Suffering and finding God faithful

I am a pretty open person. Josh sometimes accuses me of being a little bit too open, but he’s come to appreciate my transparency and ability to never meet a stranger. 

And this blog of mine is a comfortable place for me to just share stories or thoughts. If you go all the way back to 2008 or 2009 you will find many silly stories about my, then, toddlers and preschooler. You will find anniversary celebrations sprinkled throughout the posts and birthday party photos. First day of school and last day of school photos with curriculum highlights in between. Moves, successes, failures, funny stories and sad ones. Devotional thoughts and daily challenges are also here. Yet, to just carry on with the blog after the death of my mom has proven to be more challenging than I would like. It’s hard to go from, life, life, life, life, death. Then, right back to life, life, life. It seems inauthentic, not genuine and real. Yet, the world wide web of my friends and family who read this are likely not able to take in all of my thoughts on my mom’s death. I will leave those for the Lord and my counselor. I do pray for some of my journey to be able to be shared if it would ever help someone else that finds themselves in suffering and loss, grief and trauma. I find others’ stories of how God met them in their darkest days to be a great encouragement to my heart these days; I would love to see God use my hurt for His greater purposes. And I do believe that I will be able to comfort others with the comfort God has shown to me. Eventually.

For now I will say that life is challenging. I still find it hard to focus on a task or think clearly throughout the day. Questions still come and interrupt my day. What-ifs attack a normal afternoon. Anger and frustration mix with sorrow in a very strange way. I’ve read that all of this is normal for someone who is grieving a loved one who took their own life. It’s hard to separate the mom I lost to death and the person who took her life, seeing how they are the same person. But I am also coming to grips with the fact that her body and mind were in a terrible place of pain and confusion. After-effects of surgery and complicated recovery coupled with a dangerous anti-anxiety drug and multiple doctor appointments with no immediate or even future help seemed to wreak havoc on her very quickly.

But, I will also say louder and stronger that God has been my Comfort. He has been a refuge, a friend, a listener. He is the only One who understands me fully. God has provided books and a counselor to help me with the process I find myself thrust into. God has used His Word like medicine in a wound. He has given me sleep. He has given me strength. He has given me perspective—on my earthly relationships and on my own life, and even on my mom’s life. And He is giving me more and more of a heart for others walking around doing their daily stuff while they’re wounded. And that would be all of us at some point or another. 

I thought it might be good to share some resources and quotes and verses that have been a help to me during this season. 

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As you can see in this photo, my Bible is there on the bottom. God’s Word is a solid Rock and a firm foundation. I go there first thing in the morning and find God’s presence to be such a comfort and a guide. Then, there are devotionals and books that have helped. I am so grateful for people willing to do the hard work and research or to be vulnerable and share their stories of how God has met them in their dark time.

Psalm 62:8 “Trust in Him at all times, Kristy; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.”

Psalm 34:10 “The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.”

Psalm 42:8 “The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; And His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life.”

Psalm 37:23-24 “The steps of a man are established by the Lord and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.”

Genesis 41:52 “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”  From STREAMS IN THE DESERT—“You can see the rain, but can you also see the flowers? You are suffering through these test, but know that God sees sweet flowers of faith springing up in your life beneath these very trials. You try to escape the pain, yet God sees tender compasion for other sufferers finding birth in your soul. Your heart winces at the pain of heavy grief, but God sees the sorrow deepening and enriching your life.”

Psalm 145:17 “The Lord is righteous in all His ways and loving toward all He has made.”

Psalm 31:14-15 “But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times (future) are in Your hand.”

Psalm 56:9 “This I know, that God is for me.”

STREAMS IN THE DESERT— “Measure your life by loss and not by gain, not by the wine drunk but by the wine poured forth. For love’s strength is found in love’s sacrifice, and he who suffers most has most to give.”

Psalm 112:7 “He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”

Psalm 30:5 “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

And all of Psalm 119 that proclaim how good and helpful and needed God’s Word is.

SUFFERING IS NEVER FOR NOTHING by Elisabeth Elliot defines suffering as, “having what you don’t want or wanting what you don’t have.” And she adds, “And out of the deepest waters and the hottest fires have come the deepest things I know about God.”

“Whatever is in the cup that God is offering me, whether it be pain and sorrow and suffering and grief along with the many more joys, I’m willing to take it because I trust Him.” EE

“I am convinced that there are a good many things in this life that we really can’t do anything about, but that God wants us to do something with.” EE

Henri Nouwen— “The paradox is indeed that new life is born out of the pains of the old.”

SURPRISED BY PARADOX by Jen Michel— page 190 “Maybe the mystery of suffering isn’t only that this world could be so fragile; maybe it’s also that God could be so close, bending His ear to the earth to let every grieving heart crawl inside and find rest. Not answers, but comfort. Not certainty, but trust. And perhaps this is enough to tide us over till the dawning of a new world when the heavy boots of death are sent straight to hell and everything fragile is made unbreakable again, where falling becomes rising and faith becomes sight. A world where wonder is finally made worship.”

GRIEVING A SUICIDE by Albert Hsu—page 49 “Lament is not passive acceptance. We do not merely resign outselve to the cruelties of life. Instead we declare that this is not the way it’s supposed to be. We rage agains the messed-up world that drives people to despair. Lament grieves. It mourns that this is the way thing are, that they are not the way God intended.”

Page 45 “When we mourn, we get outside what’s going on inside.”

Page 146 “Walter Wangerin says that grief is a process that turns the bereaved back to life. ‘The goodness of their grieving is that it brings them by stages into the stream of the living again, however slowly, however painfully.’ We do not stand by the grave forever. If we grieve properly, grief moves us back to life as different, changed people.”

Page 129— “We survivors of suicide know we have been wronged. We have been victimized by our own loved one, in an act of intense betrayal. But there is no point in harboring resentment. We cannot seek revenge. Our loved ones have already sought vengeance upon themselves. So we grieve them as victims, and we forgive them for the wrong they perpetrated on themselves and on us. After all, if suicide is forgivable by God, it can be forgivable by us. We can forgive them, for they knew not what they did.”

Page 106— “We must relinquish unrealistic desires for full explanations. Listing reasons to explain a suicide will not bring peace. When Job demanded answers from God, he didn’t get the explanations he wanted. He was instead given God’s presence. Somehow this was sufficient.”

I know that is kind of a lot, yet it isn’t even scratching the surface of the last month of emotions and reading and grieving. God is so good and so present. He is working in the dark, and I trust Him. I am standing on His promises!