When the Burden of Grief Makes Gratitude Harder

Thank you for your prayers concerning the tragedy I wrote about in last week’s post. We appreciated it so much! Though Tad opens his eyes, he is not allowed company right now. All the nurse would tell our son is that he gets very agitated when he gets visitors, and that’s not good for him. So we don’t know too many details of his condition, but we are so afraid he will have some lasting brain damage. We continue to pray for his healing.

Yesterday morning was a funeral for a young husband and father, only 33 years old. Three small children, 5-year-old twin boys and a 3-year-old girl, will not grow up with their devoted dad. The wife is a granddaughter of the couple that live across the hall from us.

The day after my neighbor heard about the loss of a granddaughter’s husband, she had to take her husband to hospice because of cancer.

Do you ever get overwhelmed by all the suffering and death there is in this world? It’s hard, isn’t it?

I know some of you readers are personally dealing with the death of family or friends only recently and will be experiencing your first Thanksgiving and Christmas without them. It will be so difficult to have missing places among you. May God give you strength!

There are others of you whose loss I don’t know about, whether a loved one, a relationship, or a loss of who you really are.

Maybe you have no family to share these days with. Or your families are so dysfunctional that it devastates you and fills you with anxiety to get together.

Whatever your loss and however alone or misunderstood you may feel, I am so sorry. But infinitely more sorry than I am is our God who knows, cares, and understands. Even when grief clouds our vision and it’s hard to grasp that truth, it is still the truth. Even when life changes drastically for us, He never changes. He is faithful. Even if we sometimes have a hard time being grateful, we are still precious to Him and He will never leave us.

Someday when we can look back to the times of great sorrow, we will see one set of footprints in the sand. It was in those times that He carried us. Thank You, God, for Your unconditional love, Your never-ending compassion, and Your unchanging faithfulness!

“Because of the Lord’s
great love we are not consumed,

    for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is Your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23

I hope to be back here the first Tuesday of December.

Footprints In the Sand
by Leona Lewis

Jesus Longs For Us to Find Refuge Under His Wings of Love

Courtesy of Heartlight
“Like a bird protecting its young,
God will cover you with His feathers,
will protect you under His great wings;
His faithfulness will form a shield around you,
a rock-solid wall to protect you.”
Psalm 91:4 VOICE

God often uses birds as an analogy of His loving care and protection over us. When an April snowstorm hit us, I watched a visible sign of this truth. A house finch pair already had a nest outside my office window. It was amazing to see how they kept the eggs warm and did not leave them to find shelter for themselves. The eggs did hatch and the parents faithfully fed, cared for, and protected them. If the little ones needed more warmth or were afraid, they snuggled more deeply under the wings of their mother.

Birds will sacrifice their own lives to keep their young ones safe. I once heard a story of a mother bird whose blackened and dead body was found by rangers after a forest fire. One of them bumped her body with a stick and out popped three little chicks alive and well. She could have flown to safety, but she remained to protect her beloved young and give her life for theirs.

Though a bird will give its life for its young, there are times when it has no power against much stronger enemies. That will never happen with God. He is invincible. There is no enemy too strong for Him. We can always find refuge under His Almighty wings of safety in the storms of life. 

And there will be storms, because we are part of this sinful, fallen world. As long as we are on this earth, physical, mental, and emotional losses in various forms will continue to cause heart-rending grief, anxiety, and fear.

We all need a Shelter, a Refuge, a Safe Savior in these storms.

Jesus mourns when we don’t choose to find refuge underneath His loving, shielding wings. When Jerusalem rejected Jesus and His love, He wept (Luke 19:41). He voiced His sorrow in Luke 13:34b:

“How often I have longed to
gather your children together,
as a hen gathers her chicks
under her wings,
and you were not willing.”

Jesus longs for us to find refuge under His wings of love and safety. He longs for us to believe He willingly gave His life for us to rescue us from sin, eternal death, and Satan. He longs for us to take it to heart that He loves us so much that He suffered an excruciating death for us to keep us safe.

