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Grief & the Power of Giving Thanks

I stood paralyzed in the doorway, staring at Pippy laying lifeless in a Rubbermaid box on the living room floor. To think that she would never again experience the wind blowing through her ears or prance at the park overwhelmed me with shock, disbelief and heartbreak. I cried, desperately hoping it was all a terribly bad dream – the worst I’d ever had.

But Pippy’s lifeless body couldn’t lie. This wasn’t a dream. It was real life.

I must admit that part of me wanted to pray and ask God for a resurrection miracle. He did it with Jesus, couldn’t He do it with Pippy? I knew that He could but, even in the midst of heartache, I knew in the depth of my soul that Pippy’s passing was God’s will. He had allowed her to leave this earth earlier than I had hoped but right on time according to His perfect schedule. It wasn’t my place to beg Him for a rewind and redo. It was my job to ask Him, “How do I glorify You in this moment?”

God’s answer came like a lightening bolt: “By giving thanks as you walk with me through this season of grief. That’s how you glorify me in this moment and every moment of suffering, pain and loss you will encounter as you travel down this road called life.”

At first, I was hesitant to give thanks. I was worried that by being thankful I would dishonor Pippy and minimize her importance. But God’s word spoke to me again, “Give thanks in all circumstances. That’s my will for you.”

All meant right there and then – even with Pippy’s lifeless body still in a Rubbermaid box.

All meant in grief, loss, sorrow, sadness, heartbreak and pain.

All meant in the face of life and in the face of death.

All meant that I couldn’t withhold my thanks on account of worries and concerns about hurting my deceased pup’s feelings.

All meant that I was compelled and commanded to give thanks right then and there in obedience to God.

And so, that’s precisely what I did.

I started by thanking God for blessing me with Pippy eight years ago and providing me with an incredibly loyal and faithful friend. I thanked Him for creating Pippy and filling her with gentleness, kindness and love – the very fruits of His Spirit. Then I thanked God for making Pippy a furry little teacher who demonstrated so perfectly priceless lessons on walking obediently with Jesus and following Him by faith and not by sight.

While giving thanks to God for my departed Pip, the pain of losing her was replaced with the joy I experienced in loving her. With each praise of thanksgiving offered up to God, a deeper level of peace and comfort descended on me from above. By the time I walked away from Pippy’s side, my Spirit was transformed by the very presence of my Father God.

What’s so incredible about the night Pippy passed is that, even in death, God was using her to teach me how to trust and obey Him. This particular lesson could have been titled, “Grief And the Power of Giving Thanks” with the objective being to understand that, by giving thanks, an open invitation is extended to the Holy Spirit. When we thank God, it is as if we are welcoming the Wonderful Counselor into our brokenness so that He can comfort and console us with His love and grace.

When grief threatens to crush my Spirit – and Heaven knows it will try – the way back to peace is always through the doorway of thanksgiving. As soon as I put God’s lesson on giving thanks in all circumstances into practice, my heart is opened wide to the Spirit of Christ and I am once again comforted by the assurance that Pippy is in a better place.

Although Pippy’s spirit has left this earth, she is not truly dead. She has gone to her heavenly home, experiencing more fullness of life than ever before. The good news that I am choosing to celebrate is that my best walks with Pippy are yet to come. I will rejoice and give thanks for the adventure’s we’ve had thus far while looking ahead to Heaven’s streets of gold, where an eternity of togetherness awaits us.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

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Peace, Purpose & Posting

For the past few months I haven’t been posting much. I’m still writing. Heaven knows I’m writing! But I can’t seem to complete anything. I type and type but nothing turns out quite right. Even when the seeds of an idea appear fully formed the conclusion alludes me. As a result I’ve amassed a prolific portfolio of unfinished devotionals and drafts too inferior to post and too elaborate to delete.

I’d like to blame my dilemma on a severe case of “writer’s block” but that wouldn’t be true. It all began with a “purpose block.”

Why am I writing? Who am I writing for? What am I writing about? These questions have been plaguing my pen and paralyzing my finger from hitting “publish.” While my body has been healing, my hand has been struggling to form complete thoughts. All I’ve written about for years is sickness and physical suffering and, without it, I don’t know how to write or what to write about. Illness has been my purpose for eight years but my body has started telling a different story.

Blocked by a confused purpose, I decided to do the only thing I could do. Pray. Earnestly seek God. Ask Him to show me His purpose for my life.

And He’s been answering.

With open doors and new opportunities God has been magnificently, miraculously and abundantly answering my prayers. His answering has been so remarkable that it caused a new kind of block. “Glory block:” the inability to write due to the blinding glory of God’s goodness.

But the most miraculous answer to prayer has come to a request I didn’t even think to make. In His infinite wisdom and love, God has given me more than what I asked for. He’s given me peace.

God has showered my hands and heart with peace, removing my anxious striving to post and publish. God has given me rest and reassurance, calming my fears with the comfort of knowing that I am complete in Him. God has reminded me that writing does not give meaning to my life. God gives meaning to my life. Whether or not I ever write another word, I am whole because I am His.

I do not need to answer the questions of “why, who and what.” God is in control of my writer’s life. If He chooses to give me words, I’ll write them. If He blesses me with “glory block” and keeps me from posting then I will peacefully sit back and enjoy the wonder of His presence.

I need not worry about what I will write or what will become of “Jesus take the pen.” God will take care of that. All He requires of me is that I keep seeking, praying and asking Jesus to take my life and fill it with His purpose.

“We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28