Living With Loss Archives 2008
Home2. Be Gentle3. Replace Anxiety With Prayer4. Control Thoughts5. Care for Others6. Be Content7. Know God Supplies All of Our NeedsArchives

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  • Finding Blessings in Our Loss by Dot Gosnell
  • Deb Griffin shares her loss and blessings
  • Book review: Can Grief Be a Blessing? by Margaret Head
  • Helping Grandchildren Deal with Grief
  • A Child's Grief (poem) by M.S. Lowndes
  • The Widow in Our Midst by Cindy Granke
  • Lessons Learned From Adversity by John Shirley
  • How to Help Grieving People
  • Crying Happy Tears (poem) by Bettye Locklair
  • A Trail of Tears (poem)
  • It Is Well With My Soul by Arnie Granke
  • Playing it Where it Lies by Gary Ogden
  • Losing a Friend by Arnie Granke
  • Heaven will surely be worth it all (poem) by W. Oliver Cooper


Finding Blessings In Our Loss…
Dot Gosnell

     A lot of people (some probably within the Lord’s church) would probably question how anyone could consider having breast cancer, not once, but twice, as a blessing.  Well, there are many blessings to be found in this, as with many other illnesses.  I am not saying I wanted to have breast cancer or that anyone else wants to have any kind of disease.  We all know that isn’t the case.


    Here are some reasons I feel this way:


     I now know what it is like to feel true pain.  Not only physical pain, but also emotional pain.  I can help others who are going through what I have been through.  We all know that when you are trying to help someone else out with something that they are going through, it makes it easier to help them, if they know that you have been through the same thing.


     I now know what it is to really feel the true love of my family.  My husband, who so gallantly stood by my side through this whole ordeal, hardly ever  left my side through both surgeries and was right here in this house for me if I needed any kind of help.  He went with me to all of my doctors appointments, with pen and paper in hand, in order to write down everything that the doctors would be telling us, knowing that we would forget things if he didn’t do this.  I never saw him cry until the second surgery, right before I went into the operating room, and then he just couldn’t contain it anymore.  He didn’t want to see me have to go through this again.  I have to tell you that it made me feel good to be able to hug him and give him some comfort this time.  Our daughter, Melissa standing there trying so hard not to cry so she could help to bolster up Mom and Dad, who needed her then.  Such a blessing our daughter is to us.  What a blessing this wonderful family of mine.

     I now really know what it is like to fee the true love of brethren.  Cindy Granke, my friend for well over 20 years, coming into the hospital right after surgery and leaving me a note to let me know that she had been there.  I was out cold at the time but it meant a lot to read that note when I woke up.  Then to come back and bring me a wonderful stuffed teddy bear, that I named Cindy.   Arnie Granke, for stopping up at the hospital to talk to Fred and let him know he was there.  I barely remember him being there, as that was a bad night for me.  All of the other wonderful brethren, who we worship with….  Dot Richardson, who went out of her way, even with her very busy schedule to see to it that Fred’s (elderly)mom and (disabled) sister got to their appointments and also went to get their groceries for them.  All of the other brethren here at Woodland, who brought encouragement and food for both Fred and I.  So many brethren from several different congregations around us.  David and Anne Powlas, for their encouraging emails and cyber cards;  Kenny and Diane Owens for their phone calls and cards;  Jim and Kay Cliatt for their cards.  So many who sent encouraging e-mails and cards.  These are all blessings.


     I now know what it is like to have friends who we have never met personally and be uplifted by them.  One of these I am going to single out, but I want you all to know how very, very much you all are appreciated.  This person is Gene Britton.  You see, Gene’s wife had gone to be with the Lord not long before my diagnosis and surgery.  This wonderful man, in the midst of his own loss and pain of missing his own wife, sent us daily encouraging emails.  He was always encouraging, even though we knew he had to be having some bad days.  Never could we read between the lines anything that sounded like anything other than love, encouragement, and letting us know he was there, praying for us.  He prayed for before my surgery, during it, and after it, and he wanted Fred to know that he was there for him.  He was concerned how Fred was doing.  Understandably, we sometimes tend to focus on the person who is going through the pain, and we forget the emotional pain and helpless feeling that the husband, wife, daughter, or son of the patient is going through.  He knew!  He was there, and continues to be there.  This is total selflessness and you are truly a blessing, Gene Britton.


     I now really know the true blessings in life and I am not concerned with dying.  I know that I will be with the Lord and I know that God will see to it that my family is taken care of.  True blessings come in the least expected things.  Yes, we all have so much to be thankful for.

     The letter above appeared in the April 1999 issue of Our Hope.  Dot overcame the sufferings of the flesh and escaped the bonds of earth in March of 2007.  This seemed an appropriate time to share her letter about finding blessings in her suffering.

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     Our thanks to Debra Griffin, one of our readers who has shared her own losses with us in the letter below.  ♥  When you share your sorrows and your losses with us, it helps other readers to realize that they are not alone in their grief.   ♥  When you share how you coped with your grief, it helps other readers in their own struggle to cope with their own grief.   Cindy 


     Today is a difficult day for me, made much easier by prayer and celebrating the birthdays of our Grandaughter Kaylie, Daughter-In-Laws Jenny & Holly & our oldest Son Gregg's birthdays in the month of Dec.  

     32 years ago today I laid in a hospital where I gave birth to our precious baby girl Kendra who was stilborn. Then on this day in 2001 my father (whom I really never knew) passed away. Though I did not know him, it made his passing more difficult along with the fact that he was not a Christian. I look at this day each year and I feel sadness. But then I reflect on the one card that someone sent to us when we lost Kendra. It said, "When God closes a door he opens a window" It took only a year for us to understand what window he opened. Many wonderful things have happened to us & people brought into our lives over the years that showed us, yes God does open a window.

     But the first window He opened came just a year after we lost Kendra. A gift from God our Gregg was born on Dec 20, 1976 8 lbs 4 oz 21 1/4 in. long. A bundle of joy that was so welcomed and loved beyond words.

     Then the 2nd window He opened with another gift our Chuck was born on Jan 20, 1979 7 lbs 4 oz 19 inches long. A bundle of joy again loved beyond words!

     Each have brought blessings and growth to their father & myself over the years.

     Then window # 3 was opened, in July 1979 I found out that I was expecting again!! We were so excited, but soon that excitement turned to grief at the miscarriage of yet another baby. But a blessing in that we know our baby is with God & their sister. And a valuable lesson that one day would help others.

