Saturday, December 22, 2012


I firmly believe there are several essential "lifelines" (a.k.a. beliefs) one needs in order to heal well from the loss of a loved one. My mind goes especially to the parents of the Newtown, CT school shooting victims who are just beginning the journey of grief. They are now members of the club no one wants to be a part of. Looking back to the beginning of our journey, I remember several "lifelines" that were, and continue to be, instrumental to our healing thus far.

Lifeline #1: God loves you
Lifeline #2: God is Sovereign
Lifeline #3: God is good

Lifeline #4: God desires you to express your grief to Him

Lifeline #5: God designed us for Heaven; this world is not our home.

The first lifeline is crucial, I believe, to the healing process. Ramon Presson in his book, "When Will My Life Not Suck" states, "I have discovered in my years of counseling that most people can endure almost anything if they are assured of at least one of two things: 1) they are loved or 2) the current situation or condition is temporary and will either improve or completely pass."(pg.34) 

I found that immediately after Matt died, over and over again, I kept hearing "God loves you." I didn't even realize how badly I needed to hear that until someone would say it. It was like having someone place an oxygen mask over my face, and I felt resuscitated each time I heard it. I find it interesting, however, that for my husband, it was the second assurance statement of Presson that spoke most deeply. My husband drew comfort in knowing that the overwhelming grief and pain would not always be there, that God, over time, would bring healing.

Lifeline #2 is a tough one. God's sovereignty is an enigma to many people. If He is sovereign, then why doesn't He stop bad things from happening? Why does he allow loss? I find it comforting, however, to know that there is a sovereign God who rules over all, even death. Our lives are not in the hands of a ruler who does not know what He is doing. I take great solace in knowing that the LORD Almighty has a purpose and a plan in all things. Our lack of understanding about His ways does not define His character. We can trust our Maker.

The belief that God is good is also fundamental to healing. I think many people draw the wrong conclusion that the allowance of bad things must mean either an impotent God or an evil God. This is simply not true. God reveals Himself through His Word, the Bible. Many people know so little about God and His character because they do not study His Word.

When the sorrows of this life come into our lives, they are filtered through the loving heart and fingers of the Almighty. What we do with them matters. What do we do with this horrendous, overwhelming grief? Do we suffer well? "Our response is our responsibility." (Emerson Eggerichs)  Do we turn to God in complaint or do we curse Him? There is a huge difference. In the Bible, Job complained honestly and lamented frankly while his wife gave a wrong picture of how to grieve. The Bible shows us what to do with our sorrow, and there is no better example than the books of Job and Psalms. In fact, there are more psalms of lament and complaint (vulnerable frankness) than of thanksgiving and worship. It is comforting to know that "There is no human experience which cannot be put on the anvil of a lively relationship with God and man, and battered into a meaningful shape." (God's Healing for Life's Losses)

Finally, lifeline #5 is what keeps me from drowning in the sea of sorrow. For every moment of grief, I must remember that this world is not our home. This is not where we belong. From the very beginning, God had a plan for His creation and is working it out in His time, His way. I know that I must trust Him and trust His Word. And I can because He alone is trustworthy and faithful. Remembering lifeline #5 is also what helps me to remember the truth that my son is alive. He is alive in Heaven. Remembering that is what helps me to go forward. The end of every day is one day closer to eternity where there will be "no more death or mourning or crying or pain..." God Himself will wipe every tear from our eyes. (Rev. 21:4)  
God does not leave us when tragedies hit. He is there, throwing us a lifeline. If you're in the sea of sorrow, take hold of the lifeline and He will bring you to safety. Though the sea billows roll, you can say, "It is well with my soul.


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