Friday, April 10, 2009

The Valley of Sorrow

My Dad died on February 9 if this year.
My father in law died on February 5 three years ago.
My sister April died on Good Friday of 1995.
That particular Good Friday I was sitting at my desk at my husbands auto repair shop. I wasn't busy, so I got out my Bible and read all four Gospel accounts of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I was thinking of how thankful I was that Christ arose, and how we would someday see my Grandad and other family and friends who had already got on the bus to heaven.
THEN - the phone rang.

When someone you love dies it seems that the world should at least stand still for a day or two.
So great is your personal sense of loss and heartbreak that it seems impossible for most of the world to be unaffected.
However, I believe God Himself is affected when we suffer loss.
His heart is broken to see our hearts broken.
There is a song with a line that Christ speaks which says,

'I felt every tear drop when in darkness you cried, and I strove to remeind you - tha for those tears I died,' ( posted all the lyrics for 'For those tears I died' at the very end of the article - after Whispering Hope)

When God says, 'I feel your pain' - He really DOES feel your pain.

I know that often times like Easter and other holidays cause people to remember and mourn over loved ones who have died instead of celebrating and being thankful for life, salvation, and the blessings of the day.

Anyway, I have copied here an article that I wrote on getting through the death of a loved one. I hope it will be helpful to you, or please forward or recommend to someone or anyone you think it might help.


The Valley of Sorrow

It felt like I had been run over by a freight train. I was stunned. I was in shock. I was crying hysterically. But it was really just a phone call. My dad called and said he had to talk to my husband Jerry. I knew it was bad because Jerry hates to talk on the phone so no one ever asks for Jerry unless something bad is going on. I knew some elderly family members and friends were sick, so I thought one had died. I was right someone had died. But it was not an elderly person or even a sick person. It was my sister April. She was 33, a college graduate, a non drinker, non smoker, no drugs - nothing - just a little over weight. She had been getting ready for a Sunday School party and simply dropped dead. It was probably a heart attack. And that was when the shadow of death passed over my life like a freight train. Suddenly, from the middle of bright sun shiny Good Friday, I was in the valley of Baca. At some time or another I had heard a sermon based on a verse from Psalms 84:6 on the subject of "when passing through the valley of Baca (sorrow) dig a well. I had suddenly become a "well digger".

The well I dug was really just "digging into God's word" and learning to believe His promises. I learned that God was with me because somehow He gave me the strength to read His word. Somehow He gave me strength to get up every morning and go through the day. He gave me strength to live each day. He gave me strength to begin to look toward the future.

The first thing He showed me when I was looking toward the future was our eternal future. I "saw" heaven. I saw a very real place filled with very real people doing very real and wonderful things. I saw peace and joy. I saw love and excitement. I saw beauty without ugliness, pure love without any animosity. It was wonderful.

Then from that vantage point I began to consider the immediate future and try to live each day as it came. Gradually it became more normal. There will always be an empty place in my life here on this earth because my sister's existence here is missed. Nothing could fill her place. But I know she is in heaven doing just fine. The Bible tells us. 1 Corinthians 2:9 "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." April is in a place that is just too wonderful for us to even imagine. Knowing where she is does not fill the empty place she left here, but it does give great comfort that she really is ok.

So - I miss her - but I am not without hope. On the firm foundation of God's promise - I will see her again and there will be no parting anymore. All this I learned from digging through the wonderful written message God gave us. The Bible became more real to me than ever before. It is a well of comfort and joy beyond anything we can imagine. Really the well is already dug. It is the Bible. We just have to dig through the verses to find what we need at the moment.

My father in law recently died of cancer. He was the earthly patriarch of my husband's family. He was (and still is) loved deeply. His illness was hurtful to everyone because we didn't want to see him suffer and grow weaker. We didn't want him to leave this earth. We wanted all of us to abide in good health until the return of the Lord. But in leaving us here - we KNOW he went to the same place in which my sister now resides. I think they are laughing about the time April fell of my daughter's horse and rolled right up to my father in law's front door - and dented the screen door. The Bible says "we shall know as we are known" (I Cor. 13:12). We know the apostles knew Moses and Elijah at the transfiguration - even though they had never met them before. We will not only know our friends and loved ones - but others also!