     The 4th window He opened Jenny our daughter-in-law walked through more than 12 yrs. ago. When Gregg & Jenny started dating we started celebrating her birth on Dec. 10th, that made Dec. 11th a little less painful. She has blessed our home in more ways than I can express. Taking care of my father-in-law & at the loss of Joe's father she was right by my side ever supportive!

     Our 5th window came as Jenny & Gregg blessed us with news around Thanksgiving 2003 where we gathered family & friends around our phone in the office with family on the other end of the line in Okla. And we announced that they were going to make us Grandparents!! There were lots of congrats and hugs to go around!! Then on Dec. 15th 2003 Gregg called with tears telling us that Jenny was losing the baby. Our hearts were broken for the pain of loss that they were feeling. Our prayers were at that time, that through our own loss years before we were able to comfort them in some way. So our 1st grandbaby rest in heaven in the care of God with Aunt Kendra & 2 of her sibblings. Though a loss, still a blessing that can't be described with words, but one that the heart feels.


     Then in 2004 when our youngest daughter-in-law Holly entered through window #6 that God opened for us. We celebrate her birth on Dec. 24th each year!! She came into our lives during the beginning of Joe's dad's illness & death. She started out sitting with me in the E.R. where I was told to call the family home. She sat with dad & he felt comfortable with her there as I made those difficult calls to his children. Though she did not know us, she was wonderful to us. She has blessed our home in the last 3 yrs. beyond what words can describe.

     Then almost 30 yrs. from the date that we lost Kendra came our 7th gift from God. Kaylie Marie born Dec. 5, 2005 A day that every emotion that I had know, I felt all at one time. From extreme joy to a sense of what I had lost years earlier. Kaylie is now 2 and she has blessed our home so. Blessed with a little personality that demands attention to all who pass by her!! She is our oldest grandaughter.

     Then just short of 6 weeks after God had blessed us so with Kaylie, our 8th opened window our gift from God, Presley Jade was born, she struggled from birth for life. She spent over a week in NICU, but the zeal for life and strength this precious baby girl showed was unbelieveable. She is almost 2 and still has that strength & zeal for life! One man described her as gleaming when she walked into the room & happy to see you & expressed it with her face. Doctor's are amazed that she is so healthy after enduring the illneses at birth.


    And surprise here came our 9th opened window from God, Avery Skye was born April 18, 2007! A vibrant, loving, happy girl who has the most beautiful smile on earth! She is still little enough to give you big slobbery kisses & we love each one of them!! She have given us much joy and she isn't a year yet!!

      Then something we didn't expect at all, our 10th gift from God is getting ready to through that window He has opened!! Another Grandaughter will be born around April 22, 2008!! The day after Grandma's birthday!! Having Jenny due around the same time as Holly was a year ago is very wonderful!! We have not seen her, but Jenny has let both Joe & I feel her in mommy's tummy! We can already tell how special she is going to be!

     Thanks be to God, that He always blesses us in ways that we never dreamed of. He gives us strength & peace that passes all of our understanding.

     Today was a difficult day, but spending the day with 2 of the gifts that God has so richly blessed us with was so delightful. We went to the Zoo with Jenny & Kaylie! It was a cold, gloomy day. But just knowing the gifts from God we have in them made it very bright & cheerful. And what is really strange, is that Joe as he waited outside the bathroom for us heard something that really touched our hearts. He told us when we came out that a mother came up and sat down, she had a little girl and she called her name out, "Kendra" How sweet is that.

     After the zoo we went out to eat. Jenny & Kaylie sat across from us. Kaylie reached for me & as I took her, my heart felt that it would burst with love and peace. The pain I felt for so many years has gradually subsided & our windows that God blessed us through has filled our hearts and lives with love & laughter. Thanks be to God He is so wonderful.

     Take courage if you have suffered loss, one day that loss will be a blessing and not a heartache to you. Reach for Him and hold on tight and trust in His words. May God bless each of you as He has so RICHLY blessed us!! 

     There is a book that I recommend to all. A dear sister in Christ who has suffered so many losses, has written it. She is one of the most positive women I know. I thank God that I have her to look up to. Her name is Margaret Head & The book has brought tears to mens eyes, but gives courage for the heart. Margaret sent me the manuscript of this new book, "Can Grief Be A Blessing" and touched my heart in a way that only few have. She knew that I have suffered for over 20 yrs. with pain. She wanted "ME" to let her know what I thought of it. It is real life folks, there may be people in the book that you know. Margaret has suffered many losses in her own life, and yet still chose to nurse the patients that she knew she would lose. I know personally how she has touched the life of many Christians along her way. She is bubbly, joyful, zealous & the most gentle woman I've ever met! She has been a Christian for most of her life and writes accordingly! I wrote her and told her I loved the book so much that when it came out for print to let me know and I would send the info. out to all of you. I've read it, and still I'm going to buy the book. It's one that you want in your liberary to pass it along to your children and grandchildren. Let Magaret know that I sent this to you, Please support this woman who has striven to be the virtuous woman of Prov. 31:10-31 I think Margaret is now in her 80's and you would never know it! Please pass it on to those you know. Her name is Margaret Head & here is her email address please if you can write to her and request your copy of her book.
maggieks126@earthlink.net

Love & Prayers  
Deb Griffin  


If God brings you to it,
He will bring you through it.

Happy moments, praise God.
Difficult moments, seek God.
Quiet moments, worship God.
Painful moments, trust God.
Every moment, thank God
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Can Grief be a Blessing?
by Margaret E. Head
(a book review)

In last month's issue Debra Griffin mentioned a book by Margaret Head, "Can Grief Be a Blessing?" Debra writes:  "There is a book that I recommend to all. A dear sister in Christ who has suffered so many losses, has written it. She is one of the most positive women I know. I thank God that I have her to look up to. Her name is Margaret Head & The book has brought tears to mens eyes, but gives courage for the heart. Margaret sent me the manuscript of this new book, "Can Grief Be A Blessing" and touched my heart in a way that only few have. She knew that I have suffered for over 20 yrs. with pain. She wanted "ME" to let her know what I thought of it. It is real life folks, there may be people in the book that you know. Margaret has suffered many losses in her own life, and yet still chose to nurse the patients that she knew she would lose. I know personally how she has touched the life of many Christians along her way. She is bubbly, joyful, zealous & the most gentle woman I've ever met! She has been a Christian for most of her life and writes accordingly! I wrote her and told her I loved the book so much that when it came out for print to let me know and I would send the info. out to all of you. I've read it, and still I'm going to buy the book. It's one that you want in your liberary to pass it along to your children and grandchildren. Let Magaret know that I sent this to you, Please support this woman who has striven to be the virtuous woman of Prov. 31:10-31 I think Margaret is now in her 80's and you would never know it! Please pass it on to those you know. Her name is Margaret Head & here is her email address please if you can write to her and request your copy of her book."  maggieks126@earthlink.net

The book is a written narrative on grief, containig memories of family and friends of Margaret. Scriptures, quotes and poetry (some written by Margaret) are scattered throughout the book. A very helpful chapter on Guidelines for Service to Others follows the narration and Margaret concludes with a chapter on knowing our Lord Jesus Christ and His salvation, thus making this book very helpful to give to friends outside of Christ.

