Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Our Comfort In Times Of Loss

(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Chapter 18 of Just Enough Light For The Step I'm On. Please know that what we all learn in a study is usually different. Therefore, we ask, if you feel like it, please leave what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)

The title of Chapter 18, Reaching for God’s Hand in Times of Loss, reminded me of how we are to fully trust God, like little children. When our losses overwhelm us, we have to be like little girls, looking to and asking our Heavenly Father for help with what we can’t do on our own. It also reminded me that I can’t heal from my losses on my own strength or by having someone else make them right. I need God’s hand to do the healing.

The losses we have faced when our children were diagnosed with autism are immeasurable. Most of us can easily recall how it felt and in many cases still feels to realize the loss of that “typical” experience in raising our children. We deeply feel this loss on many levels in a variety of situations. Stormie gives a very touching account of how profoundly the loss of her best friend impacted her life and how difficult the process of grieving and healing from this loss was. She got to the point where eventually other people didn’t want to hear about her grief, even though the pain had not subsided. It wasn’t until she turned to God completely as her source of comfort that she finally experienced the relief, comfort and healing that she needed for her grief to end. I thought to myself, “How often do I try to do everything on my own (including the healing part), only asking for God’s help when I’ve exhausted all my efforts or options?” and “How often do I look to others to make me feel better about what I have lost?” Stormie reminds us on page 153, “When we have suffered a deep loss, only God can sustain us, take the pain away, and make us whole again.”

This chapter was also a reminder for me to pay attention to my need for healing. Often I am so focused on bringing God’s healing to my son that I neglect my own need for God to reach down and heal my heart. A good friend recommended that I recite one particular verse of scripture every time the tears came after a very difficult IEP meeting. This helped me to heal from this experience tremendously. It took a lot of reciting, almost constantly at first, but after a little while, I felt noticeably “lighter” and could look at the experience more objectively. I’ve decided that I am going to do the same thing with these feelings of loss. Every time the sadness surfaces, the tears threaten to come or the pain returns in any way relating to this loss I will say, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3) Sometimes these feelings come when I least expect them and I already feel better knowing that I am prepared.

Stormie also offers some really good insights to keep in mind when we suffer a loss of any kind. First, she reminds us to focus on the loving intentions behind the gestures and words of comfort offered by others. On page 153, she writes, “When people are trying to show us love during our time of loss, we need to let them show it and not criticize them if they don’t do it perfectly”. I thought of the times I’ve been at a loss for words when friends or loved ones have suffered an unthinkable loss. I imagine others feel that way when they don’t know how to respond to or what to say to us regarding all that we’ve lost or have to deal with currently. It is impossible for others to know what it is we go through on a daily basis. If we remember that it matters that another person made the effort, we can be less likely to get hung up on the technicalities and be comforted by their loving intentions. Most importantly, Stormie addresses how to handle it when we feel like blaming God for our loss. She makes this point beautifully on page 154; “Often people blame God for the tragedies in their lives and close themselves off from the very One who can take their pain away. But we won’t make that same mistake if we will remember two things: God is good, and Satan comes to kill and destroy. It’s crucial not to confuse the two during a time of loss.” It is so easy for the enemy to use our feelings against us in these situations, especially when our loss feels overwhelming. This is such an important truth. God really is so good, He wants to heal and comfort us, so that these challenges and losses cause us to rise higher and enter into greater blessing.

Thank you for being our unfailing Friend, our Helper, our Comfort and our Healer. Give us the faith we need to come to You with open arms and accept the healing that only You can give us in your loving embrace. Help me to see you in others as they offer their love and support and also help me to shine your light to others in their moments of darkness and loss. Give us the ability to discern whatever you want us to see and learn in all of our trials. Thank you for using every situation to bring us closer to You and the good purpose that You have for us and for our families.
In Your name we pray,

Bible Verses:

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds”
-Psalm 147:3

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”
-John 14:1

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. ”
-2 Corinthians 1:3-5


Nicole Collins said...

Thanks Jessica for the wonderful idea on memorizing scriptures in desperate times. I'm also glad you put in there what Stormie wrote about "God being good and Satan coming to kill and destroy." At this time, I am constantly battling if the thoughts I feel are from God or Satan. Especially thoughts that are fearful, make me anxious or just cause my stomach to flip. I totally missed that point from Stormie in the book so i'm so glad you put this in your post. Now, when a thought comes in my head I immediately say "God is good and Satan comes to kill and destroy." Right away I know now who the thought is from.
Thanks again!!!!

Jessica said...

Thanks so much Nicole, I will definitely take your suggestion when I am battling in my thoughts too. This is a great way to discern where our thoughts are coming from, by speaking the truth. Great suggestion!