Overcoming seasonal depression by the two advents of hope.

This Christmas is our fourth holiday season without our beloved Jacob. Much has changed in our lives since his departure. Much is an understatement of the truth I suppose. Truth is, everything has changed and nothing is the same for us in life which especially includes our holiday observances.

Stacey and I have often said to each other, “I can’t believe this is our life.” It’s as if we walked through the wardrobe into Narnia but the way back was lost to us. If I were given the script for our biography to read five years ago I would have placed it in the genre of fiction. I guess truth is truly stranger than fiction. Through it all I have found the words of king David to ring true and provide much comfort for my soul.

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
 He guards all his bones;

I am thankful that God is near me, that he saves me, delivers me, guards me and protects me in all my troubles. This is especially true at this time of year when seasonal depression and waves of grief can overcome my heart so quickly.

I remember the terrible dread of those first couple holiday seasons. I also remember hearing from others who had lost children that the grief will change, it will get better but Christmas will never be the same. I have found this to be true.

The Christmas season is here again and advent is being observed by many Christians. We all get a little short-sighted at this time of year. The holiday buzz is everywhere and I can get distracted quickly with all the sights, sounds and smells of the season. I can also easily get swamped by grief and focus on the empty chairs in the family room. My eyes can lose their focus very fast. When hope is forgotten, comfort is forfeited and despair grips my heart when I lose sight of the reason for the season.

The coming of Emanuel was prophesied by Isaiah. The hope of nations was born in Bethlehem, placed in a manger and later nailed to a cross for the redemption of all who believe. He walked out of the grave, showed himself to many witnesses, ascended to the right hand of God and now Christians wait for the great second advent of the King.

God comforts the Christian. He dries the tears of his children with the tissue of hope. My hope is anchored in the reality that Jesus is coming again. As a believer in Christ I do not grieve as the world grieves because I have a living hope. I have God. This brings me great consolation.

All my sorrow will someday be turned into joy when I see Jesus face to face and he reunites me with my boy. All this is possible because the promised advent of Messiah was fulfilled in Jesus over 2000 years ago. The second advent is assured by Jesus himself and secured by his victory over sin and death through his resurrection from the dead.

In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:2-3

The prophesied first advent is over and the promised second advent is soon to come. There is something far better waiting for those who love him and watch for his appearing. I encourage you to wait patiently in hopeful anticipation as you endure the many trials of this life. I leave you with theses comforting words of God penned through the apostle Paul.

13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

Merry Christmas Jake!

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A joyful and hope filled Christmas to you all!

 

 

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Best wishes

Our beloved Jacob Michael Fekete would be 25 today.

In my minds eye I see 25 imaginary candles on a make believe cake that will never be baked. 25 imaginary flickering flames to blow upon, to extinguish and to wish on better things. I remember your hopes, I remember your dreams son. I remember with a heavy heart and wish that those hopes and dreams for you had come true.

I wish to wish, if I could wish, if it were possible, if reality were not so real and birthday wishes really did come true. I would wish to blow out those 25 candles and these 25 things are the wishes I’d wish for you.

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I wish you could see your sister. I wish you could see her smiling face at her wedding to one of your most loved friends. I wish you could see their love and I wish you could meet Oakley their one year old puppy. I wish that you could visit with your Bo and again share joy and laughter with your siblings.

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I wish I could hand you tickets to the NCAA wrestling finals your brother will compete in next weekend. I wish you could cheer for him- you were always his biggest fan. I wish you two could sit and catch up and I wish you could see what an incredible man he has become. I wish you could stand as his best man this June and I wish you could see his bride and the beautiful person she is. I wish you could meet their enormous puppy named Pine.

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I wish you could speak to your mother’s heart and I wish you could still her soul. I wish you could see her strength, her faith and her perseverance. I wish you could write an assuring love note and tuck it under her pillow like you used to do. I wish you could could walk through the doors of our new home in Beulah and lay a big Jacob hug on her. I wish you could walk with her down Center street to the beach and to the shoppes downtown.

