NCFI CARES: Submit to God at Work

Be subject for the Lord’s sake…For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God

(1 Peter 2:13, 15-16)

Throughout my time as a nurse, I have dialogued with many nurses who were looking at changing jobs. Prior to the high stress and demands of caring for patients with the coronavirus infection, Christian nurses’ complaints focused on unkind coworkers and/or harsh work environments as a result of their faith. Nurses shared how they couldn’t talk about their personal faith at work. One nurse said, “Forget inviting colleagues to church. I was afraid to even share how involved my family was in church. A few nurses on my unit began badgering me about being ‘one of those people.’ ”

Another nurse shared when he was doing his devotion and praying in the break room. He was firmly told by the charge nurse, “Don’t bring your Jesus here!” It was made more confusing because the unit was working on implementing caring into the unit. The manager had encouraged a group time of “meditation” and “centering.”

These nurses and others were praying about transferring units or leaving the hospital.  As I listened to their concern and assisted them with navigating these complex issues of faith and work, I was reminded of how we are the hands and heart of God.  Wherever we work, we bring the love and grace of God to everyone. This isn’t just a spiritual truth; it is reality of what Christ has called for His followers. In my experience, the Lord will purposefully place a believer in a hostile, unwelcoming work environment. Not for the nurse’s convenience or comfort. Instead, God needs someone to bring Himself to the people.  If we don’t go, who will show God’s grace to our colleagues? Who will demonstrate God’s love if we aren’t there to pray for their loved ones? How can our colleagues find the peace of Christ if we don’t show them?

I challenge everyone wanting to leave their workplace, to spend time in prayer seeking the Holy Spirit. You may not need to leave. Instead, you may need a fresh passion and strength to be the light God wants to use in your workplace. In addition, you may need prayer and support from Christian nursing colleagues. No matter what decision you make, find strength in the Word and in fellowship.

My prayer for you: “Now may the Lord direct your hearts toward the love of God and the endurance of Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5)

Maybe God Will Relent

David replied, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept because I thought, ‘Perhaps the Lord will show pity and the child will live.’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Am I able to bring him back at this point? I will go to him, but he cannot return to me!”

(2 Samuel 12:22)

If you are reading a devotion on grief, then you have probably experienced the death of a loved one; and you have most likely prayed for their healing. I can also imagine; you didn’t just pray once or twice. In fact, you probably prayed multiple times and potentially over many years. I know. I prayed for many years for my sister to be healed from alcoholism. I didn’t just pray. I fasted and prayed. I dedicated seasons of Lent to her healing. I knocked, pounded, and begged God to heal my sister, intervene for her recovery, and lead her to Jesus. When she died, I felt the finality to my many unanswered prayers. God had spoken and his answer was “No.” I grieved the reality that the incense of my prayers dissipated past God’s throne room seemingly unheard.

My experience is not unique, nor is this my only encounter with unanswered prayers. Like many of you, I have many unanswered prayers of grief and loss.  Thus, I ask, “Can we change God’s mind when we pray?” Throughout scripture we see how God answered prayers for healing; as well as verses teaching believers to pray.

And it happened that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him. (Acts 28:8)

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. (James 5:16)

“Can we change God’s mind when we pray?”

Scripture also speaks of times when God allowed illness, diseases, and suffering occurs.

 If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him;

if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:11-13).

During these times, believers are encouraged to persevere and endure with hope and strength (Romans 5:4). So, should we pray for loved ones? Should we look for healing? Seek the miraculous? The answer is “Yes.”

Here are my personal insights into the grief of unanswered prayers:

  1. Continue to pray for healing (James 5:13-15).
    1. It demonstrates our belief that God can change the situation. He is the Great Physician and has the power over health and illness, disease and death. (John 5:26).
    1. Prayer is not about the answers. It is about a relationship with the Divine who loves us and loves our loved ones. (Philippians 1:9-11).
  2. God knows the bigger picture
    1. As Sovereign of the universe God knows the yesterday, today and tomorrow. (Hebrews 13:8).
    1. Expect God to do other miracles besides healings and cures. One miracle is when others come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. (John 11:25), or a closer relationship with Him through the suffering and grief.
  3. God is working through you and your loved one.
    1. I am on this side of many unanswered prayers and see the benefit of the “no’s” and trust God with the “no’s” I don’t understand (Matthew 7:7-11).

