Friday, August 19, 2022

The Second Round of Grief


For with much wisdom is much sorrow; as knowledge increases, grief increases.
Ecclesiastes 1:18 HCSB

The second round of grief is headed my way soon.
Some of my wise friends who have endured seasons of grief have posted, "The second year is harder than the first."
I am seeing how this is true because you're reliving the first rounds of denial, anger, bargaining, and sadness you didn't see coming the first time.
In my training as a Stephen Minister, we talk about how hard anniversaries can be for those who are grieving.

The holidays, birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and more...so many memories are now bittersweet.
Yes, the first ones have been hard for me this year after my painful divorce. The first Valentine's Day and Easter were just plain awful in certain ways.
Now I'm seeing that this October will start the process all over again, because it's the month when everything began going downhill (though I couldn't see it at that time last year). The behind-the-scenes deceit that hurt me and my children so deeply started that month.
Then the most painful remembrances are coming the second time around in the new year, when the pain of the original trauma will be fresh again for a few months.

As knowledge about what really happened increases, grief wells up again. However, the hope lies here: God's grace increases too.

If you are grieving, you know that the grief comes in waves. Just today, a wave of grief passed over me. I had to let it flow out in a few minutes of tears, then it was over.
After today's grief wave, I paused to thank God. The grief I have now is not as overwhelming and all-encompassing as when the trauma was brand new. I'm stronger because his grace has proven to be sufficient for me as his power is perfected in my weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).

The difference between the second round of grief and the first is that I have the advantage of seeing it coming. This is a blessing I'm not taking for granted. I can be prepared for those anniversary days that will be hard, and grant myself extra grace to grieve as much as I need to do.
One thing I'm doing on this second round of grief is inviting Jesus into each moment with me. I envision him standing beside me back in that first round, when grief suddenly crashed into me like tsunami waves. He was right there, holding me when I felt his presence and especially when I didn't feel his arms around me.
The second time around, Jesus and I will be standing there together, watching the original scene. I'll see him standing there with me the first time, and feel him standing beside me the second time too. He'll embrace me as the grief wells up, and as it ebbs away.
Though my knowledge of the situation the second time around increases my grief for a moment, he will be offering grace in heavenly abundance to me.

What is the second round of grief, and how does it affect us?

If you are in a season of grieving, I hope this devotion prepares you for the second round. Not only for the additional knowledge and sorrow you will experience, but for the abundant grace and comfort Jesus will most certainly offer you. I pray that you know he is standing beside you right now, ready to embrace you as you accept his offer. 
I hope you will realize Jesus was there with you the first time around and will be there with you the second time around too, ready to comfort and soothe you as grief wells up and ebbs away once more.


Blessings and God's peace to you,



Photo from Canva.com

Need additional help processing your grief? Don't suffer alone - Reach out for help HERE like I did years ago. 

Reflection questions:


1. When have you experienced a season of grief? How did it impact your faith?
2. How might this devotion about a second round of grief prepare you for what's ahead?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

3 Ways God Uses Suffering in Our Lives

 



By: Donna Bucher

Everyone struggles with some form of pain and suffering in their lives. Perhaps a long standing illness, or unresolved relationship issues; even a struggle with job loss or financial hardship. At times, a faith issue, where God seems absent, silent, or distant, inflicts anxiety of mind.

While pain in some form exists in our lives, we often wonder if suffering has a purpose. The first chapter of the letter of James offers help for understanding trials of all kinds. Join me as I share 3 ways God uses suffering in our lives.

Guilty of a common misconception among Christians, I thought when I became a Christian, obeyed God, and performed good works, God would exclude me from suffering.

For many years I angrily questioned God regarding the suffering in my life. Inflicted with the same malady many Christians have; "entitlement", I failed in seeing any good purpose for pain in my life.

Considering James 1:2-4, God reminds us to "count it all joy”,  when facing trials because we know God is perfecting our faith. We learn on the other side of the suffering, when it completes its perfect work in us, we find joy.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4

 

3 WAYS GOD USES SUFFERING IN YOUR LIFE

Understanding 3 ways God uses suffering in your life helps you view trials from a different perspective.

 

Suffering Produces Perseverance

Testing in the furnace of suffering, yields perseverance or endurance. Not the “grit your teeth” and bear it resignation type of endurance; this perseverance results in a patient but active waiting. The type of perseverance produced by pain offers a hope-filled perspective.

The same testing of your faith producing perseverance, also strengthens your faith. Until you experience pain and suffering you rely on your own strength. When you walk through dark valleys you learn to know God more deeply and your faith becomes strong.

Suffering Produces Maturity

A second way God uses suffering in your life, encourages maturity. Knowing God more deeply helps you understand His good and sovereign purposes in pain and suffering. We no longer whine and complain like little children over every inconvenience.

Hardship builds character, integrity, and mental toughness. Allowing a broader perspective than our myopic little worlds.

Suffering Produces Humility

Without pain you cannot fully experience joy; nor understand hope. Apart from pain and suffering you remain self-sufficient and self-focused, and even “God forgetful”. Suffering reminds you of your need for God and the truth that you have no real control over life’s events. Pain heightens our awareness of what is truly important.