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I wish we could all sit as a family once again. I wish I could hear your voice, your gargled laughter and I wish I could see that thin crooked smile again. I wish you had found that simple girl you wanted to marry in a pretty yellow sundress. I wish you had found love.

I’d wish for your peace. I’d wish for your joy. I’d wish for your contentment.

I want you back but I would never wish you back Jacob. 25 candles and 25 birthday wishes for you but of those wishes only three have come true. You are at peace, you have pure joy and you are completely content. Best wishes and happy birthday in heaven son.

We love you.

 

 

 

 

Xanax altenative: my prescription for grief

In our journey with grief my wife and I have not used medications as a means of coping with the pain. It wasn’t long after Jacob’s death that I went for my annual physical and I told my doctor that I just preferred to deal with everything head on without drugs.

Grief is warfare and I battle its symptoms daily. I fight against sadness and loneliness for my son. I get anxious and I fall into depression. I get irritable, frustrated and angry at times. Grief is still a daily battle, I expect it to change but I would be a fool to believe that I will ever be free of it. I can’t suppress it, or ignore it, or expect it to just go away. I don’t believe I can medicate or drink it away either. I can fill my life with busyness, entertainment, work, vacations and run from grief but though I may run I am unable to hide.

So how do I cope? Some may think that I run to religion to medicate. After all Mike is a man of faith and for him religion is his crutch to hold him up. It may surprise you to know that I reject religion, it is a blight on the earth because religion is built on lies and I prefer truth. I believe in unchangeable absolutes and I apply the healing balm of truth to the pain of life to comfort my troubled heart. Truth is medicine for the soul and Jesus the lover of my soul is truth. He alone can mend my broken heart.

I often walk with sadness in my heart. When the heaviness for my son weighs on me I often pray the simple prayer of, “God, help me.” In those times Jesus the Good Shepherd comes near so that I never lack any good thing. He brings me to the still waters, he causes me to rest in green meadows. He restores my soul.

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When confused and without wisdom on how to navigate the pain he leads in in the right path and I follow him for the sake of his name.

There are times I have felt as though I was dying inside, robbed of my joy and utterly destroyed. But the Good Shepherd says to me, “I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) The times I walk through the valley of the shadow of death he has calmed my anxiety and quelled my fears. For he is present with me, with his rod Jesus corrects me, and with his staff he gently guides my steps.

Though the enemy of my soul desires to destroy me I am richly blessed by the Good Shepherd. I look around, I see his grace, my cup overflows with his blessings. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.

When hope sees dim and the dark days casts doubt over my faith I remember the truth, I remember his way and I recall his life. The Good Shepherd speaks and I hear his tender voice, he calls me by name and I follow him. He whispers to me, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28)

So with confidence and great hope in the truthful voice of the Lord my shepherd I have hope and eternal life. I can conclude my life as David the sweet psalmist did and joyfully proclaim, “And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23) This is my hope, this is my future, this is the truth and it is good medicine for my soul.

Jesus gives me what no medication can ever provide. He gives me faith, hope and love. He provides me comfort, peace and assurance of the future. He makes me strong when I am weak, we makes me wise though I am a fool. He is mercy, he is grace, he is all I need. I don’t need Xanax and I certainly don’t need religion all I need is the truth. Jesus is truth. He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

Medication left in a bottle will never help anybody get well and the same is true with the Christian faith. Dosage directions on the label are to be followed precisely for the good of the patient, this is true of the Christian faith as well. The symptoms of grief are many, they attack my soul continually. When I am anxious, when I lose my peace, when I hurt I look to my Good Shepherd and he offers me his cure. I follow his prescription instructions and do as directed by the great physician my soul. It reads, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philipians 4:6-7)

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”- Jesus

The big picture we cannot see

No matter how tragic my story of grief has been I am quite often confronted with stories of  losses more tragic than my own. I am left muttering, “I can’t even imagine.” Losing a child is a unique grief, a fraternity of sorts whose dues are higher than we ever wanted to pay. I don’t have to imagine what that is like, I know the depth of sorrow it brings. I felt that weight again today, I felt it for a woman who lost her husband and two sons.