I will leave you with a quote from Philip Yancey from the chapter Unanswered Prayer: Living with the Mystery,

“…more convinced than ever that the only final solution to unanswered prayer is Paul’s explanation to the Corinthians: ‘For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall know even as also I am known.’ No human being, no matter how wise or how spiritual can interpret the ways of God, explain why one miracle and not another, why an apparent intervention here and not there. Along with the apostle Paul, we can only wait, and trust.” (*p. 247)

Prayer:

Father God, I confess I waver in my faith and trust when my prayers for healing go unanswered. Help me to accept your wisdom and providence in my life and in the life of my loved ones. Amen.

Reflections:

Do you have unanswered prayers for a loved one? Are you still praying and hoping for healing for a loved one? Whatever your experience and current prayer life, write out prayers that have gone unanswered. Be honest and intimate and include the pain and sorrow your waiting has or is causing. Psalm 13 is a plea to God to hear the author’s prayer. Use it as a template to cry out to the Lord.

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?

How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,

And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.

But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

Shane & Shane put Psalm 13 to song.

Resources:

*Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference by Philip Yancey explores prayer from both a personal and theological base. Philip’s book Where is God When It Hurts? is a classic that promises to provide comfort and a healing guide for coping with hard times. Purchase both from Christian Book Distributors .

Image

Available for FREE!

CARES II Front Cover

Yes! It is true. There is a second compilation of NCFI CARES Devotions is available.

NCFI celebrates the publication of the second compilation of NCFI Cares devotions entitled CARES II: Reflections of Nurses. The Lord’s timing cannot go unnoticed. For, as the world continues to grapple with the Coronavirus Pandemic, stress for nurses and midwives is at an all-time high. As the heart and hands of health care it is important that each individual nurse feels assured as vital member body of Christ and the global nursing profession. Christian nurses need encouragement, support, and prayers to persevere and stand firm in their faith.

The reflections are written by diverse authors from around the world that inspire peace, strength, and hope amidst the challenges of Christian nursing. They include practical advice on staying calm, responding to conflict, and rekindling our joy while opening our hearts to how Jesus can guide our nursing practice. Whether you work in the hospital, clinic, university, or ministry, all Christian nurses will be encouraged professionally and personally. Each reflection begins with a central scripture and a brief teaching or insight. Unique to CARES II is the inclusion of an accompanying passage of scripture, reflective question, and a simple prayer.  They can be used for a personal prayer/devotional time or part of connecting a nursing fellowship groups.

CARES II is published in a bilingual English/Spanish book and an English only book. For a FREE PDF download visit the NCFI CARES webpage.

Or purchase from Amazon: English OR the bilingual English/Spanish

Be sure to check out Nurses Christian Fellowship International (NCFI) website for more information about the ministry to nurses around the world. https://ncfi.org/

NCFI Cares: Great is His Faithfulness

Whether the hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness is one of your favorite worship songs or one that is new to your playlist, take a moment to intently listen to each verse and the repeating chorus.

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,

There is no shadow of turning with Thee;

Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not

As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”

Morning by morning new mercies I see;

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,

Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,

Join with all nature in manifold witness

To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,

Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,

Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

This wonderful hymn is so simple, yet communicates such sweet promises hidden in the faithfulness of our Lord. Here are few a found in the verses:

  • There is no shadow of turning – God doesn’t change, nor was He surprised by COVID. (James 1:17)
  • His compassions never fail – God will never stop loving us, no matter what we do. (Psalm 100:5)
  • He is always the same — yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8)
  • His faithfulness is seen in the changing seasons and celestial movements (Psalm 104:19-20)
  • His faithfulness has secured our salvation and brought us peace (Titus 2:11; John 14:2)
  • His presence is here to cheer and to guide us (John 16:1 & John 10:3)
  • He brings us strength for today and a bright hope for tomorrow. (Isiah 40:29-31

Did you notice how the hymn depicts God’s faithfulness through His character, His creation, and then makes it personal with “Blessings all mine”?

