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The presence of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life must not be underestimated.  The Spirit moves in its own way and timing; in ways humans are unable to see or discern.  This is true in every facet of a Christian’s life, which includes seasons of grief.

When endings come and certain challenges follow, it may seem as though the Spirit of Holiness is gone.  He is not.  He is present to guide, comfort, counsel, and help—just as before. However, grief numbs everything.  It is difficult to feel anything worthwhile.  But the Holy Spirit lives and moves beyond human limits, and links by love that which has purpose and meaning—even in goodbyes.

Lord of Reason, Your purposes are exact.  Come, Holy Spirit, to be with those who are in grief.  Comfort and reside in these needful hearts.  And by Thy might, grant a comfortable assurance that You are near, and that each is being carried by Your love in this season of goodbye to a time of purpose. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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One may not think of grief as an achievement.  A spiritual achievement, that is.  Yet, grief has all the makings for spiritual growth.  Grief’s ways are painful and arduous and seemingly unending.  But the sorrows we bear hold wisdom and purpose; revelations that shall only come in God’s timing.

 The God of all comfort and purpose sees the struggles we face.  He is with us in them.  As sons and daughters of God, His earthly and eternal purpose for us is to make us more like Jesus.  Sorrow is part of the process.  Sorrow is part of what grows us spiritually.  Through it all, He promised to be with us.  When it hurts, and when you cannot FEEL God, trust that He is still with you.  For He is.

Father of Life, Your promises are real.  Your proof of love is in Jesus.  By the might of Thy Holy Spirit, tenderize hearts this week to know that You are in the midst of any and every tear shed and in every step we take.  All this is asked in Jesus and for His sake, Amen.

Grief asks questions.   How could this happen?  Why me?  Why?  Who am I now?  How can I carry on?  The heart and mind seek answers but the unpredictability of grief is such that those answers are often long in coming and come during and after an emotional season of adjusting to a significant loss.

Every answer in life comes up to Jesus.  Whatever the questions, He is the answer.  He is there with you to guide you through the painful questions and be your support as answers come.  The Holy Spirit has a way of offering what we are to know and when we are ready to know it.  When grief asks its questions, be assured that Jesus is the answer.  Because of Him you are never alone as you seek answers and discover them.  In the process, He will furnish you will renewed strength and hope.   Trust Him.

Lord Jesus, our limited view is no match for Your perfect eyes.  Be our vision through grief’s stay.  Keep us mindful that every painful question we ask is one You long to answer with the love and presence of Yourself.  In Thy Name, Amen.

Job.  To think of his name is to think suffering.  Job’s life is an illustration of a man’s faith tried and tested because of multiple losses.  Even though the Lord God gave Satan permission to sift Job as wheat, Job came forth faithful to the God who had given him everything.   Therefore, it is no wonder that Job stands out as a unique figure and a model when we suffer in this age.

Job’s greatness was in his ability to hold on.  Yes, he was weak in every way; he experienced deep pain due to loss of health, loneliness, and grief.  But the one thing Satan was unable to take was Job’s ability to hold on to God.  Job is a reminder that we give up our faith or we hold to it—even if it is by a thread.  When grief and pain are penetrating, remember a thin thread of faith is sufficient to keep one connected to the invisible and  unbreakable bond with God.

Lord, sometimes we suffer pains so deep it seems impossible to go on.  Because of you, going on is possible.  By the might of Thy Holy Spirit, stir in us ample faith for the moment, and bring steady reminders that YOU are holding on to us.  In the clear Name of Jesus, Amen.

A new month.  A new beginning.  As August 2010 unfolds, it offers a new slate of hope and opportunity.  Oh, some of that opportunity will surely be concealed.  That is the way of God.  He often uses plights as the impetus to draw us closer to Him.  Nevertheless, there is opportunity disguised in problems and pain.  The key is to be vulnerable and surrendered to become closer to the Lord in the times of challenge or sorrow.

Jesus’ life was one of surrender to the Father’s will.  Although Jesus walked this earth as the Son of God, He lived human experiences and suffered human pains.  Jesus knows what it is to hurt and to yield; to empty Himself.   Whatever you face this week, the face of Jesus goes before you to meet the moments and the days.  Trust that.  Acknowledge that The Son’s example to surrender to God’s will is the same example we are given to follow.  When our relationship with God through Christ remains kindled by reliance and trust, then august God keeps warm a hope that pain and circumstances cannot cool.