Today I read the heart wrenching true story penned many years ago but it reads like front page news. It is a story that has all the right components and intrigue to keep my attention. There is crisis, tragedy, grief, love, rescue, romance and a wedding leading to a happily ever after. I read the ancient biblical book of Ruth and found myself captivated as though I was reading it for the very first time.

Naomi is a grieving widow who left Bethlehem with her husband and boys because of a famine. They settle in Moab but she loses everything and decides to return home to Bethlehem alone. The events in her life were part of a bigger picture that she could not see.

There are some things I noticed about Naomi’s grief that brought me to tears today. As I walked in Naomi’s skin I picked up on a couple of helpful reminders for the broken hearted.

Beware of bitterness

Naomi becomes bitter at the fact that her daughters in-law have no husbands and no children. Naomi’s (whose name means pleasant) life is unpleasant and bitterness is setting in. She loves her girls and is willing to lose them too so that they might have a new start in life. This was just another bitter pill for her to swallow. She said to them, “No my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the Lord has gone out against me.” (Ruth 1:13b) She pleads with them to go back to their people and marry, but Ruth insists on returning with Naomi to Bethlehem.

Naomi believes God is against her because of her hardship and the bitterness grows. She in danger of making bitterness her new identity. When she arrives in Bethlehem with Ruth she actually renames herself. God renames many people in the bible, he names Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel and Simon to Peter. Each name given by God has their new identity weaved in the meaning. God did not rename Naomi, she took it upon herself and defined her new identity and gave herself a new name. I asked myself if I have taken an identity that God has not assigned or given me?

The town was buzzing at the return of Naomi, she must have looked much different because of her grief. “The whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; (pleasant) call me Mara (Mara means bitter) for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity on me?” (Ruth 1:19-21) 

Anger towards God and circumstances is a real dangerous place to stay. I was reminded that I must guard my heart and not allow grief to make me an angry and bitter person. There is a temptation to blame God, blame others and blame myself when life gets dark and difficult. Was Naomi right in her conclusion? No, there was much more happening that she could not see. The same is true for me as well. I constantly need to be reminded that, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

Difficulties in life are going to come and rob us of happiness but  joy is different than happiness. Joy is not connected to our circumstances but is anchored in hope, a hope that sees the future. Paul speaks to this matter, he said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in  us.” (Romans 8:18) How can joy be found in a life filled with pain, grief and sorrow?

Joy is rooted in a historical event. The friends of Jesus were going to grieve terribly after the crucifixion of their friend. Jesus knew this and spoke of a joy that no man or circumstance could alter or take away. Jesus said to them, “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” (John 16:22) The Lord walked out of his tomb and appeared to the disciples. Thomas needed to see for himself and Jesus did just that. “Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” That was good enough for Thomas but what about us who don’t get to see? Do we get the same joy that they received? Jesus also said to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed (happy, joyful) are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:28-29) For the Christian our hope and joy is anchored in a historical event.;The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Peter says to us, “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy inexpressible and filled with glory.” (1 Peter 1:8)

When I think of genuine joy rooted in a future hope I think of my mother in-law Linda Philo. 15 years of serious sickness and the death of 2 grandsons 10 months apart brought her much sorrow and pain. She died 6 weeks after my son Jacob and she died with a joy that could not be taken from her. She was known, and is know for her encouraging smile and her sincere joy despite the many hardships she faced in this life. When I get down I think of her spirit, I remember her joy that was rooted in our shared hope in the risen Lord. He is our hope and joy that no man or circumstance can take away.