Margaret writes:
This narrative was written to show how God has comforted me in every aspect of my life and has also afforded me the ability to bring a certain degree of comfort to others; and above all, to learn great, valuable lessons from His created beings. Thanks be to God for health and strength and the immeasurable joy and peace to be found in living for Him. May I have the strength and dignity to honor Him in my death like those who have so courageously gone on to their reward.

Margaret told me I could print any part of her book for this review and I have chosen a poem she had written for her sister, Maxine, who had lived with debilitating arthritis since a teenager, and died September 2, 1996 from cancer. This poem not only speaks of Maxine's life as a gift to others, but is an example of how Margaret chooses to look for the blessings in grief.

ONE OF A KIND bird-singing.jpg

I came to her home, it was so quiet and still,
Except for the bird perched high on the sill.
The bird, though singing, went unobserved,
As I was deep in the grief I felt I deserved.
I saw the hospital bed in the den
Reminding me I won't see her again.
The mixer that once stirred cinnamon rolls
Sits idle on the counter, looking well-used and old.
The shoes that once held her tired, crippled feet
Sit worn, in the closet, in pairs placed so neat.
The crocheted afghans she loved to make
Wait folded, in drawers, for someone to take.
The sympathy cards piled high on the table
Tell how she was loved, as much as they're able.
The flowers she tended, still bloom and flourish
Waiting now for someone to love and to nourish.
She is gone! Such a loss! Such a void in my world!
Her house is so empty - my thoughts are awhirl!
Sleep has eluded me so many nights,
What have I done? Was it wrong? Was it right?
Then the bird on the sill caught my eye as it flew,
And I watched as it soared and then faded from view.
Then it came to me - her life, too, was a song,
A beautiful melody eighty years long.
"Sing and be happy;" just say, "I can do it!
"Ignore pain and suffering -  just put your mind to it!
"Help your brother, your neighbor in need,
"Keep your life free of all envy and greed."
These were the thoughts that her life brought to mind,
My sister, my friend, had been one of a kind!
Crippled hands, crippled feet, nothing daunted her smile,
Each day of her life she went that "extra mile."
I now see her home as not empty at all,
But full of sweet memories for me to recall.
Like the bird, she has left us a beautiful song.
A beautiful melody, eighty years long!

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Helping Grandchildren Deal with Grief

We all want what’s best for our grandchildren. We want to keep them safe. We want to protect them from pain and sadness. We’d like them to stay as innocent as they were on the day they were born.

Unfortunately, we can’t keep bad things from happening to those we love. Before they reach adulthood, many children will experience a major loss that will cause them intense pain. Their parents may divorce. A parent, sibling or other loved one may die after a long illness or an accident. These events can turn a child’s world upside down. Some grandchildren grieve because a parent is in jail, addicted to drugs, or abusive. These children often feel abandoned. They go through a grieving process similar to that experienced by children whose parents have died.

Normal Reactions – and Causes for Worry
Children often have trouble accepting that a death has occurred or that a parent has abandoned them. They don’t quite know what to do about the pain they feel. They miss the person who is gone. They worry about who will take care of them. And they do all of this with the immature emotions of a child. Children who are grieving need plenty of help from all the adults in their lives, including their grandparents.

For a certain period of time, it’s normal for a grieving grandchild to:

  • Feel depressed or anxious.
  • Act out or become angry.
  • Act younger than they are by wetting the bed or sucking their thumb (if they didn’t before).
  • Blame themselves for a death or the fact that a parent can’t take care of them.
  • Play make-believe games about death and dying.

There is no timetable for grieving. Behaviors should improve as the child moves through the grieving process. If the behavior persists, consider seeking outside help. Getting this help is particularly important if the child:

  • Talks about "joining" the person who has died.
  • Has a dramatic decline in school performance.
  • Becomes involved with drugs or alcohol.
  • Won’t or can’t connect with others.
  • Has nightmares or trouble sleeping for an extended period.

The Way Children Mourn
Children grieve differently than adults do. First, children don’t show grief all the time. Many children will seem upset only sometimes—and for short periods of time. Don’t let this fool you. It doesn’t mean that a child has “gotten over” his or her grief. It just means that the child can’t focus on these intense emotions for very long. This is the mind’s way of protecting the child from being overwhelmed by strong emotions.

Don’t be surprised if a child takes longer to finish grieving than you do. Children may need to mourn over and over again. They might return to their grief each time they enter a new stage of their lives.

How children respond to loss will depend on their age. An infant won’t understand the concept of death. But he or she will sense—and be upset by—the emotional tension that the family is experiencing. A preschooler may understand something about death. But he or she may see death as a kind of sleep. This child may believe that the deceased person is coming back.

As children get older, they begin to understand the possibility of their own deaths. Beginning at age 6, they become afraid of dying. As they get older, they begin to see death as something that is final and something that happens to everyone.

Teenagers often have a very hard time with grief. They may look like adults, but they are still children at heart. Don’t expect them to be strong or to support other family members during this time. Instead, try to give them as much support as possible. If you can’t provide that support, see if you can get the teen to talk with a school counselor, therapist or another caring adult.

What Can You Do to Help?
Grandparents are in a good position to “be there” for a grandchild who has lost a loved one. If other members of the family are caught up in grief, they may not notice what the child is going through. As a grandparent, you can focus on the child and make sure he or she gets needed support.

Here are some tips for helping a grieving grandchild:

  • Talk about what has happened. Be calm and quiet. Tell the truth and keep it simple. Answer questions honestly. Make sure the child understands your answer.
  • Be patient. Children often need to have things repeated. You may have to answer the same question more than once.
  • Share your own feelings about the loss. Ask the child to share feelings too. You may have to help the child put feelings into words. Drawing pictures and playing with dolls may help.
  • Help the child remember the person who is gone. If a loved one has died, involve the child in the funeral, if he or she wants to be involved. But be sure to prepare the child for what will happen during the ceremony. If a parent is in jail, help the child write letters or take the child to visit the prison. If a parent has abandoned the child, make sure the child knows this isn’t his or her fault.

