Friday, May 31, 2013

Our Ingratitude

If ever there is a story of indifference bordering on utter ingratitude, it is this story of the ten lepers who besieged -- and beseeched -- Jesus to cure them. No doubt it touched Jesus deeply, for He saw in this sorry display of thoughtlessness the general attitude toward His Father and Himself, both then and always. Again, it is the Samaritan – the foreigner – who returns in adoration and overwhelming gratitude. The others on whom He also lavished love and grace ran off to continue with everyday life and its distractions. They didn't even look back. All ten had faith enough to receive health; the one who returned with appreciation was given that extra measure of friendship with God. The others would never realize what they missed.

What excuses have we for our ingratitude? Do we underestimate the cost of His love for us? Do we not realize what it means to our Savior to have us love Him back; to be grateful to Him for the immeasurable blessings He bestows on us every day? "Every good and perfect gift is from above ... " (James 1:17). Perhaps we think it's useless to thank God for gifts that He so willingly presents; that God's joy is in His generosity. But He does want us to thank Him, not for His sake but for ours. Our gratitude is our recognition of indebtedness to Him.

To acknowledge another's gift is moral strength; to ignore another's grace is a cruel lack of recognition of the Giver. God hurts when we are indifferent to His love that He gives to all, rich and poor, just and unjust.

Contrast this with Elisha's noble reaction to all that the widow had done for him: "You have gone to all this trouble for us. Now what can be done for you?" (2 Kings 4:13).
Now, Father, what can we do for You and Yours today?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Prayer - Rev. Joe Wright

While not word-for-word accurate, the text below is a fair transcription of an actual prayer delivered before the Kansas House of Representatives by Central Christian Church Pastor Joe Wright on January 23, 1996. It has circulated continuously on the Internet ever since. At least one legislator walked out during the prayer, according to the Kansas City Star. Others made speeches criticizing what the House Minority Leader, a Democrat, called "the extreme, radical views" reflected in the prayer. It was aired nationally on the radio in February 1996 by Paul Harvey.
Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good,," but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.

We confess:

 We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it Pluralism.
 We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism.
 We have endorsed perversion and called it alternative lifestyle.
 We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
 We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
 We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
 We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
 We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.
 We have abused power and called it politics.
 We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition.
 We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
 We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.

Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent to direct us to the center of your will. I ask it in the Name of Your Son, the living Savior, Jesus Christ.

Out of the Cave

OUT of the CAVE
"It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!"
1 Kings 19:4 NKJV
This is a favorite chapter of mine because it gives us a glimpse of someone as human as we are. Here we have the great Elijah, sinking from triumph to despair. He is just as subject to human emotions as we are. Who of us has not said, "I have had enough of this!" But God doesn't answer Elijah’s prayer; instead, He sends an angel, not once but twice, to Elijah to feed him. When Elijah is strong again, he travels on to Horeb, and what does he do -- he hides in a cave!

God isn't going to let him get away with that, either. "What are you doing here, Elijah, so far away from your duties? What are you doing here, Elijah, you of all my people who should have remained at your post? My past compassions to you should have strengthened and served you especially for a time such as this."

We need to know that God understands when we cry out in exhaustion and heartache and despair. Just as He brought Elijah out of the cave, He will bring us out of the darkness of whatever cave we are in now into His light once again (Psalm 18:28). Elijah thought his labor was useless; that it had come to nothing. Those with the highest and holiest purposes are the very ones who experience such intense dejection and rejection. Elijah's heart withered at the thought that he had failed. So it is with us all who feel we have failed God, family and church because of mistakes and our humanity. But this chapter tells us that God isn’t going to let us get away with self-pity. We are all subject to depression but there is an angel to help us out of our cave, if we will believe it.

God commands us to "be strong and of good courage." (Joshua 1:6.) An anonymous saint said, "So, in the Lord's ministry, the nucleus of the Church was not found in the applauding multitudes on Olivet, but in the few faithful ones in the garden of Gethsemane." What a thought! When we feel we have had enough, let us be the faithful one in Gethsemane, kneeling with Jesus who set His face toward Jerusalem, realizing what He was about to endure (Luke 9:51b).

We need to know that God understands when we cry out in exhaustion and heartache and despair. Just as He brought Elijah out of the cave, He will bring us out of the darkness of whatever cave we are in now into His light once again...

Submit to being deprived....

Submit to Being Deprived
"Must brother really go to law with brother, and that before unbelievers? ... Why not rather submit to injury? Why not rather submit to being deprived of something?"
1 Corinthians 6:7-8 RSV
When our son died I was told by our church lawyer that we had a case for a lawsuit against the college he was attending. He had tried to commit suicide there and they never contacted us. At the time it was the last thing I wanted, for I had sense enough to know that these are not simple things.

The cry of the land seems to be, "Sue them!" I've watched with interest the proliferation of all these frivolous lawsuits and always I think, "What does God think of all this nonsense?" I realize there are legitimate reasons for some lawsuits, but this has gotten blasphemous. Years ago there was a story in the paper about a little girl who didn't get her toy in the Cracker Jax box. Her father sued! I thought, what an ideal opportunity for Dad to sit little Princess down and tell her the facts of life: sometimes we don't get our toys - that's life, child!

"Why not submit to being deprived of something?" It's a great idea, but in today's aura of rights and things, I rather doubt this would fly. But it would certainly bring some peace to the earth, wouldn't it?

True Power

True Power
"He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets"
Isaiah 42:2
Matthew 12:19
Jesus was a low-profile Person. He did not come to this earth to make a name for Himself and to be acclaimed by the fickle and feckless crowd. He entered towns and hearts quietly and effectively. What He brought spoke for itself; it didn't need rolling drums and town criers. Jesus didn't need to advertise Himself or His goods. Goodness is like that. It also bears the cross meekly for the sake of all others, not just those we choose to love.

Jesus speaks with a still voice: ". . .The Lord was not in the wind. . .the earthquake. . .the fire. . .[but] after the fire came a gentle whisper" (1 Kings 19:11,12).
A gracious and unassuming spiritual life is finally the most effective. The Law was given from the mountain amidst thunder; the Gospel seeps quietly through throbbing hurting hearts. The Law threatens while the Gospel quietly beckons. The Law preaches death while the Gospel quietly promises life. The Law lays grievous duties on us while the Gospel quietly tells us to lay our burdens on Jesus while we go on with our duties. The Law wounds while the Gospel ever so quietly heals body, mind and spirit. The Law frightens while the tender Voice becomes our delight.

Those who affect power intimidate and coerce. Jesus cannot accomplish anything from the disadvantages of others, for that is what power does: take advantage of weakness. Our good God takes these very weaknesses and gently transposes them into His strength: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness"
(2 Corinthians 12:9). The truly strong life is discreet, dignified, and decisive in Jesus. This person knows wherein his power lies, and therein is the strength for serene daily living.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Cleaning up the _OO_!

I have a favorite website, Fellowship of the Minds. This gem was posted recently:

"Taking Down The Bird Feeder. Leave It To Maxine."
Just have to luv Maxine. This is the best analogy yet!