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Linda Lou Philo

This is much bigger than me

Snap shots and intagram is about all we get in the big picture of what God is doing in our lives. This is another lesson I was reminded of in the story of Ruth and Naomi. Who knew what God was going to do? This is true for me as well in my story of grief and pain. What I learn from this book is that there is a bigger picture that I don’t see and it’s not all about me. Actually the short story of Ruth really isn’t about the people in the narrative. It’s a quick peek into the providence of God working in humanity to bring about his promised Messiah. This is a story about Jesus and his family tree. This is the big picture that Naomi could not see.

God promised childless Abraham a son and through his lineage the entire world would be blessed. (Genesis 12:1-3) Jesus is the fulfillment of that promise.

Naomi, a Jewess, loses two sons and her husband then returns to Bethlehem bitter. Ruth comes with Naomi and marries Boaz. Ruth gives birth to Obed, Obed has a son named Jesse, and Jesse gives birth to king David. King David is promised that the Eternal King (Jesus) would be  in his lineage. (2 Samuel 7:16) Jesus was conceived by the Spirit in Mary (as promised in the garden of Eden Genesis 3:15) and in him every nation has the promised blessing of eternal life in his name. Peter said, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

The promise to Abraham and to David are being fulfilled in the Instagrams and snap shots found in the book of Ruth. There is a purpose in the pain, this is much bigger than them. Little did Naomi know that he Canaanite daughter in-law would be a part of the big picture that God was painting.

If you like happy endings and a great story read the short book of Ruth. In all the grief and pain there is a good God working his plan together to accomplish his desired good end. (Romans 8:28) I will give you the ending but there’s allot of good stuff in-between chapters 1 and chapter 4. Take the time to read it, you will be glad you did.

Naomi’s bitterness  left her and she became joyful once again. “And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.” (Ruth 4:17) I noticed that the name Mara that Naomi chose for herself was never used in reference to her. Life became pleasant for her again, she was not bitter and she was given joy from God despite all the sorrow. This is my great hope in my troubles as well.

The book of Ruth reminds me of many things I need to consider in my journey of grief. I don’t know why God allowed my son to die at 22. What I do know is that God is good and has good intentions for me all the time. I cannot see the big picture but God does. I am reminded to not allow anger and bitterness to be my identity and to rob me of the joy of the Lord. In the end I am again reminded that I am just a snap shot in history and this is His story and it’s all about Jesus and not me. There is a big picture that I cannot see but someday I will, and on that day I will no longer walk by faith. On that day my faith will be be sight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The truth about being truly happy

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, happy birthday, happy holidays, happy this happy that. Who doesn’t want to be happy? Life doesn’t miraculously become happy by simply attaching the word happy to every occasion or holiday. If it were that simple I would attach happy to every day of the year. You and I live in the real world and we know that life is partly cloudy with occasional peeks at the sunshine.

There are seasons of sadness and seasons of joy that turn as often as trees in their seasons. The Byrd’s were right when they put the bible to song in the classic hit turn, turn, turn. A time to weep, a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. (Ecclesiastes 3:4) It’s coming up on 2 years since my son died and I am still sad on a daily basis but I am not without joy. I know the pathway to happiness in this life and at its end is paradise!TheByrdsTurnTurnTurnAlternate

Is their a truly contented person who is completely happy with their life? I want to be real with you for a moment. I have a continual sadness in my heart because of the 4 deaths that spanned 12 months in my family. I hope that 2016 brings more happiness to me and those I love most in this world. Can the sadness be overcome? Is  discovering happiness just a matter of mind over difficult matters and thinking my way into bliss or nirvana? No, I am afraid it doesn’t work that way and there is more to it than that.

Ask a thousand people what would make them truly happy and I suppose you would get a thousand different responses. I want to be happy and to turn away from this season of sadness- but how? A wise president once said, “Most folks are as happy as they make their minds up to be.” Was Lincoln right? I want to be happy. If his statement is true then my sadness in life is a failure on my part to be determined enough to be happy. This too falls short of what is needed to be happy.

