“From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. “
Sitting in the back seat, gazing out of this foggy window of the rental car, headed to Oklahoma to do ministry. We are in the middle of nowhere. The rain drops are pouring. I look out and see trees on both sides. A sweet touch of Fall is on the rise, as the tips of each leaf are starting to change colors, from the different shades of green, to the golden, warm hues that add that comforting touch of, (sigh) FALL.
What is it about this time of year that warms my heart, and gives me the feeling of JOY, PEACE, REST? If I could describe my life in one word, I would say “blessed.” However, as I take a glimpse to my right, and watch my baby girl, with each breath, lips puckered, her tiny feet that barely reach the tip of her car seat, sleeping like the angel that she is, my heart can’t help but think of Baby Sophie, the same age as my Evie girl, and her sweet daddy, Chris, who just lost her Mommy, his wife, from Cancer this passed Monday.
Why do bad things happen to good people? I wish I had the answers. Yes, I am a believer, however, I am human. I have the same questions that most people have when tragedy hits. Why God? You are God. You have control. Why is this happening? Hurricane Patricia is hitting Mexico. Many will be killed. Some will survive but will have lost everything they own. Homeless. Broken. Wandering. Why God? Isis is continuing to destroy. The world is coming against Israel. School shootings. Sickness. People are hurting. As I call myself blessed, on one hand, I find myself feeling guilty for being happy, on the other, because of the pain that I see going on around me.
Faced with so many unanswered questions, yet holding on to the only thing that I know is true. Lead me, oh God, to the Rock that is higher than I. The word of God never promised that we wouldn’t face hardships. We live in a fallen world. God never intended all of these things to happen, yet due to the fall of man, we now live in a world of sorrow, evil doings, and we will face trials.
In my own life, I have soared above the mountaintop, and I’ve been low in the valley of the shadow of death. I’ve seen victory, and I’ve seen misery. I’ve shed tears. I’ve laughed until every part of my body ached! My heart has been broken into a million pieces, only to be slowly put back together, and made stronger than what it was before. I’ve lost loved ones. I’ve watched families shatter, and abuse destroy identity. I have seen it all : the picture of grief meeting grace. What I can tell you is that trying to fix things and do life without Jesus, led me into more heart ache and pain. But allowing Jesus to come in and walk with me through the healing process of a broken heart, led me to life that exceeded every expectation, beyond my wildest dreams. The God of the valley… Hm…There is no place quite like it… And no one quite like my Savior. In the midst of all of life’s situations, the world keeps turning. People keep living. We are forced to move on. The valley can make one bitter, yet if we take a moment to reflect on the word of God, trusting in the Lord and leaning not on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5), we can find beauty of grace hidden within the deep, dark, crevices of grief. Once again, Christ didn’t promise a pain free life, but He did make promises that we can hold on to as the anchor of our souls. Here are a few scriptures that I find comfort in reading :
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 “Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
Psalm 18:28 “You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”
Psalm 46:1-2 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”
Revelation 21:4 “ ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Psalm 119:50 “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”
Romans 8:18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
2 Corinthians 7:10 “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
Psalm 18:2 “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
The verses are endless, filled with his promises for when trials come. God is a good God, and we have this hope that one day, we will live for eternity, in a perfect, painless, peaceful, world. Until then, we fix our eyes, not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:13) We hold on to this truth and trust that He is working all things together for good. (Romans 8:28)
Life is but a vapor. The one thing that I have learned within my 28 years of life, is that being in relationship with Jesus, does not mean that we will no longer face the valley. My husband says it so beautifully, “Every season has its beauty and it’s burden. It’s all contingent upon your perspective.” I wouldn’t be who I am today without the hardships that I’ve walked through. There have been many days in my life where I found myself carrying heavy baggage of shame, guilt, unforgiveness, insecurity, I could go on and on. That got me no where. I have learned to let things go, simply because they were heavy. Trusting God is so much sweeter. The cross was, is, and will always be enough. It took His death for our freedom, our salvation. IT. IS. ENOUGH. Grief, pain, sorrow, death, met grace that day, 2000 years ago, upon an old rugged cross… And through that collision, LIFE has been given.
I guess what I am trying to say is, there is beauty in our sufferings. We don’t have all the answers and we may not always understand. But hold on my friend.. It’s not over until we meet Jesus face to face.
We have this hope, as an anchor for our soul… (Hebrews 6:19)
As the old church saints say… “Keep on keepin on…”
And as the lyrics of one of my all time favorite hymns say..” Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take him at his word. Just to rest upon His promise, just to know, thus saith the Lord.”
Oh Happy Day my friends when Grief meets Grace. Every individuals path looks a bit different. Whatever your road looks like, this too shall pass. The process is ugly, yet oh so beautiful. May Gods grace help you find the beauty in the midst of the ashes.
May the Lord bless you and keep you, and cause his face to shine upon you. Give you grace and peace, now and forever. Amen.
This blog is dedicated to the sweet Shepherd family, Chris and Sophie, and of course #lizzystrong . Your legacy will live on Liz ! We will all reunite again soon!