Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bitterness and despair vs. truth and comfort

“It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.”
― A.W. Tozer

I am currently listening to a sermon online by Pastor Greg Laurie titled, "A Passion for Hurting People." He quoted A.W. Tozer above. I hadn't ever heard of Pastor Laurie until yesterday when I visited with my best friend Gale. She mentioned that she listened to his sermons a lot while she was going through her chemo treatments for breast cancer. Yesterday was a painful day. I am not doing well. Neither is Dh. Today marks three months since our son died. I didn't know what to do with this pain, so I left. I loaded up the two youngest boys and got in the van and drove. 

Tim's sister, who had come on Thursday, had taken the rest of the kids to a movie with her husband and their three kids. Tim was at work. I needed to get away. I found myself about an hour later at Gale's. While driving, I cried in anguish and said repeatedly, "Help me, God. Help me." I had the radio station on to KJLY. (It's either that or KTIS.) I needed desperately to hear some truth, the truth of God's word. Two songs, one right after the other, spoke to my shattered, questioning heart. The past several days have been filled with anger, bitterness, and doubt. I have questioned my faith. I have asked, "What's the point of praying if God's going to do whatever He wants anyway?" I again have wondered "Why?" and "What was Matt's purpose?" 

I listened carefully to the words to these two songs as I drove. Both are songs I had never heard before, either. "In the Waiting" by Greg Long was the first, and "How Long?" by Terri and Barry Collecutt was the second song.

In the Waiting
The gift nobody longs for, still it comes
And somehow leaves us stronger
When it's gone away

I try and pray for Your will to be done
But I confess it's never fast enough for me

It seems
the hardest part is waiting on You
When what I really want
Is just to see Your hand move

I want a peace beyond my understanding
I want to feel it fall like rain
In the middle of my hurting
I want to feel Your arms as they surround me
And let me know that it's okay
To be here in this place
Resting in the peace that only comes
In the waiting

Time to let it go and just believe
Trusting in what no one else but You can see

Freedom from the fears that close me in
When I can't get beyond where I have been, but then

The silence doesn't mean that I'm alone
As long as I can hear
That I am still Your own

How Long?
How long, must I wait, Oh, God, for your word to come true
How long, my heart grows faint, oh, God, I need you
to come through
and I know that you're faithful, I know that you're able though I can not hear you
and the darkness that hides you but I know that you're faithful, and I know that you're able
So, I will serve you and my heart will trust you

How long, will this take oh, God, for your hand to move
how long, I'm weak and failing, God, my spirit cries to you.

but I know that you're faithful, I know that you're able though I can not hear you
and the darkness that hides you but I know that you are faithful, and I know that you're able
So, I will serve you and my heart will trust you

Lord, How long, must I wait?
Lord, How long, must I wait?
Lord, How long must I wait?
Must I wait, Must I wait?

I know that you're faithful, and I know that you're able though I can not hear you
and the darkness that hides you but I know that you are faithful, and I know that you're able
So, I will serve you and my heart will trust you

how long, must I wait? I'll wait for you....

I continued to drive and weep. I continued to wonder how on earth a heart that's been shattered into a billion pieces could be fixed. I kept asking, "But what do I do with this pain?" Living with this kind of grief is a daily battle. A battle to decide whom to follow. Bitterness is a tempting choice because one gets so tired of the pain and weary of weeping. And, for us, it's only been 3 months. In the time frame of loss, that is not a long time. Yet I struggled because I also knew that if I professed to belong to Christ, then I also knew that choosing bitterness was a wrong choice. The verse in 1 Peter 5 came to my mind about "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." I need to keep going to Him. 

Gale and I had a wonderful visit, and I was much comforted. I drove home feeling better. Yet I knew I still had a choice to make when it came to being bitter. But I honestly wasn't sure I was ready to let it go. I spent part of the drive home trying to decide before I finally made a choice. What a surprise the next morning then when I read the daily GriefShare email devotion.

Dealing with Anger: Choose to Move Past It
Day 79

Perhaps you are at the point at which you must now choose to move past your anger and bitterness. You have allowed yourself the time and opportunity to slowly vent your anger, and you have honestly expressed those feelings with others. When you are ready to move beyond your anger, be prepared to stick with that decision.

The night Heidi's husband died in a plane crash, she prayed, "God, I know that You have a plan for my life. And I don't want bitterness and anger to well up in my heart, because I have two young children, and we have to go on with our lives."

Heidi says, "I made a decision that night not to become bitter and angry about the situation and not to blame God. Sure, I asked why and I didn't understand, but I wasn't going to blame God, and I wasn't going to blame other people."

You, too, can choose to move past anger with the Lord's help.

"I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful" (1 Timothy 1:12).

Jesus, strengthen me to move beyond my anger and bitterness and to stay there. Amen.

 I haven't finished listening to the rest of Pastor Laurie's sermon, but he makes yet another surprising statement. "The faith that cannot be tested is the faith that cannot be trusted." I didn't ask for my faith to be tested. I didn't ask to be thrown into this endlessly deep sea of grief. I didn't ask to be somebody else's testimony. I didn't ask to be made stronger. The night before Matt died, in speaking to a friend, I said "He (God) is my all in all." I wasn't asking to be tested as to whether I meant it or not. But I am not my own. I was bought with a price. How funny that my life verse is and has been Galatians 2:20. "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."

1 Peter 4: 12-13 "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation." 

Pastor Laurie also states "...if your faith is real, it will get stronger through testing, not weaker." That comment led me to remember God's character. He purposes for our good. His aim is not to destroy us or take away our strength. It is always for good. He loves us. It doesn't have to make sense. It doesn't make sense to me, but I know God's character. He is love. He is perfect. He is without sin and cannot lie. I take comfort in these truths. "As God's children, we live on promises, not explanations." Warren Wiersbe


  1. Some great quotes here thanks. I usually listen to John Piper or Tim Keller, I must start listening to Greg Laurie. I blog on my journey through grief over at
    I was part of a precepts Bible study until my daughter became ill, I've yet to regain my concentration and attention span!

    1. Thank you, Victoria! I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't studied Precepts all those years before losing our son. I'm thankful for having hid His word in my heart, for it is His word that came up when sorrow overtook, when my own words failed me. ((hugs)) to you.

  2. I'm so sorry, Victoria, on the loss of your beautiful daughter. God's grace, peace, and strength to you.