In 1986 my sister, a mother of four, died instantly in a car accident. It was my first experience of colossal grief. I was 27 and my first baby was 8 weeks old. Pain, fear and sobbing were my new roommates. Like a shark in deep black water or a never ending falling, it was a panicky, wide-eye’d, where can I run to experience. The longing – the unbelievable reality that it. is. over., never to hear, smell, touch, taste or see that person again. Utter despair. If you’ve ever lost someone before “their time” you know that for quite sometime the world looses color, nothing smells as sweet or looks as bright. Things become insignificant, completely falling off the radar. A clean house, mowed lawn, entertainment, even eating can take a back seat. The mind pulls the pain into our bodies and we retreat, into a jungle of grief. A retreat is necessary for us to lick our wounds and to begin healing. But because I was new to grief, there was an underlying fear. Will I ever get out of this jungle? Will life be worth living again? My first experience, in this jungle, was of thick vines that entangled my heart, swinging me from, laughter of sweet memories with her, to body-shaking sobs. I stumbled along week after week looking for a path, praying for a clearing. What I found was an extra measure of God’s enduring love! After about a year I staggered out the other side. I now know that sooner or later loss comes to everyone. It is a part of life and a great mystery. I learned to have empathy toward others and learned that those who have suffered make the most effective comforters.
Five years later, my sweet mother died from cancer, I was 33 but no longer a stranger to grief. With labored breath and falling tears I again stumbled into the jungle this time knowing that through faith and hope, I would come out the other side. God was waiting there for me and we started down the path. I learned that suffering produces intimacy with God. In Job 42:5 Job says, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” This deeper intimacy with God works together for our good.
In Job 42:5 Job says, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” This deeper intimacy with God works together for our good.
In 2005 my most beloved brother died from cancer, he was just 48 and it was awful. As I watched him slip away from me, the familiar jungle of grief was tapping on my shoulder. I dreaded the pain and separation with everything in me. But by now I had learned that I must get about the business of going through it. Pushing the elephant off my chest, I grabbed God’s hand with both of mine and walked intentionally into the jungle clinging to faith, hope and love. Suffering produces growth and maturity. I’ve learned that the people who are the most interesting and whom I like the most have always experienced some kind of deep pain or loss. I have learned that we can trust God to see to it that our suffering is not wasted.
Here’s what I know.
- Suffering teaches us to look for meaning in life rather than just happiness.
- Grief is a process and a path that must be traveled.
- God’s Love can machete a path through any jungle.
- God’s provision is not deliverance from but encouragement in times of trouble.
- Grief is a passage and the price of love.
II Corinthians 1:3 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 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.
Meditation and Christian Faith by guest blogger and new Yoga Bird, Julie Jarnagin
Part 2 (Part 1 is here)
I never imagined I would be the kind of person to meditate. The word meditation made me think of crystals and new-age music playing in the background. But the more I looked into it, the more I realized that in this busy world, a designated time to quiet my mind and reflect was exactly what I needed and what God desired for me.
Like a lot of people, my mind is always spinning. Consider what has gone through your mind in the last twenty minutes. Your to-do list? A disagreement you’ve had with a loved one? The presidential election? Are you living in the moment or in the past and future?
Meditation and reflection on the Lord are an important part of refreshing your soul. It’s a time you can enjoy God’s presence and focus on Him instead of daily distractions.
What the Bible says about Christian Meditation?
The idea of Christian meditation isn’t new. The book of Psalms is filled with the reflections on God’s greatness, justice, mercy, and loving kindness.
Christian meditation means:
- Contemplating the Word of God “day and night” (Psalm 1:1-3).
- Reflecting on things that are acceptable to God (Psalm 19:14).
- Ceasing striving and recognizing God for who He is (Psalm 46:10).
- Dwelling on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).
Our natural tendency is to worry and mull over problems. Let’s be realistic – we have concerns about our jobs, finances, children, and health. We have constant phone calls and texts. Televisions and radios are blaring. Our social media feeds never stop. Learning to quiet the mind takes practice and intentionality. With the help of the Holy Spirit we can learn to set cares and concerns aside to focus on Him.
For the last two months, I’ve set aside ten minutes a day to focus on quieting and refocusing my thoughts. It’s not always easy. Sometimes the mind wanders, but meditation is simply about guiding it back on an area of focus.
Soon you’ll find that, meditation gives you the space you need to hear His voice and to allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul. Give it a try. It’s time to refresh and refocus our eyes on Him.
November 17, 2013