This Pandemic: A Call to Prayer

Anyone can read this post,

but specifically,

I am speaking to readers who consider themselves God’s people;

these words are specifically for you, and me.

Thursday, May 7th,

is the scheduled National Day of Prayer for 2020.

But I am writing today to say, forget it!

Globally, we are in a battle too big for us; this Pandemic, Covid19, is ravaging the human race in ways we have never seen before; it feels surreal – a nightmarish unfolding of horribleness.  Globally, is it possible that God is trying to get the attention of His people?  Could it be, for far too long, God’s people have been complacent? Too comfortable? Forgetting God along the way?

A typical passage clothing the National Day of Prayer is this:

“...If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

It is us; you and me, God’s people, He is speaking to. I wonder, have I humbled myself, do I live like I know who I am and who God is, really? I question, do I seek Him first everyday? Do I seek God earnestly, or just when I want something? Am I sensitive to the Holy Spirit to show me my wicked ways? Am I willing to turn from my wicked ways? I blush and am silenced, even as I think to answer those questions for myself.

Interesting, the verse that precedes this one:

This is God speaking to Solomon, the wisest man ever… “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people,…” (2 Chronicles 7:13)

Whaaat? Did I just read that? “or send a plague among my people”… a pandemic perhaps? maybe? Again, as I said yesterday, this God I speak of is a sovereign God who does what He wants, when He wants, and allows what He allows. Why? Because He IS and has a plan. Somehow it all makes sense to Him. It is my experience, almost all the time, I am unable to understand, especially when it involves pain and suffering.

I write to urge and rebuke myself, first.

I am weeping for my Nation and I say:

forget waiting for the May 7th scheduled call to prayer. We need to have a National Day of prayer NOW; today, tomorrow, and for all the days we are alive. Could it be, this pandemic is our call to prayer, right this very day? Could it be, God is waiting to hear from His people, globally?

No stickers or banners or balloons or PA systems needed; just knees to the floor, heads down, wherever you are – on your bed, in you kitchen, in your car… and pray… how? As God Himself told Solomon: humbly, seeking Him and seeking insight to our own wicked ways, turning away from our wicked ways, and asking forgiveness,  THEN….

then, He will hear our prayers, forgive, and heal.

I believe it begins now, with us, who call ourselves God’s people. My pastor preached a sermon recently stating, “God’s people need God’s people.” We need each other to remind each other of the faithfulness and Truth of God & His Word, especially in these scary times. My Pastor also said, “… and the world needs God’s people.” The world needs God’s people to share the HOPE we are given in Jesus Christ.

And I will add today, that I believe, the world needs God’s people to pray in such a way that God hears, forgives, and heals.

To Him, be the glory, forever and ever.

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holidays: Not a Time of Cheer for Everyone

Expecting one, who has lost their legs in an accident, to get up and walk like they use to, is ridiculous. They cannot do it – even with all the best wishing in the world – because life for them has been altered forever.

The same is true for every.single.person. who has suffered a tragedy, no matter what it was, or when it was; time makes no difference. Loss from disease or accident, expected or sudden – it does not matter – it’s all the same terrible.

For me, my tragedy is the sudden, unexpected death of my son to an overdose, eighteen months ago. I am altered for life – not just for a time, or a season; Life for me will never be the same. I walk around with a weight that bears down and a hole that has blown through my heart.

The trouble with holidays is that the expectation for everyone to be of good cheer, be happy, and enjoy the season is rampant.

And for some, it is very hard to embrace the holidays where “family all together” carving turkey at the proverbial Norman Rockwell table is thrown in our faces by ads, movies, and the general chatter of the holiday season.

While I am blessed to have a large, living family still gathered around, my momma’s heart weighs heavy… there is still one empty chair, one forever missing in the “family” photo, and one less child eating the traditional Christmas cookies – specifically, the butterscotch ones.

WHAT. TO. DO……?

That’s a question with a two-fold answer.

