If you are experiencing grief now or have in the past, what is the hardest time of the day for you? Is it mornings, evenings? And, how do you get through those difficult times? Share your experience with us so we can help each other?
Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
The Israelite's did not need to fear because God was with them. He is also with us. This verse tells us not only is He with us, but He strengthens us, He helps us, and He will uphold us. God is in control. We need to trust in Him and give ourselves to Him. Follow Him unconditionally. He is our father who loves us. Seek shelter in Him and fear no more.
One day in 2014, like any other day, I was upstairs getting ready for work. I typically study a couple scripture verses each day. That week I had been questioning the concept of God’s love. Not questioning my belief in it, more like questioning it because I never felt it. I know God loves us, I just don’t feel that love. In my study I read scripture and writings from theological thinkers on the subject. Everything came back to John 3:16. “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. NIV” I believed this statement; I just didn’t feel this statement. Basically, after my week of study I came to the conclusion that God loves us because scripture says so…and that’s about it. I accepted it yet was disappointed. So I turned to prayer and asked God to help me understand this. I know people that have an emotional connection to God and have such a deep relationship with Him. Mine felt cerebral at best. And this was after many, many years of becoming saved. As I was getting ready that morning I was praying to God, as I did before, to show me what it all meant. I told Him that I was dense when it came to hearing His small voice in my spirit. All at once I felt this overwhelming feeling of dread. My mind was filled with the sickening feeling of all the sin I ever had. I felt as though I was losing my mind. I wanted to yell out for my wife thinking I had snapped. I really didn’t know what do, so I just prayed the Lord’s Prayer over and over. I prayed the Lord’s Prayer three times before this mental explosion, overwhelming feeling of all my sin, slowly subsided. As I stood there in shock God impressed upon me all that it meant.
To God, sin has substance. It’s not just a theological concept given to keep people in their place or to put a name on their poor actions. It has mass and weight. He referred to it as filth. We cannot be in His presence with sin. He is pure light, pure joy. Sin is the opposite of all God is. I understood that He created us to be with Him forever. That is what He wants of every one of us. So because of our sin spirit we cannot be in His presence. He took care of it all. He gave us His Son to take upon Himself all of our filth, and went to the cross where His blood washed it all away and made us pure. He did all this just because He wants to spend forever with us. Do you understand that?! In spite of us, He took care of it. I cannot accurately describe the horror of the feeling of sin. I also cannot describe the great joy in God for the sacrifice that He made on our part. We had nothing to do with it. It is His grace. You really need to understand that He did all this just because He wants to spend forever with us. That is how much He loves us.
So, how did this change me? What was once just a mental concept for me now became real....very, very real. Before, I believed God loved me because His word said it was so. Now, I have an emotional experience associated with it all. I now know what it feels like to be loved by God. I understand it in a visceral way.
Twenty five years ago I had my first experience with God that was part of what set me on my walk with Him. I have seen God work in my life in small ways like He has in the life of many people. However, after this last experience, I have had a few thoughts that won’t leave me. First, I am very careful in what I ask God to show me. If you ask Him, He will answer. Second, now what do I do with all this? Well, this is the beginning of all that. I have heard of people being saved in an instant. It took me 25 years. I told you I was a little dense.
The Book of Psalms
Historically, the Psalms cover a period of about 1000 years, from the time of Moses to the Israelites' return from exile. "Of all the books in the Old Testament the Book of Psalms most vividly represents the faith of individuals in the Lord. The Psalms are the inspired espouses of human hearts to God's revelation of Himself in law, history, and prophecy. Saints of all ages have appropriated this collection of prayers and praises in their public worship and private meditations.” -Dr. Thomas Constable
Psalm 46:1-2 NIV “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”
People of God will find safety in Him. He has given us grounds to expect this of Him. Therefore, we do not need to fear even though we face very difficult times. Someone with a broken heart will attest to the darkness of each day. They will look around in disbelief of how everyone can happily go on with their lives. But fear not, focusing on God each day, you will slowly be engulf in His presence. And in the refuge of His presence you will find peace.
Grief Recovery Support
Small Grief Support Groups
Princeton Community Church
2300 Pennington Rd.
Pennington, NJ 08534
Calvary Baptist Church
3 West Broad Street
Hopewell, NJ 08525
Registration is required
Please call 609-209-6046 or email Joe@JosephImmordino.com
Joseph A. Immordino, Jr.