The repetitive, simple chorus reminds us that every morning God provides new mercies for you and me to see. We don’t need to wait; we don’t have to wonder if we will see them. Each morning with the rising of the sun God’s trustworthiness reveals new mercies shining bright and warm (Lamentations 3:22-23).  Feeling secured in God’s daily promise we can proclaim, “The Lord has provided all that I have needed.” This is poignant reminder that nothing I have needed today, nor anything I will need tomorrow is beyond the faithful providence of God. Thus, I can rejoice in God’s faithfulness “unto me!”

Take time this week to share the faithfulness of God with a patient, colleague, or family member

NCFI Cares: Our Great Intercessor

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Luke 22:31-32

In one evening, Peter experienced the full circle of faith, weariness, fear, and despair. He was in the Upper Room when Jesus washed his feet to indicate service and love (John 13:1-9). When Jesus tells the group that someone will betray him, Peter joined the other disciples in proclaiming, “Surely not I, Lord.” (Matthew 26:21-22). As Jesus prepared the disciples for what was about to transpire, Peter, once again boldly proclaimed, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.” (Matthew 26:33). Jesus went further and warned Peter of Satan’s testing. The courageous, bold fisherman will be broken and his faith will be challenged.

The evening continued and Peter was with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane trying to keep his eyes open. Once again, Jesus warned Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:37-38).

Judas, accompanied by Roman guards and religious leaders, identified Jesus with a kiss and the betrayal was set. In fear and confusion, Peter reacted with earthly strength and cut off an ear. Jesus immediately healed the centurion and reminded Peter of the Father’s will (John 18:11-12).

Suddenly, the world has changed. Disciples fled fleeing while Jesus was arrested. In a matter of a few hours, Peter had experienced a whirlwind of events and emotions. He was dazed, confused and left to wonder at the validity of the Jesus’ claim as the Son of God. He was vulnerable and couldn’t imagine how his world could get worse, but it did.  Three denials later, Peter is in despair. In shock and anguish Peter came to the realization that he has spurned his best friend, master, and teacher. The worst part was Jesus knew it would happen!

And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:75)

Jesus knew Peter needed to be tested. He needed to experience the betrayal and the subsequent bitter grief. Peter needed to leave fishing behind and come out on the other side as a strong leader. James 1:3-4 says, “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

What we see today that Peter probably didn’t understand until later, is it could have been worse. Peter could have fallen away and left the new church without a leader. Thankfully, Jesus prayed specifically for Peter’s faith. Yes, Peter would deny Christ. Yes, the experience would leave Peter in despair and sorrow. Yet, Jesus was not done with Peter. He reaffirmed and restored Peter/s faith and their relationship. In Acts 2, Peter is boldly proclaiming the gospel to all in Jerusalem.

We have the same assurance that as Jesus interceded for Peter during one of his most difficult tests, Jesus will intercede for us. We will be tested. Not that God tests us (John 1:3). Instead, God uses difficult times to mature our faith, to increase our trust in Him, and to complete His perfect will (Romans 12:2). Our spiritually wise brother, Peter, poignantly teaches us:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:3-7)

And like Peter we will come out on the other side of the testing perfect, complete and with a steadfast faith.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Whatever you are going through you are not alone. Find assurance and strength in knowing Jesus is praying for you!

NCFI CARES: Huddle with God

In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice;

In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.

Psalm 5:3

One of the biggest challenges new believers and possibly seasoned Christians face is daily setting aside time to spend with the Lord. Even though believers recognize the importance of a daily prayer, most struggle with being consistent.

Recently, I was reminded of a common practice in health care—Huddles! Just in case you are unfamiliar with the practice, here is a description:

A huddle is a short, stand-up meeting — 10 minutes or less — that is typically used once at the start of each workday in a clinical setting. The huddle gives teams a way to actively manage quality and safety, including a review of important standard work such as checklists. Often, standard work will be the output of previous quality improvement projects, and huddles provide a venue to ensure process improvements stick. Huddles enable teams to look back to review performance and to look ahead to flag concerns proactively.

Huddles were put in to place for patient safety. Research showed improved patient outcomes and better unit communication when health care members met daily to discuss the priorities and strategies of the day.