Leave it to Maxine to come up with a solution for the mess that America is now
in economically:

I bought a bird feeder. I hung It on my back porch and filled It with seed. What
a beauty of a bird feeder it was, as I filled it, lovingly with seed. Within a
week we had hundreds of birds taking advantage of the continuous flow of free
and easily accessible food.

But then the birds started building nests in the boards of the patio, above the
table, and next to the barbecue.

Then came the poop. It was everywhere: on the patio tile, the chairs, the
Then some of the birds turned mean. They would dive bomb me and try to peck me
even though I had fed them out of my own pocket.

And other birds were boisterous and loud. They sat on the feeder and squawked
and screamed at all hours of the day and night and demanded that I fill it when
it got low on food.

After a while, I couldn’t even sit on my own back porch anymore. So I took down
the bird feeder and in three days the birds were gone. I cleaned up their mess
and took down the many nests they had built all over the patio.

Soon, the back yard was like it used to be ….. Quiet, serene ….  And no one
demanding their rights to a free meal.

Now let’s see. Our government gives out free food, subsidized housing, free
medical care and free education, and allows anyone born here to be an automatic

Then the illegals came by the tens of thousands. Suddenly our taxes went up to
pay for free services; small apartments are housing five families; you have to wait six
hours to be seen by an emergency room doctor; your child’s second grade class
is behind other schools because over half the class doesn’t speak English.

Corn flakes now come in a bilingual box; I have to 'press one' to hear my bank
talk to me in English, and people waving flags other than ‘Old Glory’ are
squawking and screaming in the streets, demanding more rights and free

Just my opinion, but maybe it’s time for the government to take down the bird

If you agree, pass it on; if not, just continue cleaning up the poop.

~ Steve~                               H/T  My Old Pal Jean

Sullivan Ballou's last letter to his wife

This is such a touching letter! It was found in Sullivan Ballou's pocket and given to his wife after his death. What so reaches out to my heart is his concern for his boys and his ability to express that concern.

July the 14th, 1861

Washington DC

My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days - perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure - and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine 0 God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing - perfectly willing - to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows - when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children - is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?

I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death -- and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country, and thee.

I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and of the principles have often advocated before the people and "the name of honor that I love more than I fear death" have called upon me, and I have obeyed.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me - perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar -- that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have oftentimes been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night -- amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours - always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.

As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father's love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God's blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Dear Phil!

I just received an email from a very dear friend named Phil. Phil is the person who started me on Internet, the first to publish my devotions and to encourage me to continue. I am so grateful to him. He will be having major surgery soon, and I am asking prayers for him. There are some people who grace this earth with that extra in the extraordinary - Phil is one of these people!

God bless you, dear friend! I'm sending some verses to you that I put together when our son Dan was so ill. I pray they will help:

"[Phil] shall live again and God's program shall prosper in [his] hands" (Isaiah 53:10).

"[God] nurses [Phil] when [he is] sick and soothes [his] pain and worries" (Psalm 41:3).

"The Lord [stands] at [Phil's] side and [gives him] strength" (2 Timothy 4:17).

"The God of all grace...will himself restore you, [Phil], and make you strong..." (Peter 5:10).

"He gives power to the tired and worn out, and strength to the weak" (Isaiah 40:29).

"He will carry [Phil, His lamb] in his arms..." (Isaiah 40:11).

"For I know the plans I have for you, [Phil], plans for give you a future and a hope" (Jer 29:11).

"My God will meet all your needs... [Phil]" (Philippians 4:19).

Christ's invitation to dine with Him

An Invitation to Dine
by Pat Nordman
"Come and eat breakfast."
John 21:12 NKJ

This is one of my favorite chapters in God's Word because here we can relate directly to Jesus' humanity. Who would have expected Jesus Himself to cook breakfast and invite His beloved friends! Imagine the understanding and love in this incredible act for these cherished followers who fled when He so needed them! Here we find the familiar and intimate relationship with One who does for us, in spite of what we do to Him. Oh, how we need to know this when we have done something that grieves God and others! How comforting and strengthening–and mending and amending–it is to our broken lives to have a Friend!

In his book, The Road Less Traveled, author M. Scott Peck, in his section on The Miracle of Serendipity, tells us this is really grace: "...Grace, manifested in part by `valuable or agreeable things not sought for,' is available to everyone, but that while some take advantage of it, others do not... -Let me suggest that one of the reasons we fail to take advantage of grace is that we are not fully aware of its presence–that is, we don't find valuable things not sought for, because we fail to appreciate the value of the gift when it is given us.'"

Surely Jesus' invitation to the weary disciples was an unexpected grace, a serendipity. "Come, dine with Me!" He asks their companionship and is ready to provide their needs. Here is the sacrament and the ultimate union. He did not demand that they come and serve Him, nor did He tell them to go off to the side and eat; instead, He served them and ate with them. What a glorious testament and truth--and treatment!

Many graces–serendipities–overflow in our daily life, but we won't find them unless we are tuned in to God's love, and unless we are most grateful for His providence. Perhaps providence is the gift of the awareness of His many gifts! We will have much more joyful lives if we recognize and appreciate these countless graces.

... here we can relate directly to Jesus' humanity. Who would have expected Jesus Himself to cook breakfast and invite His beloved friends!


God has heard the boy crying!

"What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there" (Genesis 21:17).

God hears us. There are times when we wonder if God even realizes we exist, but God knows when we need Him. This young man's suffering had a "voice" which our compassionate God heard and He answered where and when this young man so desperately needed it. He does the same for us.

Anguish has its own peculiar voice:

I am worn out from groaning...The Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy…Psalm 6:6,8,9;
But when we cried out to the Lord, he heard our cry...Numbers 20:16;
The Lord listened to Israel's plea...Numbers 21:3;
Then we cried out to the Lord...and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery... Deuteronomy 26:7;
There was never a day like it...a day when the Lord listened to a man...Joshua 10:14;
The Lord heard Elijah's cry...1 Kings 17:22;
In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me...Jonah 2:2;

and Jesus:
Father, I thank you that you have heard me.
I knew that you always hear me...John 11:41,42.

We cannot doubt that God hears and answers prayer, as unimaginative as it sounds. We have heard it over and over, but when the waves and breakers of life begin to drown us, we need to be reminded again that God is a viable and veritable force, not so much to be reckoned with as to be trusted. "Deep calls to deep in the roar of [our] waterfalls," (Psalm 42:7). God is the Captain who asks us to keep our eye and heart on Him, as we walk on the roaring waves of life (Matthew 14:29-31). He asks us, too, "You of little faith, why did you doubt that I can rescue you; that I hear your faint cries?"

May God open our eyes to see the well, and may He make His Word the pitcher to carry His living water to our dying souls! "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." (Jeremiah 33:3.)

