Trusting God In Tragedy

Five years ago my brother died by suicide. At the time, my heart felt shattered. God healed my broken heart in this past five years. He drew me closer to Himself, and I learned that trust grows in the midst of tragedy.

Here is a repost of a blog I wrote not long after my brother’s suicide. Today I celebrate how far God brought me in the grieving process. He proved Himself to be an excellent Comforter.

I pray that whatever you face in your life in these days, you will reach out to the Lord to be your refuge and Your comfort.

Trusting God in Tragedy/Grief

First Posted on March 11, 2012by elainecreasman

A part of me wants to run away from God.

He could have prevented this. My Lord could have answered my loved one’s prayers for relief from back pain. Certainly He has power to have saved his life—to intervene in those final desperate moments and to shine His light into darkness. He could have caused a different outcome—one where instead of taking his own life, my loved one said, “Here God, I give you my life; help me to live it.”

I still don’t understand how such a tragic event could have taken place. But one thing I know. I have to keep trusting God. That’s the only way I can make it through this valley of grief.

As I’ve determined to cling to God, He brings words of comfort. He has reminded me that in the scope of eternity this sorrow is “a light, momentary affliction,” (See 2 Corinthians 4:17) even though it doesn’t seem so.

He has encouraged me when I’ve agonized that I didn’t do enough and could have saved this precious life:

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus Romans 8:1 NIV.

He has brought songs to mind and repeated an instruction He gave me years ago when I was mourning other griefs: “Sing away sorrow.” One song from “back then” is “Be still, my soul” written by Catharina von Schlegel in 1752.

Years back when it seemed life was too hard, too painful, I sang that song over and over after hearing it on a Ginny Owens CD.

Recently I looked up the words.

“Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side/Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain./Leave to thy God to order and provide/In every change He faithful will remain./Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly Friend/Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end…

Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart/And all is darkened in the vale of tears;/Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,/Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears./Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay/From His own fullness all He takes away…”

Other words the Lord has brought are:  “What Satan meant for evil, I will work for good” (See Genesis 50:20). As I trust a God who sees all and knows all, I’m growing in the confidence that He will bring triumph from this tragedy.

Do you believe that about your own hard place?

When I first posted this blog, I couldn’t find the song “Be Still, My Soul” on Youtube by Ginny Owens. Today I discovered it there. How this song blessed my soul over the years and then again today. I praise God that He brings stillness to my soul, no matter what sorrows I face. He can do the same for you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoVkVDjb04A

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Embracing P Words From the Lord

Lately three P words ran through my mind.

Presence, peace, and power.

This truth arrived with those words: if you truly possess a sense of each of these, your walk with God flourishes.

If I sense His presence and know He’s with me every moment of the day, it leads to the next P. I rest in peace. As peace settles my soul, I then realize I have God’s power available to me. Because Jesus lives in me, so does His power. I don’t have to live with a sense of powerlessness, which I see many in my circles succumb to. Belief in His power seems to release it.

Prayer shows I believe in His power.

Verses came to mind in relation to each of these P words.

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 NKJV

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” Isaiah 26:3

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

I guess I came up with a fourth P word today: Prayer.

This verse comes to mind as I think of prayer: “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16 (The bolding in these verses comes from me.)

The three P words popped into mind while I worked at my job. Some days I wonder if I possess the strength to continue to work with the mentally ill. Do I still have what it takes? As I age, I also wonder, Am I too old for this?(Another P word just came to mind: Patience.)

What verse goes with patience?

A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11 NIV

As I review the 5 P words which now reside on my list, I see how each accompanying verse lifts me to a higher place, where I know I can do whatever God calls me to because of His presence, His peace, His power, the avenue of prayer, and the patience He gives me.

More P words will inevitably come to mind in the days ahead. I determine to embrace each one.

How grateful I feel to have a God who encourages me in so many ways—some days just by three words which slip into my thoughts.

This song lifts my spirits every time I hear it.

“Magnify” by We Are Messengers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgF4SjdRP3s

Don’t forget if you live in the Tampa Bay area, We Are Messengers will be part of a free concert in Sims Park in New Port Richey on Friday, March 24, 2017 at 6pm. This is in connection to the Chasco Fiesta celebration.

 

 

 

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My Good God

Recently I checked out the Wednesday poetry prompt on the Writer’s Digest site. There the poet in charge of the site instructed we poets to write a poem with this prompt: good ______.

I started my poem, but as I wrote down all that came to mind concerning the word “good,” God’s goodness preoccupied my thoughts.

Later I looked up verses that contained the Word “good” in connection with God.

As I studied these verses, I observed in each one a phrase which contained an action.