Maybe the struggle with setting time aside for prayer and devotion is in our perspective. How about if we thought of our quiet time as a “Daily Huddle” with God? Instead of drudgery or boring prayer and Bible study, refocus the time as a “check-in” with God. When we meet with Him to discuss His plan for the day. Here are some suggestions:

  • Share important activities or stresses that you will be facing. This may include difficult conversations or challenging projects.
  • Share your concern for others – this is a great time to intercede for your colleagues and bring their concerns to the Lord. 
  • Include a personal focus  – are you actively seeking to grow spiritually or implement a suggestion from a sermon topic? Take time during the huddle to be intentional about how you want to mature as a believer or grow closer to Christ.
  • Take a moment to listen – this can be the most challenging! Yet, even 1 minute of quiet opens our heart to listen to our Great Physician’s plan.

A huddle brings a health care team together for better communication and collaboration, and the same is true for our huddle time with God. We can connect with God and prepare for the day, while benefiting from checking in with Him.

NCFI CARES: Respond to Stress by Praising the Lord

Shout out praises to the Lord, all the earth. Break out in a joyful shout and sing!

Psalm 98:4

Have you ever had one of those days, when you are running around, and your stress is escalating?   Recently, while teaching an all-day class, my phone vibrated continuously with urgent voicemails needing my attention, my phone buzzed steadily with multiple texts exclaiming endless problems, and my email in-box filled up with crucial questions that only I could answer. I won’t even get into the family crisis that raged throughout the day. UGGH!!

At the end of the day when I got into my car to drive home, a worship song playing reminded me of when I worked in the hospital. As a cardiac nurse, my colleagues and I had many crazy hectic days. We even had horrible, chaotic days when the entire unit couldn’t keep up with the emergencies and the multiple crises. We would run from one cardiac resuscitation, intubation, stat surgery, to the next stroke alert, anaphylactic reaction, and family emergency. Forget lunch. There were days I didn’t go to the bathroom, nor get a drink of water.

In the midst of this chaos, a colleague of mine would start singing: “Praise be to God, alleluia.” To say he would sing, is not really correct; he would proclaim loudly! “PRAISE BE TO GOD, ALLELUIA!” We knew our everyday chaos had hit a certain peek for him, when his praise would echo across the nurses’ station and down the halls: “PRAISE BE TO GOD, ALLELUIA.” Keep in mind, I worked at a non-Christian hospital. A few other colleagues and I were the only Christian believers on our unit.

This memory brought a giggle to the end of my stressful day. I thought, “Hmm, maybe I should try proclaiming a praise song amidst my next crazy day!”

When Defeat is Better than Death

The king (David) covered his face and cried out loudly, “My son, Absalom! Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 19:4)

Anyone with a child can understand David’s emotional toil at the death of his son, Absalom. It didn’t matter that his son had become his enemy by forming a coup and would have killed David for the throne. At the news of Absalom’s death, David was heartbroken and grieved loudly at the sudden news. David would have rather lost his kingdom then lose his son.

When I reflected on David’s grief, I seen many comparisons to the grief we experience today. Even though, we rarely have adult children take over our kingdom or attempt to kill us for economic or political gain, many have experienced adult children maliciously causing parents’ harm. Adult children today can steal money, take over a business, or cause bodily harm.

In addition, parents are grieved by children becoming estranged. Or the opposite situation, whereas, you are the child who has become estranged from a parent(s), siblings, or other relative. Any time a significant relationship is fractured there is insurmountable grief. We grieve the raw, constant pain of the incident(s) and we mourn the lost future of how our relationship could be now and in the future. Whether the time is measured in years or decades, the pain is intense and never ending.

This is David’s grief. When her heard of Absalom’s death, he mourned the broken relationship and the unrealized hope for reconciliation.

The king then became very upset. He went up to the upper room over the gate and wept. As he went he said, “My son, Absalom! My son, my son, Absalom! If only I could have died in your place! Absalom, my son, my son!”

