I Still Grieve (But I Understand Grace)

‘Who gathered this flower?’ The gardener answered, ‘The Master.’ And his fellow servant held his peace.”

It was November 13th, in the year of our Lord 1999, was unlike any day I have ever experienced. A beating with a baseball bat would seem preferable. On this cold afternoon, hell was unleashed on my wife and me. What we encountered was soul-wrenching and profoundly tragic.

Perhaps a parent’s worst nightmare is the loss of a child. On this day we lost Elizabeth Grace. She was stillborn, which is rare these days– or so I have been told. She entered this world fully formed, a beautiful baby girl. Today, she would have been 24 years old, and maybe married, planning a family of her own?

“But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

2 Samuel 12:23, (When David’s newborn son died.)

Our loss was grievous, but we are not unique.

Plenty of families have suddenly lost a child. I can truly commiserate with them. Somehow we are connected in a perverse way. It seems like an exclusive club, that requires a secret handshake, or something. Suddenly without warning, you are thrown into personal chaos, and very little is remotely decipherable, even to a believer.

The book of Ecclesiastes that there is a definite “time to mourn.”  Matthew tells us, “Blessed are those who mourn.” He does go on to say. “for they shall be comforted.” This comfort is available for any who chooses to take it, but you can refuse it if you really want to.

Grief unites us all, but Jesus loves us infinitely.

I can’t imagine meeting life without his care and comfort. He has been outstandingly gracious to this family. Sure there was pain, but there was also tenderness and a kind grace. Still, sometimes it may have felt like a “kick in the head.” (But I assure you– it was grace.)

What I still can’t understand is simply this. What would it have cost God to allow Elisabeth to live? I mean, what ‘skin off His nose’ would’ve it taken to let her live? To this day I still have questions, but I have decided to trust. (I trust Him after all, to save my soul.)

Those who have suffered will comprehend and grasp, the noxious environment of grief and loss.

But we can only take what we are dealt. The sadness is there, but so is His comfort. Make no mistake, His love matches (and even exceeds) the pain and the loss of a child. Truly, God is wonderful and He is good.

I do know that He loves me, a weirdly rascalish, struggling disciple. He holds me close to His precious heart, and I will have no other gods except Him. I will not take up umbrage with Him on this. But I must believe that someday soon, I will truly and completely understand this.

Lynn and I celebrate her birthday every year.

 

Dying to Self

You will never have resurrection power unless there is crucifixion weakness. 

In this particular post, we’re looking at an element of Christian discipleship that ties us all together. It’s our common denominator as His disciples. We must learn to die to ourselves to be faithful. There can be no obedience unless we choose to carry our cross to a place of death.

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.”

Galatians 5:24

But what does that look like? How can I know that I’m really doing this? Maybe this will guide you. I think it’s worth prayerful consideration

 

dying-to-self

By no means is this list exhaustive. Hardly. But you know that may be good. The principle of crucifying self then has the room to fit all areas of your life–the core idea of self-renunciation becomes the way your spirit operates.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Matthew 16:24

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Mark 8:34

“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Luke 9:23

“Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”

Luke 14:27

We deny ourselves so real life can begin. There isn’t any other way to follow Him.

We must go to the cross daily in order to find our life. That is the way. “This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with him we will also live with him.”

2 Timothy 2:11

bry-signat (1)

 

The Great Physician Who Loves the Broken

“Leave the broken, irreversible past in God’s hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.”

– Oswald Chambers

I wrote this poem the other day for ‘Thankful Thursday’ on my own blog. Knowing that many who visit Broken Believers struggle with illness and pain, I thought this would be good to share here as well.

There are plenty of cracked clay pots around this place, and God is in the business of using and healing cracked pots. (And actually, I have to believe that is His preference.)

Our Great Physician

Illness comes to everyone –
pain, fever, fatigue, and tears
Chronic or acute, it’s such a trial –
these clay pots we inhabit
are so incredibly fragile
even in the hands of the Potter

But our Great Physician
provides strength, comfort –
Sometimes He brings doctors,
nurses, and medication –
Wisdom and talents used
to do His will, to heal, to mend

Sometimes all it takes
is to touch the hem of His robe –
Like the woman who bled
for twelve long years, outcast
one moment, then healed
completely and wholly

The greatest good –
spiritual health and salvation
for the least of us, for all –
each clay pot is used to help others
as grace leaks out of cracks –
Cracks that never seem to heal

Sometimes what the Physician
has in store is our ultimate healing –
A new body, new life eternal
in a place of no more pain,
no tears, energy galore –
as death brings everyone home

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

2 Corinthians 4:7-12 (NIV)

Your Sister in Christ,

Linda K.

Check out Linda’s blog.

An Injured Life

“A pearl is a beautiful thing that is produced by an injured life. It is the tear [that results] from the injury of the oyster.”

“The treasure of our being in this world is also produced by an injured life. If we had not been wounded, if we had not been injured, then we will not produce the pearl.”

 –Stephan Hoeller

Sometimes we find it almost impossible to see things from God’s perspective. We hurt, and lash out, sometimes irrationally. We subconsciously compare our situation to others we see and admire. This is something we do almost automatically. When it feels like we are being singled out, we get angry with God. Deep down, we know better, but anger can get the best of us.

God’s business is pearl-planting. He’s looking for a soft heart that can be cultivated.

His intention is never to harm but to enrich us. When Lynn and I lost our daughter, Elizabeth, the pain was incredible. We looked and saw healthy families all around us. I began to accuse God and compare us with them. We hurt, they did not, and it seemed so unfair. It’s been awfully hard. But as time moved on, I slowly felt the growth inside. Over time it has become a pearl. 

A pearl of great price, because it came to us as a result of our daughter’s tragic death.

Our lives have been injured, and perhaps my illness has exacerbated things. Maybe physical issues or pain are a definite part of your life. There is a myriad of ways we can hurt. At times we are angry. But remember, God has a plan and He also understands completely. When Jesus meets you in heaven–he will do so with nail-pierced hands.

“Though he slays me, I will hope in him.”

Job 13:15

A really, really good book:

Paul Billheimer, the Christian author, wrote a book years ago entitled, “Don’t Waste Your Sorrows“. (The title alone is worth the price of the book.) We each have the potential of throwing away the work of God in suffering. We can literally waste the pain, suffering, and grief by turning our back and denouncing God to the world. It happens all the time.

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