Patricia Erwin Nordman, Walking Through the Darkness


            "We have different gifts, according to the grace given us'
            (Romans 12:6); "But each man has his own gift from God"
            (1 Corinthians 7:7)

      We each have our different DNA: Different Natures All! Just as
      fingerprints are different, so is each temperament and each physique. This
      is what makes life so profound and provocative. How dull our lives would
      be if we all had the same predilections and elections. "For he knows how
      we are formed, he remembers that we are dust" (Psalm 103:14). How easy
      it is to become discouraged and to hate ourselves because we can't do as
      much or as well as others, but it is God who has placed us in our
      circumstances and it is He who has given us our talents. Surely He
      realizes our weaknesses. He also knows that there are certain areas in
      which we can do very well, for this is His mission for our life.

      Even our bodily constitution is from the Creator, and we have to face the
      fact that others are stronger, physically. One person has strength of
      body; another may compensate with strength of will and be better
      for it, too. Some have manual dexterity; others, dexterity of mind. Even
      in thinking, there are differences. Some have logic and others have
      intuition, but both types arrive at the same conclusions. This doesn't
      mean that either is wrong.

      In choosing His twelve disciples, Jesus chose across the board of
      temperaments and physiques. They were busy, ordinary men who probably
      wondered why they were chosen for the distinct privilege of walking with
      the Master. He purposely chose clay that could be molded into His image.

      We, too, have been chosen that His image can be stamped onto our hearts.
      So let's not be discouraged at our lack of all ten talents, but give as we
      have been given by the Master. Had we all ten talents, pride would wipe
      away His impressions. (PENordman.)

The Upturned Cup

In his book, The God Who Would Be Man, H.M.S. Richards tells of the visit of a chaplain-general of the forces, Bishop Taylor Smith, to a military hospital during World War I. He noticed two wounded men sitting by a table on which was a bowl turned upside down. He asked the men, "Do you know the two things that are under that bowl?" "No," one of the men said. "Darkness and uselessness," the chaplain replied. Quickly he turned the bowl right side up. "Now," he said to the two curious men, "it's full of light, and ready to hold porridge, soup, or anything you might like to use it for. It's a converted bowl."

What a grand concept this is. God has assigned us our cup. We can choose to turn it upside down and be dark and morose and finally useless, or we can choose to turn it right side up and fill it to overflowing with His blessings and then share these serendipities with others.

Sometimes we are asked to drink a cup of sorrow. Rather than inverting or controverting what can be a spiritual lesson for us, we can convert our cup of sorrow into a dessert of comfort instead of a desert of corrosive grief. God then blesses the upturned cup for ourselves and others. "When [we] walk through the Valley of Weeping it will become a place of springs where pools of blessing and refreshment collect after rains!" (Psalm 84:6 TLB.) "The pilgrim band, rich in hope, forget the trials and difficulties of the way. Hope changes the rugged and stony waste into living fountains. The vale blossoms as if the sweet rain of heaven had covered it with blessings. Hope sustains them at every step. From station to station they renew their strength as they draw nearer the end of their journey, till at last they appear before God." (Perowne.)

Sunday, May 19, 2013


"To all...who are loved by God and called to be saints..." (Romans 1:7); "As for the saints in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight" (Psalm 16:3 RSV).

What is a saint?

A JEWEL in disguise.
A PRINCE in peasant's garbs.
An immortal LIFE in dying flesh.
An AMBASSADOR of the King Eternal, detained on foreign soil.
A MONARCH at the foot of the throne, waiting for his crown.
A ROYAL SLAVE in a prison of clay, preparing for a mansion.
A TRAVELER on a rocky road, bound for the streets of gold.
A WATCHMAN of the midnight hills, to greet the everlasting Day.
A DIAMOND in the rough, being polished to shine as the stars.
A NUGGET of gold in the crucible, to be refined from its dross.
A PEARL in the oyster, to be delivered from the body of flesh.
A LAMP in a dark, dark night, soon to blaze forth with everlasting light.
A STRANGER in the midst of enemies, hurrying on to live in everlasting fellowship.
A FLOWER in a garden of briars, soon to unfold its petals where the Rose of Sharon blooms.
- Unknown.

Saints are persons who are sanctified, not sanctimonious. They walk and talk and live a practical life. Saints are willing to get hands dirty and hearts broken, as our Jesus did. Oswald Chambers tells us, "A saint is a bundle of specially qualified reactions. For every possible circumstance in life, there is a line of behavior marked out in advance for us; it is not stated in black and white, we have to be so familiar with God's Book that when we come to a crisis the Spirit of God brings back to our memory the things we had read but never understood, and we see what we should do. God is making characters, not mechanisms."

It is NOT the will of your Father...!

"Thus it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish" (Matthew 18:14 NAS).
During World War II Dr. Leslie D. Weatherhead gave five talks on the will of God to his City Temple congregation in England. Fortu­nately for the rest of the world, they were published. Every time I hear "It's God's will," I think of this remarkable little book and how it clarified God's will for me.
Dr. Weatherhead separated God's will into three parts: 1) Inten­tion­al; 2) Circumstantial, and 3) Ultimate:
1) God's inten­tional will is for our good. This is Adam and Eve in the Garden. When God created Adam and Eve, it was His inten­tion that they live forever and be happy. But they sinned and were expelled from Paradise.
2) His circumstantial will is because of the circumstances in our lives. It is within this will that we find God's permis­sive will. This is Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is Job 42:2: "I know (faith!) that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted."; It is the all of Romans 8:28, that glorious rod and staff of the grieving: "We know that God causes ALL things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." I know (wisdom) I can (possi­bility) do (accomplishment) all (faith) things whatsoever He asks!
3) His ultimate will is for His glory and our good. This is Christ's resurrection and our resurrection. It is us all in the New Earth. The wonderful revelation to me as I read this book is that God's intentional will finally becomes His ultimate will, even as we go through the circumstances of our life.
Dr. Weatherhead gives the example of the young man in London whose intention was to be an architect, but because the war changed his circumstanc­es, he joined the Army. At the time this was the honorable course. The young man could not control the evil circumstances of Hitler and his desire to conquer the world, but he could control his reaction to them.
As I read the book I was comforted in the fact that nothing falls outside the circle of Divine Providence: 1) the knowledge of God embraces it; 2) His power is sovereign over it; 3) His mercy holds it creative­ly. The key here is God's good­ness. The parent does not will evil for his or her child; neither would a perfect God will evil for His children. At the time Dr. Weather­head gave his talks, the people in England needed to know that there was a living and loving God in spite of the horror going on.
We need to understand God's will and its components before we tell the person prostrate with grief that "It's God's will." After I read this wonderful little book I viewed us as being in God's ICU unit every day, and God taking care of us as only He can do, no matter what our circumstances.
Thank You, Father!

Writing in the dust

"If you want to avoid judgment, stop passing judgment" (Matthew 7:1).

One of the loveliest portrayals of Jesus is in John 8. Those who harshly judged brought before Jesus a woman who sinned. Jesus stooped, on the woman's behalf, to write in dust, on the Phari­sees' behalf, the numerous and equally sinful violations of those waiting to stone her. Jesus did not verbally pass judgment even on these so ready to condemn. In great kindness He wrote in the ephemeral dust their own sins. By so doing, Jesus left us a com­pelling and extraordinary ex­ample that He hoped we would make ordi­nary.