If I believe God is good, I will act upon it, I concluded.

I confess I’ve waged battles in my mind (I see now the enemy planted thoughts there) in regard to God’s goodness. I believe I serve a good God, but when tragedy strikes, I wonder about His goodness toward me. One lie I believe: I’m not good enough to experience His goodness.

Years ago a young woman I know well struggled to believe in an all-good God after she experienced a date rape which left her in despair. Why did a good God allow that? her mind asked again and again.

Then one day she announced, “God is good because He says so. I don’t get to decide based on what happens to me.”

Her declaration helped me during those days. I began to learn to separate what happens to me from God’s goodness. I saw the good He brought from every trial and tragedy and how if I turned to Him, He comforted, sustained, and loved me beyond measure.

I meet people on a regular basis who turned from God because they concluded (although they may not say these exact words) God is not good. How often I hear these words, “How can a good God allow such suffering in this world?”

As I read verses on the goodness of God, I realized if these people and myself would again and again take the action connected with the “God is good” statement in these verses, they would help us convince our souls of the fact.

Here are the verses:

God and upright is the LORD; therefore He instructs sinners in the way.” Psalm 25:8 NASB

If I allow God to instruct me, I discover His goodness.

“O taste and see that the LORD is good. How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” Psalm 34:8

If I take refuge in God, I discover and bask in His goodness.

For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon Thee.” Psalm 86:5

The question came as I read that verse, “Can I know His goodness if I refuse to call upon Him—especially in hard times?” So many people refuse to call upon God but instead call upon the supposed wise people of this world. How often I fall into that trap.

“Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; Sing praise to His name, for it is lovely.” Psalm 135:3

As I sing praise to God and worship His name, I feel certain of His goodness.

If we do these four actions on a regular basis, our souls grow stronger and move closer to the belief in a God who is good, all-good, and good all of the time:

-Receive His instructions.

-Take refuge in Him.

-Call upon Him.

-Sing praises to His name.

Each of these requires we draw close to the Lord. My greatest battles in regard to God’s goodness happen when I back off from God.

In the midst of my study of these “good” verses, another verse came to mind: “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” 1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV

My problem at times centers on my tendency to seek bad company when life falls apart. I listen to those with weak faith or no faith at all. If the above verse is true, then this statement also proves true: “Good company builds good character.”

When I first typed the above sentence, I typed “God company…” That also holds true since God is all-good. “God (or good) company builds good character.”

To spend time with God means His goodness rubs off on me as I seek truth, celebrate His goodness, and determine to walk in His ways. In the days ahead, I want to spend even more time with God–in His Word, in prayer, and in times of worship.

As I spent time with God two days ago, He gave me these truths about how to end my  struggle with doubting His goodness. I pray today and in the future I will daily receive His instructions, take refuge in Him, call upon Him, and sing praises to His name.

A song echoes in my mind, “God is so good. God is so good. God is so good. He’s so good to me.”

Yes He is.

I look forward to my continued celebration of His goodness.

 

 

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Everything Comes Alive

A video on youtube touched me recently. Although I heard the song on the radio many times, the words spoken before and after the song stirred me in a powerful way.

Before the song started, the lead singer said three sentences.

“People said I’d never be anything.” A person in my childhood communicated a similar negative statement to me again and again.

“They said I was too broken.” I concluded this about myself.

“They said I had too many scars.” I told myself that lie.

I watched the singer of the group We Are Messengers belt out the words to the song “Everything Comes Alive,” and I thought about how God brought good out of my brokenness. I marveled at how He looked past my scars and resurrected what I surmised would stay dead.

This year I celebrate forty years of knowing Jesus as my Savior. After I heard this song with the words spoken before and after, I rejoiced at God’s healing power in my life and how He’s used me in ways I never imagined possible.

The image of the broken young woman I used to be seems like a hazy dream.

I never imagined back then He could take a depressed, suicidal young person and transform her to the point where she worked the last fourteen years with the mentally ill to help them overcome depression and the desire to die.

In no way did it seem possible He would take someone like me who stammered over words and turned red and flushed if anyone looked me in the eye and open the door for public speaking to bring hope and courage.

And when I wrote depressed, negative words in my journal as a teen, I could not have dreamed God would call me to be a writer to help others overcome depression and negativity and draw close to a God who loves them with a forever love which tenderizes and transforms.

I feel certain Darren Mulligan, the lead vocalist of We Are Messengers, the worship band formed in Monaghan, Ireland (oh, how I love his accent, and the fact that we could my kin since my mom’s father’s side of the family originates from Ireland) never imagined in his dark days he would be in a band singing praises to God.