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Thomas Jefferson said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” In all our pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness have we ever obtained the happiness we pursue? If happiness is the feeling of pleasure and contentment then we must be honest and say that happiness at best is a vain and fleeting pursuit. It’s not jut an issue of our mindset, there must be more.

Bobby Mcferrin became famous with his catchy tune, “Don’t worry, be happy.” I agree with Bobby. Putting away worry and troubles is a good practice but it doesn’t necessarily bring happiness. At best, if we are free of worry we are at peace for the moment but is the absence of anxiety happiness? What if you had everything and not a care in the world, would this bring lasting happiness or just momentary pleasure?

King Solomon had and used every resource available to chase pleasure, he had wine, women and song, pleasures without barriers and found no happiness in it. “I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” (Ecclesiastes 2:1-2) He discovered that the pursuit of  pleasure does not end with happiness but at emptiness. Isn’t that the way the world approaches life much of the time? We seek happiness in relationships, family, educational pursuits, jobs, careers, pleasure, gathering stuff, experiencing life and yet we are discontent, disappointed, and unhappy with all our pursuits of happiness and left empty and grasping for a phantom named Mr. Happy. 0f57928c01fdf9cdcb1c785bb82d6e9f

I have a confession to make; I puke a little in the mouth at the sound of Joel Osteen. I sure like his pretty teeth and his hollywood smile however. Is the blessed and happy life just a matter of name it and claim it positive confession which he preaches? No,  It is nothing more than a game which sells lots of books and merchandise which is surely providing Joel his best life now at the expense of people who want happiness in a bad way. It doesn’t go far enough either.images-4

Wasn’t Jesus born into poverty and hated, a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief? Didn’t he promise his followers troubles and persecution and pain just as he suffered? Yet Jesus possessed joy, and his joy is provided to believers in our pain, grief, death and sorrow.

The Lord looked past his cross to the joy of returning home to his Father in heaven. King David foretold of his post resurrection joy in Psalm 16:11. “You made known to me the pathway of life; in your presence there is fulness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures forever-more.” Hope is a wonderful thing. Hope gives me joy, and someday my joy will be full in the presence of God with my loved ones who have preceded me. True happiness in this life is only a glimpse into the overflowing happiness the Christian will possess in our eternal home.

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Where is happiness found?

Happiness begins in the mind just as we have been saying. The key that opens the doorway to happiness, even in our sadness, is found in the words of Jesus. He said the blessed and happy people think this way. They are poor in spirit, humble, and mourning over sin. Happy people are meek, and those who seek after righteousness. Happiness is for the merciful and those who are pure in heart. Happy people are peacemakers and those who suffer for the name of Jesus. (Matthew 5)

Happiness is found in these beatitudes but to understand this does not go far enough. Jesus teaches us that the pathway to happiness is to kill every self-serving and prideful thought with humble servitude as a slave to God. Jesus washed the disciples feet on the night before he was to be crucified and listen to his advice about finding true happiness. “For I have given you an example, to do as I have just done unto you. Truly, truly, I say unto you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed (happy) are you if you do them.” (John 13:15-17) What I know and how I think doesn’t go far enough to give me happiness. True happiness is found in humble self denial and obediently serving others as we would serve ourselves.

Jesus was God, became a man, emptied himself and humbled himself as a slave. He became obedient to God, endured the cross because of the joy that was set before him he endure it all for us. (Philippians 2:1-11)

Happiness is available. This is the truth about happiness!  🙂

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

Happy New Year my friends!