Jesus came to this sad and sore world...
not to condemn but to save;
not to break the bruised reed, but to straighten and strengthen it;
not to wound, but to heal;
not to punish, but to comfort;
not to stone, but to sooth.
Jesus came to reveal the very heart of a Father who looks on us with eternal love, not a God who finally demands His pound of our weak flesh. And He asks that we do the same for others. Especially in kneeling in prayer we write in the dust our hurts and others' perceived sins.

The deaf wife

This is one of my all-time favorite jokes:

The Deaf Wife 

A concerned husband went to a doctor to talk about his wife. He says to
the doctor, "Doctor, I think my wife is deaf because she never hears me
the first time and always asks me to repeat things." "Well," the doctor
replied, "go home and tonight stand about 15 feet from her and say
something to her. If she doesn't reply move about 5 feet closer and say it
again. Keep doing this so that we'll get an idea about the severity of her

Sure enough, the husband goes home and does exactly as instructed. He
starts off about 15 feet from his wife in the kitchen as she is chopping
some vegetables and says, "Honey, what's for dinner?" He hears no
response. He moves about 5 feet closer and asks again. No reply. He
moves 5 feet closer. Still no reply. He gets fed up and moves right behind
her, about an inch away, and asks again, "Honey, what's for dinner?"

She replies, "For the fourth time, vegetable stew!"

And under her breath she's saying, "You stupid idiot!"

SOMEBODY! - Anonymous

somebody is very proud of you.
somebody is thinking of you.
somebody is caring about you.
somebody misses you.
somebody wants to talk to you.
somebody wants to be with you.
somebody hopes you aren't in trouble.
somebody is thankful for the support you have provided.
somebody wants to hold your hand.
somebody hopes everything turns out all right.
somebody wants you to be happy.
somebody wants you to find him/her.
somebody is celebrating your successes.
somebody wants to give you a gift.
somebody thinks that you ARE a gift.
somebody hopes you're not too cold, or too hot.
somebody wants to hug you.
somebody loves you.
somebody admires your strength.
somebody is thinking of you and smiling.
somebody wants to be your shoulder to cry on.
somebody wants to go out with you and have a lot of fun.
somebody thinks the world of you.
somebody wants to protect you.
somebody would do anything for you.
somebody wants to be forgiven.
somebody is grateful for your forgiveness.
somebody wants to laugh with you.
somebody remembers you and wishes that you were there.
somebody is praising God for you.
somebody needs to know that your love is unconditional.
somebody values your advice.
somebody wants to tell you how much they care.
somebody wants to share their dreams with you.
somebody wants to hold you in their arms.
somebody wants YOU to hold them in your arms.
somebody treasures your spirit.
somebody wishes they could STOP time because of you.
somebody praises God for your friendship and love.
somebody can't wait to see you.
somebody loves you for who you are.
somebody loves the way you make them feel.
somebody wants to be with you.
somebody wants you to know they are there for you.
somebody's glad that you're his/her friend.
somebody wants to be your friend.
somebody stayed up all night thinking about you.
somebody is alive because of you.
somebody is wishing that you noticed him/her.
somebody wants to get to know you better.
somebody wants to be near you.
somebody misses your advice/guidance.
somebody has faith in you.
somebody trusts you.
somebody needs you to send them this letter.
somebody needs your support.
somebody needs you to have faith in them.
somebody will cry when they read this.
somebody needs you to let them be your friend.
somebody hears a song that reminds them of you.


"Then Gideon said to God, `Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece'" (Judges 6:39).

We ask how much proof Gideon needed that God had his best interests in His tender heart? God had already assured Gideon of his success, but Gideon wanted to check, recheck and double-check. But perhaps we are unfair to Gideon; perhaps he feared he misunderstood God's intentions and he needed to be more certain of his own interpretation. Don't we all have such moments? Gideon never questioned God's power or purposes to save Israel. In his humility he doubted his own ability, just as did Moses when God tapped him for the job of leading the Israelites out of Egypt. God did not reprove Gideon for his request; indeed, He immediately granted it, knowing that weakness is more of nature than of faith, and physical rather than moral. It was in this very nature of doubt that Gideon asked God not to be angry with him. Gideon knew that he asked a double portion of proof, as we all do daily.

All great saints feel doubts. It's a part of nature to feel. Faith is the knowing that God is good and just and holy; the feeling of doubt creeps in when the circumstances just don't fit. Thoreau said, "Faith keeps many doubts in her pay. If I could not doubt, I should not believe." Doubt isn't always dispute. Indeed, the more we know about God, the more doubts we may have about ourselves, especially. This is meekness, a virtue God treasures.

We prove God every day by asking for new strength for new duties. We don't ask for miracles, for they abound anyway; we ask, as did Gideon, that our fleece be saturated with His dew: gratitude in our hearts and holiness in our life.

Patricia Erwin Nordman,
Walking through the Darkness

Saturday, May 18, 2013




In Loving Memory of our son Chuck and in thanksgiving for our sons Richard, Robert, Danny and Mike - Patricia Erwin Nordman
His days were yet in spring of life,
Yet doubt had scarred his growing reasons.
In full he knew the banal strifes
That touch each man in each the seasons.
His teachers charged the grievous words
Of hate, despair, and godless fear.
What hope, he cried -- I can’t be heard
Above the world of scorn and jeer.
So to the woods he went, my son --
A gun in hand, his heart full spent.
In peace he rests, my golden son --
O God, dear God, my heart is rent!

Nineteen -- so young to bear earth’s weight
On heart and mind still pressed with child.
O World, why do we decimate
The hearts of those unreconciled?
Patricia Erwin Nordman

I walked a mile with Pleasure,
She chattered all the way,
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne'er a word said she,
But, oh, the things I learned from her
When Sorrow walked with me.

On December 16, 1976, our oldest son came home for the Christmas holidays, got the shotgun and went to the adjacent woods. At 7:10 p.m. we heard him scream and then shoot himself to death. Four months later I wrote a booklet titled “Grief”, which went into a worldwide ministry. The booklet is now out of print and I offer it to you, dear reader, in God’s name and grace. May it help give you peace in a world that has become very confused and sad.
Patricia Erwin Nordman