These six sentences verbalized after he sang the song on the video caused my heart to overflow with gratitude as I applied them to my life and circumstances.

“People said I was too broken.”

“But God said something different.”

“He said He’d take me with my bruises and my scars.”

“He never said life would be easy.”

“It can still be tough.”

“But I know this: I’ve got hope.”

Today I praise the God of hope who embraces broken people. And when they take hold of Him in return, everything comes alive.

Note: If you live in the Tampa Bay area, you can see the band, “We Are Messengers” and hear their powerful songs for yourself.

“Enjoy a FREE concert with We Are Messengers and Stars Go Dim, coming to the 2017 Chasco Fiesta in New Port Richey on Friday, March 24th!” –From the JoyFM website.

“Everything Comes Alive” by We Are Messengers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ga5wTxF6Tc

To read Darren Mulligan’s testimony, click this link:

http://wearemessengersmusic.com/biography

 

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Get Rid of the Piles

I admit I create many piles in my house.

In my office, piles of papers from projects and “for future use” call out for attention.

Piles of mail clutter my counter space until I find time to sort through them.

In my closet sits a pile of clothes to be mended by me who feels awkward and inadequate with a needle and thread in hand.

Not long ago I visited with my brother, Bob, for quite a while on the telephone since he had plenty of free time as he recovered from total knee surgery. As we talked, I conquered piles in my home office. I felt exhilarated and free after I parted with item after item which in the past seemed vital, but on examination no longer held value to me.

As I thought of these piles recently, I remembered what I told some middle schoolers I mentor.

“Don’t let bitterness pile up in your life.”

These young people faced bullies, and we discussed ways to deal with them.

I noticed some tended to make piles of offences in their minds–memories of unkind acts by these foes. At times they communicated to me, “Let me recite to you what’s in my pile.”

Some proved to be ancient history as evidenced by the list beginning with, “Back in third grade…”

I discovered why some young people recover quickly from a bullies’ taunts and mean actions while others remain in torment, sometimes long after the bully or bullies move on to other victims.

The reason? Those piles!

Some forgave and moved on. Others clutched offenses and stacked them up.

For too long I practiced the destructive habit of piling up offenses in my mind. I wallowed in misery because of what people did to me. I repeated out loud their crimes against me with gusto. I sorted through them, rearranged piles, but I failed to get rid of them.

Along the way God showed me how to deal with these piles–through forgiveness, which came from Him and flowed through me to others.

I confess I slip back into the collection of piles. Not long ago in the prayer room at church, I reconstructed a pile of memories of Christians who should know better who hurt me over the years. None apologized for their actions. If only they would, I thought, then I could dismantle my pile. At the moment I realized Satan gladly helped me reconstruct those memories, even though I desired to forgive and even thought I had.

I needed to reject the resurrection of those rejections. So I went to the table where a bowl of water and a pile of thin strips of special paper presented themselves. I wrote the name of each person who came to mind and a short description of the offense. I placed the pile of papers one by one into the water, and watched them dissolve.

I thank God for this repentance bowl that our church provided.

I’ve done other symbolic actions to deal with my piles, but this proved to be my favorite.

We all hold to excuses for piles in our homes and in our minds, but after my instruction to these young people, and God’s reminders to me, my excuses ring hollow.

Ephesians 4:32 comes to mind as I contemplate the removal of all negative piles from my spiritual life.

“And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” NASB

What joy comes as I follow this instruction from the Lord.

I thank God that He does not hold on to piles. And for His help to deal with mine.

 

 

 

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You Are Loved

“No one loves me,” a middle-aged homeless lady told me several years ago.

Over a number of days that I had contact with her back then, I felt an urgency to convince this woman that I loved and cared about her, and that the source of that love was God.

The truth I wanted her to know was that despite all the rejections she faced from those who were supposed to love her—like her family—God loved her more than she could ever know, and He would never stop loving her.

God did give me a deep love for this lady, and I gave her a heartfelt hug when we parted ways.

Recently as I drove down the street, I saw her at a bus stop. I rarely drive down that street at that time of day. It seemed God had another divine appointment for me—to let her know again that she was loved.

I sat at the bus stop with her, and she told me her latest troubles. She had found a place to live, but she left because “there were too many rules,” and “they were mean to me.”

I offered her words of encouragement. God led me to give her the small amount of cash I had in my wallet and take her to a store to get a few necessities. I drove her to an acquaintance’s mobile home, where she hoped to stay a night or two. The lady turned the homeless woman away. She cried.

With sadness I drove her to the park she said she would sleep in that night. I let her know where she could get some clothes and some assistance. She told me she was saved and now knew God loved her.