You can’t protect your grandchildren from sadness. But you can help them mourn and move on. Your support will let your grandchildren know that they are not alone. Your understanding will help your grandchildren understand and cope with the terrible thing that has happened to them. And your love will reassure your grandchildren that there will always be someone who cares about them and wants to take care of them.

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A Child's Grief
by M.S. Lowndes


Lord you care so much
For the tears of a hurting child
Who has felt the grief of tragedy
Now no longer wears a smile

Unable to clearly express
How much he’s hurting inside
Not fully understanding the pain
Nor knowing the reasons ‘why’

He wants so much to reach out
To someone who will listen
Someone that can hold him close
And respond with godly wisdom

For he just needs a grown up
To know what he’s going through
But often we don’t realize his grief
Because we are hurting too

Let him know you care Lord
And will be there when we’re not
The emptiness he feels within
May be filled with you oh God

May he know you as a father
And know you’re by his side
To come and wipe his tears away
When alone he silently cries

Hold him in your arms Lord
So he will be at peace
Allow us all to give him time
In dealing with his grief

For tears may last all night
But joy comes in the morning
So let him grieve throughout the night
For a new day will be dawning.

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From the mail:
  "I think there are an awful lot of brethren and an awful lot of churches who are going to have to answer for how they treat the widows in their midst. My dear husband has been dead for 8 years and I still miss him every hour of every day and struggle spiritually because of his loss of leadership. But no one has ever even asked me how I am doing spiritually or if there is anything they can do. Church is not a place of comfort, it's a place to miss that one person more painfully because you feel like no one really cares. And one member in our congregation, as he made announcements, told the members to make sure they checked on a young wife because her husband was out of town on business. Didn't seem to occur to him that her husband chose to be gone, but mine didn't. And at least she could pick up the phone and talk to hers, I can't. But the widow is just supposed to go on as if nothing has happened!"

    

     And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.  But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.  (Acts 6:1-4)


The Widow In Our Midst

By Cindy Granke


What Can The Church Do?

     Is there anyone among us who does not feel compassion for a woman, young or old, left alone by the death of her husband?  Christians misunderstand who may and who may not undertake the responsibility of caring for and providing for the widow.  Clearly the passage above indicates that the local congregation bears some responsibility to the widow(s) in their midst.  

     Much has been written about the church’s responsibility in these matters, and by brethren who are much more capable than I.  But in any discussion about the needs of a Christian who is a widow I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to talk about the very specific instructions given to the local congregations about the qualifications which make a widow eligible for the church to commit to financial responsibility toward her care and needs.  The Apostle Paul provides these in 1st Timothy 5:3-10:

  • She is desolate, without family to provide for her needs. The Greek word implies to isolate; one who is entirely bereaved.
  • She trusts in God.  Her hope, confidence and expectation rests in God.
  • She continues in daily prayers and supplications (see also Romans 12:12).
  • She is at least 60 years old.
  • She has been the wife of only one husband.
  • She is has a reputation for good works.
  • She has raised children – either her own or orphans.
  • She has lodged strangers (i.e. hospitality, see Rom 12:13 & 1 Pet. 4:8-10) and washed the saints feet.  In Bible times travelers often walked, and wore sandals.  Hospitality involved giving them something to eat and drink and to wash their feet, thus refreshing them from their travel (See Gen. 18:4).
  • She has relieved the afflicted.  This involves visiting and ministering to them.  Today that usually includes cooking meals for the family, doing errands or whatever can be done to help ease the burden of the family who is ill or grieving or unable to provide necessities for themselves.
  • She has been diligent in good works – doing the Lord’s work with all her heart, soul, and strength.

     Paul emphasized in verse 4 of the above passage that the children and grandchildren of a widow have a moral and Scriptural obligation to provide for her.   If they refuse to honor her in this way, Paul says they are worse than an unbeliever (verses 8-9);  and, “If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed” (verse 16).


     As you can see, the Scriptures are very specific about the widow who may receive regular financial support from the local congregation.  What about the widow who doesn’t meet the above qualifications?  Perhaps she has been faithful and is now physically and/or financially unable to provide for her health care expenses, or needs.  She may have raised children, but they are unable or unwilling to take the responsibility for her care.   


What The Individual Can Do

As we have therefore opportunity,
let us do good unto all men,

 especially unto them who are
of the household of faith

(Galatians 6: 10)

     When there is no one else to do it, individual Christians have wonderful opportunities to show their love and care for others. A good starting place is in the first chapter of James.  Notice that the whole chapter is written to the individual Christians in a congregation.  “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).  Pure and undefiled religion demands ‘personal contact’ with the world's sorrow: to visit the afflicted, and to visit them in their affliction” (Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament).   This involves more than just responsibility.  It involves an attitude of sisterly love and kindness.  The word for affliction in this verse is defined as being burdened, in anguish, tribulation or trouble. 

     There are many kinds of emotional and physical help that a widow may need right after her husband’s death has occurred – things like child care, help in notifying family and friends, meals that are prepared and brought to the home, and someone to take care of immediate needs in the house – washing dirty dishes, laundry, preparing the house for the arrival of a lot of company, checking to make sure the garbage and trash cans are emptied and running errands that the widow may not be able to manage in her shock and grief.  And this is just a start.

     Over the next several months, there are many things that a widow must manage that she may never have needed to do before. 

  • She may need financial help for immediate needs from time to time, until she can get on her feet and cope on her own. 
  • She may need help handling the family checkbook and juggling the finances, especially if her husband always took care of that task. 
  • She may need help with minor repairs around the house. 
  • Her children may need someone to be like a daddy to them, to toss a ball with them, or a father to gently counsel them.  Perhaps the widow may need counseling herself from a godly disciple, as well. 

     Maybe this is a good time to mention that it is never a good idea for a Christian man to visit the widow at home alone.  Christians should never give neighbors or anyone else an occasion to speak reproachfully about them (1 Tim 5:14).   This is a good opportunity for both husband and wife to visit.  While he repairs the kitchen sink or mows the lawn, his wife might bring along a covered dish, or simply listen and offer a shoulder to lean on.  That includes gaining more insight into what needs exist that require sympathetic attention.

