When your heart is breaking

 

ID-100234581Rip! Tear! Snap!  What was that? Oh, it was just my heart, breaking in two! What are you facing, dear reader? For me, it was saying goodbye to my son, daughter-by-choice, and three grandchildren: ages one, three, and five. It’s breaking my heart!

For eight years, my son and his family have lived close by. For seven of those years, he and his wife served beside us in our ministry. Now, they will be 1,200 miles way: yes, close enough to drive to, yes, we’ll see them again, but that’s not the point!  No more grandkid sleep-overs—watching the cousins play together, no more family gatherings for every holiday, (especially Memorial Day and July 4th which had become a family tradition). No more singing together in church as a family, no more just stopping in, no more… It’s done.

I can look at others in our small congregation who are facing HUGE trials which make me feel like a spoiled brat—and I am, or have been, but that doesn’t make the pain go away! I can quote one of my favorite lines from Ever After, where Cinderella’s stepmother says, “Just remember, things can always get worse.” It’s true!  What comfort!  At least, it makes me laugh, albeit a little too hysterically.

I’ve been really thinking a lot about Job lately—now that will put things into the right perspective! He lost everything. Do you realize that HE LOST EVERYTHING?!!!

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. Job 1:20,21

Now there’s a man with a proper focus!  He never shows a “poor me” attitude, he doesn’t blame God, he doesn’t blame the servants by saying something stupid like, “What were you doing over there near the Sabeans anyway!” He doesn’t bemoan his children’s actions: “I told them to build stronger houses, and what were they all doing together? Didn’t you see this coming?”  He didn’t even blame himself by saying, “I should have…”  He simply accepts it as from the Lord.  Some would call that weak.  I’d call it amazing grace, which we cannot work up. It MUST come from God.  When times are really tough, we can only anchor ourselves in the grace which we receive through our time in prayer and His Word, coming to our God with a yielded heart.

But that’s not all! When Satan smites Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown (2:6), there are no words this time.  I’m not sure if the scraping with pieces of broken clay pots and sitting in ashes were medicinal or acts of contrition—probably a little of both, but we see a man who gets no help from anyone. We often think ill of Job’s wife, but can we even imagine this woman’s overwhelming grief?  We don’t know the time lapse between Satan’s first and second attack, but we do know that the first attack was sudden, all at one time. In a matter of moments, everything is gone.  Was she there when the servants came running in with bad news, one right after another? Where they still digging through the rubble to find the bodies of her children? How long did she have to even try to digest the information before she awoke to find her husband writhing in pain?  And what would you have said?  I can’t condemn her! And once again, Job’s comment stops us short:

…shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?

In all this did not Job sin with his lips. (2:10)

Where will you go for comfort? For healing?  What will you try to use to fill up the empty, aching hole in your heart? How are you going to react? Anger feels so good and bitterness tastes sweet when we allow Satan to whisper in our ear!

I have chosen to stay on my Rock, and here is my mantra:

Lord, I will trust You –

When I don’t understand

When my heart is breaking

When I am alone

When I am poor

When my character has been maligned

When I am tired

When I am empty

When I am discouraged

When I am depressed

When I am questioning EVERYTHING

When I am full of doubts

When my dreams are shattered, I will trust YOU!

And I will NOT stop praising and serving You!

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. John 6:68

Photo by cuteimage

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A Bowl Full of Cherries

“If life is a bowl full of cherries, then why am I in the pits?”  I’m sure you’ve all heard that statement before!  Well, for me, today has been a day loaded with cherries!

It started in the cherry orchard at 7:30 am.  My dear husband went with me to pick them, and what a beautiful sight!  It was worth it just to stand on the side of that hill and gaze across the valley at the gorgeous mountain range beyond.  The place didn’t open until 8:00, and I’d say there were at least 50 people ahead of us and another 50 behind us by the time they opened the starting gate; then off we went as though there could never be enough cherries for all of us!

However, I must say that the early bird gets the worm and the early cherry picker gets the biggest cherries!  If you have never picked cherries, you’ve really missed something!  There they hang, in glorious red clusters just begging to be picked!  It’s a beautiful sight!