What to do if you are the friend, or family member, of someone who is not full of cheer and suffers with a broken heart this holiday season: 

  1. Be patient and do not judge when they do not want to attend a christmas tea, or the cookie swap, or even put up a tree.
  2. Extend the offer of conversation, a listening ear, and willingness to just be there alongside; try to understand; allow their feelings to just be.
  3. Do a practical help if possible – doing life is hard under normal day-to-day circumstances when a heart is broken – even more difficult during the holiday season, getting out of bed, some days, might be the total accomplishment for the day.

What to do if you are the one suffering from a tragedy, the same or different, as me:

  1. Have faith, God knows your pain and heartbreak; Trust He will provide all you need.
  2. There’s no way around the holidays – we just have to go through them;  even if you have nothing but tears – let yourself feel what you feel – be true to yourself, but be kind to those around you – it’s no ones fault.
  3. Don’t turn away from well intentioned acts of love; allow God to work in you, as well as in the well intentioned.

 God has not forgotten me, nor has he forgotten you;

“God is close to the brokenhearted.” Psalm 34:18a

So yeh – Holidays: not a time of cheer for everyone – but I tell you the truth, there is something even better than good cheer, it is knowing that you are loved by God with an everlasting love, no matter what…and in that, there is  HOPE – there for the taking, for everyone.

Be authentic in this season of holidays, Jesus loves, you just as you are.

Are you suffering with grief of one sort or another?

Are you local to the Pioneer Valley?

If so, I invite you to “SONGS for the NIGHT”

(click above, on Songs for the Night, for details)

 

My calendar is marked, is yours?

WHY GOD?

This is my question; WHY GOD?

I have whispered it, wailed it, and wondered it over and over and over again.

On my knees, with tears that fall gently and slowly, and in my tears that run non-stop, down my face and into my lap as I spew trembling, devastated words.

Why my son?

Why this way?

Why weren’t my efforts enough?

Why didn’t you answer my prayers?

Why. Why . Why God?

Each WHY I cry seems to define the hole that has been blown through my heart a little more each time; a haunting, emptiness is created and its name is void. In this void I wait; like a pleading child that wishes things are not as they are, and I wait for my Father’s answers.

Audible answers do not come.

God is sovereign.
He doesn’t have to answer me at all; who am I to question God? But, because I am His child, He is patient with all my hard questions and loves me still.

The grief period has gone and I stumble like one groping in the dark, looking for the light switch; I am in mourning.

Hope is my mantra; I stand on the Rock and recall all I know in my heart; I mourn with hope.

Over time, as I still whisper, wail, and wonder, I consider these answers:

Why my son? Why in this way? I answer, why not my son, because God uses each of us for His purpose, even if we do not understand the reasons; maybe our son, because God knew I am his mother and I would be willing to tell our terrible story so that others may be spared this trauma and maybe another son or daughter might not die?

Why weren’t my efforts enough? I answer, because I am not God. I answer, maybe it actually has nothing to do with my efforts at all… enough is a way of beating myself up and I should not go there. I know I did all I could because I am his mother and I loved him more than anyone else. Except God. God loved him more and that brings me to my last cry.

Why didn’t God answer my prayers? I answer, He did… just not the way I asked Him to; God loved Caleb so much, that he spared him anymore suffering on this earth; God freed him of his daily pain and struggles and He saved him right into heaven. What more peace can I have, than to know my son rests in the arms of Jesus?

Yes. I will mourn til the day I leave this earth and that is when I will have the audible answers.

For now, I leave you with two things:

  1.  A telling of our story
  2. A song that is fitting

IF you share a similar story, I encourage you to have Hope and run to God, even with all your WHY GOD questions; May you know the bigness of God’s love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is How I Endure Suffering

No one wants to suffer. No one chooses to suffer. But, it surely seems, none of us can escape suffering. And, suffer… we all do.

Some might say, I have had more than a fair share of suffering and perhaps you have too…?

My son, who died of an overdose also suffered daily, in many ways.

This is his art work – his hands drew this from his heart. He could draw the pain because he knew pain well. Suffering is always painful.

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I do not know how you deal with it, but this is how I endure suffering:

I look in the garden; I don’t mean at the flowers.

I look toward the hill; I don’t mean the rolling green ones.