     One who is grieving may need to get out of the house.  At such a time it’s easy to withdraw into oneself and avoid going any place – especially public places, for fear of beginning to weep in front of others who don’t know her or her grief.

     There are so many ways we, as sisters in Christ, may comfort and encourage a grieving widow or mother – even years later.  The grief of death may become less raw, but it never completely goes away and certain days, songs or other things recall the sadness of her loss.  Consider Romans 12:10-16 for reminders.

  • Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another - Don’t forget to send her a card or call her on special days.  Include days like Thanksgiving and Mother’s Day or other special occasions that are now lonely for the one grieving.  Better yet, invite her to join your family on those days.
  • Rejoicing in hope - Remind her of the hope of being with her loved one in the hereafter.  That is truly one of the most comforting thoughts to a grieving person. 
  •  Patient in tribulation - Grief continues for a long time, and she may feel she is doing just fine when the smallest thing occurs and she dissolves in tears.  Time won’t make the pain go away but it does make it bearable.  Be patient and give her time.
  • Distributing to the necessity of saints - If she is physically unable to work, or can’t drive and needs transportation to the grocery store or doctors appointments, offer to drive her. She is our sister in Christ and we have an opportunity to show kindness to her.  She may not have money for groceries one week.  Get together with other ladies in the congregation to bring some groceries to her.  Maybe add in a couple of nice items that aren’t necessities (like a magazine, a scented candle, or a small bouquet of flowers) to let her know you care.
  • Given to hospitality - Don’t forget to include her in your hospitality.  She is still a part of the congregation and should be included in activities with other sisters in the church. 
  • Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep - The roller coaster of grief does give opportunities to laugh together or remember good times, as well as weeping together (or comforting) when it’s a time for tears, even if it is years later when she has a day when all of her memories come flooding back to her, and she simply needs the release that tears bring.  
  • Pray for her, and pray with her - Knowing that others are praying for you is always appreciated.  Having someone say to you, “Let’s pray about this together,” and then proceeding to pray aloud with you and for you is one of the best gifts one Christian can give another.

Read Mt. 25:35-40.  As you read this passage, place yourself in the setting.  The widow in her affliction is surely needy and worthy of our visits and care and love, especially as Christians. 

What Can The Widow Do?

     I often receive letters, emails and phone calls from sisters in Christ who feel that the Christians in their local congregations do not invite them into their homes, and in some cases never have gatherings at all.  Unfortunately there are congregations where the members do not reach out to each other in hospitality.  It’s sad because it’s hard for members of the local church to feel the close ties of a family, if they never spend time with one another. 

     My advice to those who come to me about this is that they have a great opportunity to teach by doing.  Be a joiner.  If you involve yourself with others, they will be involved with you.  If brethren don’t invite you into their homes, plan a get-together and invite them into yours.  Whenever possible, do for them what you need them to do for you.  Guide them by your example.

     If your grief is recent, you probably won’t feel up to doing anything like that for many months.  Give yourself time, but don’t be shy about doing the inviting when you are able.  If I may adapt a line from President John F. Kennedy, Ask Not What Others Can Do For You. Ask What You Can Do For Others.

     First of all:  If the lack of getting together outside of the assemblies is a problem at your congregation, take the initiative and invite as many families as your living room or even your back yard can hold.  Covered dish get-togethers are fun because you get to sample everyone’s best dishes, exchange recipes, and get to know each other better.  Tell them to bring hymn books, and plan on singing after supper. 


And above all things have fervent love
for one another,
for love will cover a
multitude of sins.
Be hospitable to one
another without grumbling.

1 Peter 4:8-10

     Secondly: I encourage you to pray for your brethren.  Many people simply do not understand grief because they have not yet experienced it.  If that is the case where you worship, you have a valuable lesson to teach the ladies about grief and the needs of the widow or loved one.  Also pray for yourself, that your attitude is humble and your words are sweet because . . .

     Thirdly:  If you are feeling neglected or forgotten by members of your congregation, it is important that you tell them.  The longer you allow these feelings to continue without talking to those who make you feel that way, the more likely your heart will become full of anger and bitterness, causing you to sin.  That may seem difficult to do because we all like to feel that others care about us and when we feel that they do not, it is painful.  But if you don’t tell them of your feelings, they will only continue without even realizing their oversight. 

     What did Jesus say to do in such a situation?  Be reconciled to your brother or sister (Mathew 5:23-24).  We do them and ourselves a disservice when we do not do this. 

     Grief continues for months and even years, but we must be careful to stay aware of others in the group who need compassion for their own very real afflictions and trials, and do our part to reach out to them.  Think of saints who need a helping hand while they or a member of their family are sick or deployed in military service, or coping with grief, or are struggling with raising their children, or facing financial hardship, or coping any of dozens of other problems.  It can be a real surprise to learn how many in a congregation silently endure their affliction, when simply asking could bring them an outpouring of help, and care, and prayers, and hugs.  When we help them we help ourselves.

     When my own daughter was killed in an automobile accident I was unable to function except in an automatic way every day for months.  Some very dear sisters in Christ and my own sweet sister in the flesh quietly cried with me, encouraged me, read very long and detailed letters that I wrote in the wee hours of the morning, and never once gave me anything but love and compassion.  They patiently reminded me that the anguish I was feeling would ease up in time.  Many months later, I made up my mind that if I could get beyond my debilitating grief, I was going to devote myself to helping others who had lost a child.  And do you know what? When I started doing that, it actually helped me in my own loss.  I learned that helping others required me to come out of my own misery.   Cindy

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Lessons Learned From Adversity

     John Shirley is a member of the North Boulevard church of Christ in Tampa, Florida.  The following is a short talk, which was given recently by John at the close of their Wednesday night service.   Another member of the congregation, Judy Baker wrote that John had torn his Achilles tendon while playing racquetball.  She quipped, “He still thinks he is 30 – not pushing 60”.  She also says, “He has been a teacher for our college age students for a lot of years. He also mentors them and other young people, often while playing racquetball, or going skiing in the winter in the mountains."


    
John does not have insurance and some doctors don’t want to treat him once they learn that he is a “self pay” patient. That was evidently the case during this particular trip to the Emergency Room.  John could have asked someone else to take his place that Wednesday night.  Instead, he chose to be at services on crutches, minus a shoe, and with some pain and difficulty he made his way to the front of the auditorium to present this lesson/invitation.

This is my first and, undoubtedly my last, barefoot invitation.  I appreciate the special dispensation.

A funny thing happened to me since the last time I spoke to you from up here. I discovered that you're not too old to find out that you're not that young.

