I am still plugging along with some reading. Not as much as I was before, as I get too easily distracted by my thoughts – and then I end up getting very little out of the reading material, and the pages get too dimpled with salty tears to make it worthwhile. Maybe in another couple of weeks I will get back to books. For now I am mostly sticking with sewing and crafts and movies for distraction. (Yes, I admit that distraction is a great coping mechanism for me right now.)
But when I feel strong enough for it, I am still delving page by page into The One Year Book of Hope. It is divided up into themes – five devotionals on each theme, along with an intro, closing meditation, and even guidelines for prayer. While it is difficult, it is wonderful. Bittersweet. Stingingly helpful. Accurately poignant.
This week I have been (ironically enough) in the theme of Death.
The author, Mrs. Guthrie, says of her own deceased baby “…she no longer needed air to breathe. And I wondered if I was going to be able to.” I can 100% identify with that. There are moments when it physically hurts to inhale & exhale because of my grief. My body is both physical and emotional/spiritual. These aspects are tied in a unique way that only God truly understands. When my heart hurts so deeply, sometimes even my body hurts. Normal bodily functions that I normally don’t think about -like breathing- can become painful and laborious.
Mrs. Guthrie also says, “…I’m reminded how natural death is for everyone and yet how completely unnatural it feels.” Yes. Unnatural. It feels foreign. And yet familiar. What an odd dichotomy.
Here are some quotes that I identify with and appreciate. I am thankful for this book, and thankful for the Word of God which Mrs. Guthrie weaves throughout. I am thankful that the Lord continues to speak to me and open Himself to me during my grief. He is faithful, and He is good, and He is my Father.
~…[D]eath is not the end of the story.
~Death will be defeated.
~Birthdays. Deathdays. I feel like they are always coming at me.
When we are in the fold of God, death is impotent to destroy us. It is depleted of its evil power. The valley where we encounter death is transformed into a place of peaceful comfort; it is in this valley that we are more aware of God’s presence than every before.
~[Of her daughter]: I would like to see her grow. I would like to know her as an adult. But I also know that this life is filled with pain. And I don’t think it is a tragedy that she will have the opportunity to be spared from evil, from the pain of this life, and be in the presence of God. This is what I believe. It is not necessarily how I feel.
~I craved the comfort of knowing that… life continues beyond the grave in the presence of God. This confidence was and is the only comfort when you stand at the grave.
~We can turn from God in the lowest moments of life, allowing our offense to alienate us from God until we are out in the cold, devoid of comfort and hope. Or we can turn toward Him, cry out to Him, and place our faith in Him as our sole source for life.
~It takes a step of faith to believe God will supply satisfying life now and when we die.
~I understand the pull and pleasure of drawing up the covers in an endeavor to sleep away the pain that comes with loss.
~…[T]his life is not all there is! This life is just a rehearsal for our real life, our forever life in the presence of God.
~Every life is valuable because God Himself gives life and breath to everything. [Acts 17:24-25, 27-28]
On the “Whys of Suffering:
~So where is God in our suffering? He is redeeming it.
~[E]xperiencing suffering can build up your faith and force you to go deeper with God, or it can crush your spirit and squash your soul’s longing for God.
On 2 Corinthians 12:7-9:
~There was a time in my life when I read God’s response to Paul in this passage as a dismissive pat on the head. Perhaps because I’d so cheapened the significance of God’s grace. Perhaps because I’d heard similar words spoken in a tone that seemed to dismiss the suffering this promise is applied to. Or perhaps I had not believed that God’s grace is up to the task of addressing some of the suffering I see around me.
~It [God’s grace] will be delivered to you in the form and quantity and timing your circumstances require.
~The grace God provides to you is enough for whatever suffering He allows into your life, not just enough to survive but enough to equip you.
On the Holy Spirit/Comforter:
~Significant suffering leaves us with significant questions.
~We want the truth, not just cliches or religious-sounding pat answers. This is when we need the Holy Spirit like no other time, when we’re facing an uncertain future and trying to make sense of it all.
~God reveals Himself to those who earnestly seek Him.
~I think we expressed trust more out of a desire to trust than a confession of the reality in our souls.
~[W]e felt so guilty that so many people were praying for us so diligently when we were so prayerless–partly because it was so difficult to know how to pray.
~When we are weak-willed and weak-minded, when distress has consumed our energy and emotions, the Holy Spirit helps us.
~And when your life if bumped by difficulty, what will come spilling out will be what fills you–an abundance of the Holy Spirit.