Archive for August, 2012

Grieving a Loss

When we lose someone or something that means a lot to us, we often feel grief. Grief is a deep emotion that flows from the loss of a loved one, a job, a hope for a new ministry, or a relationship. We can grieve for almost anything that we have depended upon, and it or the person is no longer there. The deepness of our grief can vary a lot depending on how important the loss was to us.

One thing we need to do when grief hits is to face the painful feelings within us. We do not want to run from them by getting busy, or pretending they are not there. Experiencing the grief, labeling the feelings as grief, and talking over the situation with God can move us forward in the grieving process. We do not want to get stuck in denial, anger, bitterness, or depression.

Recently, my hope died for a particular ministry at my church. I felt grief and could not sleep well the first night. Then, over the next few days I began to accept the reality of the situation and my peace returned. Yet, I still am very disappointed and at times lapse back into depression and some anger.

However, through facing my grief, talking and listening to God through the Scriptures, and through the encouragement of friends, I am moving forward in the grieving process. I am slowly growing in my acceptance of the situation and beginning to see the good that could come from the loss.


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Most of us have a hard time living in the reality that because we are God’s children, He will always love us, never reject us, and always consider us precious. No matter how much we fail or get rejected by people, God does not think less of us. Most of us have been trained to believe that this reality is sheer nonsense.

For instance, my parents let me know at a very early age that they were not going to accept me for who I really was. Instead, they would make me into who I needed to be in order to be loved, accepted, and valued by them.  I learned to live for what they thought of me by pretending to be who they wanted me to be. This trained me to look to people to find love, worth, and acceptance, instead of God.

Today, I am learning to live in the reality that what other people think of me is really not that important. What is important is what God thinks of me. For example, I used to seek leadership positions to make other people think I was important. Today, I am growing in living in the truth that my importance will never increase beyond what I already have as God’s child, no matter how highly people think of me. Living in this reality is freeing me up to assume leadership positions to serve, and not to use them to gain the importance I already have from what God thinks of me.

This wonderful reality of what God thinks of me, has helped me recently to journey through a difficult set of circumstances. A couple of months ago, I was turned down for a leadership position in my church. I could have avoided this fate if I had pretended to think differently than I did. However, God did not want me to pretend to be who I was not, in order to be accepted by people. So, I presented myself as who I really was, and was rejected for the position.

In years gone by, I would have been more shaken by being rejected for the leadership position. However, this time, I endured the pain of what others thought of me, and lived in the reality of retaining my dignity by relying of what God thought of me.

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Did you know that you and I have many false beliefs and strategies for living that we do not even know we have? For example, we can be controlled by what certain people think of us, and reject the clear teaching of God about what he thinks of us, and not know this. We can be afraid of losing status with certain people, even though God has said that we will never lose status with him.

He says to us, “You are precious, you are honored, and I love you” (Isaiah 43:4). Yet, we can live as if the opinions of certain people trump God’s opinion of us, which it does not. Because this kind of false thinking and dependency often happens deep within our hearts, it is outside of our awareness and often goes unchallenged.

How can we deal with a problem that we do not even know we have? How can we “put off the old and put on the new” (Ephesians 4:22-24) if we do not even know what the old false thinking and dependencies are?

However, God warns us that we cannot really get to know ourselves without the help of the Holy Spirit. “The heart is more deceitful above all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)  He goes on to say that he alone really knows us and what makes us tick.

So, may we ask God to search our hearts and reveal to us any hurtful way (Psalm 139:23-24). This should help us to know ourselves better, and with God’s help, put off our old ways of living.

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Most of us do not think of ourselves as idol worshippers; but we are. When we regularly desire the approval of certain people over doing what we know to be right, we are an idol worshipper. Depending on people’s approval is a substitute for depending on God’s approval we have for being his dear child.

When we depend on our achievements to feel important, instead of who we really are as God’s precious child, we are an idol worshipper. When we usually depend on trying to control all our circumstances to feel safe, instead of depending on God to control our circumstances, we are an idol worshipper.

Many of us get pretty good at getting our needs met through these phony gods. It has been part of our agenda since childhood to make life work without depending on God. This hurts our faith and spiritual growth more than we probably ever will know.

One idol these days that men are using in epidemic proportions is pornography. Instead of relying on the intimacy that God provides in relationship to himself and others, men often turn to the idol of pornography to get their need for intimacy met.

So, may we all seek God in prayer to discern what we are using as idols. May we seek his help in breaking free of these substitutes, and trust God to meet our needs in his wonderful way and timing.

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