Well, today is the first day of a brand spanking, full of promise new year! I hope your celebrations from Advent through New Years have been wonderful!
You may have noticed that I never finished the fourth of my Advent devotions. I planned to wrap it up the Friday before Christmas, but I was still struggling with a cough and cold. It was all I could do to finish my work week and get ready for the big day!
We managed to have a great holiday with the family, but Pat and I have had this bug for over two weeks now! The thing that hangs on is the cough, and with it my inability to talk for any length of time without choking and carrying on. Not attractive. So, no video blogs until I am back to my old chatty self.
The fourth Advent devotion would have been on grief. Our girls, Elizabeth, Mary and Anna had their share of it, that is for certain. It’s been a while since I wrote on the subject, but I felt a holy nudge to share a few things with you, should your Christmas and New Year be a particularly sad one. So many of us had loved ones missing from our gatherings and it hurts.
I know it is kind of after the fact now, but I hope you gave yourself permission to be sad, to spend time reliving precious memories, to carry on a Christmas tradition commemorating your loved one and to have a good cry.
Grief must do its work in you. It can be put off and ignored for only so long. We must go with it and let it be what it is. It is God’s way.
In the end, through our suffering and grief’s work, He will show us beautiful things we have never seen before.
For the Christian, suffering has meaning.
When this cold and cough were at their worst, I had to come downstairs to sleep on our living room sofa so as not to keep Pat awake. My head was all stuffed up, I couldn’t breathe and the coughing wouldn’t stop. Nothing seemed to alleviate my symptoms, so at 4:30 AM I got up, cold and miserable, and tried to get comfortable in my living room.
I laid there awake for I don’t know how long and then something caught my eye. Outside of my living room window was one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen. The sky was deep orange and pink. The bare trees looked black silhouetted against the vibrant sky. It took my breath away and I immediately realized that had I not been sick, I would have missed it. That gorgeous sunrise and the quiet time I had with God that morning, completely changed my perspective.
Being able to see beautiful things as you are mourning will change your perspective too.
I have heard grief described as like being under water and not able to come up for air. You try to surface, but instead keep sinking. You have to wait it out. So while we are stuck under water, what if we take a look around? We just might see beautiful things under the surface that we have never seen before – beautiful coral, plant life and sea creatures.
We experience God’s beauty that is normally hidden from our view.
When the Body of Christ shows up to walk alongside us, when a neighbor brings over a treat or when God makes Himself known through a sunrise or His powerful Word, we see Him working on our behalf in ways we have never seen before – He is real to us in a new way.
It may be too early in your grief to see anything beautiful, but I hope not. God is at work ministering to your broken heart and taking good care of you. He will teach you important lessons through your grief journey – lessons that you need for your life. He will show you more of Himself and His great love for you – and that, my sweet sisters, is beautiful.
This is my comfort and consolation in my affliction: that Your word has revived me and given me life. – Psalm 119:50
With so much love for all of you – and a special hug for you who are grieving,
And one more thing…
I want to thank each one of you for the kindness and support you have shown me over the past year. It has been a time of amazing growth for the ministry He has given to me. I am so grateful to Him – He alone makes everything grow.
Thank you for contributing to what He is nurturing. Whether you have invited me to serve at your event or retreat, left a kind comment on the blog or have been a faithful reader and listener to my posts, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I wish I could put into words how much I love meeting you, serving with you, hearing your stories and staying in touch. Your testimonies touch me deeply and I do not forget.
My New Year prayer for you:
I thank my God every time I remember you, always praying with joy for all of you. I thank God for the help you gave me while I preached the Good News—help you gave from the first day you believed until now. God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure He will continue it until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again.
This is my prayer for you: that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love; that you will see the difference between good and bad and will choose the good; that you will be pure and without wrong for the coming of Christ; that you will be filled with the good things produced in your life by Christ to bring glory and praise to God. – Philippians 1:3-6, 9-11