I look at the thorns and the torn flesh and the nails and the blood.

In Gesthemene; Toward Golgatha.

I look directly at Jesus praying, then on the cross dying. He is my example for how to endure suffering.

Weeping, crying, nauseous with grief, whispering and wailing, praying. He suffered, and  I suffer. Most times, the pain is more than I can bear.

I endure suffering by calling out to the One who suffered more than any one of us has; because, He knows.

There, at the foot of the cross, I look beyond the cross, at what held Him there, and I see the Hope that is promised.

  • Hope of a future that is good (“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope” Jeremiah 29:11).
  • Hope that this suffering will pass (“You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away” Job 11:16)
  • Hope that there will be joy in the morning (“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning” Psalm 30:5b). .

It’s simple actually.

I just look at Jesus, face to face, and I am held too.

My pain may not dissipate, but it becomes bearable.

The suffering may continue, but I am not consumed by it.

Here I stand. At the foot of the cross. And I have hope.

Will you come stand with me?

 

 

When a Recovering Addict Mourns

It is morning, but it is dark.
Dark in the sense that everything is just not how it is supposed to be.
Dark, so dark, that I strain to see sense, but there is no sense to see.
This dark weighs like a thousand pound cloud that thunders, waiting to release the torrential rain.
How did it come to this?

Dutifully going through the motions, I slip on my suit coat.
Black. Black as dark as black can be. I feel wound & bound as I enter this day.
Just five months ago he came to the house. I recognized his hesitancy and his lack of admission right away because I had been there myself.
Not that I know it all or have the answers and can say I am free, because, in reality, we are never really free – never free enough to not be concerned.

We all walk a tenuous, tightrope of recovery.

The light begins as a pinhole stream, as hope is recognized and love is allowed in. Gaining steadiness in my walk I can say the brightness of the light grows with each day that I keep my back turned away from the lures that promise things that are not true.

Emotions are hard.
They trigger desires and thoughts to run and hide in the dark spaces and places.

Standing tall I breathe big and my hand slips into my suit coat pocket and feels a single, soft tissue. This suit was borrowed by him who came to the house five months ago. He wore it to his friends funeral. Yes… this was his tissue with his tears dried on it from just a few weeks ago. And now, here I stand, wearing the same suit, needing a tissue of my own. I pull it out and let the soft crumbled mass sit cradled in my hand like a treasure; the treasure of a friendship now lost.

Death is so very dark.
Why couldn’t I have helped him better to see the light more clearly?
Emotions; damn emotions!
Begging, they seductively whisper to me…
the darkness that thunders with the weight of rain, beckons.
That tenuous, tightrope is before me. Can I still walk it?

I am paralyzed in the moment.

Without any more hesitation, I carefully place the crumpled tissue back into my pocket. And my heart weeps a message: Dear friend, I will miss you. I am sorry I couldn’t change your mind.

And so, I step out and balance my footing…
Sober. Yes, sober, I decide on it.
And I leave the dark rumble behind me.

***

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My son was just barely five months clean in recovery when one of his good friends died of an overdose via a medicine laced with fentanyl. He was crushed. He wept and stuffed that crumpled tissue into his suit coat pocket.

Just about six weeks later, it was my son who died of an overdose involving fentanyl.

I cannot help but think about the impact that drug related deaths have on those who are in recovery; I imagine it frays the end of the tightrope.

Emotions are hard. Death by drugs is a slap of reality across the face that forces a hard look at mortality and threatens the recovering addicts ability to keep walking that tenuous tight rope.

As my son’s friends in recovery came to his memorial service, they wept and were crushed too.  My heart feared for each one of them.

For real, just weeks later, I watched these same friends weep over another friend who died of an overdose; It was horribly overwhelming. What bold resolve it takes to keep on going forward in recovery when friends are dying all around them.

How can we help?  We can help by being purposeful in our love and support for those  who struggle every day to keep sober and clean. Acknowledge their strength and resiliency to keep going when fear rises up and they doubt their next day will be successful. Keep reaching out and hoping and be there when they need you.

Most of all, pray.