Can you relate to David’s grief over the fractured relationship? What have been your emotions? Are you angry? Bitter? Depressed? Many of these are signs of grief expressed in seemingly more acceptable emotions. Whatever your emotions, you can bring them to God. Be honest with Him and tell him exactly what you are feeling. God will understand the unrealized lost experiences and the painful disappointments. Whether your loved one is still living, or like David, death stole reconciliation away, share your feelings with the God of comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-6).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, the broken relationship with ___________ [insert name] has caused me pain and suffering.  Help me bring my heart to you, so that I can lean on You for comfort and wisdom. Amen.

Suggested Reflections:

  • Write out the relationship losses you have experienced through the broken relationship.
  • Psalm 3 was written by David when fleeing from Absalom. A few key themes are fear, crying aloud, retribution to those who cause you harm, and others. There is also hope, confidence, and trust in God to provide care. What feelings are you similar to David? What additional emotions are you experiencing? Find a way to express them through journaling, recording audio/video, drawing or some other media.
  • This verse reminds us of God’s comfort through others who are experiencing the same “hard time”. I encourage you to seek counseling and/or support group. Please see my post entitled Seeking Counseling on finding the right counselor as a Christian believer.
    • All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort-we get a full measure of that, too. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5. The Message).
  • Nearer, My God to Thee This beautiful hymn speaks of the pain and hope of grief.

Seeking Counseling

I am a big advocate of seeking a professional counselor. The right person can be a place to talk, explore and dive into your emotional issues. When my sister suddenly died I was a wreck! With the support of my husband and daughters, I was managing until the holidays. My backpack of grief (that was how I explained it) became heavier and I was a weeping, depressed mess.

I had barely made it through the holidays, when the first anniversary of my sister’s death slapped me with anxiety! I wasn’t sleeping, couldn’t concentrate, and was barely functioning. I knew I needed help. I reached out to my workplace and was given the resource for mental health counselors. The list were professional counselors and not necessarily Christian counselors. In the past, I have learned excellent counselors don’t necessarily need to have the same faith.

Here are some tips when looking for the right counselor/psychotherapist:

  • Pray: Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you to the right counselor. Seek out your family, friends, and church community in praying for your healing and the best counselor for you. In fact, pray through the entire process of counseling! Jesus is the Great Physician and the Holy Spirit is our Counselor!
  • Review Counselor Specialties: Many times counselors will have a website that provides their qualifications and specialties. Look through the list and choose one that has experience with your issue. If you aren’t sure feel free to call or email them.
  • Choose same gender: I know this sounds archaic, but I feel strongly about this. Counseling sessions are very private, intimate and personal. Thus, as a Christian woman or man, you should connect with a professional of the same gender.
  • Be clear/respectful: When you reach out to make your first appointment with your counselor, let them know about your Christian faith. I don’t expect them to tell me to pray/read my Bible, attend church, etc., Instead, I let them know my faith is important to me and I will talk about it during the sessions.
    • Your email may say something like this:
      • I am a Christian and my life with Jesus is an important part of my life and therapy. Let me know if you lack experience or would prefer not to see me.
    • Notice how I gave the counselor a way to “decline.” I trust God and want the best person. If someone feels uncomfortable, then it this is not the right person.
  • Your healing: Remember that the counseling session is for your healing and for no other purpose.

My final thoughts are from my testimony. Over 30 years ago when I came to know the Lord, I needed to leave the pain of my past behind and learn to walk in the new life Jesus had given me. My life verse is Luke 5:25 Immediately he stood up before them, picked up the stretcher he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. What isn’t part of the account is the man had to learn to walk in his healing. That is what counseling did for me. It opened up the pain from my childhood and allowed the healing touch of Christ to heal past, present, and future–Amen! Hallelujah! Even today, as this world continues to bring pain and suffering, counselors have helped me to open my heart to the healing balm of God.

Resources:

10 Myths Keeping Christians from Counseling

NCFI Cares: A Friend with You in the Fire

I am sure many of you are familiar with the popular modern worship song by Hillsong United entitled “Another in the Fire” (2019).  The opening lyrics are:

There’s a grace when the heart is under fire

Another way when the walls are closing in

And when I look at the space between

Where I used to be and this reckoning

I know I will never be alone

There was another in the fire

Standing next to me

Hillsong United

The title and major phrase refers to the account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the furnace. They had been placed in the furnace for refusing to bow down and worship the idol of Nebuchadnezzar. (Daniel 3). Our favorite passage is Nebuchadnezzar proclaiming, “But I see four men, untied and walking around in the midst of the fire! No harm has come to them! And the appearance of the fourth is like that of a god!” How we rejoice with the miracle and stand firm on the promise that we will never be alone.

