Posted in Mini Bible Studies

Walking Through Grief Part 2 of 3

A Devotional Bible Study

Days 3-4

Day 3

Again today I have listed for you a passage which may express your current feelings. It is a cry unto the Lord from the depths of a heart that suffering.

Read Psalm 143. Twice this psalm requests the Lord to deliver from enemies. Make a list of your enemies in your particular situation. Things like grief, isolation, depression, even Satan himself. Once you can recognize these enemies, you will be more able to defend against them and ask God for assistance in battling them.

Notice in verse 11 David asks God to preserve his life and bring him out of trouble. I want to be blunt right now, okay? I touched on this in the introduction, but it’s important enough to bring up again. Oftentimes when people struggle and are in despair they can become depressed or even suicidal. I hope and pray that you are not in that position, dear friend. If you are, seek help, whether from a trusted friend, pastor, therapist, or a suicide hotline. Don’t wait. Your life is valuable, even if you don’t feel that right now. God creates life, and only he can decide when it should be ended.

Even if we despair of life we must continue living, as in staying alive, and living, as in going about our daily lives, even though our world may seem as if it is coming to an end. We must continue to interact with life, people, situations. We can’t isolate ourselves from friends and family. Why?

Look at Psalm 138:7–8. Pay close attention to verse 8, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me…do not abandon the works of your hands.” 

Now read Philippians 1:6. The Father began his work in us before the foundation of the world. Ephesians tells us that he prepared good works for us to do, and he prepared them beforehand. He will not neglect to finish the work he began. We don’t need to hinder that work but cooperate with it and thus fulfill our purpose.

Next read Romans 8:28–29. This verse is quoted a lot in times like these but don’t fail to notice what comes after verse 28. What is his purpose? Verse 29 says to conform us to the likeness of his Son. He uses the good and the bad in our lives to make us more like Jesus, our example.

Now skip down to verse 31, then 35–39. What powerful words! Make a list of the things that can separate us from the love of Christ Jesus. (Pretty short list, huh.) Now make another list of the things that cannot separate us from his love. 

Wow, what a comparison! He has a purpose for each of our lives and everything we go through, both good and bad, conforms to that purpose if we are submitted to him and his will.

You’ve read a lot of verses today. Take a few minutes to think about all the Father has taught you through his word and meditate on those truths as the day goes on.

Day 4

Okay. Today we are really going to get down to the nitty gritty. Very often we must be proactive in our walk with the Lord. He does all the work of salvation, but we have to claim promises and obey commands, which is our part in his work in our lives.

You are going to look at verses about controlling our thoughts. Hang in there, there are several. Why do we need to see what Scripture says about this? Romans 8:6 says, “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace…”

So, the first verse to look up is Isaiah 26:3.

The word steadfast implies established, resting in, leaning on. How can a person make his/her mind steadfast? This verse says it is steadfast because the person trusts in the Lord. 

Flip over to Philippians 4:6–8.

Paul says that we should not be anxious about anything. That’s easier said than done, isn’t it? 

But when we present our requests to God, verse 7 tells us that his peace, which transcends all understanding (How can a person have peace when they have lost someone dear?? It transcends our understanding.) will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. 

Guard them from what, do you think? Guard them from many things, not the least of which would be Satan’s attacks on our thoughts, his attempts to make us doubt, to discourage us, to make us think life isn’t worth living.

Now verse 8. This well-known verse helps us see how important it is to “take every thought captive unto Christ.” Write down the things Paul says we should think about and compare that to what we are tempted to think about, especially in times of despair. 

Skip down to verses 12 and 13. That is how you manage. Only through Christ. He is the one through whom God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches (v. 19).

I want you to see Psalm 112:6–8 next. In this passage it’s the heart of the righteous person that steadfastly trusts in the Lord. But that’s another way of saying mind.

I would like to encourage you to really pray over these verses. It is so easy to let our thoughts run away with us, especially when life seems too much to bear, and we languish on a continual diet of desperation and heartache and despair. But one of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. 

Again, we must take our thoughts captive, make them submissive to the control of the Spirit to prevent Satan from achieving his purpose to discourage and defeat us.

I want to leave you today with 1 Peter 5:8­–10 as my prayer for you. Amen and amen.

Posted in Mini Bible Studies

Walking Through Grief Part 1 of 3

A Devotional Bible Study

Grief is something everyone deals with at some point in their lives. We may grieve something as heavy and choking as the loss of a loved one or merely as stinging as a disappointment. We sometimes must wrestle with anguish at the gaping hole left in our hearts and lives, and other times we might just need a good cry to feel all better.

We all grieve in different ways and about different things, but grief is a process that can’t be skipped or hurried without doing further damage. And for those of us who know the Lord, grief can bring us closer to him and teach us to rely on him, to trust him. We don’t have to go through it alone, for he has promised to walk with us in those dark times. 

Several years ago a friend of mine lost her husband of many happy years. Her grief was deep and debilitating. I wrote this little devotional study for her to help her find the comfort that’s in God’s Word. 

I’ve made some modifications to make it more general, but I share it with you now, written as if to a friend. May God bless it to speak to your heart or to share with someone you know who is hurting, when you don’t know the words to say.

If your grief is from something other than the loss of a person—a job, a pet, a dream, or any other situation that leaves you hurting—just substitute that any place I’ve written “loved one.” You will still benefit from this time in the Word, sharing your burden with the Lord, and seeking his face.

I will post it in three parts. Take your time and sit with the message the Lord gives you, meditate on the verses, and allow the Holy Spirit to comfort and minister to you. This devotional uses God’s Word to remind us of his promises. 

If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, skip down to Day 6 and learn how to ask his forgiveness for your sins and invite him to be the Lord of your life.