(Verses are from the New King James Version unless otherwise specified.)
Precious friend, is your heart broken? Are you in utter despair, not knowing where to turn or whom to trust with your crushing burdens? If so, then please read this message of comfort and hope for yourself and others passing through the waters of trouble and fires of affliction.
Isaiah speaks of the “day of grief and desperate sorrow.” Isaiah 17:11 KJV. But, my dear friend, “The Lord shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear.” Isaiah 14:3 KJV. Yes, I realize that in your anguish it seems impossible that darkness will again be light and despair will turn to hope.
My grieving brother or sister, I walk in the valley of grief with you, for we lost our oldest son in a terrible tragedy. Because of this I would like to share with you the love of a most merciful and tender Father, as He led me through the valley of sorrow on to the mountain of hope and trust again.
My “day of grief and desperate sorrow” began at what is supposed to be the happiest season of the year. Chuck called from his out-of-town college to tell us he wanted to bring his girl friend home two days later to spend the Christmas holidays with us. That evening and the next day I cleaned and shopped, happily anticipating their arrival. We would be crowded -- Chuck had four younger brothers -- but we would manage very happily. Imagine the shock when, a day earlier than he was expected, we found his car with all his possessions, but not him. Then we heard his heart-tearing scream and the shot that killed him immediately.
It’s a rending experience to close out your child’s life -- to add a death certificate to the birth certificate. Chuck’s life held so much promise. He was a brilliant, stately, dignified young man who often said he wanted the best in life.
Chuck’s books revealed perhaps more than he would have wanted us to know. He had marked such lines as “Fortune, honor, beauty, youth, are but blossoms dying! All our joys are but toys ... All is hazard that we have! ... Secret fates guide our states ... ” I’ll never know what one circumstance or combination of circumstances prompted this desperate final act. It was over three years later that one of his friends finally told me that he was trying to get off drugs when he descended into the depths. (Oh friend, if your child is on drugs, God help you both! We had no idea. Back then we knew so little about the drug culture.) Beside the passage on suicide from MacBeth he wrote in small, close letters, “Life has no meaning, no purpose,” and on another page the word “nothing” was written and scratched over many times.
The night Chuck died I sank to my knees and boldly demanded of God, in a grief I didn’t think possible, that He keep every one of His promises of comfort. In the midst of the demands I kept saying over and over, “Thank You, Father” -- for what, I really didn’t know and doubted that night if I ever would know. But I was convinced that if I didn’t say those words then -- right then -- I would never say them again. I thought of all the sons, husbands, and brothers who have been killed in all the wars, whose loved ones will never know their whereabouts. At least we knew. I was grasping for straws of comfort! I would like to share with you another thought that surely the Holy Spirit gave me when my brother-in-law came out from the woods and told us that our son was dead: God our Father was there when His Son died. For the first time in my life I felt I understood what our precious Father must have felt and it overwhelmed my heart. How strange that I never gave it any thought before! Perhaps it was because now I felt I could understand in a small way ...
That night, after the police and the ambulance were gone, I sunk to my knees and I begged God to work, through this horror, a good that at that moment I did not think possible. Romans 8:28 became my strength in the hours, days, weeks, and months ahead, and for the birthdays and holidays that would no longer be Chuck’s to enjoy. I had to know that all things do indeed work together for good -- or lose my sanity. Dear friend, I want you to know that God provided in many marvelous ways. It was only God’s grace that enabled me to carry on in the face of such totally unexpected anguish.
I learned to lean on my precious Father as never before and God indeed granted me the gift of knowing for a certainty that much good would come of the evil that Satan had wrought. We were told shortly after Chuck’s funeral that someone had slipped LSD into a drink Chuck had set down while at a party in Daytona Beach. Chuck himself admitted to me a few weeks before his death that he smoked marijuana. This has convinced me that one of Satan’s most powerful weapons against our priceless young people today is drugs. How sad!
Someone at his funeral told me I must accept “God’s will.” No, friend! Our God does not “will” the agony of mind, heart, and body that has plagued the earth since Adam and Eve lost faith that God knew what was best for them. It surely was not “God’s will” for my son to die by his own hand. But it was God’s will that I accept what happened and use this tragic circumstance for His glory and for the comfort of others who suffer heartache that seems never-ending. What God always wills for us is to be happy and whole in mind and body. He wants His men, women and children to be at peace with Him and each other. But this peace depends upon our own will and willingness to let Him guide our lives, fortunes, and even, at times, misfortunes.
Many question God’s love when something seemingly unbearable happens. I try to view tragedy as a lost-and-found department. We lose someone or something very dear to us, but in the loss we find a treasure far more valuable. I found a loving Shepherd who wants me to live with Him for eternity and will carry me through. Until we are to the point in life when we are forced to admit that there is absolutely nothing we can do about this, then I wonder if we have given ourselves totally to God. The night Chuck died I felt so helpless. My son was dead and there was nothing I could do about it! What a frightening feeling! Another agonizing aspect of sorrow is the possibility that we will never know the answers to many of our whys on this earth. I had a very hard time with this. But we eventually learn that the whys become unimportant. It is what we do with the troubles and sorrows that matter.
I learned to thank God as never before for blessings I had taken for granted all my life. Particularly in grief, a spirit of thanksgiving is a simple yet most profound antidote to the self-defeating feelings of anger, resentment, guilt, and self-pity that so often accompany an incredible sorrow. It amazed me what was in my heart. I was to discover that grief is a sieve that brings up out its swirling waters the deformities of our hearts that we didn’t even know existed. I was amazed at the anger and hate that gripped me. My Christianity was certainly in question!
I discovered that no matter how bad my problem is, others have suffered worse trials. How my heart ached as I listened to other parents recount the years of agony they have gone through with children on drugs. Some end up in mental institutions. Some struggle to recover a normal life. Others rest as our son is resting. I will never forget the agony of a father as he sobbed out the horrible details of how his son, on drugs, shot himself to death in the house and the blood ran down the boy’s bedroom door. I don’t know how that poor father kept sane!
I learned that only in sharing comfort are we comforted: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. Everyone has problems -- deep wounds of the spirit. “The souls of the wounded cry out for help” Job 24:12 NIV. I found many wounded souls! I also began to understand that the person who truly cares about others doesn’t constantly load them down with his own aches and pains, either of body or heart. This can be selfish and cruel.
William Barclay, in The Letters to the Corinthians, relates the story told by H.L. Gee about two men who met to transact some business during the war. “The one was full of how the train in which he had traveled had been attacked from the air. He would not stop talking about the excitement, the danger, the narrow escape. The other man said quietly, `Well, let’s get on with our business now. I’d like to get away fairly early because my house was demolished by a bomb last night.’”
A certain mental picture helped me greatly. Picture yourself carrying in one hand your suitcase of troubles. It’s heavy, and you feel weighted down on one side. Along comes another, weak and tired, with his suitcase of troubles but, unlike you, he can barely walk under his load. The Christian thing for you to do is to offer to carry your brother’s troubles, thereby freeing him and balancing your own load.
Alexander Maclaren beautifully expresses the strange conjunction of joy and sorrow: “The highest joy to the Christian almost always comes through suffering. No flower can bloom in Paradise which is not transplanted from Gethsemane. No one can taste of the fruit of the tree of life, that has not tasted of the fruits of the tree of Calvary. The crown is after the cross.” Kahlil Gibran, in his essay on joy and sorrow in his book The Prophet writes: “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy it can contain.” And Homer observes: “Even his griefs are a joy long after to one who remembers all that he wrought and endured.”
“Being punished isn’t enjoyable while it is happening -- it hurts! But afterwards we can see the result, a quiet growth in grace and character.” Hebrews 12:11, TLB. We all flinch from the unexpected, from pain and suffering. But “ ... the Lord upholds all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down” Psalm 145:14; “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5; “Affliction will not rise up the second time.” Nahum 1:9. What beautiful and encouraging promises!
In 2 Corinthians 4:8 Paul says: “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair.” How can this possibly be? Let’s consult Philippians 4:6 and 7: “Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Here, friend, is the practical way to deal with despair. It covers all the circumstances of life and gives us the solution: prayer and thanksgiving. The word “supplication” means to pray for a particular need. What a great Father we have!
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones tells us in his book Spiritual Depression, Its Causes and Cure, “Would you like to be rid of ... depression? The first thing you have to do is to say farewell now once and forever to your past. Realize that it has been covered and blotted out in Christ. Never look back ... again. Say: `It is finished, it is covered by the Blood of Christ.’” Thank You, Father!
Matthew and Mark tell us: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34. Luke gives us more hope: “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.” Luke 23:46. But John, the beloved of Jesus, gives us the insight: “It is finished.” John 19:30. Indeed, the sacrifice has been made and the work of redemption finished so we can have hope of everlasting happiness. It is finished! Whatever happens in between is covered by the bookends of Jesus’s birth and death.
