Suffering is Necessary

Blood dripped and flowed from multiple places on his body.

My sandal once caught on the rim of a step and caused me to fall head-first into the corner bead of a wall. Blood spurted and oozed down my entire forehead and cheek , covering half my face by the time I got to the bathroom mirror to asses the damage: a one inch slice to my skin.

So, I imagine…

Blood dripped and flowed from multiple places on his body as HE hung there by three spiked nails. I wonder how much clean, untainted flesh was left during those last hours, if there was any at all.

My pain was localized and gave me a headache for a few hours even after I was cleaned up, stitched up, and sent home.

I cannot fathom the pain he suffered after being up all night and beaten and dragged and whipped and slung onto the wood and nailed and hauled up for all to see as he heaved each breath of air.

THAT.

That is the epitome of suffering.

And WHY?

That’s the question I have asked myself many times during trials of suffering.

Suffering, upon suffering, upon suffering.

Image result for free pics of suffering

Was birthing a stillborn baby not enough?

Was having colorectal cancer not enough?

Was losing a young adult son to drug overdose not enough?

And now I have breast cancer…. is this enough? My experience tells me, no. There will be more suffering to come.

Why all this suffering in my life? Why all the suffering in your life?

Pondering this for years, I have an answer – maybe not the only answer, but I think its a pretty good answer.

The answer begins with a question:

Why did Jesus suffer to die on the cross?

Anyone who has attended Sunday School or church for a season knows the answer: Jesus died for us, for our sins, so we can go to heaven. This is exactly what I told my children as I raised them in the Way.

How quickly, in our own suffering, it is to forget that and cry, why Lord, am I suffering?

If we are to emulate Jesus in all we do, it clearly follows logically, that if Jesus suffered for the benefit of others then our suffering just might be for the benefit of others. And, because Jesus knows suffering, He authentically pours out compassion on us during our sufferings.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT

I lost a baby and I was later able to comfort three young moms who lost babies too.

I had cancer and I was able to publish a book on the survival of that and share my testimony of hope.

I mourn a son who died from a drug overdose and have been able to write and speak publicly about that tragedy, offering heartfelt comfort to others.

The been-there-I-know-club is necessary for authentic compassion; Jesus is the King of that club!

I am currently halfway through breast cancer treatments and I know that God has at least one somebody He will soon put in my path for me to encourage in this kind of fight.

Yes. Suffering is necessary.

I am no savior by any means. But Jesus is my Savior, your Savior, if you choose Him.

Jesus’ suffering work on the cross is finished; one day His work through each of us will be finished as well, but until that day comes, I encourage you to keep your eyes focused on Him who knows it all and be ready to wrap your arms around someone else’s shoulders and offer authentic compassion from your been-there-I-know heart.

My Rock Piles

I was asked to speak this year at my church – on my Christmas Joy. But, how could I speak on Joy when I am not happy?

If you have about 7 or 8 minutes, have a listen; I hope you will be encouraged. May you finish this year out well and enter the New Year stronger !

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SJdYMKhDNQ6RVHLGeGEA1Gmsxm1K68cM/view?usp=sharing

My Sons’ Death was a Springboard: Part One

My sons’ death was a springboard into the deeper understanding of three important things:

  1. The human condition
  2. The power of relationship
  3. The gift of a day

Today, I share #1 with you…

Open my eyes, to see people as you see them. This was a daily prayer of mine… little did I know that my sons’ death would precipitate God answering that prayer for me.  Until my son died of a drug overdose in May of 2018, I believe I was living in somewhat of a naïve, idealistic bubble in quasi-pursuit of living the American dream: the, have-jobs-got-house-got-car-got church-got-kids-and-the-proverbial-golden-dog mode where only the really bad stuff happens to those “other people.” My circle of influence and camaraderie was with like-minded folk. After my sons death, I was catapulted into another circle, the wider circle of people who suffer, struggle, and who have been broken by circumstances of life and I could never have been able to see them, unless I was first broken myself. You know the childish sassy-come-back of, “it takes one to know one”… well that’s true, I’d say, it takes being broken to be able to truly see the broken, with your heart.

Broken, is the human condition. Broken, is what God sees and it’s the entire reason why Jesus was born in the manger and nailed to a cross.  The beginning to seeing how God sees, means seeing the brokenness of the human condition.

Truth is, we are all broken in some way – so be gentle with each other and take the time to really see people underneath their brokenness.

Ephesians 4:2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.