Dearest Friend,

My heart is so heavy for you. I cannot begin to understand what you are going through. I wish so much I could take it away. I wish I could say some magic words that would soothe and comfort you, but those do not exist from human lips. 

People mean well when they use platitudes; they don’t know what else to say and feel the need to say something. Those words sound nice until we are the ones going through the pain. I won’t repeat platitudes to you now. 

Besides you probably already know in your head everything that people say about how your loved one is in heaven with Jesus or how they aren’t in pain anymore. What is impossible is to get your heart to be comforted by that. Sure, they aren’t in pain anymore, but you are! You are the one left to live here without your loved one and try to figure out how to create a new life that doesn’t include that person.

I know these blatant words are probably making you cry. It’s not my desire to cause you more pain, but it is okay to cry. And cry. Get it out. There are times when, for the sake of others, you hold it in, put on a brave face. But as you read this letter, as you talk to God, cry! It is part of the healing. 

Only God and time can heal you and oh how we all wish we could shorten that time and skip to the part where the pain ceases to be so acute and retching. Alas, God doesn’t allow us to do that, does he? Pain is part of this cursed world we live in. However, he does lend us his presence and his soothing grace to spread over our hurts. His Word shares comfort and provides strength and guidance during dark times. 

Maybe I’m being presumptuous to write to you like this. Who am I to give advice? 

I was twenty-four when my mom died. So young—the both of us. Someone marveled that I was “such a rock.” But just because someone looks together on the outside, doesn’t mean they’re not a drippy, gelatinous puddle on the inside…or that they’re even mentally present. 

I don’t have wisdom or special insight into grief. But through the trials I’ve had in my life, I have found comfort in certain passages of Scripture. So, I hope my attempt at ministering to you isn’t offensive. I want to give you some verses to look up and meditate upon that have ministered to me during times when I felt like the Lord was far away.

I’ve written them in this daily devotional format so you can read a couple each day and think about what God is saying and how it applies to or influences you. Keep a journal or notebook with you so if you feel him saying something special, you can write it down. It will bless you later to recall his message and see how your healing progressed. 

I have forgotten so much of what happened during my times of loss and pain, how the Lord ministered to me, how he used his people to be his voice and hands and feet. I wish I had kept a journal, so I’m encouraging you to.

I know it can be hard to go on every day. I’m sure at times it may feel pointless. There may be times you want to give up. But neither your loved one, nor the Lord, nor your family and friends want that for you. If you are having those types of thoughts persistently, seek help. Don’t let the thoughts grow and take you over.

I humbly offer you these scriptures with the hope that they will bring you comfort, renew your strength, and turn your focus toward the God of All Comfort, for they are breathed directly from his heart.

Day 1

Read Isaiah 40:28-31. This was my mom’s favorite verse. For many years after her death, I still choked up when I read it, not only because it reminded me of her, but also because it is such a beautiful and powerful passage.

Note v. 28. In contrast to us humans, God does not grow _______ or _______. Instead (v. 29), he gives _______ to the _______ and increases the _______ of the _______. How can we renew our strength (v. 31)?

The Hebrew word translated hope means to expect, tarry, patiently wait. But there’s another meaning that, based on the context of the verse, seems like it would fit as well, maybe better. The other meaning is to bind together by twisting. If we are bound together tightly with the Lord, our strength can be renewed as he does the work for us by lifting us up on eagle’s wings. We can run and not be weary because he is carrying us in his strength.

One writer likened it to the games kids play where they grab onto a parent’s leg and the parent continues to walk, carrying the child along for a free ride. The child is twisted onto the parent’s leg and can “run” and not be weary and “walk” and not faint. What a beautiful picture!

Sometimes when we are hurting or weary, praying is difficult. We can then rest in the prayers of others on our behalf. This is my prayer for you today: Psalm 20. You can read it now and substitute “me”s for the “you”s to make it your own prayer to God.

Day 2

Psalm 119:81–82 says, “My soul _______ with longing for your _______, but I have put my hope in your word. My eyes fail, looking for your promise; I say, ‘When will you _______ me?’”

Several years ago I suffered a health crisis. I was in the hospital four times within a year, and in between, I was so sick I could barely walk or eat or be with my family. As I lay in bed all day every day I would stare out the window at the beautiful green and blue world the Creator blessed us with, and I would feel like life was passing me by. Everything went on without me, and I so wanted to be a part of it, not to ever miss anything ever again.

Read Psalm 142.

Notice verse 4. When we are in the depths of despair it is sometimes easy to feel alone and isolated from those we love. I had a wonderful support network in my family and in other Christians who prayed for me, brought food, or took care of my kids or drove them places. 

If you have a support network, pray right now and thank God for them. Ask his blessings on them. Share your burdens with them and allow them to minister to you in his name. If you don’t have anyone, reach out to a local church or civic organization who will be eager and willing to walk arm in arm with you through this valley.

Verse 6 asks for rescue from “those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.” In the case of someone in the midst of grief, sadness and despair pursue you and they can be too strong to resist alone. But the Lord is able to set you free from your prison that you may praise his name (v. 7).

Now, my prayer for you today is Ephesians 3:14–21. Read it more than once and meditate on the parts that particularly speak to you. I pray that he will “strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” Be sure to focus on the section of praise in verse 21. 

Very often praising the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ through the precious Holy Spirit can retrain our focus off of the trouble of the moment and back onto him, for, like Peter when he tried to walk on the water, we lose sight of Jesus and begin to notice the storm all around us. That’s when we sink. 

But he is faithful when we are faithless. He will not allow us to drown. He will pick us up from the miry clay and set our feet on a rock and establish our going and place a new song in our heart, a song of praise to our God (see Psalm 40:2).