The above sign is just one of the new items available in the Grace In Grieving Shop. You can find the shop by going to the Home page and selecting the Shop tab, which is found the menu. There are many items now available! All chosen to bring comfort and hope to anyone who is grieving a loved one.
I survived Sarah’s first birthday away from us in heaven. Here in Indiana, last Thursday’s weather was a weird mix of beautiful sunshine and then moments of sudden rain. It fit the mood of my day perfectly. Our big announcement about Sarah’s memorial fund was received with a lot of excitement. We were overwhelmed with some wonderful video tributes and some reflective comments about Sarah’s impact on other’s lives. It was such a great reminder of how loved she was and the joy she brought to us. I felt so many emotions though. Some good and some bad. As a mother, whenever you’re given positive feedback about your child, or told that your child has done something amazing, it’s such a proud happy moment. It makes you feel so grateful and blessed. I am so grateful that God chose me to be Sarah and Libby’s mom.
I know that I have been blessed, but my grief tells me otherwise and reminds me of all the things that have been taken away from me, because Sarah is gone. We’ll never get to experience the joys of seeing her graduate, marry, have children, etc… The list could go on and on. The day after her birthday was “National Sibling’s Day,” according to social media. That was another reminder of what has been stolen from Libby. My heart ached for her as I thought about how we were so thankful that Sarah wasn’t an only child. Like Sarah, Libby was a “rainbow baby” and we weren’t sure if we’d be able to give her a sibling to grow up with. We wanted someone to walk through the hardships of life with her, to celebrate all of life’s occasions with, and eventually help each other take care of us, when we grew old. We could never have imagined that they would not grow up together.
When I find myself dwelling on these thoughts, and in these areas of failed expectations, I find myself almost yelling in my spirit to God, “Fifteen years was not enough!” Every time I’m met with a response to my spirit in a voice that comes so gently and says…”Will eternity be long enough?” It stops me in my tracks because I’m a “prisoner of hope”…
Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double” Zech 9:12 ESV
Other versions of that verse use the word “fortress” or “safe place” in the place of stronghold. In the Bible, stronghold is meant to mean a protected or fenced in area. I think that is a beautiful imagery of how to protect ourselves in our grief. We have a safe place to return to, when the disappoint, the fear, and the loneliness tries to overshadow the truths that we know about God and what He has promised in the coming future for us and our loved one, who has died. Our hope in Him does not disappoint. It’s not a hope that’s just wishful thinking. He is our “living hope” (1 Peter 1:3) and don’t miss the 2nd part of that promise–a declaration that He will restore to us double the blessing. I don’t understand how, or even when He will possibly do it, but I’m believing Him for it. I don’t need to understand it. If I worshiped a God that I completely understood, then what would make Him different from myself? I’m thankful that His ways are higher than my ways. That He alone knows what is coming and how it’s going to arrive. I believe He protects us by only revealing what we are ready for. I’m ok with that. My confidence doesn’t have to come from myself and my own abilities to fix my grief. It comes from the confidence in knowing God is committed to restoring this broken world in the future. My hope is set on His coming kingdom. It’s not set on today’s circumstances, but on tomorrow’s inheritance.
It’s counter-cultural. It goes against everything that the world says in normal, but so much about walking with Jesus is upside down. He is famous for teaching values that contradicted the natural. In the Sermon on the Mount, He said things like, “blessed are the poor in spirit,” and “blessed are those who mourn” and weep. He valued weakness, emptiness, and servanthood. If we’re following His teaching then we should look very different from the world. His focus was on the unseen over what was seen. We can do that too. Paul reminds us that even in our grief, as believers we can grieve differently:
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 4 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 1 Thess. 4:13-14
Friends, what are you doing to protect your fortress of Hope? Are you staying in the word of God so that God’s truths and promises are engrained in your thoughts? Are you praising God and worshiping Him for who He is? Check out this amazing verse in Psalms:
Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. Psalms 8:2
There’s that word “stronghold” again. Read the verse again with the imagery of a fenced in fortress. One with walls that the enemies arrows can’t penetrate. Our praise is a powerful way to fight our battles. Although that verse acknowledges the power of children and even infants in their praise, it applies to all of us-no matter what age you are. When Sarah was in the midst of her hardest times, worship was her go to weapon. Many of you remember a video that we shared of her just a couple of weeks before she passed away.
Friends, I’m praying that together we’ll become “prisoners of hope” and that you’ll strengthen your stronghold and fortress with praise even in your circumstance of grief. Focus on the unseen and know that God’s promises are like concrete. We can build our lives on them.