My greatest anxiety for weeks after my son’s death was his salvation. It haunted me. But two dear editor friends within hours of each other quoted this same verse, and I accept it as a sign from my Father that my mind is forever at rest on this matter: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Genesis 18:25. Of course He will! When we lose a loved one, we must learn to say, “It is finished,” and know that God will rightly judge. Too, some presume to know who is saved and who is lost. Because Chuck took his own life, there were some who told me that he would not be saved. My friend, only God knows what was on Chuck’s mind and heart that night. How cruel of these well-meaning Christians! It reminds me of the day I went to see my bed-ridden and dying sister-in-law and she was in tears. She told me about the three women who came to comfort her. They told her that if she had enough faith she could be cured and get up and walk. I was outraged. It took me the whole afternoon to convince Dorothy that God doesn’t cure everybody. In fact, we all die! We talked about Paul and his thorn and God’s grace: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9.
This verse became very meaningful to me after both Dorothy’s and Chuck’s deaths. We wonder how we will manage after something enormous alters our life. Paul’s life was transformed on the Road to Damascus. I think in some ways sorrow is our road to Damascus. It fells us and makes us blind and then our kind Father tells us He will give us the grace to bear it, even though we will carry the scar to our grave. I knew that I would never forget my first-born; the scar of remembrance would be there as scars from surgeries I’ve had. But I also knew that I would recover from the initial intense hurt, as I recovered from the surgeries. This thought really helped in the first months! I knew that God’s grace could not remove the scar, but the scar could -- as Robert Schuller so eloquently puts it -- become a star for me, to guide me in a kinder and gentler direction toward my hurting brothers and sisters. Another thought: those of us who have been gifted with the knowledge and love of God need a greater foundation. As a writer said, “The ship in the high wind needs plenty of ballast. When we build high we must also build low -- the lofty building needs a deep foundation.” Sorrow builds the deep foundation as joy builds the high sails! God is shifting our ballast. He also promises an abundant provision of grace, for there are some circumstances in life that we cannot alter and that God does not see fit to alter. Inward strength to endure is a great manifestation of the acceptance of God’s will and His grace. Outwardly we may be weary and heartbroken, but we can claim the promises of God and enjoy that inward peace that only God can give.
Adversities are God’s sieve to help us discover what is most important in our lives. Joseph Hall tells us, “The most generous vine, if not pruned, runs out into many superfluous stems, and grows at last weak and fruitless: so doth the best man if he be not cut short in his desires, and pruned with afflictions.” We don’t choose affliction, but it may be the only way God can redirect our lives.
When a person is called to rest early in life, Isaiah 57:1 is of great solace: “Merciful men are taken away, while no one considers that the righteous is taken away from evil.” It is so difficult to accept the death of your child before he has had the opportunity to partake of life fully. I was told of a mother who prayed desperately that her son might recover from an automobile accident, refusing to accept the possibility that he might die. God answered her prayer, and the boy recovered. But his subsequent life was the tragedy. After years of causing his mother all kinds of grief, he was finally killed in a fight. Perhaps the mother should have simply prayed, “Thy will be done, Lord, and whatever is best I accept it, for I know You will give me the strength and grace to bear it.”
In unspeakable grief it is difficult to believe that the sun will shine again, that we will again be touched by the beauty of the flowers and the rainbow after the rain, that music will once again bring quietness of spirit. Often in overwhelming sorrow the very things that should comfort us only serve to bring even more sadness because they remind us that we shared them with our loved one.
When tragedy strikes suddenly, sleep can be impossible. I prayed to be spared nightmares, for Chuck’s scream etched deeply into my heart. My prayer was answered in a way that caused me to give thanks with an overflowing heart. At this point I want to share something with you that astonished me. The afternoon I received the letter from the publisher telling me he felt the Grief booklet would help many grieving people, I felt very tired, which was unusual. I never took naps then; I worked part-time and was very active. But that afternoon our precious God put me to sleep and gave me a gift.
In this wonderful daydream I was in a room that was totally and purely white. It was as if I was compassed about with clouds but yet it was clearly a room. There were no windows or doors but I didn't feel enclosed or restricted in any way. I wasn't there long when Chuck walked through the cloud. He was so beautiful! I thought him to be about 33 (a figure I wondered about later, because he died just before his 20th birthday), tall which he was in life, and he had long reddish hair, and a beard and mustache, which he never sported in life. But what amazed me was his serenity. He smiled at me and then turned and went back through the cloud. No words were exchanged. I awoke immediately.
I felt overwhelmed! What a gift from our beloved God, I thought. The peace I felt at that moment must be the peace which Jesus spoke of to His disciples: "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you..." (John 14:27.) I finally shared the dream with a friend and I had to admit that I'm not sure if it was Chuck (who at the time I truly thought it was) or if it was Jesus Himself who I saw. The afternoon I experienced the dream I truly thought it was Chuck, but as time passed and Grief went into a world-wide ministry, I now believe it was Christ Himself who smiled and wordlessly whispered to me not to grieve anymore. He would take it from here. I had done what He wanted me to and the rest I was not even to think about. In his exposition on Mark in The Interpreter's Bible (p.652), Halford E. Luccock wrote, "A man's life may have a dull setting ... but if it catches the reflection of the glory of God which is in the face of Jesus Christ, it becomes a burning and a shining light; is given as much meaning and dignity and joy that one of the supreme tragedies is to miss it." I know I caught the reflection of Jesus that afternoon! Precious Father, thank You for healing dreams that encourage us to have faith that all works together for good.
Before our tragedy I felt God didn’t want to be bothered with the little, trite parts of our everyday lives, but I have prayed mightily these past months for many little comforts as well as big ones, and each prayer has been answered faithfully. We must not hesitate to bring our requests to Him, no matter how insignificant they may seem, for our loving Father knows that sorrow and its components can be crushing weights on fragile hearts. I take great comfort in the thought that my dear Father is waiting for me to come to Him to have my tears wiped away and to rest my weary head on His shoulder. My earthly father would do no less.
It is vitally important to read God’s Word during times of stress. Verses read hastily and indifferently before take on new life and meaning. God gives renewed insight into familiar verses because grief and a desolated spirit changes our perspective on life. Because of the circumstances of Chuck’s life -- his fear of living and his mode of dying -- 2 Timothy 1:7 became more meaningful for me: “God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Satan gives an unholy spirit. God gives the Holy Spirit.
In almost unbearable heartache one night I decided to read the book of Genesis. Surely God was leading me, for I came across a verse that made me give thanks even in the midst of this horror. Hagar, a mother in grief, cried out, “Let me not see the death of the boy.” Genesis 21:16. Thank You, Father, that I did not see the death of my child!
There are so many verses and chapters in God’s priceless Word that give us comfort and hope and joy in sufferings. I personally found my comfort in the Old Testament, and the Book of Job in particular. The Books of Isaiah and Psalms became my spiritual food during this time, too. There were also certain writers who poured balm on my broken spirit.
One of the worst parts of grief is not understanding what has happened and knowing that you may never know. God granted me great comfort from this passage: “The things we may so much desire to do may become a reality after God has proved us in the school of experience, and among our greatest blessings may be counted the thing we were not privileged to do, that would have barred the way from doing the very things best calculated to prepare us for a higher work. The plain, sober duties of real life were essential to prevent the fruitless striving to do things that we were not fitted to do. Our devised plans often fail that God’s plans for us may be a complete success. Oh, it is in the future life we shall see the tangles and mysteries of life, that have so annoyed and disappointed our fond hope, explained. We will see that the prayers and hopes for certain things which have been withheld have been among our greatest blessings.” Ellen G. White, Our High Calling, p. 318.
God does not wish to destroy us when suffering comes. He wants to refine and sanctify us. When bowed in grief, we should turn to Him for support and love. Joseph was able to say to his brothers: “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good.” Genesis 50:20. Joseph was able to see the hand of God in many instances of unfair suffering in his life. During my own time of grieving, Joseph became a hero and I often reread his life and his graciousness in dealing with situations that most of us could not have handled. It helps if we remember in both good and bad times that God’s purpose always is to redeem us. But He will not force salvation on us. If we do not refuse or hinder the workings of His Spirit, He can help us to accept His saving grace in the bad times, too.
I want to stress how important it is to take care in what we read and in the company we seek out during times of affliction. I became very discouraged when certain friends and relatives told me I would never get over the death of my son and the circumstances surrounding it. I finally learned to stay away from even my well-meaning relatives and friends who only made me feel worse. I think it is true that we never forget certain events, but that is far different from never getting over a tragedy. So it is necessary to read positive material and be around positive-thinking people. This is true even in normal times!
Why You?