I love celebrating the miracle, but I also am thankful for the love and support of friends. There are three friends who were willing to die for the Lord together. I am sure there was much prayer and praising going on PRIOR to their big push into the furnace. Especially when the guards were immediately incinerated when the door was opened (Daniel 3:22).  What scripture doesn’t tell us, is what was Daniel doing? Since prayer was an integral part of his relationship with God, we can be confident that Daniel was praying for his friends. I imagine his prayer was for his friends to maintain their faith, not give in to pressure, and have courage in the face of certain death.

We have the assurance of Jesus staying faithful, even when we are wavering in our faith. Some of the ways Jesus encourages us is through our faithful friends; and He uses us to encourage our friends when they are experiencing “times of fire”.   

The Psalms were a prayer book during Daniel’s time and is a prayer book for us today. Search the Psalms for a phrase, section, or entire Psalm that you can use to pray for a friend, colleague or patient “in the fire” of life.

Find the song by Hillsong United here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmNc0L7Ac5c

A Mother’s Gift

As he approached the town gate, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother (who was a widow), and a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and those who carried it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” So the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

Luke 7:12-15

Imagine the scene: a woman whose only son has died is following the procession down the street towards the burial place. She is surrounded by family members, friends, and members of her community, yet she is alone on her grief journey. Can you imagine the despair and shock she has experienced at the loss of her only child, a once young, vibrant man who had brought her happiness and filled her heart with the joy of motherhood. Her heart was broken, and her spirit was fractured by the seemingly unfair hand of God.

Jesus, who had been going about his business, came upon the grieving mother and her dead son. Scripture says, “When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her.” Jesus had seen and felt her pain. The biblical usage of the word “compassion” signifies “felt in his bowels,” –a deep heart-felt agony of love and sympathy. Jesus understood and felt the hopelessness and despair she felt. His deep compassion was not just as God in man, but also as a human son with a mother.

Jesus comforted the woman with kind words, a miraculous healing, and by raising her son from the dead. Luke, the writer included in the account, “Jesus gave him back to his mother” as a heartfelt reminder of Jesus’ compassion in performing the resurrection. The simple sentence speaks volumes on how much God loves moms (and dads)! Jesus feels the pain at the loss of a child, and He deeply grieves when mothers (and fathers) experience the horrible tragedy. This is my God. And this is your God.

Maybe this is you and your child has died. Like the mother, you may feel alone and in despair and shock. Your child, whether a toddler, teenager or adult, had a vibrant life filled with a hope and a future. Now, instead there is an empty cavern void of purpose and meaning. The grief is raw and unrelenting.

Bring your grief to Jesus. He is with you now, crying over your pain and feeling your despair.

Prayer: Oh Lord, comfort all the mothers and fathers who have lost their children. There is a hole in their heart and a fracture in their spirit. Bind up their wounds and give them hope and strength for tomorrow, one day at a time. Amen (Psalm 147:3; Romans 15:3)

Suggested Reflections

  • Read the entire account of the woman’s story in Luke 7:11-15. Write down thoughts/feelings you have when you read the passage.
  • Write a letter or record an audio/video addressed to Jesus. Feel free to start from the beginning and provide an account of the circumstances that lead to the death of your child up to today.
  • Tell Jesus your feelings, your anger, and include the unfairness. He will not be shocked and you will not disappoint Him. If you struggle with sharing your feelings with God, do a word search for “tears” in the book of Psalms. Then write out your feelings mirroring those recorded by the writers.

Resources

A Sacred Sorrow: Reaching out to God in the Lost Language of Lament by Michael Card. Read my book review here.

Steven Curtis Chapman’s interview about the accidental death of his daughter on ABC news

Steven Curtis Chapman’s amazing song after the death of his daughter Heaven is the The Face.