Grief and Sadness


It sounds weird, but I feel like I’m grieving over my terminally ill cat, even though she’s still alive. The knowledge that she’ll soon be gone can sometimes be overwhelming and brings me to tears, and the sadness of it is always present.

Grief and sadness are exhausting. It seems that it takes almost superhuman energy to function on a normal level when you’re especially sad.

Also, I’ve noticed that grief makes me feel weak and small. I don’t want to adult. I just want someone to hold me and tell me that everything will magically be alright, like I’m still 9-years old.

I know everything will not be alright. I still pray for a miracle for my Lucy and will up until the last possible moment, but I’m also prepared (as much as you can be) for the worst when I have to say my final goodbyes.

Even in the midst of all the sorrow, there have still been some beautiful moments that I will cling to after the sadness passes. I will remember the way she still got in my lap, even though she was weak and sick. I will remember how she still wanted to be near me.

I cling to the promise of God that grief lasts for just a night, but joy comes in the morning. Joy is always on the other side of grief for those who see with eyes of faith.

Right now, I’m hanging on and believing in spite of everything I’m feeling. It’s been a beautiful and wonderful 17 years that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. I still believe with Job, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Sorrow will not have the last word in this or any other story.

 

Somewhere Along the Road

“Joy at the start
Fear in the journey
Joy in the coming home
A part of the heart
Gets lost in the learning
Somewhere along the road
Along the road
Your path may wander
A pilgrim’s faith may fail
Absence makes the heart grow stronger
Darkness obscures the trail
Cursing the quest
Courting disaster
Measureless nights forebode
Moments of rest
Glimpses of laughter
Are treasured along the road
Along the road
Your steps may tumble
Your thoughts may start to stray
But through it all a heart held humble
Levels and lights your way
Joy at the start
Fear in the journey
Joy in the coming home
A part of the heart
Gets lost in the learning
Somewhere along the road
Somewhere along the road
Somewhere along the road” (Dan Fogelberg).
Recently, I found the original recording of this song that I had been searching for a long, long time. I first heard a cover by a trio of Christian artists who did an album together: Margaret Becker, Christine Dente, and Susan Ashton from way back in 1994.
I do think that along life’s journey, none of us gets through unscathed. We all experience heartaches, loss, sadness, and griefs. No one is exempt from the dark clouds of life’s storms.
I also think that just as the pain that leads to childbirth is forgotten when the child comes, so the sorrow and pain that leads to final joy will be forgotten when the fulfillment of all joys comes.
Until then, we remember that nothing eternally good is ever lost and whatever we’ve had to lose will be restored a thousandfold by the Giver of all good gifts.
Plus, we know that even now we have an eternal stronghold that can never be shaken or destroyed, and in that we rest our hopes and dreams.

Sad News


I got the worst possible news that you can get if you have a beloved pet that’s near and dear to your heart.

I found out from the vet today that my cat Lucy has severe jaundice and might have a few days or a few weeks left to live. In other words, her days are numbered.

I feel like a cloud of grief and sadness has been hanging over my head ever since. I get emotional and I feel somewhat stupid for getting so emotional over a cat when people around me are losing husbands, wives, parents, and children.

Still, pets can feel like family and losing one is never easy, no matter how old and sick they get.

I get sad when I think about what my life will be like without Lucy in it. I can’t imagine how I will get through something like that.

Then I remember something. God doesn’t give me strength for what’s yet to come or what might be or what might have been. He gives me strength for what I need for today.

Sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly powerless and weak, He becomes my strength and carries me though what I never would have thought I could endure.

I’m also reminded that all our days are numbered. We might have more than a few days or a few weeks, but none of us live forever on this side of heaven. No one gets out alive.

Maybe that’s a reminder to us all to embrace this one and only life we’re given and to cherish all our loved ones, both the two-legged and four-legged kind.

Let’s none of us take for granted any good things in this life but be perpetually grateful and thankful for even the smallest gifts, mindful of where they came from and Who gave them to us.

 

Let’s Just Pause Right There

“Father, free my foolish heart from believing I need the approval of people when you, the thrice holy God of eternity, greatly delights in me” (Scotty Smith).