Licensed Funeral Director
Experienced Hospice Chaplain
Experienced Hospice Bereavement Counselor
The Book of Galatians
The Apostle Paul wrote this epistle from Antioch before 50 AD. History tells us the name Galatians was given to this Celtic people because they originally lived in Gaul before moving from central Europe to Asia Minor in the third century BC. They settled in the area known today as the Capitol of Turkey. In this book, Paul was addressing the tension between the Jew and Gentile. We could also say it was God's old-covenant people vs. His new-covenant people. It is vitally essential that believers be united through the message of hope, and in a common faith that we call Jesus Christ.
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
We are told here to bear one another's burdens. In fact every Christian is encouraged to bear one another's burdens. As we have said in other writings the Apostles were not selfish people. When they received a grace from God they shared it with the church. So we can say the focus isn't on "expect others to bear your burdens." That is self-focused, and always leads to pride, frustration, discouragement, and depression. Instead, God always directs us to be others-focused, and says, "Bear one another's burdens." We are given this simple command to obey. Look for a brother or a sister with a burden, and help them with it. It’s that simple. The early Jew and Gentile Christians were encouraged to look in their communities to seek others to help as we are called to do the same. Everyone knows someone who has experienced grief. It could be a result from the loss of a loved one, a job, or a relationship.
Constable, Dr. Thomas L. Sonic Light. 2013. http://soniclight.com (accessed March 12, 2015). NIV Study Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2002.
Last week I spoke with a woman that came from a close knit Greek immigrant family. She spoke of the intense pain she feels from losing her parents. Her entire life feels upside down, her daily routine is disturbed, and she questioned her faith.
How many of us question our faith on a daily basis? I bet almost all of us. The question with her became, is it real? Where do our loved ones go? Where do we look for answers? We can look at resources around us but around us is only temporary. I chose to look at the Bible as our source. The Bible is a collection of 66 books written by about 40 authors, in three different languages, on three different continents, over approximately 1600 years. The Bible claims to be inspired and inerrant. This means that the Bible claims to be from God and that it is without error. The Bible contains many different styles of writing such as poetry, narration, fiction, history, law, and prophecy and must be interpreted in context of those styles. It is the source of the Christian religion, containing the words of God, and how the Christian is to apply the words of God to his life. The books of the Bible are a collection of writings from certain people to certain people. They have one interpretation but numerous applications. There are countless historical and archeological proof of the Bible and its content.
The Book of 2 Corinthians:
In the year 52 AD the apostle Paul was reaching the end of his second missionary journey. He just spent about a year and a half in Corinth. Then on his third journey he spent about three years in Ephesus, from about 54 to 57 AD. This is where he wrote his letter to the Corinthians. He then left Ephesus and came to Macedonia. His friend Titus arrived having just returned from Corinth and gave Paul the good news that his letter was received with joy but there were some leaders in the Corinthian church who were questioning Paul's authority. It was at this time that Paul wrote his second stern letter to the Corinthian church and gave it to Titus to hand-deliver. In his second letter to the Corinthians he defended his authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8 New International Version (NIV)
6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
Paul was trying to tell the Corinthians to avoid the false prophets and to live together as believers. In Paul’s day and today, we were given this promise in scripture from God. As believers there is no alternative. We are either in our earthly bodies and absent from the Lord or we are with the Lord and absent from our bodies. So, I believe this is a very strong guarantee that when we leave our earthly bodies we will go directly into the presence of our Lord. This Biblical text is a great reminder that while we go through this walk of faith (but not of sight), we fellowship with our creator, yet it surely pales in comparison to what we will experience in heaven.
This knowledge becomes a very comforting thought when we have lost someone we love. We now know where our loved one is and further, where we will be. Hopefully, this promise will take the sting out of the sadness you feel because that physical presence is gone. It is something to hold on to on our darkest days as we put our heads down and push forward through our despair. Gradually we will come out of the darkness and slowly the light will engulf us again to experience lives of joy.
The God of All Comfort
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 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.
Paul wrote to Corinthian believers, but he also included all believers in the Roman province of Achaia. In this verse Paul gave thanks to God for the comfort that he had experienced. His main concern was that his readers learn the values of what he experienced, and not just what had happened to him. Always being a man of faith Paul mentions "mercies" and "comfort," before he talks about his problems. It’s a fact that the apostles didn’t live for themselves. Because they served God by serving others, any graces they received from God they always shared with the church. We can learn from this that in any situation we first praise God. And second, no matter the situation take what we have learned and use it to serve others. If you are a survivor of the journey of grief take what you have learned through your experiences and reach out to others who are in their grief journey.
Make a meal for a widow or widower who is alone.
Pick up some groceries for them.
Volunteer for a grief support group at your church.
Take some time to talk to them.
Share your experiences without telling them how they should feel.
Just let them know they are not alone.