Before my father in law's death I had already come to terms with how wonderful heaven will be. My real sorrow is for the family who was left without him. Without his corny jokes and his onery way. Without his steady faithfulness in the daily things of life. For his wife of 64 years who was left alone and lost without him. But I have hope for the future. That future is more real than the here and now.

The very thought of the reunion in heaven becomes more and more precious with the passing of each loved one. It also becomes more real each time. Sometimes I begin to wonder how thin the veil between heaven and earth really is.

I don't know what you personally may be facing right now. No one knows what he or she may have to face in the future. But I do know the One who will be there to face it with you. I know He will not leave you nor forsake you.

Of course there are many sorrows in life that don't involve a death but are still very painful. The way through any sorrow or trial is still the same. First you look to Jesus - the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Second you focus on the promises he has given you in the book he has provided for us. The Bible is chocked full of promises. I don't know what promise you will find the most helpful. That is why you must study the Word for yourself. There will be a verse that jumps from the page into your mind and brings you comfort as though it had been directly spoken to you and written thousands of years before just for you to read today. Third, you keep at it. Keep reading. Keep studying. Keep praying. Second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, keep going.

I like to end an article by mentioning an old hymn that seems relevant to the subject if the article. I usually have a hard time deciding on the hymn because there are so many wonderful hymns. But this time it was easy. The hymn for the day is "Whispering Hope". "Whispering Hope - Oh how welcome thy voice." That relates so well to the still small voice that speaks - but it can be heard more easily than thunder by the child of God who is listening.

God Bless YOU!! - Love Barbara


Soft as the voice of an angel,

Breathing a lesson unheard,

Hope with a gentle persuasion

Whispers her comforting word:

Wait till the darkness is over,

Wait till the tempest is done,

Hope for the sunshine tomorrow,

After the shower is gone.


Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice,

Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.

If, in the dusk of the twilight,

Dim be the region afar,

Will not the deepening darkness

Brighten the glimmering star?

Then when the night is upon us,

Why should the heart sink away?

When the dark midnight is over,

Watch for the breaking of day.


Hope, as an anchor so steadfast,

Rends the dark veil for the soul,

Whither the Master has entered,

Robbing the grave of its goal.

Come then, O come, glad fruition,

Come to my sad weary heart;

Come, O Thou blest hope of glory,

Never, O never depart.


Words & Music: Septimus Winner, 1868 (MIDI, score). Hymnals often list the author as Alice Hawthorne, one of Winner’s several pseudonyms.


You said you'd come and share all my sorrows,
You said you'd be there for all my tomorrows,
I came so close to sending you away,
But just like you promised, you came here to stay,
I just had to pray.

refrain - And Jesus said, "Come to the water, stand by my side.
I know you are thirsty, you won't be denied.
I felt every tear drop when in darkness you cried,
And I strove to remind you that for those tears I died."

Your goodness so great I can't understand.
And dear Lord, I know that all this was planned;
I know you're here now and always will be.
Your love loosed my chains and in You I'm free, but Jesus why me?


Jesus, I give you my heart and my soul,
I know now without God, I'd never be whole. S
avior, you opened all the right doors,
And I thank you and praise you from earth's humble shores,
Lord Take me I'm yours.


Christ the Lord is Risen Today

'Christ the Lord is Risen Today' is a song for every day.
Memorize it now during the Easter season (or Resurrection Sunday)

Christ has proven His power over death through His own resurrection.

He has proven His power over death of His children by raising people from the dead when He walked among men.

He has given His promise that He will raise up all those who believe on Him for salvation.

Here are the words to the song and a link to the midi file.

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Lo! the Sun’s eclipse is over, Alleluia!
Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!
Christ hath burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail, the Lord of earth and Heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail, the resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing and thus to love, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains that He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He’s King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

'Project Earth' Was an Expensive Project for God

God Counted the Cost

What a story we have in the Bible book of Genesis. In that book we are given the story of creation. God made everything in a time span of just six days. He mostly just spoke things into place. But, man was different. God made man with His own hands and He made man a living soul. Blessed is our God.

