I had a completely different episode ready to record for today’s podcast as a response to last week’s topic on being pursued. And I’ll have to push that out one more week, because I feel so compelled by all the death and the tragedy in Afghanistan that is currently impacting our nation’s military families, that I’d like to address just a portion of it that hits home for me.
When I see the photos of the cargo planes filled with United States flag-draped caskets I am saddened. And not just saddened but sickened. I’m sickened at the thought of the families - moms, dads, siblings, wives, husbands, children - that will hear of the death of their loved one. It really doesn’t’ matter if you knew the risks your loved one was taking when they signed up to fight for our great nation. It doesn’t matter if you had previous help in trying to prepare yourself for the worst with counseling or support groups. It doesn’t matter. Because all the world stops when you hear the news. And perhaps your heart stops for a minute, too. It feels like your heart is shattered into a thousand tiny pieces and your entire spirit is crushed. And what’s left is just wave after wave of grief in this sea of sorrow. There is nothing that can prepare you for that phone call.
I think of my youngest son who was in Japan when his dad died and had to hear the news over the phone. And then travelled 14 hours alone to get home. I think of my other two who got a phone call to come home right away “something has happened to your dad.” It’s not an experience you could ever be prepared for.
I think the same for those that have lost a loved one to terminal illnesses and disease. You know it’s coming, but you’re never fully prepared for it. The shock to the system upon their death is uncharted waters, no matter how much you think you’ve resolved yourself to the inevitable.
So, my heart is broken, my spirit is crushed, for these military families. And ALL the families that have ever had to get a phone call that their loved one has died.
I heard one very dismayed mother say, “Where do we go from here?”
I believe, for me, the question wasn’t “where do I go from here” when my husband died. But, instead, the most important question and certain impact was “where have I been?” And what I mean is, “Where have I been spending my time and on what or to whom have I been giving my attention?” I do think that if you’re aware that your loved one may be at risk of death simply by choice of vocation, or aware because of a diagnosis, I do think that getting counseling and getting into a support group ahead of time would be helpful and wise. But nothing can prepare your heart more than having a rock solid, sure, unwavering relationship with Jesus before tragedy hits your household. Because here’s a reality. When it does hit your household, it’s still very likely that you’ll experience a crisis of faith to some degree. You’ll question what you’ve believed and held onto before. You’ll wonder about the goodness of God. Even if ever so briefly and privately. These are all very normal human reactions. I talked about my own Crisis of Faith in episode number 3.
When Brian died, I had had years of walking in an intimate relationship with Jesus under my belt. I also felt like I had a strong, unshakeable faith. Like nothing was going to make me bend or question it. And yet, there I was, questioning everything. And that’s not really a bad thing. Tragedy has a way of exposing the true heart. It’s a true test of faith. Most people have faith and trust in God only when He does what we want. You really get a good look into a person’s relationship with God when He ‘doesn’t.’
So, I say that questioning everything I believed was not a bad thing, because I learned so much about what and how I expected God to act in my life. In Life Coaching, we call that having a Manual for someone. I didn’t know I had a manual for God. But when Brian died, I questioned His love for me and for Brian because of how everything played out. God used that situation to dismantle the errors in my theology and put it back together rightly. It no longer has me as the leading character in my life, but has allowed me to consider all things, think about all things, and rectify all things with the truth that God and His kingdom is the focus of all things.
But having a relationship with God where you know His character, you know His heart, you know who He is and you believe in His Sovereign grace and His triumphant power over all things, is the solid foundation on which to bring your shattered heart, laying out all the broken pieces, even when you’re not sure how on earth it’ll ever be put back together and whole again.
But here, you’re safe. You are held. It’s the place you can fall apart, knowing you’re not going to get lost in all the emotions, but that you’ll find your way back. You’re safe.
In Matthew 11 verses 28 and 29, Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
It’s an invitation to bring all of the things in life that make us weary and feel the weight of a burden. I’m just sure you’re like me and you see all the things going on in our world right now that just look upside down, and it makes you weary. Grief makes you weary. Watching tragedy unfold without the ability to do anything about it, without any way to help the helpless is quite a burden. It’s all so very heavy. And Jesus knew this would be the case in this fallen world. And so He says, “Come to me. Yes, you who are weary and burdened by all that you see; all that you’re experiencing…come to Me and I will give you rest. Rest for your soul.” It sounds like a beautiful invitation. I need rest for my soul in these troubling times. How about you?
But specifically, for you who are currently in a sea of sorrow, where you’re being beaten wave after wave of grief due to the death of a loved one, He says, “Come. Find Rest.”
Psalm 34:18 tell us that the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” God cares very much about what you’re going through. He cares, more than you may even know that your heart is broken into a million pieces. He is near, and His love is salve to the wounded heart. He says, “Come.”
Friend, my encouragement to you is to start today forming this very vital, crucial even, relationship with Christ. Let the foundation be laid, stone by stone, brick by brick. You are going to need it. It will be your life-line when you feel like you’re drowning in that sea of sorrow. I also want to encourage you to get a support system to walk you through these devastating times in life. If you’d like some very personal, one-on-one support, I currently have some room in my Life Coaching and Mentoring practice to take on a few more clients. It would be my privilege if I could be your coach and mentor during this very difficult time. I will walk with you through all the things you might face, including the heavy weight of grief that can keep you numb and isolated. I can look back now to the time when I was navigating this new place in my life after my husband died and I know that I could’ve used someone in my life who had been down this road before me. To have someone to understand all the whip-lash of emotions I was dealing with, or even all the questions I had like what to do first…or next, or just to bring clarity of what to expect, to know that I wasn’t actually going crazy would’ve been such peace in a time that felt more like constant chaos. I want to offer that to you through coaching.
My coaching and mentoring clients have ongoing access to me, so there shouldn’t be anything we couldn’t handle and work through together to get you to the other side where you don’t feel overwhelmed by your emotions but do feel back in control of your life. I’d love to be your coach and mentor. The show notes include a link to my calendar to set up a call first, just to see if we’d be a fit to work together. I know it sounds like an easy step to take, but this might just be the BEST, BIGGEST leap you’ve ever made towards healing. But regardless, if you’re currently adrift, or treading water, or perhaps you feel like you’re drowning in that sea of sorrow, I pray you run to the Father whose arms are open wide and whose heart is for the brokenhearted. He is the solid foundation as you rebuild your life and your heart.
He is near, and He says, “Come.”
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