And now, dear friend, why you for the blizzards of life that temporarily whip off the blossoms and fruit? Because God loves you! He wants to strengthen you so you can be His special ambassador to carry to others His message of hope to a struggling world so in need of comfort and love. If you can see your sorrow as a gift from God (yes, I know this sounds impossible!) then I believe it helps the healing process. I tried to see Chuck’s death as his legacy to the world, and that God appointed me his executor to pass on a message of hope and comfort.
In Isaiah 48:10 the Father tells us that He has chosen us in the furnace of affliction. He doesn’t want us to while away our lives in comfortable beds when we should be up and doing for others -- in spite of our gnawing griefs. I read many times this admonition from Joshua, “Get up! Why do you lie on your face?” Joshua 7:10b. And He certainly doesn’t want us in the local bar bathing our burdened mind and heart in liquid anesthetic. Indeed, we lose a precious blessing that He has just for us, when we try to escape. But He kneels and weeps with us! Oh, friend, please believe that! The shortest and most poignant verse in the Bible is “Jesus wept.” How marvelous -- the Man of Sorrows, acquainted with our unspeakable griefs, kneeling and weeping with us, His gentle arms enfolding us as we cry out in anguish. Dear friend, what a beautiful thought! There were many dark nights when I felt those arms! In my distress I pictured the Father as giving strength, the Son giving hope, and the Holy Spirit giving wisdom. These we need so urgently, so quickly, so completely, in the darkest moments.
At this point I would like to share with you tried and true steps in dealing with deep grief. Dear friend, I want for you at this moment of your sorrow that peace that only God can give. May He bless you and grant you comfort and calm as you read these practical steps in dealing with what now seems so impossible.
  1. Don’t constantly talk about your feelings of despair. Ellen G. White says it is “a law of nature that our thoughts and feelings are encouraged and strengthened as we give them utterance.” Ministry of Healing, page 251. We need to share, yes, but try to speak of hope. Confine your deepest grief for friends who really do understand. When we constantly talk of the negative aspects of our grief, we make it just that much more difficult to recover. It may be tempting to open your bleeding heart for all to see and suffer with you, but a wound always exposed and being probed doesn’t heal. God will provide the balm. Please believe that!
  2. Don’t worry about eloquent prayers, but do pray. Realize the prayers may be silent or sobbing prayers. In your confusion you may not know what to pray for, but God knows and that is the important thing. Just keep the line open. God understands the temporary static. Don’t feel He has lost you or left you because of the way you feel. He, too, walked the earth, He felt pain as we do, He loved as we love, and He felt losses as keenly as -- yes, more keenly than -- we ever could.
Remember that God surely hears these prayers -- the silent ones, the weeping ones. He hears them instantly. Our agony deeply touches His heart. The eighth verse of Psalm 56 is a prayer in itself: “Put my tears into Your bottle.” How extraordinary! God takes note of every tear, drop by sorrowful drop. The word bottle takes on a holy significance, for it is God’s receptacle in which He preserves and then transforms our tears into pearls. What a thought when we feel we cannot go on another hour!
I believe that the greatest prayer we mortals can offer is an ever-present prayer of thanksgiving. Oh, yes, dear hurting soul, thanksgiving! But how can you be thankful when struggling under a load too heavy for a human heart to bear? Give it to Jesus, my friend. Right now, as you read this. Pray, “Jesus, please, I beg You, hold this broken, shattered heart of mine in Your gentle hands.” Picture Jesus giving it healing, rest and peace. Than thank Him, friend, and know that He is healing your heart.
Then open your Bible to Philippians 4 and read over and over these verses. Verse 6: “Be anxious for nothing: but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Verse 11: “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” Verse 13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Mark these verses. Go to them in moments of searing pain.
  1. Count your blessings. Trite, but I have found this to be truly helpful. Charles L. Allen, in his book All Things Are Possible Through Prayer, tells of the lady who asked him, “What have I done to deserve this?” His reply was, “Nothing. Neither have you done anything to deserve many of your blessings.” Mr. Allen also points out that every blessing has within it the risk of sorrow. If we love, we risk losing the object of that love. But surely, as the saying goes, it is far better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. If it helps you, jot down your blessings (you will be surprised to see how many you have!); and when grief begins to overwhelm you, read them again. I found this to be particularly helpful. Tangibles such as a note to read can stabilize our emotions and clear our clouded minds.
  2. Take one step at a time and one day at a time. We hear this so often, but it becomes a practical necessity in times of extreme suffering. God has promised help for the day and strength for the next agonizing hour, and He has yet to break a promise. It is up to us to cling to that promise. Allow friends and relatives to take over the physical and mental duties for however long you need their help. They want to. Don’t deprive them of this Spirit-inspired wish to be of service. Someday they may need you. Thank God for them and accept their help graciously.
At the time of sorrow it is imperative that we keep up our strength. When searching Scripture for comfort, I was impressed with the many promises of actual strength. One of the treasures I discovered in my sorrow was: our God is a practical God. Isaiah 40:29 and 31 became as necessary for my heart as food for my body: “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength ... But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Our God is a God who “neither faints nor is weary,” (Isaiah 40:28b) so He is there for us every moment. But, dear friend, don’t run ahead of God! Don’t become impatient if He allows you to remain in the valley for a while. There may be lessons we still have to learn. “The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones.” Ezekiel 37:1.
Adversity is frightening. It also becomes the test of strength, including physical, for stress can affect our physical condition. I tried to understand that when difficult situations come into our lives it is because God knows we are strong enough to endure this and this temporary grief will make us even stronger. Psalm 46:1 assures us that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” What a blessed promise! Another thought I would like to share: while reading the Book of Job it occurred to me that it wasn’t so much that Job trusted God, but that God trusted Job! For some inexplicable reason, that thought got me through some very bad moments when I thought I was losing it. But I would stop and think, “God trusts you, Pat, to come through this! He’s depending on you to bring victory from this.”