On the seventh day God rested. God was not weary as we are weary. He just sat back and enjoyed the work of His hands, sort of like an artist admiring his own painting or a carpenter admiring his handiwork. God was satisfied with His work.

However, unlike the artist or carpenter, God knew the future of His handiwork.
He knew in advance that Adam and Eve would sin.
He knew they would choose to believe the lie told to them by Satan.
He knew the sorrow that would come to them personally and to all mankind through them.
He knew the cost of redemption.
Yet, God created the heavens and the earth anyway.
He created Adam and Eve anyway.
He gave them freewill even knowing what would happen.

God counted the cost of creation before He began His building project.

Luke 14:28 says, ‘For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?’

God knew what would happen in advance, but He went ahead anyway.
He knew about Calvary before the world began.

I don’t know why He went ahead with the ‘Project Earth’ anyway. I know if I saw suffering for my son in advance of any project I would just skip the project. Or, if I saw suffering for my daughter, grandsons, my family, Jerry’s family, or anyone else dear to me, I would not go ahead with a project. Now, maybe if I foresaw suffering for …….. – OK - not even suffering for them.

So – I really don’t know why God went ahead with creation.
I am glad that He did.
I am thankful for my life and lives of my family.
I am thankful for the daily benefits that God gives to us.
I am thankful for His presence, even in sorrow.
I am thankful for His mercy.
I am thankful for His love.
I am thankful for the grace He gives us to endure hardship and sorrow.
I am thankful for the days of joy that He gives us.
I am thankful for the certainty that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again in three days.
I am thankful that God has my dad with Him in heaven, and many other loved ones as well.

This coming Sunday is Easter Sunday, or Resurrection Sunday, whichever you choose to call it. I don’t know exactly on which day He was crucified, but we do know He rose up on the first day of the week.

When considering Jesus’ triumph over death and the grave, what people need to consider is that none of those events came a surprise to God.
God had counted the cost from the beginning.
He knew exactly what was going to happen, who would be involved, and what the outcome would be.
He knew that a way to reconciliation between God and man would be accomplished.

Crucifixion day was a harsh day of unbearable sorrow for those who loved Jesus.
It was a day of triumph for those who hated Him.
It was not a day of surprises for God.
He had counted the cost from the beginning.

The Bible actually tells us ‘why’ Jesus went ahead anyway. He not only counted the cost, He counted the joy that would come after the suffering.

Hebrews 12:2 says, ‘Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.’

So, we actually have the reason Christ went ahead with ‘Project Earth’, even after counting the cost. He saw the future joy as worth the suffering that He must endure.

THAT is how valuable each of us is personally to God. Redeeming the souls of those He created brings God joy.

When we choose to follow Jesus, there is a cost to us. To some of us the cost will not be that great; to others it may cost them their lives. We just don’t know in advance.

But, by faith, we can know that whatever the cost, it will be worth it all.

1 Corinthians 2:9 says, ‘But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.’
The greatness and splendor of the reward God has for those that love Him is beyond the mental capacity of mankind to understand. The flip side of that is that the horrors of hell are beyond the mental capacity of mankind to fully comprehend either.

Calvary paid the full cost of our salvation.
We cannot earn by works what Christ has given us for free.
However, we CAN work for Christ because we love Him.
We can live a life that transforms from a material minded, self centered person into someone who follows the instructions in Galatians 5:22-23 which says,
‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.’

I am sure of this.
It will cost you less to follow Christ than it will cost you to reject Him.
To reject Christ and His way is to choose the way of the devil.
There is no middle ground.
There is no way into the Kingdom of Heaven where righteousness dwells except through Jesus Christ.

Acts 16:31 says,
‘And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house’.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Circumstances versus Attitude

Change your attitude to change the world - for better or worse.

Contentment and joy in someone’s life never comes from their circumstances.
Think about it.
Being rich and independently wealthy does not guarantee either happiness or unhappiness.
The perfect job or lack of a job at all does not guarantee either satisfaction and happiness or dissatisfaction.
The most agreeable, faithful, and attractive spouse does not guarantee satisfaction or contentment in a marriage.
Healthy, intelligent, obedient children do not guarantee an appreciative or loving parent.

NOTHING is about your circumstances.
EVERYTHING is about your attitude.

