I am allowing myself some time to grieve today. I need it. Pushing myself forward isn’t always the healthy thing to do. Ignoring grief doesn’t make it go away. It only builds under pressure.
We can’t pick and choose which emotions we feel. Pushing down painful emotions suppresses the good ones as well. If I want to “feel” loved by God, I have to work through my painful emotions to get there.
Recently, I’ve slipped back into stoicism and found myself unable to feel. Twenty moves may have something to do with my practice. I’ve learned to gird myself against the loneliness of moving to a new state, against the sadness of leaving friends and this time precious children behind, against the fear of not knowing who I can and cannot trust with my fragile heart.
Just learning my way around town and where basic staples are located in local stores can be a daunting task that demands more mental strength than I possess. Town? Stores? Who am I kidding? I couldn’t find my way around my own kitchen while preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Door after cabinet door was opened before finding the things I needed. Add to that the downsizing we’re doing and I can’t remember if or not I still own the thing I am searching for.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – Matthew 5:4
Mourning with a humble heart before the Lord puts us in a position to receive God’s comfort.
His “com” from the Latin word meaning nearness – “fort” from the Latin word meaning strong.
His strength near me; fortifying me.
Pushing through while pretending that I am okay denies not only the mourning, but also the comfort my heart so desperately needs. Insensibility makes it nearly impossible to sense His nearness and receive His strength.
Sitting humbly with the truth of my mourning makes room for the Comforter and Spirit of Truth to lead me into all truth (John 16:13).
I am overcome by sorrow;
strengthen me, as you have promised.
Keep me from lying to myself;
give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.
I am always asking God to speak His truth to my heart. I am always listening for His still small voice spoken through the truth of His Word.
One of the more powerful ways that God speaks to me is through pictures. One picture is worth a thousand words. A story or a picture can speak to my heart for days on end.
A few weeks ago, God showed me a picture of myself. I was standing at the door of my heart. The door was cracked open, but my foot was barring the door; blocking Jesus from coming in. “I stand at the door and knock” echoed through my heart though all I could “see” was my foot barricading the door.
Much like the church in Laodicea, I was neither hot nor cold. My fear of being overwhelmed by emotions had stifled them.
The first emotions I let in after “seeing” myself and my foot barring the door were anger and frustration.
Cold. It was something. I was feeling again.
Revelation 3:14“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
I desperately WANTED and DIDN’T WANT Jesus to come in. I was at the door. It was cracked open, but barred. I wanted to remove my foot, but I didn’t know how. I wanted Jesus to comfort me because I was wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. But the position of my foot said, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing. Who, me, Jesus? I am good. I’ve been doing this grief thing for awhile now. I’ve done this moving thing SO many times. I am pushing through. I don’t need to feel right now; not grief nor comfort. I’ve got this.”
I’ve got nothing.
I am wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I am weak and vulnerable. I am afraid. I am easily overwhelmed. I am not the person I was before. My heart is shattered and broken. I miss the old me. The blissfully ignorant me. The me that knew nothing of being wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I miss the me who was confident in her unshaken faith. I miss the me that didn’t needed time to mourn so that she could find comfort.
I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
How do we “buy” gold refined in the fire?
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
We receive the love of God in the form of a rebuke and discipline. We repent earnestly. We change our minds by renewing them in His Word and allow Him to transform our hearts.
In this way, we become truly rich.
We listen to His voice and open wide the door to our hearts. We invite Jesus in and “sup” (KJV) with Him. We eat His flesh and drink His blood (John 6:56).
We REMEMBER Christ broken and crucified for us; just as the bread was broken and the wine poured out for us (Luke 22:19). We rejoice “inasmuch as” we “participate in the sufferings of Christ” so that we may be “overjoyed when His glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:13)
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. – 1 Peter 2:21
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – Matthew 5:4
Not blessed are those who never suffer, who never mourn, who never need comfort.
In all their distress He too was distressed, and the angel of His presence saved them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. – Isaiah 63:9
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. – 1 Peter 1:6
I shouldn’t miss her. I should count her crucified with Christ. I should count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ, my Comforter, who now lives in me (Galatians 2:20, Philippians 3:8).
I should joyfully embrace the new, refined me that is coming out of the fire with a proven, genuine faith which is of greater worth than gold. The one not made “rich” by her own failing strength or “clothed” in her own failing righteousness… but in His.
Partaking of the suffering that I have been called to in Christ, welcoming His comfort, is becoming a salve to my eyes so I can see.
Truth spoken to my heart is this: I’ve mourned a me that I believed was a stronger and happier me, but who in truth was wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Unproven.
It’s only through trials that we can buy what is genuinely real; of greater worth than gold. Untested faith is not proven faith. Genuine faith, real strength comes through the fire when our pitiful, human strength is consumed and we learn to draw from His supernatural strength and comfort. It’s only there that we learn that His grace IS sufficient. It’s only there that we learn that He will faithfully and lovingly carry us through ALL our days.
But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Before losing Joel, I thought grace was the power to float through life. I believed grace was the gift of self sufficiency.
I am beginning to see that grace is the “gift” of sharing in Christ’s suffering. It’s the gift of finding the end or our own strength and sufficiency and the beginning of His. It’s the gift of a “thorn” that keeps us from becoming conceited.
2 Corinthians 12:7b Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
His strength in my weakness far surpasses the strength I thought I had before I suffered. His glory far surpasses any fading human glory.
My heart struggles to see how tragedy can bring glory to God. I used to believe that the kind of life that would bring the most glory to God would be one where His children lived fairytale lives; free from weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties. I believed that was the kind of life God most desired for His children.
But I am beginning to see that fairytale lives produce an arrogance; a self-sufficiency that says, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” They produce a blindness to our wretchedness, pitifulness, real poverty, blindness and nakedness. Fairytale lives fail to produce a proven faith and strength that can only come the desperate need to draw from God’s real, tested comfort (near strength).
The people who I have always most admired are people like Corrie Ten Boom and Joni Eareckson Tada who have been deeply broken and have found God to be their source of continual strength and comfort. I see more of His kindness, mercy, empathy and goodness in them. I see a deeper faith in the broken; roots that have dug in deep and grown strong through terrible storms. I see a glory and a radiance that can have only come through the testing of their faith; Christ residing in and strengthening them.
So this striving against my brokenness …against my weakness; this longing for my old, less tested faith; this pining over a the loss of a more “fairy-tale-ish” life has to come to an end. I must consider it all as loss. I must let the truth sink in.
The truth is every good fairytale is filled with danger and hardships and every hero emerges out of difficulties and testing.
I must offer my struggle as a sacrifice. I must mourn. I must submit to my need for God’s comfort; my need for His nearness and strength.
The secret of contentment with weakness and vulnerability?
“I have strength for all things in the One strengthening me.” – Philippians 4:13 (Berean Literal Bible)
The only way I can remove my foot from barring Jesus’ entrance through the door of my heart is by embracing this new, broken me; embracing my weakness, my need to mourn, and my need to receive His comfort.
My weakness opens the door for His Spirit of Comfort and Truth.; makes way for His glorious strength.
He has counseled us to buy from Him gold refined in the fire so that we can be truly rich and wear the white garments of His righteousness and strength and have salve to put on our blind eyes so we can see.
2 Corinthians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.