How to Find Comfort and Peace When You’ve Lost a Loved One

I’ve stood beside a grave when a loved one died and even with all the faith I feel on a good day been filled with doubts.  When I need that faith the most, because I want assurance I’ll see my loved one again, my faith fails me the most often.

I’ve got a leaky faith bucket.

Perhaps you’ve struggled with the same thing.

Jesus offered a prayer to comfort his disciples and us.

He prayed, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am and to see the glory of my kingdom.”

I love that.

One of the last things Jesus did before he was arrested was pray for his disciples and us.  That we would live in his kingdom with him forever.

Kind of like wanting your children to be with you where ever you go.  There’s nothing better.  And with my adult children exhausting.

I find that comforting and liberating.

You don’t need an intermediary.  You can simply ask him to let you live with him as his child.  Then he prays to the Father for you.

As a Father there’s nothing I enjoy more than to be with my children.  Evidently Jesus feels the same.

Now if I can just find that leak.

 

*John 17:24

How to Fill Up the Emptiness Inside with Amazing Life

When I was younger I seemed to have it made.  Lots of friends, a good education, a career ahead of me.  Yet, there was just something missing.

I can’t explain it other than, there seemed to be an emptiness inside that I couldn’t understand or fill.  No matter how many parties I attended.  No matter how many mugs of beer I drank. When the party ended and I sobered up the emptiness returned.

Through a series of events I finally discovered what Jesus so long ago promised.

“Whoever drinks the water I give will never thirst.”

I’d probably heard that verse somewhere through my growing up years going to church but somehow it never sunk in.  Perhaps because I was more focused on partying than getting to know the living God.

Yet, I finally asked, as the woman Jesus was talking to, “Lord, please give me this water.”  And he did.

Though life has at times been challenging, like it is for everyone, that living water filled up the emptiness.

I never again felt truly alone and that my life was pointless.  I quit wasting time wading around in the weeds trying to find what only God can give.

I’m thankful for that.  And that I don’t look like I kept on partying.

 

*John 4:14

You Can Have the Emptiness Inside Filled Up with Love

I gave into lunch with an acquaintance who, as a self proclaimed atheist, wanted to debate religion.  I told him, “I don’t debate religion, but I will share what I believe.”

He finally agreed to those terms then promptly flipped to a debate.

We enjoyed a nice lunch and he enjoyed the debate.  He didn’t convince me nor do I imagine I convinced him.

On my drive home, I thought, “How depressing to feel that your existence is a cosmic mistake.  That you are utterly alone.  And when you die that’s it.”

That’s what I love about what I believe and have experienced.  That God, miraculously, came to earth as Jesus because he wants to have a relationship with me.

John writes, “The Word became human and lived among us.  We have seen his glory, of the One who came from the Father full of grace and truth.”

That alone fills the core emptiness people carry deep inside.

God wanted to live in a relationship with you so much that he sent his son here so people could see, hear and touch him.  2000 years later you still can.

All you need to do is ask.

Now, that’s worth believing.

And no, I still have no interest in debating.

 

*John 1:14

How Can You Be Sure You’re God’s Child Forever?

To be honest, seminary was really weird for me.  I just never fit in.

I was chatting over lunch with another student one afternoon in the student lunch room.  As I ate my meatloaf sandwich the conversation turned to whether you can lose your salvation.

He said, “Absolutely.”

“How?” I asked.

“When you sin,” he replied.

“Like every time?  If so, I’m toast.”

“Yes, unless you’ve ask for forgiveness again.”

“What happens if I miss one?”

“Then you’re not in any longer.”

“Wow, so let me get this straight.

I wouldn’t treat my own children that way, if I had any.  And besides how would you keep track of who’s in and who’s out anyway?

“Yet, God loves us with far greater and purer love.

Let me phrase this for you in my most theological terms.  That’s nuts.”

We parted disagreeing.  He struggled with depression.  I cracked jokes few appreciated.

That’s what I love about what John writes.

“To all who received Jesus, to those who believed in him, he blessed with becoming God’s children.”

See you become God’s child simply by believing enough to ask.  And you remain his child forever just like your children.

That’s as theologically deep as I get.  The rest to me is pretty weird.

 

*John 1:12

How to Find Comfort and Direction in the Midst of the Craziness

I talked with a friend recently who’s going through some challenging times financially.  He’s holding up pretty well but I know feels worn out.  He’s working hard but there’s only so much he can do.

He worries sometimes, like all of us, how he’ll pay the mortgage and take care of his family.

I said to him, “You know, I finding life surprising.  Challenges pop up in ways we never see coming.   Yet, over and over I’ve also discovered God’s unmistakable comfort and direction in the midst.”