“In fact, He sent you to me.”

I feel certain our paths will cross again—if for no other reason than to remind her how much God loves her.

I wanted to do more for her, but I did as much as the Lord allowed.

Because I felt for years that no one loved me–even after I met the Lord–I’m drawn to those who feel unloved. It seems an assignment from my loving God to convince the unloved and those who seem unlovable that they are indeed loved—if by no one else then certainly by the Lord of the universe.

I have prayed with them and for them that they could sense His love. I ask God on a regular basis to let His love flow through me to them.

Today I celebrate that once I felt unloved, and now I feel overwhelmed by the love I receive from the Lord and from His people. I’m free to receive love from family and friends instead of feeling convinced I’m not good enough to be loved or mistaking their unintentional neglect of my needs as them not loving me.

I received God’s healing of my broken heart, and I long to pass along that healing to others. I want others to experience the truth of this verse that reflects what happened in my life:

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

Lord, continue to use me to let others know this truth: “You are loved.”

“You Are Loved” by Stars Go Dim

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YbdaR7Plac

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Ignored

Lately there have been a number of people who repeatedly ignore me.

I send a text, an email, leave a message with no reply—sometimes for weeks or even months.

Others who ignore me are those to whom I’ve sent a card with a gift of money or a present by mail with no acknowledgement or thank you.

As a writer, I get ignored by editors on a regular basis. I send an article and then wait for a reply. Many months pass. I send follow-up letters asking about the status of my piece. No answer.

One time after sending several follow-up letters, I called and asked about the status of my article because I knew the editor. We had a friendly conversation about my piece and other subjects. She said she would check it out and let me know her decision. That was several years ago. I’ve heard nothing since. I withdrew the article and had it published elsewhere.

Another group of people who ignore me are those who ask for wisdom when they face a difficult circumstance. They ignore the wisdom I give and make the destructive choice—leading them further away from God and healing.

I confess at times I’ve taken it personally when so many people ignore me. I ask, “Is there something wrong with me?”

When I looked up the synonyms for ignore, the list stirred up hurt: avoid, discount, neglect, overlook, reject, scorn, cold shoulder, disregard, pay no attention to, disdain, pooh pooh, slight, brush off,  be oblivious to, pass over, shut eyes to, tune out, take no notice, turn back on, forget… Yet as I read this list, I realize that I at times ignore other people for a variety of reasons.

As I contemplated my being ignored lately, some truths came to mind.

Sometimes people ignore me because I embrace God and His will and way, and others want to go a different way. So in the end, they ignore not me, but God.

Another truth that came to mind as I thought of how often I pray, “Lord, make me more like You,” is this: God is ignored more than any other living entity in the universe.

At this moment millions ignore His call of “Come unto Me.” Scores of people close their ears to His whisper of how to be healed, helped, made whole. Christians read God’s Word and then do the opposite. He whispers, “Repent,” and is ignored some more.

I confess at times I’ve been the one ignoring the Lord.

So if people ignore me, He knows how I feel. I may be ignored, but I’m not alone when that happens because it’s happens to Him repeatedly.

I can list ten or more individuals who presently are ignoring me and quite a few from the past.

The Lord could list millions.

So what do I do? What does the Lord do?

When Jesus lived on this earth and was ignored, He lamented. (See Matthew 23:37: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem…”) The Bible defines lament as “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.” He offered them something wonderful, and people ignored His offer. He knew the consequences they would suffer, and it broke His heart.

I discovered it’s OK to feel sad about being ignored and even weep, especially when if a person would receive a truth God has called me to speak to them, their lives would be enhanced—even transformed. By ignoring, they sink deeper into misery. Right now there are a number of people in my life who ignore my encouragement to forgive those how have hurt them. Some these were hurt by spouses who ignored them.

They refuse, and are living in that place of torment spoken of in the Word. (See Matthew 18:34-35. Or read the whole story starting at verse 23)

Jesus also prayed when ignored and on scores of other occasions.

Being ignored by someone can be a prompt to lift that person up in prayer. Sometimes the ignoring comes because of their hurts and heartaches or being overwhelmed by busyness or the pressures of life.

This I do know: God does not ignore me. When I call out to Him, He’s there—even if I don’t feel Him and even if I’ve been ignoring Him for a time. God never withdraws love because of being ignored.

I can make being ignored by people all about me, and I can choose bitterness because I feel hurt and rejected. Or I can use it as an opportunity to bring that person before the Lord and pray diligently for healing and a reconciliation in our relationship and in the other person’s relationship with the Lord.

This thought just came to mind: “When I’m ignored, bring that person to the Lord.”

I plan to continue doing just that.

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