While looking at past programs on the Moody Institute I came across a message on spiritual rhythms by a pastor who speaks about how losing a dear friend who was like a sister threw he and his wife into a season of grief unlike anything he had ever experienced. This experience prompted him to write a book: Spiritual Rhythms, by Mark Buchanan. In this book he says we should remember Jesus speaks to us of lives that bear fruit and fruit implies seasons. The winter season is a time when we feel prolonged and intense pain–a season where it can seem that God is absent. Being thrown into the Winter season is usually the result of a major life altering event–the loss of a loved one. I can identify with his words, because for a long time I did not feel God’s presence. Listening to Pastor Buchanan’s message has helped me understand and accept the message of this series. It has also helped me to understand that my grieving has a purpose and despite what others say about ‘moving on’ I must have time to grieve to move from Winter into Spring the season of renewal.

    Finally, Buchanan says the Winter season is for growing faith…He describes it as “How much night can a day hold and still be called day.” My days have held far to much night, but praise God I am beginning to see that it will not always be Winter. My prayer is for God to give me enough strength to take the next step and to surrender to His will for my life. This means I must accept that my journey continues without Jeff, but it does not mean I am alone. This too is a lie Satan has often bombarded me with.

    Blessings to each of you my dear sisters; I hope to be able to join each of you in the next series. Dee I hope that you will one day come to my part of the country and I will be blessed to fellowship with you in person. Your book and this series have blessed me.

    1. oh Silverlene, I have thought of you and prayed for you often the last several weeks. I am so sorry, but thankful you have shared with us today–so rich, real, and from the depths of your pain. Blessings to you always~

      1. I also listened to the Mark Buchanan series and really enjoyed it.. i remeber the quote how much night can a day hold and still be called day. that was powerful.

    2. Silverlene,
      Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I was moved by your telling of the intense spiritual warfare, how it felt like your body was taking a physical beating with the lies the enemy was using against you. What an encouragement to hear how you used God’s truth to speak to your soul. I also heard some of the programs with Mark Buchanan on Spiritual Rhythms and am glad it has helped you during your season of winter. I think you are wise to reject the advice to move on and instead to allow God and His timing to move you when you are ready.

      Your words are so powerful, “My days have held far too much night, but praise God I am beginning to see that it will not always be Winter. My prayer is for God to give me enough strength to take the next step and to surrender to His will for my life. This means I must accept that my journey continues without Jeff, but it does not mean I am alone.”

      I am praying your prayers for you this morning, Silverlene.

  15. Anne says:

    September 3, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    9. What I will remember about sitting shiva is that while I am there to bring comfort, there is nothing that I can do or say to ‘make it better’. I learned from experience that this behavior is difficult to overcome. It requires prayerful thought before speaking and that no words at all are really better.

    Anne, I have used this sitting shiva and not saying anything, except “I’m so sorry”. it really is the very best way to comfort other’s in pain.

    1. Joyce, you are very gifted in comforting those who are in pain. You are an encouragement to me. Thank you.

  16. 2. Read Psalm 46:1-3 and linger over the images. What do you see?

    Mountains slipping into the heart of the sea; the heart of the sea to me is a depth to the utmost, who can know just how deep it is? Waters roaring and foaming, powerful earthquakes; the earth as we know it is changed. These pictures from nature can describe the abyss we are plunged into during grief when everything as we knew it slips away and we are hit with powerful waves of grief and sorrow. All of life seems uncertain and we don’t know what to do next.
    The only constant in this is God, our refuge and strength, our very present help in trouble.

    3. Read the rest of Psalm 46 and find an image of hope in the midst of the tumult. What is it and why does it speak to you?

    I see an image of a city, a holy dwelling place of God, which has a river and its streams, and they give life and make the heart glad. God is there in her midst, and this city can not be moved nor shaken, it is firm. I see a future time when God will make wars cease, He will break the bow and cut the spear in two; there will be peace. God will be exalted in all the earth. In all of this, we can cease our striving and be still.
    This speaks to my heart to be still and quiet myself, and turn the eyes of my heart inward, so to speak, to the spiritual life I share with my God who dwells in me by His Spirit; to marvel that He makes my heart His dwelling place and fills me with streams of water; life-giving water that never runs dry.

    4. Psalm 46 inspired two great hymns – if either has spoken to you during this journey, please comment on how they have helped you and anything you remember learning about them.

    A. A Mighty Fortress

    This hymn seems to put wind beneath my sails when they are sagging. It is such great truth to speak to my soul when she is afraid and despairing and looking anxiously about for help. “Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing.” “Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He – Lord Sabaoth His Name, from age to age the same, and He must win the battle”.
    I will always be moved by Dee’s account of Sally singing this hymn in church as a battle cry for her dad; how the congregation stood in the gap for their family.

    B. Be Still My Soul

    As Psalm 46 gives us a picture of wild, raging, foaming, threatening waters, this hymn powerfully reminds me that “The winds and waves still know, His voice that ruled them while He dwelt below”. God is still in control and never loses control of anything, and that includes His grip on me, and my circumstances. It also means He can handle the problems of the people in my life far better than I can.

    I love this line, “All safe and blessed we shall meet at last”.

    5. Contemplate on the above painting and how it portrays Psalm 46.

    The huge, foaming waves are all you can see from the lighthouse; no land is in sight. I can imagine if all the earth were lost in the sea, we would drown. Yet here is the lighthouse, and you see the man in the doorway, safe, protected, and sheltered. This portrays God as our refuge and strength towering in the midst of disaster.

    Can you share how God has been a Mighty Fortress to you in the midst of a storm this summer – whether it was a hurricane force or a lesser storm.

    I can’t say I endured a hurricane-force storm this summer, rather it is “lesser storms”; rain and streams that erode my faith, confidence, joy, and peace. My kids and I have done alot of hiking and seen the damage done by erosion and I think of how Satan attacks me and tries to erode my faith and eat away at my relationship with God until he can get the ground to give way beneath me.
    This study and the fellowship here has been a place where God has met me through our study and given me much encouragement and support. I find He is always there for me to turn to with my tears and sorrow; when I miss my nephew, Thomas; when I am anxious about the future, when my teenage son rebuffs me, when I am lonely.