How Can Grief and Joy Live Together?

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A building crumbled. A 24-year-old construction worker who was remodeling an old store into a new Lewis Drug buried under the rubble.  A 22-year-old woman who lived in an upstairs apartment also buried. 

Three and a half hours the girl was trapped, not knowing if she was upside down or right-side up. Hope hung on as she connected with her parents and workers by phone. Cheers, fist thumps, and high fives as the girl is rescued in good condition.

But the mood soon sobered again as the caring, dedicated rescue workers carefully kept searching for the man who was buried deeper. Hoping against hope. A search dog was brought in, and an area was targeted. Seven hours after the collapse, he was found. No life left.

So many mixed emotions in a few hours. Shock and grief but praying and hanging desperately onto hope. Elation and gratitude as God worked a miracle. Fear and a deep foreboding about the life of the construction worker. Then grief and disappointment. And ripped-apart hearts for the family who would have a missing place this Christmas.

One family can celebrate life spared. Another must grieve a life snatched away.

It baffles me. How can joy and grief mix together?

My heart rejoiced that the girl was alive. But after the loss of the other life, the miracle of life didn’t seem as special any more. Well, it still was, of course. But the joy of it drained away and seemed out of my grasp when another family was devastated with the loss of a loved one.

Pain. Loss. Devastation. Everywhere. In our hearts. In our families. In our world. How does one remember the joy of the miracles when the grief can be so heavy and overwhelming? How does one rejoice for the miracles without feeling guilty of disrespecting the grief? How can joy and grief live together in one heart?

It’s a mystery… The joy in Christmas is all about God stepping into our deepest heartache. There can be no joy at all without the broken. Because Jesus came into this world of suffering to be broken for us, joy is possible. Only because of His unfathomable love can we rejoice in anything at all.

It is descending into the dark valleys of grief that we learn to more deeply appreciate the gift of God’s love. The love that infuses light into the dark places inside. The love that seeps joy in to make the grief more bearable. The love that radiates hope into despairing hearts.

For you who are feeling downhearted and trodden down with troubles, I pray God will help you find joy in His gift of love. Grief and joy can live together. God’s love can carry us through the grief. Allowing ourselves to process our grief at the feet of Jesus brings greater joy. And joy is all the more glorious because of the grief.

Then Jesus said, “Come to Me,
all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

But the angel reassured them.
“Don’t be afraid!” he said.
“I bring you good news
that will bring great joy to all people.

The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today
in Bethlehem, the city of David!”
Luke 2:10-11

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“The Gift of Love”
by Hillsong

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I am taking a blogging break the rest of the year.

I hope to be back in January.
My prayers will remain with you all!

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Restless Until We Rest in Jesus

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Do you ever feel restless in your soul? Restless for rest in Jesus? Like you know it’s Jesus you need but still you keep trying so many ways to fill up the lack you feel with so many different things? Nothing helps, and you know who can help, but you’re afraid to trust… He will reject me, too, just like people do. He doesn’t have time for someone like me. I’m too unclean. Will He really care and love me just as I am?

I’ve been thinking a lot this past week of a certain woman (Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48). We’re not told her name. We just know she was broken and very sick. She had already hemorrhaged blood for twelve long years! She spent all the money she had on physicians, but not one could help her. She just became sicker, weaker, more hopeless.

Isn’t that so like us? We will try everything else first for healing in our souls, but we don’t dare to trust our souls to Jesus. Like this woman, we come to the end of ourselves, desolate, and desperate.

Then she heard Jesus came back to Galilee. He is here! Her only hope left! The restlessness in her soul would not let her be still. She had to get to Jesus, her only Rest, her only Hope, her only Healer.

Other people who wanted to see Jesus perform more miracles pushed and shoved to get near to Him. But this woman didn’t seek Him to see more miracles. She desperately needed a miracle for herself. She was despised, rejected, cast out as unclean, and she needed a Savior.

I can imagine her emaciated body stumbling weakly along, perhaps even crawling, pushing herself beyond her strength, pressing on and squeezing herself between so many people as she thought to herself, “If I can just touch even the hem of His garment, I will be healed.”

There! As her desperate emptiness touched the edge of His cloak, she immediately felt the blood stop flowing. She felt renewed, restored, whole. What a sigh of relief as she gave all her soul to Jesus, resting in Him and His love. She became whole not only physically, but her emotional brokenness healed, and spiritually her sins were washed away by the cleansing blood of Jesus.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked gently. He gazed around, searching the hearts of those nearby. No one admitted it.

His disciples said, “But Jesus, how can You ask that? Just look at this crowd pressing around You.”

But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from Me.”

Jesus continued looking at the people around Him. But why did Jesus ask when He knows all things? He knew exactly who it was, but He wanted her to come forward. To freely pour out all her brokenness with no shame. To confess her absolute need of His healing. To glorify Him with her praise of His unexpected, unconditional, miraculous healing of her body and soul.

