For many, Mother’s day is a holiday filled with deep emotions, some wonderful and some heartbreaking. On July 20, 2015, my mom unexpectedly passed away and unfortunately, I remember that day perfectly. In my sudden grief, I fell to the floor in pain when my Grandma called my husband that day to deliver the news. I was 25, and never imagined living life without my mom. Losing her was, and still is, hard. I felt robbed. Robbed of time, robbed of memories, robbed of everything that could have been had she not died.
After going to multiple doctors and having various tests done - all to find out I had succumb to grief induced health issues - I knew this was going to be a long road ahead to recover from what should have been a joyous time in our lives. Drew and I were newly married, 2 months in, when our vows were standing the test of tragic loss and pain. Drew was my rock. Day in and day out he walked with me through my nightmare and never gave up on me. As time went on, I had to move forward as well. Time doesn’t stop and sometimes it seems like people are forgotten but thankfully the loss hasn’t been left behind. God see’s and doesn’t forget. He lifts us up even in the pit of despair to bring the comfort only He can.
John 14:27 NIV
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
I can attest to not being healed by the peace the world gives because nothing anyone said seemed to make me feel better. I had to find that peace only Christ could give me to heal from such a loss. I had to surrender the grief, fear, pain and despair and trade it for a new joy. I felt guilty moving forward..would my happiness mean she’s forgotten? Would my mom think I didn’t love her any more? No, it meant scripture was being fulfilled and I could put on a garment of praise and thank God for the life I still had left to live despite my loss. I could continue to honor her by moving forward with my life.
I want to encourage those of you who’ve known loss in the same way, there’s so much ahead of you...so much you can’t see yet. God has a beautiful story He is writing and maybe yours can help someone else. If you’ve lost a loved one, I can guarantee they wouldn’t want you to trade in your life to be “dead” here on Earth. They would want you to prosper and find joy again. Your life is a beautiful gift that only you can choose to live. Dear son or daughter, no one else can be you. The world needs more of you. Sometimes we have to lay down our pain to take hold of His peace because it was never meant to be carried alone. It doesn’t mean you don’t still feel sad, it just means you can allow yourself to live again.
Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
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Have you ever been given bad news? Do you remember how it felt to hear the words and then process them in your mind? In my life I have experienced situations where the news being given to me rocked me to my core. It was in these situations where I had to choose where my faith was going to stand. Would it stand with the news or with GOD and His Word? Many of those times, I wavered in my faith and the grief and fear eclipsed all of my faith. It was in these moments of great pain that GOD reminded me of His promises and His Goodness and showed me that I would not be walking through this situation alone. From traumatic injuries to unexplained deaths, GOD has shown Himself true and I wouldn’t be writing this to you without the amazing grace that stems from our incredible GOD.
In 2 Chronicles 20:1-30, King Jehoshaphat of Judah heard some news that made him terribly afraid. His Kingdom was being invaded not by one army, but three different armies that had banded together to destroy his Kingdom. When news finally reached Jehoshaphat that Judah was being invaded, the enemy was practically on his doorstep. Jehoshaphat was completely blindsided and utterly afraid, but what he did in his fear led to his greatest victory. I believe that his example can give us hope and direction even when the situation looks bigger than we are:
1. Commit yourself to GOD
Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set himself [determinedly, as his vital need] to seek the Lord; and he proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 2 Chronicles 20:3 AMP
When Jehoshaphat heard the report of enemy invaders he feared for his country and his own life, but he didn’t linger in his fear. He immediately “set himself to seek the Lord.” He turned to GOD instantly for guidance and help and told the entire country of Judah to do the same. Jehoshaphat knew that his army could not defeat the three armies that had invaded their land. He realized at once that this battle was lost before it ever started, but he also knew that GOD had promised Judah this land and GOD keeps His promises. Jehoshaphat committed himself and the situation to GOD. In verse 12 Jehoshaphat says, “ We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”
2. Take your positions
You need not fight in this battle; take your positions, stand and witness the salvation of the Lord who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you. 2 Chronicles 20:17 AMP
Take your positions. Three simple words, one simple command. In our greatest moments of fear and conflict GOD is looking to us to take our positions. Jehoshaphat and his army knew emphatically that they could not win this war, but they also trusted in GOD to deliver them from their enemies. With that confidence, they took their positions to fight in what seemed to be a one sided conflict. It was in standing their ground, taking their positions, and preparing for war that King Jehoshaphat and his army strengthened their faith. When they put on their armor and marched to the battlefield it was their way of showing GOD that no matter what comes against them, their trust is in Him.