Yes, it’s hard to trust there is safety under His wings if our trust has been horribly betrayed or if we are so confused about what love really is. It took me many years to believe I can trust Him. To believe His intentions toward us are always honorable and life-giving, not hurtful and life-taking.

Even if we hesitate to take shelter beneath His loving wings, He never stops loving us or caring about us. His wings are always open, entreating us to find refuge in Him. His patience knows no end!

Lord, thank You for loving us so much and longing for us to take shelter in You. Please help us to trust You with all our hearts. Take away all the roadblocks that keep us from fleeing to find refuge in You. Take away all the trust issues we may have in our hearts. Take away all our self-sufficiency. Please help us to snuggle underneath Your wings of loving care with all our restlessness, anxiety, and fear. Help us to picture Your protective wings around us whenever we step forward into places or situations that make us feel so afraid and untrusting but yet will help us on the road to healing the brokenness within us. Help us to be dependent on You and Your all-sufficient grace in whatever struggles we go through in this life. Thank You that Your wings of love and safety are invincible.

Your Wings
by Lauren Daigle

Butterfly Blessings from God

Nature is one of the channels God uses to breathe life into fainting spirits and to give assurance that He is still in control over all, no matter what happens in our lives and in this world.

At the end of May, my youngest brother was admitted to ICU with severe pancreatitis. I cried out to God to heal him and spare his life. I was afraid, and I could not trust God’s plan for him. Other anxieties for those struggling emotionally, stories not mine to tell, were also storming in my heart, threatening to drown me.

One day I took a walk and spotted a Monarch and a Painted Lady on a lilac bush. As I gazed in awe, the storm in my heart stilled as God whispered, “I’m with him, My child. I’ve got him. I’m with those who are emotionally in pain. I am with you.” The heavy load that threatened to crush me drained from me, and I could release all of them to His care and His plan.

Some time later, I was with some of my siblings and families in a park. It had been my turn this year to plan a reunion, and I needlessly worried about it for months. I love them all dearly, but crowds aren’t my thing. I’m more a one-on-one gal. I was also worried about over-doing it, because sometimes when I get out of my slower routine, health repercussions follow. Probably deeper though was the anxiety I have for anyone hurting and the helplessness I feel that I can’t “fix” things. (I’m still a work in progress in surrendering everyone’s needs to God.) As I sat at a table underneath a shelter, my heart felt grieved, my spirit disconnected, and my body tired and achy. Then there it was! A butterfly fluttering near me! And God whispered, “I’m here. I’m still with you” as He breathed His sufficient grace into my weariness. Later on, the butterfly flew by again with its reassuring love note. Thank You, God!

God continued to send me love notes through butterflies at timely moments throughout the summer. I could be looking out the window at home, driving along in our van, or taking a walk.

What was your summer like? I know many of you are suffering from losses in one way or another, and I’m so sorry. It can be hard to open our hearts to God’s messages of comfort when we are weighed down with grief, can’t it? I pray God strengthens each of you.

Did God sometimes strengthen or comfort you through His creation? How? Please feel free to share with us!

“The Lord Himself goes before you
and will be with you;
He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 31:8
Some butterflies have battered wings,
but they still fly and spread God’s encouragement.

♥️ A lesson for us that God can use us, no matter how broken we are. ♥️

He Is With Us
by Love and The Outcome

“Remember when your hope is lost and faith is shaken
Remember when you wonder if you’re gonna make it
There’s a hand stretched out through your deepest doubt
We can’t pretend to see the ending or what’s coming up ahead
To know the story of tomorrow
But we can stay close to the One who knows

We can trust our God
He knows what He’s doing
though it might hurt now

We won’t be ruined
It might seem there’s an ocean in between
But He’s holding on to you and me
And He’s never gonna leave, no
He is with us, He is with us (always, always)
He is with us, He is with us (always)”

(P.S. My brother’s life was spared!)