  1. Get busy as soon as possible. This is imperative. I cannot stress it too much. Work keeps mind, heart and body intact. Start jobs that have accumulated over the months and years. If you have a paying job, get back to it as soon as possible. Physical exercise with a friend is most helpful also: jogging, walking, camping, swimming, picnics, tennis, basketball -- whatever you like to do -- but do it with a friend and do it outdoors whenever possible. Nature has definite healing powers for the hurting hurt.
I believe this is one of the most important steps in dealing with grief. In New England there is an expression used for those in heart pain: “Go out and tell it to the bees.” The bees stay busy.
Physicians tell us that we use the brain cells of our frontal lobes when we are worried and fearful. Other brain cells control muscular activity. In physical activity we relieve the strain on the cells of the important frontal lobes and allow them to rest from their intense stress. The very worst thing we can do is withdraw from life, crawl into bed, and pull the covers over our heads, and reflect on what an injustice we have been dealt. God’s natural world provides the fresh air, sunshine and beauty we so need at all times, but especially in the dark times.
  1. Hold on to faith -- faith in today and, above all, faith in tomorrow. This perhaps is the most difficult step of all. Does God really know best? Does He really care about our tangled hearts, our shattered dreams, our sleepless nights, our Gethsemane moments? Oh yes, my dear friend, He does! At the time you may not believe it, but hold on to the reality that when you are trapped in that terrible valley of despair, the everlasting hills are all around you.
In the immediate aftermath of grief we are so tempted to ask why. Indeed, we feel we have a right to know why we have been singled out for such an unbearable burden. We may pass through the futile and self-pitying stage of thinking that no one else suffers as we do. My friend, go next door, to church, to the grocery store, to the halls of Congress, to that friend who seems so carefree, and seek out a fellow sufferer. The world is filled with them! Grief is universal and is no respecter of age or status.
Rather than wasting time and emotion threatening God -- “I’ll never trust you again, God!” -- study His Word. There you will find an answer to your grief, although you may not find the reason why grief is permitted. There are certain pieces to God’s puzzle that He reserves for Himself to test our faith. But you will find an answer to wait in faith on God. Faith is simple in definition but enormously difficult in practice. It is admitting and believing that our Father has complete control of our lives. We are not the masters of our fate, as Henley in his poem Invictus would have us believe, but we can choose the Master of our fate.
  1. Keep in mind that in grief there is a peculiar ministry. I use the word “peculiar” in the sense that it is used in God’s Word: set apart, consecrated, exclusively God’s. You who have borne sorrows made bearable through a divinely renewed heart and mind have a special work for God. Your heart has been broken up, watered with tears, and planted with God’s special seeds so that you may bear the graceful blooms of hope, love and gentleness for others to appropriate in their dark moments. What a beautiful ministry!
  2. Remember that only God knows the end from the beginning. There is a sublime purpose for and in our lives which includes everything that happens to us. Joseph’s beginning was full of trials: he was sold by his brothers into slavery and then he was imprisoned for something he didn’t do. But he believed, he held on to his faith and he was rewarded. God had a plan for Joseph, and it could only be fulfilled with his cooperation. So it must be with our lives. “Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One Who is leading.” Oswald Chambers.
Job is another example of stability and steadfastness in the face of catastrophe. He lost all, he was afflicted bodily, and yet he could still say, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust him.” Job 13:15. Still another of Job’s complete trust: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21. In Job 42:10 (KJV) we are told that “The Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends.” The word “captivity” is significant. We become captive to feelings of anger, hate and distrust in extremity of heart or body.
When Job prayed for others his captivity was turned and he was given twice the blessings he had before. When sorrow descends on us, it is so easy to be made a captive of self-pity and resentment. But in praying for others, in listening to the even greater burdens others must carry, we can be liberated from our own prison of discontent.
There are well-meaning friends and relatives who tell us that time heals. They are right -- it does. But I’m grateful for the advice of a good friend who warned me that before the hurt is lessened it might get much worse. God may ask us to remain in the dark for a while, to learn more lessons and to discover the shadows in our heart that we don’t even know we have. Only in the dark can we finally see the Light. The school of sorrow has within its walls a unique kind of education obtained nowhere else.
G.R. Nash writes: “When the famous artist Sir James Thornbill was painting the inside of St. Paul’s Cathedral he stepped back one day to view the effects of his work, bringing himself, without knowing it, so near to the edge of the scaffolding that another step would have sent him hurtling down to certain death. His assistant, seeing the danger but not daring to shout lest the shock should make the other lose his balance and his life, rushed forward, then snatching up a brush he rubbed it straight over the painting. Overcome with rage, Sir James sprang forward to save his work, only to be pacified with these words: `I spoiled your painting, Sir James, that I might save your life.’” (When Days are Dark, p.29.)
It is at these times we must appropriate the precious promises. One of the dearest promises in all the Bible is Revelation 21:4: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” This is the verse on my son’s grave.
Think of it, dear weeping friend! No more tears; no more pain in body, mind or heart; no more parting from loved ones. We shall know as we are known; we shall again meet those we have loved. We shall walk hand in hand with our lovely Saviour up into the everlasting hills.
Thank You, Father!
Patricia Erwin Nordman


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 began September 1997
Most recent update on October 1, 2003
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