Right now that word joy may choke you...For anyone, newly grieving, to take even this first step is as difficult as learning to walk for the first time. You are, in fact, back at the beginning of learning to live again, to function, to participate in life. You are learning to live the second part of your life, so be patient with yourself. Eugenia Price, Getting Through The Night
As the family filed out of North Metro Church this past Thursday at Dr. Rick Gray’s Celebration of Life Service, the instrumental music played loudly “Crown Him With Many Crowns”. My girlfriend Sandy and I, and the rest of the congregation stood reverently by. Especially during unpredictable and devastating circumstances, many ask, “Where is God?” There is no doubt that Rick Gray and his family, along with our dear friends, The Reads, in Virginia, who have faced unimaginable tragedy in their son’s passing, believe in their gut that God is on His Throne. As painful as loss is, we believe in a God who is not only aware of what has happened, but he is worthy of our honor and praise regardless of our circumstances. We recognize that it is not something we can see with our eyes, but it is a truth we have intentionally chosen to believe.
We call it Faith.
With Holy Week upon us, my Father-in-law is still in the hospital. We are hopeful he will make a full recovery, but we obviously do not know what the future holds in this precarious situation. Donny’s Dad is a man of faith, believing in things he cannot see. This very personal faith gives him hope for his future, regardless of what his future might hold.
We do not stand alone in this belief. We belong to an enormous family of faith. My ADPi Sisters, a group of nine of us have been getting together for a weekend every single year since 1979. We all have Cookeville’s Tennessee Tech University in common. We do life together. We laugh, we cry, we call, we email, we text, we celebrate, we mourn together, but most importantly, we share a common and rigorous faith in God.
We stand shoulder-to-shoulder in our faith journeys, sharing prayer requests with each other year in and year out. For something different in 2015, we decided to read the same devotional week after week together: The Joshua Code.
Together, we start a new chapter each Sunday. Ironically, the reading following Taylor Read’s recent passing reminded us: of the promise in Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” This week’s reading is called, The Proof is in the Pudding. According to this devo, the evidence in our personal faith in a God is three-fold: inward, upward and outward. Inward evidence (see Ephesians 5:19) is seen when we choose to have a “song in our heart” regardless of our situation. Upward evidence (see Ephesians 5:20) is seen when we continually choose to have an attitude of gratitude to our God. Outward evidence (see Ephesians 5:21) is seen in our service to those in our path.
Through the generations, many have asked the question”Where is God?” Two of these who have lived during my lifetime are C.S. Lewis and Lee Strobel.
Christians can have doubts and they can have questions, and the unhealthy way to deal with that is to keep them inside where they fester and grow and can undermine our faith. The healthy way to deal with it is to talk about it and be honest about it. Lee Strobel
I do know plenty of atheists, agnostics and skeptics who have become Christians through the years. In fact, several of my friends were once strong atheists but are now committed followers of Jesus. Lee Strobel
C. S. Lewis, (1898-1963), author of Mere Christianity, among many other books, and best friends with J.R.R. Tolkien., fell away from faith in his youth, but returned at age 32 for the remainder of his days.
After his wife’s conversion, Lee Strobel, (1952- ) one of the most well known atheist-turned-Christians and author of The Case For Christ, became a believer at the age of 29 after he did extensive research on the evidence for Jesus.
IN MY 56 YEARS HERE ON THIS EARTH, I HAVE CERTAINLY KNOWN SORROW, WITH BOTH OF MY PARENTS HAVING GONE ON AHEAD OF ME, ALONG WITH MANY MUCH-LOVED FRIENDS AND RELATIVES, INCLUDING A PRECIOUS NEPHEW, BRAD. I FIRST LEARNED OF MY FAVORITE BOOK ON GRIEF THROUGH THE PASSING OF A GIRLFRIEND, JIL CAIN ON AUGUST 5, 2005, A GRACE DISGUISED: HOW THE SOUL GROWS THROUGH LOSS, BY, GERALD L. SITTSER. I KNOW WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO HAVE THAT PHYSICAL ACHING, ANGUISH IN MY HEART AFTER HEARING OF THE PASSING OF SOMEONE I DEARLY LOVE, AND I BET YOU HAVE FELT THAT, TOO. I THINK GRIEF FEELS A LOT LIKE THE FRIDAY AND SATURDAY BEFORE THE FIRST EASTER SUNDAY. AS JESUS WAS BEING HUNG ON THE CROSS, SURELY HIS MOTHER, MARY, ALONG WITH HIS DISCIPLES, AND COUNTLESS OTHER FOLLOWERS HAD ACHING HEARTS AND WANTED TO LOSE ALL HOPE IN THEIR FUTURE. BUT THEN SUNDAY CAME! I AM LEARNING THAT THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE IN THOSE WHO GRIEVE WITH HOPE AND THOSE WHO GRIEVE WITHOUT IT. THE READ FAMILY CHOSE THE POWERFUL ANTHEM, LIFT UP THE CROSS, TO WALK OUT OF THEIR CHURCH TO. THIS SONG ILLUSTRATES HOW THEY WERE GRIEVING THE LOSS OF THEIR BELOVED SON, BROTHER, NEPHEW, AND GRANDSON THIS IS RELATED TO A PERSONAL FAITH JOURNEY.
It is both ultimately and intimately between each created human and God.
Where are you and I in our journey today?
How is there inward, outward and
upward evidence of faith in our lives?
Despite the fact that I had been a Christian for many years before the accident, since then, God has become a living reality to me as never before. My confidence in God is somehow quieter but stronger. I feel little pressure to impress God or prove myself to him; yet I want to serve him with all my heart and strength. My life is full of bounty, even as I continue to feel the pain of loss. Grace is transforming me, and it is wonderful. I have slowly learned where God belongs and have allowed him to assume that place—at the center of life rather than at the periphery.”
Gerald L. Sittser, author of A Grace Disguised
In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t.” Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer, and Christian philosopher, Pascal had poor health especially after his 18th year and his death came just two months after his 39th birthday.