Let’s just pause right there. Give yourself enough time to let these words soak into your skin and penetrate the very marrow of your bones.

Sometimes you crave the approval of others and chase people’s affections, making a fool of yourself in the process. You spend so much time morphing into what you think everyone else wants you to be that you forget how to be you.

Maybe right now the person whose approval you need most is you.

You’ve been your own harshest critic. Nothing is ever good enough. Even the best moments are rife with mistakes and flaws.

At the end of the day, you can escape from all the others, but you can never run away from you. All those self-deprecating thoughts follow you wherever you go.

Maybe right at this very moment all you need is to remember that your Abba Father delights in you. Not tolerates. Not likes. Not mildly approves. Delights.

If you could combine every romance in history, every tender affection of parent and child, brother and sister, every love between friends, all the love the world has ever known, it would still fall far short of the love that God has for you.

God loves you that much. He delights in you. Even on days when you felt you did absolutely nothing right and royally pissed everyone off and made a jackass of yourself, God still loves you as much as on those rare magical perfect days.

Just pause right there and let everything else go for a little while. It’ll all still be there in a few moments. And so will your Abba Father.

 

 

What It Means to Care

“To care means first of all to empty our own cup and to allow the other to come close to us. It means to take away the many barriers which prevent us from entering into communion with the other. When we dare to care, then we discover that nothing human is foreign to us, but that all the hatred and love, cruelty and compassion, fear and joy can be found in our own hearts. When we dare to care, we have to confess that when others kill, I could have killed too. When others torture, I could have done the same. When others heal, I could have healed too. And when others give life, I could have done the same. Then we experience that we can be present to the soldier who kills, to the guard who pesters, to the young man who plays as if life has no end, and to the old man who stopped playing out of fear for death.

By the honest recognition and confession of our human sameness, we can participate in the care of God who came, not to the powerful but powerless, not to be different but the same, not to take our pain away but to share it. Through this participation we can open our hearts to each other and form a new community” (Henri Nouwen, Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life).

Perhaps if we had this spirit of caring, we would not be so quick to celebrate at another’s downfall or to assign evil motives to another’s actions. We would not be so smug and self-righteous when judging those we deem our enemies.

Jesus told us to love our enemies precisely because we are no different than them in that we have the same sin nature dwelling in each of us and are just as capable of any heinous act apart from the saving grace of God.

Once again, show grace instead of judgment and love instead of hate. The caring way is always the best way to go.

A Different Take on Psalm 23

“God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
    right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
    my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
    every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
    for the rest of my life” (Psalm 23, The Message).

If you’ve read this Psalm in the same translation all your life, chances are you’ve probably become so accustomed to it that you’ve lost the meaning.

Sometimes it takes a fresh perspective to make Scripture come alive again. For instance, a different translation.

I hope this one makes Psalm 23 a living and breathing word to you tonight, as well as a fresh reminder of how much you are loved by your Great Shepherd.

 

Even Mondays Can be Good Again

“… so if we’re being honest here, we’re tempted to look at everything we’re facing, throw up our arms up & say, ‘I don’t see how?’
And You open Your arms wide & say: ‘Come see Me.’

We sit down & say, ‘This all feels too heavy to carry.’
And You sit closer & say, ‘My shoulders can carry any weight you feel.’

We look around & say, ‘But how in the world will we get through what’s ahead?’
And You look gently at us & say,
‘Just take all your world & lay it on My heart —
*and I’ll work the best through everything.*’

And You hold us close enough so we feel it:
Sometimes we don’t have to know the way through…
We just have to lean on the One who says He’s The Way” (Ann Voskamp). #HonestPrayers #RealPeople

I posted this two years ago and it still rings as true now as it did then. When the week hasn’t even started and you already feel beat up and worn out and run down, this word is for you.

God’s got this. You don’t have to be strong enough, smart enough, sly enough, or strategic enough. You just have to be surrendered enough. You just have to trust the God who’s already been there and made a way through.

Nothing that happens to you this week will catch God off guard or take Him by surprise. Even if that unlikely worst case scenario happens, you’re still safe in the arms of the One who still works all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Go in the grace and mercy of God and make Monday a good one.