 

While accepting pain and suffering in my own life is never easy, knowing God has a loving purpose for it helps.

Though not always the author of pain and suffering in my life, God often allows it for my good and His ultimate glory. Lovingly the God of all comfort, He strengthens, and walks with me in every trial.

Pain and suffering revealed selfishness, anger, unkindness, and unforgiveness in my heart. The continual work of trials slowly replaces the hardness of these traits with the softness of compassion, empathy and forgiveness. Through the process of pain and suffering, God removes the harshness of sin, revealing His glory in me.


Which of the 3 ways God uses suffering most comforts you?

 











Find more encouragement and FREE Resources at Serenity in Suffering!

 

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Photo from Canva.com


Wednesday, August 17, 2022

The Shaking Is Okay

By: Jenifer Metzger

I love plants, however, I am not good with them. Over the past couple of years I have found a couple house plants I, the plant killer, can actually keep alive. One plant is the Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree. This tree is beautiful! The fact that I can keep not just one but two alive in my home is a miracle! After getting my first Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree, I looked on Facebook for a FLF group for tips. I found a great group with tips that have helped immensely.


One tip the group gave me was to shake the trunk of the tree often. Say what!? Shake the trunk of a tree? This seemingly absurd practice actually strengthens the tree. The shaking mimics the wind blowing and helps the tree to grow strong and withstand more. If the tree never faces any wind or shaking, it can become weak.

The Shaking is Okay #Godisincontrol #inspiration #encouragement #crisis #hardship #w2wministries

God allows life to give us these little shakes sometimes. We face a hardship or crisis -shaking- and we feel shaken. We face a bad day -wind blowing- and feel stressed. These shakes, this wind blowing, is not only okay,  but actually good for us. We need it to strengthen our faith and walk with the Lord.

If we were to never face any hardship or struggle, if life were always perfect, we would come to depend on ourselves. We would forget our need for a Savior. It's in these struggles and hard times that we learn how to lean on God. It's when our faith deepens. It's how we understand what others are facing.

The key is to lean into God. To remember that through the shaking and blowing wind, He is there. He is holding us up, strengthening us, and working out His plan.

He gives strength to the faint and strengthens the powerless.
Isaiah 40:29

Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them.
For the Lord your God is the one who will go with you;
He will not leave you or abandon you.
Deuteronomy 31:6

 Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous?
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God
is with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

The next time you feel the wind blowing or that shake down, lean in to God. Ask Him to strengthen you and grow your faith. And remember that the shaking is okay.









Tuesday, August 16, 2022

The True Solution to Your Problems

 By: Rebekah Hargraves


Photo Courtesy Of: Diana Simumpande


"The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect." ~James 5:16b


Charles Stanley once said, "We must remember that the shortest distance between our problems and their solutions is the distance between our knees and the floor."

It's true! The solution to your problems does not ultimately depend on you.

It’s not about washing your face, girl.

The answer is not found in pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.

The solution to your problems is not found in you taking control of your life and making your dreams come true.


The answer is not you being enough on your own.


The key is not you being all things to all people.


The fix is not for you to be a Jr. Holy Spirit or to have a Messiah complex.


The ultimate solution to life’s problems is not ultimately found in self.


It’s not ultimately found in trying harder, meeting goals, or saving the day.


The true solution to life’s problems is found in the Savior and His work in our lives. The prayer of the righteous is what makes a difference - our God moves and works through the prayers of His people.


That is where change lies - in humbling ourselves before God and admitting we don’t have it all together, never will, and need Him.


That, friends, is the power of prayer. 


And that is precisely what we need to all remember right in times like these. 




Reflection Questions:



1. What troubles are you facing right now? Who or what have you been relying on as a solution to them?




2. How would you rate the condition of your prayer life lately? What is hindering you from being in prayer more than you are?




3. How can you make time to dedicate more time, attention, and energy to prayer?

Monday, August 15, 2022

He's in Complete Control

By: Joanne Viola


Last summer we had so much rain, our grass was as green and lush as a golf course. It was the best grass we ever have had.

This year, not even close.

Our grass is brown, burnt out and like straw. We are in drought conditions and even if it we were to get a good drenching, the grass probably would not come back this year. We can make every effort to water but the drought is out of our control.

Ever notice how much we all desire control? We want to be in control of our lives. Some want to be in control of others.

According to dictionary.com, control means  “to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; or command.”

There is only One who has complete control, and that is God.

The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.” 
(Psalm 103:19, NASB)

Let’s clarify just what He has complete and unlimited control over.

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself."
(Philippians 3:20-21, NASB)

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.
(Hebrews 1:3, NASB)

All things are created by Him and He is sovereign over all things. He is working to put everything as it should be, under and around Him. For now, He holds everything together by His powerful words.

Everything is under His control, and He sustains everything.

There is not a single thing that we can face in any given day that is not in His control. He is not guessing. He never thinks He should have gone with Plan B. He never makes a mistake.

He is always at work and always working it out.

Whatever each of us is facing today is completely under His control. May that truth bring us peace today.

 

Is there some area of your life which you are trying to maintain control over? What can you do to release it all into the hands of the One who is sovereign over all?

 

Photo by Justin Schwartfigure on Unsplash