Jesus, You have shown us how to live by the way You did—staying close to the Father.  Lord, bless Thy saints who hurt and are in need of healing with a touch from You.  Awaken hope so that each may live certain they take every step with Thee.  Amen.

EMPTY NESTS

All things were made by Him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. John 1:3

Don’t blink!
This is the advice of one dear dad to his daughter when she gave birth to her first child.  In blinks—this is how fast the years go by.  One day there are diapers, the next the training wheels are off the bicycle, and next they are launching out into the world and leaving home.  College, work, marriage, relocation, and new relationships are factors that make for departures.  While these activities are expected to occur one day, the one day becomes personal and often comes too soon for the likes of parents who must now adjust to an empty nest.

Whether or not there are still other children and/or a spouse in the home, the absence of a child is a transition eventually made by all parents and siblings as well.  Natural brooders, moms are accustomed to having their young ones around.  Natural protectors, dads feel a steady pull to guard.  When these actions are curtailed, mom or dad can feel displaced—even in their own home!

When the nest changes and has been emptied of life as one knew it, the echoes of yesterday can be both rewarding and haunting.  Reminders of days overwhelmed with raising a child, an array of inimitable memories, and pangs due to silence all make for what can be an uncomfortable and emotional adjustment.  This is a time of grief.  Sorrow, loneliness, longing, guilt, regret, and even anger can show up.  It is worth recognizing that even happy departures are tinged with sorrow and grief.

While there is often joy in seeing young ones branch out on their own, the reality of these actions spurs feelings of loss.  To be needed and wanted are powerful human pulls.  When a parent no longer feels that same role is as full as before, grief can settle in.  Growing into a new identity and new expression of that role as mom, dad, sister or brother will be different.  However, it in no way minimizes the influence family members continue have on those who are no longer living at home.  In fact, bonds can grow stronger.  Distance will even offer the one who departed new insights and perspective.

Empty nests also come about due to tragic and untimely deaths of young people.  Such absences are grueling.  These losses are penetrating.  They can challenge marriages.  Often hope dies with a life shortened by homicide, suicide and substance abuse.  Unless someone has experienced tragic loss, it is impossible to know the depth of that grief.  Those who grieve young people snatched from life too soon are grievers who need tremendous support, great love, and much time to heal.
Empty nests can be a lifetime undercurrent of emotion for people who long to have children but cannot.  For some, the inability to have a family and participate in loving and raising a child can be an isolating experience.  One may learn to cope but sadness can strike when news of someone else’s child is announced, when someone else’s child celebrates a birthday, and when someone else’s child is deciding where to go to college.  As stated earlier, to be needed and wanted are powerful human pulls.

The warm news of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is that hope ascended when He rose from the tomb.  That hope is everything.  Every ending in the life of a Christian has an inherent resurrection quality.  Jesus’ rise gave birth to hope that lives and outlasts every seen conclusion.  Christ’s rise is proof that all who die in Him shall live eternally.  But the glorious Good News is as optimistic for the earthly life as it is for knowing one’s eternal destination.  You see, in Jesus Christ everything rises again.  New buds of purpose spring up and the Lord transfers unique talents and personalities to new places and new faces.  He magnifies the influence of one on another; a magnification not possible if a nest was still occupied as before.

The Scripture above tells us that all things—not some—all things were made by the Lord.  This means there is purpose in all He creates that is seen and concealed.  Losses in life are painful as they come in different forms.  But if one rests in God’s promise to be with us always, that promise will not only uphold His saints as goodbyes are spoken but will equally uphold the hellos and beginnings that await.

Lord Jesus of Life, how much Your eyes have seen.  You are over the years of our lives to grant grace and strength to allow for remarkable and individual life tales that are our own.  Lord, comfort those who miss someone.  Give tender assurance that they are needed, wanted, and loved.  Assuage any doubts, regrets or longing with Your  presence that exudes hope and loving kindness.  In Thy Name, Amen.