I also did my best to forget that discovery as soon as possible.  

However, please don't ask for a racquetball appointment until after the Fourth of July, at best.

Before I start, I want to thank all of you for your many demonstrations of kindness.  The key word there is “demonstration.”  They've appeared in a number of different ways, and I appreciate all of them.  Just to bring you up to speed: I'm still trying to find out if I have to have surgery.  Frankly, I'm having a lot of trouble finding doctors who'll talk to me.  If you know any really good veterinarians, let me know.

Three Spiritual Lessons I Learned While

Spending Eight Hours in the

Tampa General Emergency Room.



1.     Life is full of surprises.  Not all of them are pleasant.  It's the reason we shouldn't concentrate on building bigger barns.

Beginning in Luke 12:17: 
He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'  Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.’  And I'll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'  This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

You never know what's around the corner.  It could be better than your wildest dreams… or it could be a pair of crutches. 

This is why, by the way, God doesn't give us the ability to see into the future.  In many cases, you really wouldn't want to know what was coming.  And besides, it would spoil the surprise. 

Conclusion: make the best use of the time you currently have.  Make every minute count.  Do the best you can with what you got, today.

2.     Coming right out of that last thought: bodies are breakable.  We are vulnerable to a number of physical problems, some of them out of our control, and that's not going to get any better as time goes by. 

Sometimes the parts of us that are “broken” aren't easily healed.  That ranges all the way from my Achilles tendon to things that are harder to treat.   Disappointment. Disillusionment.  Depression.

Paul talked about his “thorn in the flesh.”

Beginning in 2 Corinthians 12:7, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

And whatever it was - it didn't go away.  But even though a part of him was broken, perhaps beyond repair… that reality didn't break his spirit.  Our choice is to take the cards that are dealt us and make a good hand - or fold.  I don't think God made us his redeemed children just so we could quit.

3.     Several centuries ago, the lame walked… with a little help from Jesus.

Beginning in Matthew 15:29, Jesus left there and went along the
Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down.  Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.  The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

At some time in the future, with a little help from Jesus, you and I won't be lame anymore, either.  Whether that lameness is a physical disability, or a lifelong emotional burden, or some other thorn that just won't let us alone.  All the imperfect parts of our life are going to be perfect, forever. 

We have to do the simplest little thing for that process to begin.  We have to walk, as best we can, to our Savior - even if we're crippled, burdened or overwhelmed. 

Especially if we're crippled, burdened or overwhelmed. 

I'm not trying to tell you those are necessarily easy steps.  But they sure are worth it.  I can't imagine any other step, anywhere, that's more important. 

Just remember, you're surrounded by loving friends who are here to help.  I can attest to that first-hand.  And once you take that first step - right now - the others come naturally.

The Rest of John’s Story:

     After presenting his lesson John returned to the Emergency Room and said he was not leaving this time until he got some answersHe spent 6 hours there and this time came out with a cast from his knee down to his foot.  As of my last email from Judy, he still had not been seen an orthopedic doctor.  Judy did mention that John, a bachelor, says his refrigerator had previously been a drink cooler for many years, but now has more food in it than ever before, thanks to ladies in the church.  
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How to Help Grieving People -
What You Can Say, What You Can Do

Read about the various phases of grief so you can understand and help the bereaved to understand.

All that is necessary is a hand squeeze, a kiss, a hug, your presence. If you want to say something, say "I'm sorry" or "I care."

It is not necessary to ask questions about how the death happened. Let the bereaved tell you as much as they want when they are ready. A helpful question might be, "Would you like to talk about the death? I'll listen."

Don't say, "I know just how you feel."

The bereaved may ask "Why?" It is often a cry of pain rather than a question. It is not necessary to answer, but if you do, you may reply, "I don't know why. Maybe we'll never know."

Don't use platitudes like "Life is for living," or "It's God's will." Explanations rarely console. It's better to say nothing.

Recognize the bereaved may be angry. Encourage them to acknowledge their anger and to find ways of handling it.

It is good to cry. Crying is a release. People should not say, "Don't cry."

Be available to listen frequently. Most bereaved want to talk about the person who has died. Encourage them to talk about the deceased. Do not change the conversation or avoid mentioning the person's name. Talking about the pain slowly lessens its sting. Your concern and effort can make a big difference in helping someone recover from grief.

Be patient. Don't say, "You'll get over it in time." Mourning may take a long time. They will never stop missing the person who has died, but time will soften the hurt. The bereaved need you to stand by them for as long as possible. Encourage them to be patient with themselves as there is no timetable for grieving.

Offer to help with practical matters such as errands, fixing food, caring for children. Say, "I'm going to the store. Do you need bread, milk, etc.?" It is not helpful to say, "Call me if there is anything I can do."

Accept whatever feelings are expressed. Do not say, "You shouldn't feel like that."

The bereaved may appear to be getting worse. This is often due to the reality of death hitting them.

Depression is often part of grief. It is a scary feeling. To be able to talk things over with an understanding friend or loved one is one factor that may help a person not to become severely depressed.

Don't say, "It has been four months (six months, a year, etc.). You must be over it by now." Life will never be the same.

Don't avoid the bereaved. It adds to their loss. As the widowed often say, "I not only lost my spouse, but my friend as well."

by the Funeral Consumers Alliance

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Cindy, your article on widows was very good. I feel very sorry for the sister that wrote the comment at the beginning of your article. Not knowing her circumstances, I cannot judge her. I only want to say, that in my own situation, I found much comfort and peace in being as active as I possibly could in the work of the church. Yes, there are lonely times, and I can even be in a service with my wonderful church family and still feel very much alone. But I try not to have a "pity party" too often. There are other widows and single sisters that are ready to fellowship with me at anytime and that is a big help. Also, I do enjoy having people in my home and do that as often as I can afford. At times I have things that I cannot do. It is only a matter of letting this be known and someone or more than one will gladly help me. We as widows do feel left out at times when we are not invited to be with other couples, but then we get an invitation to some special get together And it makes us feel really good. At any rate, it is such a blessing to have the support of our church family and the comfort that only comes from our Heavenly Father.  
- Judy Baker

The following poem was written at the beginning of August, by Bettye Locklair for a member of the congregation where she is a member.  The story behind the poem is so touching. cg.  

     Bettye writes:  This is a poem I wrote for one of our members. She is 98.  When she was in her late 30s she was surprised to find out that she was expecting.  She prayed during the pregnancy for God not to give her a child that would ultimately lose his soul.  Her son was born with Down Syndrome.  He was never able to speak but was happy and lived until he was 59.  He died Thursday morning and was buried yesterday.  She never had to worry about his soul. She told us her prayer was answered!!!