So, after about an hour, we had our 35 pounds of cherries (and at $2.25 a pound – well, you do the math! I’m broke!)  Then we stopped to visit our son and daughter-by-choice (doesn’t that sound so much better than daughter-in-law?  She truly is a daughter to us and if our son hadn’t picked her, we would have!)  AND two of our grandsons. Anyway, what a wonderful visit we had – she even fed us our second breakfast of the day AND I got to feed our youngest grandson a bottle.  Does life get any better than this?

My next stop was our daughter’s home, where I watched our middle grandson.  After quite a show of smiles and faces while Mommy fed him cereal, he headed to the swing and fell asleep to the lovely, “chink-a-chink” sound of the cherries making their way through the cherry pitter, while Mommy had a photo shoot (She’s awsome!  Check her out!! Jennifer Mark’s Photography) My daughter has  a 1903 cherry pitter that looks a lot like the one in the photo, and let me tell you – it works like a charm!  There’s something about using an antique like that that makes you feel homey and close to your roots.

Seven years ago, the Lord moved us back to my home town.   After twenty-six years of living in NJ, PA, SC, and VA, I never would have thought that I’d be back in this area.  Coming “home” has been such a blessing; and now two of our three children are also here ministering with us in our church!  Does it get any better than that?

I’m not sure if there’s any great spiritual lesson in this blog, except this:

 “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness,                                            and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” Psalm 107:8

At times, like today (my birthday, by the way!), life is a bowl full of cherries.  Those are the times that we need to “tank up” on our blessings side of life’s score sheet; so that when the pits come – and they will – we have an arsenal of reasons to tell Old Scratch to beat a path home.  (That’s the polite way of telling him to go you know where!)  It’s so easy to see only puddles after and during the thunderstorm – but do remember that often God puts a rainbow in our storms too.  Learn to tuck away the memories of “cherry days,” so that when the “pit days” come, we can say with Job: “

“…the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away;                                                blessed be the name of the LORD.                                           

Job 1:20

Dealing with Disappointment

“And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither:

 the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.”

Job 1:21,22

Disappointment – something or someone that is not what you were hoping it would be; let down; dashed hopes.

We all know what it is like to be disappointed.  Disappointment comes in all sizes: we may have lost the ball game in the back yard or we may have lost twelve years of wins, taken from us because of our actions

This picture is my disappointment.  I work hard at the garden.  I work to keep it weed free (which has been almost impossible this year), I water it and dig and hoe; but when God sent a storm last week, there was nothing I could do to help my corn.  It was not only flattened, many of the stalks had snapped.  How disappointing.

So, what do we do with disappointmenst?  Well, there are several options: let’s start with the bad ones – the ones our flesh want to embrace!

  1. Life is unfair – that is too true!  Cancer invades our bodies, a husband is unfaithful, the world snatches away our children’s affections.  It’s just not fair!
  2. God is mean – this is NOT true and it will NEVER be true.  Our verse at the beginning is from Job.  We never read that God revealed His plan or explained to Job why He had completely destroyed all that was dear to Job.  God knew, and that was enough – THAT is a hard pill to swallow!
  3. I quit – it’s not worth it!

All of these reactions are the wrong reactions!  Disappointments come as part of God’s strength training session!  The bigger the disappointment, the greater the “trust” muscle will grow.  Is it easy?  No!  Trust is never easy in the face of trials; however, when we look to where the other options lead us – farther away from God, the decision to choose the right reaction to our disappointments become clearer.  (Disappointments are also a time to do a self-check.   Is there something in my life that has been the catalyst to my troubles?)

Trust God – Draw strength from other heroes of the faith, present and past.  Horatio Spafford always comes to my mind when I am facing disappointments.  Trying to comprehend how this man must have felt as he read his wife’s telegraph, “Saved alone,” is more than even my vivid imagination can take in.  Somehow, my flattened corn doesn’t seem that important anymore!

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

 It is well (it is well),
with my soul (with my soul),
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pain shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

And Lord haste the day, when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.