Originally, Adam and Eve lived in a perfect Garden where neither sin nor death was allowed. Then sin entered in, and the whole of creation fell from grace with Adam and Eve. Eve was beguiled by the serpent because she became discontent or bored with her circumstances. Circumstantially speaking, Eve had it all, but it wasn’t enough. She wanted more. Lucifer really had it all. He was the highest of the angels, good looking, and lived in a perfect place. His circumstances were not enough to keep him happy and satisfied.

Lucifer, Adam, and Eve all had something in common. They had a bad attitude. They didn’t enjoy what they had.

For anyone to enjoy life, they must first look at life as a gift from God of immeasurable value.
God created you.
God is with you.
God has a plan for your good.
God has a perfect and eternal future for His children with Him.

A person with a negative attitude is probably the most difficult person in the world with which to fellowship. They have a black cloud following them around that can be so overwhelming that it seems to obstruct YOUR breathing just having to be near them. I don’t know what you can do for them except pray for them and avoid them like the plague. Don’t confuse those going through grief with negative people. Do not expect them to shrug off their grief. Grief and loss happen, and the bereaved must have their time to mourn before they can adjust and move forward with their lives. There is a danger of letting grief redefine one’s life in the negative mold, so when you face grief or loss personally you do have to be careful. Turn it over to God immediately, and He will lead you through.

A person with a positive attitude is a joy to be around for most people. That person just gets up in the morning and plans to face whatever the day brings with a good attitude. I have read that survivors of concentration camps in WWII tried to face each day with a positive attitude. I don’t know what they were ‘positive’ about, but that was how they got through it. I am sure those with the best attitude were able to encourage those around them as well.

Now, we don’t face the dire circumstances of the those in concentration camps, but many today are facing some dire circumstances. It may be an illness in the family. It may be grief. It may be impending financial disaster, or financial disaster may have already struck.

No matter what you are facing, here is what you need to do. Just get up in the morning and live your life. When you have that first cup of coffee or soda pop, enjoy it. That coffee may come from Starbucks, or it may be warmed over from last night in your microwave. It doesn’t matter. Just enjoy it. If you have breakfast, chew slowly and enjoy what you have to eat. If you have a job, be thankful for it, and do your best to do a good job. If you don’t like your job, it probably isn’t permanent anyway. Ask God for something better or more to your liking, but don’t let yourself be made miserable by your current job.

It is all about your attitude. If you cannot be satisfied in your current situation and circumstances, then you will not be able to enjoy or be satisfied in whatever circumstance you may find yourself in the future.

A good attitude will help you think more clearly. If you are in a situation or a relationship that you are questioning, then a better attitude is your first priority. You cannot properly assess a situation from a negative view point.

A positive attitude doesn’t look back. It looks forward toward the prize.
A positive attitude runs the race of the day, knowing sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
A positive attitude doesn’t measure its success by those around him or her. It just says, ‘Did I do better today than I did yesterday?’

Circumstances are usually totally beyond your control. Did you have anything to do with the current global financial crisis? I didn’t think so.

Your attitude, on the other hand, belongs to you. People seem to either view each day as a gift from God, or a curse and burden they must carry. They don’t want to die; they just don’t see any joy in living.

Today is a good day to evaluate your attitude. On a scale of one to ten how positive or negative are you? Are you satisfied where you are? Are you ready to make the attitude change that will give you a more satisfying life?

If you are plagued with a negative attitude, you may want to ask yourself why you are negative. Do you have real reasons to be negative? Has life been unfair? If that is the case, then think about this. Many people have very real reasons to be negative in their thinking and actions. But, having a reason to be negative does not require that someone live with a negative mindset. AND, no matter how valid a reason for constant negative thinking, it does nothing to propel anyone to a better future. To stick with a negative attitude is to stay in a downward spiral leading to despair and hurting many others on the way.

Everyone’s attitude, including mine and yours, can be improved.
It starts with thanking God when you go to bed at night and when you get up in the morning.
Be obedient to God because you love Him, want to please Him, and want that ‘well done’ that He gives to good and faithful servants.
And, just do your job(s) to the best of your ability, starting with your responsibility to God and your family.

In improving your attitude you will improve your own life and level of satisfaction. You will also improve the lives of your family and those around you.