When they began singing and praising, the Lord set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; so they were struck down [in defeat]. 2 Chronicles 20:22 AMP
Swords and shields would not be the weapon of choice for Judah and King Jehoshaphat. Their natural ability wasn’t strong enough to defeat three powerful armies allied as one. No, the weapon of choice for Judah was worship and their worship triggered the victory. Verse 22 says, “When they began singing” that is when GOD went to work. The enemy was defeated from self inflicted wounds, but the real defeat came in the praises of GOD’s people. Worshiping GOD in their armor, swords in hand, shield held tightly to their chest, Judah and King Jehoshaphat were mightier then all the armies of the Earth combined because GOD fought their battle and the battle was fought in worship.
Whatever you are facing doesn’t have to end in defeat. Bad news may cause you to fear, but GOD is ready to fight for you. When trials and battles arise commit yourself to GOD and His promises. Seek Him and look for direction through prayer and His word. Find out what the Bible says about your situation and then take your position. Suit up in your armor, take your sword and shield and walk right onto the battlefield with confidence knowing the battle is GOD’s Finally, when its time to fight, drop your sword and lift your hands. Worship GOD in the midst of your battle. Prove to GOD and the enemy that no matter what the outcome, worship will be the only sound coming out your mouth.
A few months ago I was watching my favorite college football team play a game against an opponent that was far below their perceived talent level. By all stretches, my team, should have easily blown out the opponent by 3-4 touchdowns. As the fourth quarter approached, the score was much closer than anyone anticipated. Actually the game was tied and my team was playing horribly. At this point I’m wondering if my team is going to blow this opportunity for a win and lose to such an easy opponent. By the end of the game it took a last minute drive and touchdown to finally seal the win. As a fan I was dejected at the final score knowing that my team should have won by multiple touchdowns, but noticed something very interesting with the players and coaches. As players ran on the field to celebrate, most of them were smiling and jumping and acting as if they had won a huge football game. When it was time for the post game interviews, every player had the same big smile and joy of winning that game. I remember distinctly the best player on the team being the most excited of all the other teammates. What was I missing that they were so happy about? Didn’t they just play the same game I watched. Even the coach was happy with the win! What seemed like an odd reaction to me was celebrated on the sideline and in the locker room.
GOD gives us the perfect picture of celebrating our small victories in the story of the prodigal son. Most of the time when we read this story we see ourselves as the son who returns to the Father and receives forgiveness, grace, and a new beginning, but I want to look at the story from the father’s perspective. The son basically demanded his portion of the family inheritance and ran off to another country. As a father myself, I can imagine his concern for his son as he watched him leave with all that money. He probably tried to talk his son into staying or at least imparted some wisdom on how to make his inheritance last. I’m sure there were many nights where the father would walk outside and look to the stars and wonder where his son was and how he was doing. And then there was that fateful day-the father was out in the yard when he saw a familiar face walking down the driveway.
But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry. Luke 15:20-24
The father celebrated the arrival of the son! All those nights praying, waiting, hoping the son would come home finally arrived and he threw the son a party. The father wanted to celebrate this small victory. He could have easily scolded his son for wasting his inheritance or for living sinfully, but instead he took that opportunity to pay a tribute to his return. His son was lost and now he was found! We need to do the same thing in our lives. Everyday we can celebrate the small victories, instead of condemning ourselves for things done wrong in the past. Paul was the perfect example of this. The man who wrote 2/3 of the New Testament also spent the beginning of his life murdering Christians and trying to destroy anything that mentioned the name of Jesus. He knew what it meant to celebrate the small victories in life. In Romans 8: 1-2 he writes:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
We need to learn to celebrate our victories in this life. If you struggle with self doubt or feelings of insecurity, celebrate when you have the courage to speak up or step out no matter the significance. If you have bitterness or resentment towards someone or something, celebrate the moments that you pray for that certain person or thing. For many, pornography is a huge battle, celebrate when you tell yourself no and you decide to look away. Look for opportunities to see God’s goodness and victories in your life. Many times we don’t win by 3 or 4 touchdowns. Sometimes we should have easily won the game, but we stumble, and fight, and finally make it into the end-zone with time expiring to win the game. 20 years from now when you look back on this season of your life, you’re not going to look at the way you won the game, but you’re going to look at the score board and know that you scored more points than the other team and you were victorious! Celebrate your victories. GOD does and so should you!