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Posts Tagged ‘dealing with grief and loss’

Jo 17I wonder how you are feeling, in the midst of this crazy pandemic. What words would describe what is going on inside you as a result of what is happening—or not happening—around you? … Fear? Confusion? Concern? Anxiety? Anger? Grief? Worry? Depression? Loneliness? Perhaps all of these? Or perhaps you are personally at peace, yet feeling these things in and for others. That too can become a little overwhelming at times, can’t it?

Until recently, I was too busy completing my current novel to stop and contemplate how I was feeling deep down about the weird events in our world. My mind was full of different questions instead. What parts of my early chapters could I leave out to get to the action quicker? What other sections could I remove? How could I bring my characters to life more? Writing a novel can be all-consuming—it can be tricky to weave things together in a way that draws readers in and keeps them turning those pages.

Yet now I have put this novel aside, for the moment at least, I am noticing more how coronavirus has impacted us all. Yes, I have been concerned for family members trying to hold onto their jobs and pay mortgages. But I can sense something bigger around me too—a kind of desperation and even panic. When will this end? How will it end? Will our country be in ruins? How will we all survive?

Then one morning, as I sat at my desk, enjoying the warm, winter sun streaming through my window and listening to the birds outside, I picked up my old bible and turned again to the Psalms. They are my ‘go to’ place when I feel in particular need of God’s comfort and reassurance and encouragement. I began to read Psalm 94 and soon came to the following verses:

When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. (18-19)

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

Sometimes, it does seem as if everything is slipping away from us, don’t you think, as we look at all the things we had hoped to do in these months? Many we know were planning overseas trips and looking forward not only to seeing special places but also family members in other countries. Then there are those in much more disastrous situations, watching their livelihoods slip away, as shops and businesses are closed or as customers are afraid to venture into such places. Meanwhile, our leaders must wonder at times if their ability or power to make the wisest decisions for our nation and turn things around for everyone is slipping through their fingers. Yet, whatever our situation in life, that unfailing love of the Lord is still there, willing and able to hold us firm and stop our panicking, downward slide.

So right now, I’m reaching out my arms to the Lord and holding on tight, drinking in that comfort and hope and deep joy only he can give. And I hope and pray you can do that too.

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I suspect I’m about to incur the wrath of some of my friends with the following statement: I am a Queenslander.

Yes, there it is—out in the open! Granted, I have lived elsewhere for over forty years. Yet something interesting happens whenever we head north and cross over that border. There is somehow a different feel about Queensland I seem to recognise from my growing up years. Perhaps it’s the warmer weather and the tropical vegetation everywhere. But it’s also a certain ‘laidbackness’ in the people, with their casual clothing, easygoing ways and warm friendliness—not to mention those occasional flattened Queensland vowel sounds so familiar to me and that ‘hey’ at the beginning of some sentences!

This visit, I had the privilege of speaking eight times, mostly in places where I knew very few people. Yet I was welcomed warmly—and God was there, often with an agenda I had not envisaged. In one smaller meeting I had almost written off as a waste of time, God arranged for two people to be present via an amazing sequence of ‘coincidences’.  One girl had looked up my website at a friend’s suggestion and found I was speaking that very week in her own suburb—and on her only day off! Someone else was invited on the spur of the moment by a mutual friend who wasn’t even sure why she was inviting her. But God used what I said and my book Soul Friend to encourage this person in a special way.

I also paid author visits to four Christian bookstores where again God had special appointments for me. In one store, a lady shared her great grief over the loss of two husbands and a son, then came to hear me speak on the 23rd Psalm at a local church the following Sunday. Such heart connections in my home state will not be forgotten in a hurry.

And of course we caught up with family members and friends as well, including one school friend I had not seen for forty-eight years. What a delight to hear how God had continued to nurture her faith throughout that time! Other friends offered us such warm hospitality where we were able to pick up just where we had left off with them.

I loved these home state experiences of mine. But they have led me to wonder about my real ‘home state’ and the reception I will receive when I reach heaven one day. Can you imagine what that will be like? One thing we do know is that Jesus himself has a place ready for us. And he will be with us there forever.

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me … John 14:2-3

We know too that those who love and serve God will be greeted with a warm ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’ and welcomed with open arms to come in and share the Master’s happiness (Matt 25:23). How wonderful that will be!

I can’t wait—can you? Then I’ll know I’m really home.

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