“In a way we’re all walking wounded.  Like a hospital filled only with patients.  We have no idea what we’re doing but we’re just trying to help each other.”

I was reminded of that in a verse.

“God comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort others in trouble with the comfort we’ve received from God.”

God will comfort you in mysterious ways no matter what you’re facing when you simply hope in his love and direction.

Then you get the opportunity to share that love with someone else who needs encouragement.

And mysteriously you’ll find yourself even more encouraged.

Yeah, my dad told me I’d have crazy days.  He just failed to tell me there’d be so many.

 

*2 Corinthians 1:4

What Do You Do When You Feel Like You’re Drowning and You’re All Alone?

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.” (Psalm 18:16 NIV)

We have so many friends treading in deep water right now.  Struggling with grief, illness, financial setbacks or family challenges.

I don’t know, is there something cosmic going on?

I’ve swam in some pretty deep waters also a few times as I’m sure you have.  And in addition to the challenge, we can struggle with feeling like God has deserted us and left us all on our own.

Yet, this verse promises something very different.  You may not understand why the struggle but you can find comfort knowing God is with you in it.

And not only is he with you but he will pull you out and set you on dry ground again.

Kind of like Peter, getting out of the boat to walk on the water to Jesus.  Bad idea.

Yet, Jesus reached out his hand and lifted him up.  Then they both walked on the water together and climbed in.

I’ve had a few of those Peter moments.   And I’ll tell you when I’ve reached out, Jesus’ hand was always there.

What about you?  Tired of swimming?  Ready to walk back to the boat?

How to Feel Loved When You Feel Most Alone

Do you ever just feel alone?  Maybe you’ve lost a loved one or are struggling through a challenge.

When surrounded by family and friends you feel loved.  But when they’re gone that loneliness bites again.

I’ve certainly felt that.  I think we all do.

At a time I felt very alone, I asked God to bring me into a relationship with him and I immediately felt his indescribable  love.

Sure I’ve felt lonely at times since then.  Yet I can honestly say, in the midst of those times I’ve truly felt God’s presence the most.

David prayed, “I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.”*

In those alone times, when you wake up, you can feel the most overpowered.   Yet, in that moment is when you can feel God’s presence the most.

You may still feel the pangs of loneliness of course, but feeling God’s love will get you through it and that will be enough for today.

*Psalm 17:15 (NIV)

How to Uncover the Miracle Life

I’m amazed at the miracle of my life.

I think back to the dead end road I walked in college.  Frustrated, alone, depressed, running chaotically to find elusive happiness.

Yet, out of that confusion to find my wife and be blessed with our children astounds me.  The prosperity we’ve been blessed with even after so many years of financial struggle amazes me.  And to think that after all these years the journey today is the best and keeps growing better.

The miracle began when I stopped running away from God and chose to walk to him.

The Psalmist wrote, “You have made known to me the path of life, you fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”*

He offers you a clear path even when life seems confused.  Joy when it makes more sense to feel depressed.  His presence when you feel most alone.  And the comfort that all of this grows better not only now but forever.

*Psalm 16: 11 (NIV)

An Inauguration Day Prayer

(First Posted on Facebook)

“Lord on this Inauguration Day help us to pause long enough to remember:

First, to give you thanks that we live in a country where we get to choose our political leaders. Every fours years we are reminded of that when we have a peaceful transfer of power. Most of the world looks on in amazement at that transition.

Second, to pray for our leaders whether we agree with them or not. They may be godly or not but you can direct their steps and minds as we pray.

Third, to remember to focus our trust on you not on political institutions. You are always dependable, they are not.

Fourth, to love each other with patience, respect and kindness. It is time we move forward from this divisive period and deepened our relationships with those we love, even those we disagree with. Only in that love will we glorify you and bring richness to life.

Amen.”

What to Do When Love Explodes and You Can’t Restore It (Part 3)

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We looked previously at what to do when a relationship explodes and you can’t restore it.

But what happens when finding peace proves impossible?

Some years ago I had a friendship completely melt down with deep hurts on both sides.  Yet, we saw each other regularly because of circumstances we couldn’t avoid.

I tried to reconcile the relationship but this friend was having none of it.  Often my attempts were met with rejection or sometimes retaliation.  This would then elicit somewhat less than exemplary reactions from me.

There were times I would see him and say hi only to have him turn around and walk away without response.

Sometimes I could separate myself from him physically.  I just avoided him and that worked pretty well.

If I couldn’t avoid him I’d mentally separate telling myself it didn’t matter.  That worked often too.

Then he’d blind side me with something new that would leave me stunned for a day or two.

 

No matter what I tried I just couldn’t find a place of peace in the relationship.

 

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