 

 

 

 

 

Laughter is the best medicine

When laughter stopped

I have always been a cut up and totally appreciate a good belly laugh. My laughter was silenced for a long time after all the death of my son and 3 other loved ones. I had to think deeply as to the last time that something made me laugh hard enough to make me cry. Then it came to me. We had just finished watching an episode of Bob’s Burgers and were ready to call it a day. The Family Guy came on as we got off the couch and I was about to turn off the TV. I decided a long time ago to not watch this show because it goes over the edge too much for me. Peter Griffin happened to catch my attention that night. I watched about 90 seconds of the episode, turned it off, laughed till I cried as I climbed into bed for the night. The whole thing was a spoof on grief and total nonsense but it made me and my wife laugh hysterically. You may not appreciate it but I still giggle a little when I watch it. Grief needs levity and the sorrowing need their funny bone touched on occasion.

When laughter is inane

There are times in grief that laughter is a great antagonist to the sorrowing. We have days when nothing seems funny. There are solemn days when the laughing people and what they laugh about bring me great irritation. Those times are fewer as I move forward in my journey. I understand better the wisdom of Solomon who said laughter is vainity and madness.  (Ecclesiastes 2:2) The king would also record, “Even in laughter the heart may ache and the end of joy may be grief.” (Proverbs 14:13 ESV) 

When laughter is medicinal

There are certain people I need to see and hear from when I am down. I seem to run into them at the most needed times of my grief journey. These are male friends who have wept with me and have laughed with me in one sitting. A couple of them in particular lighten my heavy load and have a way of extracting laughter out of my soul like a turkey baster. These people are a medicine to me that cannot be purchased over the counter or prescribed by a physician. “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22 ESV) Somehow these friends make me laugh and refresh my heart when I need it most. I am so thankful to have a few funny friends. Certainly Readers Digest knew something of this natural remedy for sorrowing hearts. I love to read their articles, Laughter is the best medicine

When laughter leaves us

I battle depression from time to time, I have been struggling with it of late. When depressed I lose my laugher. I determined early in grief that I wasn’t going to use medications to help me to cope. Not that I oppose it for others but I personally decided to endure the pain and not sedate it. Why did I make such a choice? Because Jesus Christ endured the sorrow, pain and grief of the world without narcotics or anti-depressants. Isaiah records, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; on him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5 ESV) Grief, sorrow, stricken, smitten, afflicted, pierced, crushed, chastised and wounded all without pain relievers. Read on.

Isaiah wrote of Jesus 600 years before Bethlehem and the Psalmist records his experience looking down from the cross centuries before the tree ever gave root into the dry ground. “Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters but I found none. They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine.” (Psalm 69 20-21 ESV) Poison was offered to him but the poison was refused.

Some time ago I had the medical marijuana subject defended by a young user who was not ill or in pain. He made the defense that since the herb is natural that surely God would be supportive of him using. I pointed out the fact that God certainly would never roll a fatty with him and here is the reason why. On the cross while being crushed for the sins of mankind Jesus began to thirst. “They offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it he would not drink.” (Matthew 27:34 ESV) Jesus was offered a mind altering drug to ease the grief and pain and he refused it. I personally think it best to refuse it too.

When laughter is restored

I believe God has provided us with laughter. But it is somewhat odd to me that Jesus is never recorded laughing in the scriptures. However as a man I surely think that he did laugh. But he is remembered as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Our sorrows and our griefs he carried so someday all sorrow would fade away.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 ESV)

Perhaps laughter is the sound of joy that flows from our contented souls. I want to laugh, I need to laugh but laughter for those who grieve children is slow in restoration. Somehow I know that the laughter I once knew will never be restored as it was. But I also know that I can smile and I can laugh more and more as days go by.  Laughter truly is the best medicine but for now my dosage is small with the expectation of more belly laughs are in my future. Someday all I will ever know is joy, till then I have his joy in my heart with an occasional   chuckle to help me along the way.

These things I have spoken to you that you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation;

but be of good cheer

I have overcome the world- Jesus

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Me not laughing 🙂

 

 

 

 

Does God really care about our grief?