Crying Happy Tears

A body without words
He was trapped inside
A precious child-like soul
A mother’s joy and pride.

He was a happy child
Happy as can be.
He’s no longer trapped.
He has been set free.

Now he has gone home
after many long years
He brought laughter and joy
We’re crying “happy tears”!

2008 Bettye Locklair
(In Memory of Timmy Johnson)

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A TRAIL OF TEARS

Tears turn into diamonds in the tapestry of time -
Their pattern oft invisible in folds of velvet rhyme.
A heart besieged may hide its tears, let courage win the day
Yet here within the hall of loss, our tears will have their way.

Tears of pain and tears of sorrow; even tears of hope and peace
Blend to sweetly soften textures, show a pattern of release.
And sometimes, so unaccountably there runs a slender thread
Joining weeping near forgotten to the path that lies ahead.

Glist’ning tears with gentle luster may restore the heart of love
Binding families together; lifting spirits up Above.
Hidden fears and common anguish, unseen pain, compelling grief
Are washed clean ... held in the Circle of His safe and sure relief.
~ author unknown ~
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 It Is Well With My Soul

By Arnie Granke

    Do you ever imagine what it might be like to trade places with someone else?  During financially hard times like these, we might think perhaps we would enjoy the prosperity of someone like Horatio Spafford.  You probably don’t recognize the name.

    A well-to-do 19th century lawyer, Mr. Spafford lived comfortably with his wife Anna and their children in his hometown of Chicago.  He was a senior partner in the thriving law firm of Spafford, McDaid & Wilson there, and had invested most of the family’s wealth in real estate along the shores of Lake Michigan.

    Scarlet fever was a dreaded disease in those days, and it didn’t matter if a family was rich or poor.  No respecter of persons, the fever claimed the life the Spaffords’ first son, four-year old Horatio, Jr.

    Contrary to legend, Mrs. O’Leary did not, on the night of October 8, 1871, leave an untended lantern in her shed to be kicked over by her cow, igniting one-third of the city.  But it is true that the Great Chicago Fire wiped out almost everything the Spaffords owned, including their fortune.  For two years, they worked hard and shared with their neighbors who also had lost all they had, helping them put their lives back together.

    In 1873, having recovered some of their means, the family decided to vacation with friends in Europe.  They bought tickets to sail on the luxury steamship Ville de Havre, but at the last minute, Mr. Spafford was delayed by business.  Anna and he agreed that she and their four young daughters should leave as scheduled, and he would join the family in England. 

    While crossing the Atlantic on November 21, 1873, the liner was rammed amid ship by another vessel and sank within twelve minutes. Anna later was picked up floating unconscious on a plank, by a nearby ship, but daughters Annie, Maggie, Bessie, and baby Tanetta were lost at sea, along with 222 other passengers onboard.  Anna’s last conscious memory was of a wall of water surging across the deck, slamming into her body, and her little girl violently being torn from her arms.  Nine days after the shipwreck, when Mrs. Spafford landed in Cardiff, Wales, she cabled her husband the brief message, “Saved alone.  What shall I do?”

    Mr. Spafford immediately left Chicago to bring his wife home. On the Atlantic crossing, the captain of his ship called him to the bridge to tell him that, as carefully as could be determined, they were then passing over the spot where his four daughters had perished. The water there was three miles deep.

    Horatio Spafford returned to his cabin, sat at his desk, picked up a pen, and this is what he wrote:

    Do you ever imagine what it might be like to trade places with someone else?  During financially hard times like these, we might think perhaps we would enjoy the prosperity of someone like Horatio Spafford.  You probably don’t recognize the name.

    A well-to-do 19th century lawyer, Mr. Spafford lived comfortably with his wife Anna and their children in his hometown of Chicago.  He was a senior partner in the thriving law firm of Spafford, McDaid & Wilson there, and had invested most of the family’s wealth in real estate along the shores of Lake Michigan.

    Scarlet fever was a dreaded disease in those days, and it didn’t matter if a family was rich or poor.  No respecter of persons, the fever claimed the life the Spaffords’ first son, four-year old Horatio, Jr.

    Contrary to legend, Mrs. O’Leary did not, on the night of October 8, 1871, leave an untended lantern in her shed to be kicked over by her cow, igniting one-third of the city.  But it is true that the Great Chicago Fire wiped out almost everything the Spaffords owned, including their fortune.  For two years, they worked hard and shared with their neighbors who also had lost all they had, helping them put their lives back together.

    In 1873, having recovered some of their means, the family decided to vacation with friends in Europe.  They bought tickets to sail on the luxury steamship Ville de Havre, but at the last minute, Mr. Spafford was delayed by business.  Anna and he agreed that she and their four young daughters should leave as scheduled, and he would join the family in England. 

    While crossing the Atlantic on November 21, 1873, the liner was rammed amid ship by another vessel and sank within twelve minutes. Anna later was picked up floating unconscious on a plank, by a nearby ship, but daughters Annie, Maggie, Bessie, and baby Tanetta were lost at sea, along with 222 other passengers onboard.  Anna’s last conscious memory was of a wall of water surging across the deck, slamming into her body, and her little girl violently being torn from her arms.  Nine days after the shipwreck, when Mrs. Spafford landed in Cardiff, Wales, she cabled her husband the brief message, “Saved alone.  What shall I do?”

    Mr. Spafford immediately left Chicago to bring his wife home. On the Atlantic crossing, the captain of his ship called him to the bridge to tell him that, as carefully as could be determined, they were then passing over the spot where his four daughters had perished. The water there was three miles deep.

    Horatio Spafford returned to his cabin, sat at his desk, picked up a pen, and this is what he wrote:

 When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

And Lord haste the day, when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

      Satan indeed buffets us all with trials in this life, and in that respect, no one is any better off than another.  What is most important for us, no matter what, is to hold fast to our faith until the day it becomes sight.  And never to forget that Christ has regarded our helpless estate;  He has shed His own blood for our souls;  He has nailed our sins to His cross so that we need bear them no more.  And as God’s children, in life or in death, He whispers His peace to our souls.  If I remember those things, it will be well with my soul.