Oh, what now? She knew she could no longer go unnoticed. She knew she could no longer keep silent. She knew she must fall down at His feet with her heart wide open, holding nothing back. As she trembled at His feet, she told Him the whole truth.

“Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over,” Jesus gently replied. And the soothing balm of His love and grace refreshed her.

All this was happening in front of the crowd. People who cast her aside as not worthy of their notice, their attention, their love. But Jesus unashamedly included her and pulled her into belonging. He healed all her brokenness. He even marked her as His precious daughter, and He loved her with all His heart.

Do you feel broken? In your body, your emotions, your mind, your spirit, your very soul? Jesus cares for restless, broken, burdened souls. He can and will heal. He is always ready and willing and has already paid the price.

Jesus Whispers:

Come, My dear child,
Touch My garment.

Let your brokenness be turned to beauty,
Your emptiness filled with My fullness,
Your captivity be released to freedom.

Come, My precious child,
Rest your restless soul in Me.

cutecolorsanibear14

“I Need You, Jesus, to Come to My Rescue”
by Hillsong

Praying our restless hearts will find rest in Jesus!
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21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

But I Will Remember His Miracles

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My airways flamed up and  tightened, and my energy drained away. I was suffocating, so I left to use my nebulizer. It helped some, but I still felt like an elephant sat on my chest. I was exhausted. Bone tired. I couldn’t even think anymore. When I tried to, I cried.

Anytime I get into contact with smoke, even candle smoke, my airways rebel. My sarcoidosis flares up and I get very ill and have to take antibiotic and greater doses of Prednisone.

I had intended to stay for a wedding’s dance, but I had to leave. I felt guilty, but I couldn’t hold myself strong anymore. My husband told me, “I wish you wouldn’t always feel guilty about everything.” But I was, and I often do. I feel like I let people down, like I disappoint them, like I don’t measure up.

I’m not asking for pity, but I empathize with anyone who has a chronic illness, especially those invisible illnesses when people may say, “But you look good.” When your illness doesn’t always show, some people think it must not be so bad, and they don’t offer support like they do with more visible illnesses.

I’m trying to be more honest with how I really feel, but I still easily hide behind a smile. I’m trying to feel less guilty for saying “No,” but it’s not easy. Not everyone understands, and some even think I’m faking it. Some think I should suck it up, that I can do more than I think I can. So I try to convince myself that I’m fine. Then I don’t listen to the warning signals in my body, because I have those voices in my head. And I pay for it again and again.

It tears my heart out to disappoint people, especially loved ones, if I can’t always make it to activities. Sometimes I even reason with myself that if Christ’s grace is sufficient for me, I should be able to do all these things in spite of chronic fatigue and illness. Or I beat myself up – If I had more faith, maybe this affliction would leave me. I even feel guilty to ask for prayers, because maybe then I’m complaining or someone might think I’m feeling sorry for myself. After all, there are people who have it worse than I do.

I don’t know why God allows this thorn in my flesh, but He does teach me deeper lessons through it. When I get so sick, I can’t think, and Satan takes advantage of me. Negative voices flood in and feel like they’re going to drown me. I have no strength to fight them or to focus on God’s promises. But in my weakness, God is strong. My fingers slip as I try to cling to the cross, but an Invisible Hand hangs on to me.

Hang On!

As the clouds of fatigue clear up in my brain, I wonder what we can focus on when troubles overwhelm us:

The mighty deeds of the Lord,

His miracles,

What Jesus has sacrificed for us,

Because only in this,

We gain the victory.

But I Will Remember

My heart is overwhelmed
But I will remember
Jesus’ grace is sufficient for every circumstance.
I am bone tired
But I will remember
Jesus suffered weariness to give me rest.
It’s hard to breathe
But I will remember
Jesus gave up His last breath for my salvation.
The journey gets dark
But I will remember
Jesus suffered the darkest of nights for me.
Words, actions, and silence hurt me
But I will remember
Jesus suffered unspeakable pain for me.
Insecurity discourages me
But I will remember
Jesus thought me valuable enough to die for.
Legalism swings its swords
But I will remember
Jesus died to give me life, not death.
Memory triggers plunge me into past abuse
But I will remember
Jesus died to heal my body, mind, and soul.
Shame beats me down
But I will remember
Jesus’ sacrifice has freed me from all condemnation.
Panic freezes my faith
But I will remember
Jesus has conquered fear.
Bitterness sours joy
But I will remember
Jesus offers forgiveness.
Depression sinks me into despair
But I will remember
In Jesus’ victory I can dance.
My sins testify against me
But I will remember
His forgiveness annuls sacrifice for sin.
I sometimes doubt His promises
But I will remember
He is a 100% Promise-Keeper!

Godhasnotpromised

Joining Faith Barista’s writing prompt:
Remembrance

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