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)
I consider tears as the bleeding of the soul. Just as when we are hurt physically we bleed, so too when we experience trauma of the soul the result will be tears. Some bleeding is internal and the tears cannot be seen or easily wiped away. Much of life is about pain control and finding ways to slow the bleeding and ease the discomforts we are in whether external or internal. There are prescriptions to dull our pain and tissues for the tears on our cheeks but is there any cure to take away all this sorrow and grief in life? No, sorrow and grief are here to stay for a while, but thankfully there is a cure that is provided for us by grace through faith.
Many times we ask ourselves the question, “Does God see or feel our pain?” When God became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ he was born with eyes, but his eyes seen much differently than any other man ever born. The bible tells us that the eyes of Jesus were full of compassion; feeding the multitudes, healing the sick, preaching the truth and raising the dead are all evidences that he sees the pain of mankind. Jesus is not only the God who sees, but he is the God who has power to do something about the sorrows of life. Jesus was able to wipe away the tears of the bereaved in his day, but what about us? Can he do it for you and me?
God promised a cure for the grief of mankind (Genesis 3:15) through the seed of a woman. God again promised through the prophet Isaiah about a coming Messiah 700 years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold a virgin will conceive and bear a son, and call his name Immanuel” ( Isaiah 7:14 meaning God with us) The Lord became a man, “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 ESV) God does care about our troubles, he does care about our grief and has went to the greatest lengths to demonstrate it and also to eliminate it.
Jesus our compassionate God came to wipe all tears away, but first he had to experience the tears that we shed. He grieved and sobbed with his friends and his enemies over the death of his beloved friend Lazarus. He knew that in just a few moments he would wipe their tears away by calling his friend out of the tomb yet he still sorrowed and grieved with them. (John 11) On the surface this seems odd but the understanding of his tears is revealed to us in the prophecy of Isaiah 53. Jesus saw their grief and his compassion for them drove his thinking to how he would take all of our sorrows away forever. It would come at the highest price and it could only be accomplished through his own death.
“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:3) The world hates Jesus without reason yet despite this, “Surely he has borne our grief’s and carried our sorrows.” (53:4) What creates the grief and sorrow that Jesus is determined to die for? It is the power of sin, Isaiah continues, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, upon him was the chastisement that brought our peace, and by his stripes we are healed.” (53:5) A perfect sacrifice is the only thing that could satisfy a perfectly holy God. Jesus did just that and by his grace we can receive forgiveness of sins through his blood which brings to us peace with God.
 Lazarus died because he was a sinner, the grief and pain of all who were there that day was a result of sin, because the payment for sin is always death. We are powerless to do anything about sin and death but thankfully God is not. He killed death by death and gives us hope through his resurrection from the dead. Jesus is the resurrection and the life, he walked out of his own tomb because death could not hold him. It was foretold, it came to pass and by faith in his name we can have the same thing. God does care!
Death is no victor, death has lost its sting because Jesus’ beat death at its own game. He was sinless and could not die because sin had no power over him like it does over us. Yet his love for us compelled him to give his life a ransom for many, taking our sins and nailing them to his cross thereby paying the debt we owe to God. Paul says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might be made the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV) This is the great exchange of our sins for his righteousness to satisfy the justice of a loving God. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Since therefore we have been justified by his blood, much more we shall be saved by him from the wrath of God. (Romans 5:8-9 ESV)
God cares and God sees all the external and internal tears of our lives. His care is evident in the extremes he endured to take away our pain on his cross. He suffered and has borne our sorrows and grief’s. Should we expect as sinners to not suffer if the sinless Son of God suffered willingly on our behalf? Jesus understands, sees, and cares for us because he became one of us, so that he might become a merciful High Priest for us. He is the only priest we need, “Because he continues forever, he has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore he is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:24-25) Your pain and your tears are only for a night, but joy comes in the morning friend. Remember that he has carried your sorrow and grief for you. Now as you wait for him, cast your cares on him, for he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
Trust him, he really loves us and has went to the greatest lengths to empty our tissue box. For  a short time we will need tissues in this life, but someday the box will empty and there will be no more mourning, crying or pain but joy unspeakable and full of glory.