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     Our thanks to Judy Baker for sending the following article, which recently appeared in the North Boulevard church bulletin where she is a member.  The article was writen by Gary Ogden who is a Gospel preacher in Plant City, Florida.  By way of introduction I’m also including part of the letter he wrote to go along with the article. cg

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

     Thanks for your prayers and concern. I want to give you the latest update. I decided on Aug. 25 to stop all further treatment. After 600+ hours of chemo over the past 4 years, my body and I decided enough was enough.  My hope is that I will start feeling better, for awhile at least, and that I can have some quality time before the cancer has time to grow. We don't have any idea of a time frame, but the doctor says it is slow. I just want to make the most of whatever time God permits. If He wants to intervene in some way, that will suit me fine. If otherwise, that suits me as well. His will be done.   I'm at peace with the decision and am uplifted by the prayers and concern for many in many places. God has blessed me with loving family, friends and   brethren. I try to never take them for granted.

     I've attached an article that I hope will help me to remember my focus. Gary

* * * * * * * * * * *

PLAY IT WHERE IT LIES

     Before Tiger Woods, there was Bobby Jones. A generation ago, he was the best golfer ever to play the game. Some contend there will never be anyone to match his feats in golf.

     At the prime of his life and his game, Jones was stricken with a crippling disease that eventually took his life. When he could no longer play the game he had mastered like no other, he was asked how he felt about it. His reply, "I have to play it where it lies."

     You have to have some knowledge of the rules of golf to fully appreciate his answer. When you hit a golf ball, where  it lands is the spot from which you must hit your next shot. For instance, if you are on the tee and you wind up and with a mighty swing only send it 10 yards down the fairway, that is the spot from which you must hit your second shot. To circumvent this rule, many golfers (aka “hackers”) use a "mulligan" whereby you get to take another shot without counting it. It's kind of a gentleman's agreement to cheat.

     If your ball happens to land in the rough (that's the high grass, weeds and trees that line the fairway), you must hit it from the rough. You're not supposed to pick it up and place it neatly in the fairway; you have to "hit it where it lies."

     Bobby Jones reminds us that life sometimes hands us some "rough" times. It would be nice if you could "hit it in the fairway" every time, but that doesn't  happen, even in golf. The best golfers have learned how to hit it well under “rough” conditions and that separates the men from the boys. As we live, we learn that there will be fair weather days and foul. There will be good times and bad, heart joy and heart break. Just about the time you think you're at your peak and nothing can go wrong, the ground can fall out from under you.

     How Jones handled his disappointing and disabling disease speaks volumes about his character. I do not know what kind of spiritual background he had, but he sure learned something about how to graciously handle adversity.

     Did not Job, that marvelous character from the Bible, teach us the same lesson? Talk about your adversity, Job excels them all! Yet, he did not do, as his wife advised him to "curse God and die" (Job 2:9). Though he struggled with the questions that plague us all when adversity strikes (he didn’t understand why it was all happening), he ultimately rebounded to even greater faith and prosperity. He chose to praise God and live.

     Back to the golf analogy. One of the greatest differences between the professional and amateur is what they can do when they find themselves in adverse conditions. The pro can take a poor shot that has landed in the most terrible lie imaginable and hit a shot that defies description that lands on the green. The amateur just whacks around, takes his 7 on a par 3, or may even pick up his ball and go home. He might get so aggravated as to cuss, wrap a club around a tree, or throw it  into the water. He has not learned to deal with adversity.

     Too many times we throw our hands up in despair when the best practice is to raise them in prayer. Paul and Silas teach us that from a Philippian jail. They had been beaten severely and thrown under the jail. Rather than filled with despair the air was  filled with "praying and singing hymns unto God" (Acts 16:25). The other prisoners heard them and so must we. The next time you're in the middle of some of the worst "rough" imaginable, let the air be filled with prayers and hymns to God.

     Just as the amateur golfer will rarely be able to work himself out of "impossible" lies, we will find ourselves in "impossible" situations in life. In such cases, God is the Professional and we're simply going to have to leave it in His very capable hands.  When we are tempted to give up in despair, we must let Him "make the shot." Thing is, in His providence, He may decide to let us "tough it out" a little longer than we desire. That's when faith has to kick in.

     God let Abraham take several days to journey to the mountain upon which he was to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22). God didn't let him off the hook until the very last moment. There's no use trying to figure out God's timing on anything, especially how long adversity will last or how many things will pile up at one time. Just about the time you think you've got about all you can possibly handle, another difficulty comes roaring in. Whoever says, “Troubles come in threes,” is wrong. Sometimes they come in sevens and tens.

     The golfer who makes his living from the game has to learn to live with adversity. He has to handle it under pressure packed situations. If he doesn't, he loses, not only his composure but also a lot of money. Those of us who "make our living" being a Christian  must learn to handle adversity, too. Since our Lord is not going to put a protective bubble around us and keep us from all difficulty, we simply must learn to put our faith and trust in Him. Frequently, we may find ourselves having gone as far as we can go, having done all that we can do, having said all that we can say, and cried all that we can cry. Then we have to "take it to the Lord and leave it there" as the old song urges. Peter put it this way: "casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you" (I Peter 5:7). Just prior to that he said, "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you at the proper time" (v. 6).

     When your hand shakes with fear, uncertainty, and weakness, put it in the Hand of Almighty God, who in His own good time and His good way, will lift you up. It's the only way to live, really live. Whatever our reality is, rough or smooth, let us learn to “play it where it lies.”

~ Gary Ogden

August 31, 2008

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Losing Our Friends

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  On November 11, 2008, I lost a dear, dear friend, Gene Franklin.  That day and the days that followed were sad, sad days for me.  As I grow older, my friends are leaving me more and more often.  And I know that the day is drawing nearer, and nearer when it will be MY turn to leave my friends and loved ones behind, . . . for a while.

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     John wrote: And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.  And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.  And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.   He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.  (Revelation. 21:1-7)

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     I’m looking forward to that, knowing that our separation from our friends and loved ones will only be for a little while.  For one day, . . . the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

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     May each of us long for that day and be ready for that departure . . . and that reunion.  Are you in Christ?  Are you ready? 

Arnie Granke

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Often I'm hindered on my way,
Burdened so heavy I almost fall;
Then I hear Jesus sweetly say;
"Heaven will surely be worth it all."

Many the trials, toils and tears,
Many a heartache may here appall;
But the dear Lord so truly says:
"Heaven will surely be worth it all."

Toiling and pain I will endure,
Till I shall hear the death angel call;
Jesus has promised and I'm sure
Heaven will surely be worth it all.

Heaven will surely be worth it all.
Worth all the sorrows that here befall;
After this life with all its strife,
Heaven will surely be worth it all.

~ W. Oliver Cooper ~