Heavenly Father, yesterday I happened to hear of more unrelated deaths than usual on one day—my daughter-in-law’s stepdad, my sister-in-law’s stepdad, and four children and their aunt who were killed in an apartment fire near my church. My stepdaughter was involved with the children’s lives. Although it is such a deep sorrow to hear of deaths and the effect that loss has on those dear loved ones left behind, I can’t help but think of the ones who passed through death into immeasurable joy and peace as they are in Your very presence. It is amazing how one day, one moment of passing can be viewed in such conflicting ways.

Father, I have personally been on the “left behind” side of death too many times to count. And due to the grief ministry You have led me to, I have seen the deep wounds of the broken-hearted up close and personal (even when I haven’t always known the ones who passed from this life). From our side, there is often deep wailing (whether heard or unheard) that comes deep from within the very soul. There is a panicked lost feeling-wondering how we can possibly go on living without our loved one. You already know our deepest pain. I believe that’s why Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus—not for Lazarus, His dear friend who had been dead for three days. Jesus knew Lazarus would be brought back to life. He wept for those dear ones grieving in such deep pain who were “left behind.”  Lord, You know us better than anyone else possibly could. You know all that goes on in our inner most soul.

Lord, You may have conflicted feelings when death comes. Death was not Your plan. Yet You see it on the other side. Your beloved child is coming HOME to You forever to be free, healed, glorified, and more alive than ever before. I don’t know how You can do it; but I am absolutely positive that You are with those who are left behind in their deep grief that can barely be expressed…and at the same time, You are welcoming Your dear ones into Your very presence where they will live in joy with You forever and ever.  There will be no more suffering, tears, darkness, evil… There has to be a huge celebration!

Father, I have seen You do it so many times before. I pray that You let those “left behind” know that their loved one is enjoying their new life with You; that You will never leave them as they come to terms with living out the remainder of their life here without their loved one; that You prepare them for their eternal life with You; that You look forward to the time You will welcome them Home into Your presence…and that You understand their tears but You know the joy that is coming up ahead. Help those “left behind” to find all they need in You—the very One who created us to live forever with You- beginning now through Jesus Christ!

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“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”  Psalm 116:15

“When the perishable has been clothed in imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’” 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 (I hear my friends who are left behind, saying that the sting is on this side.)

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making all things new!’” Revelation 21:3-5

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, comfort those “left behind” with the true promise of eternal life with You … ef

Interactive Memory Book to help you work through your own griefhttps://evajuliuson.com/eva-juliuson-books/

Dearest Friends, the idea of anything good at all coming from grief may seem absolutely impossible to you right now. You might be angry that I even suggest such a thing when you are in the deepest part of your grief. But one of the very reasons for this grief ministry is to hold out eternal hope to those who are completely devastated. Seeing good come from the pain others believe they could never recover from is why the Lord has kept me doing this for 25 years. With God, nothing is impossible. He loves bringing about good—even out of the most tragic situations. It may take time for you to see it, but the more you cling to the Lord Jesus Christ, the more you will see God even in your brokenness. Here are just four possible good things that will come from your deep loss:

  1. Deep Compassion

After experiencing the life-shattering wound of having a loved one ripped from your life, you will forever have a depth of compassion for others who go through this. Your situation may be completely different than theirs; but you know the gut-wrenching sobs that cannot be expressed, the tears that threaten to drown, the loneliness that seems to be permanent, the well-meaning words of others that cut deep, the fact that grief cannot be taken away but has to be worked through. You will know from now on that a simple hug, text, phone call or sharing of a memory is more precious than can be expressed—especially from someone who has been there. As you find comfort from the Lord, you will know how to comfort others.

  • Knowledge that Life is Short

We know with our intellect that everyone must die at some point yet rarely are we ready. With the reality of your loved one’s death right before you. You now know with all your being that life is short. They were here with you one moment—now they are gone. It doesn’t get more real than that. When you realize how fleeting life truly is, it changes the way you live. You realize any day could be your last day. You learn to savor sunsets, wind, moments…and most of all relationships.

  • Relationships Are Most Important

Many times, we don’t realize just how important our loved ones are until they are gone. We don’t realize how intertwined our lives and souls are. Dealing with the death of our loved one helps us to realize that things are not important. We would give almost anything to have them back in our presence. On the other hand, we realize we are selfish in wanting that for they have gone to the eternal part of their life. We begin to realize that the relationships we still have are more precious than we ever realized. This experience changes the way we talk to others, listen to others, try to understand others, savor others, pray for others, and share the hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ with others.

  • Draws You Closer to the Lord and Eternity

As you struggle through grief, hopefully you reach out to the Lord to handle what you can never handle on your own. Each day is more than you can face by yourself, but the more you ask Him to help you, the more you realize He will never ever leave you or forsake you. He has been with you from before you were born and He will lead you to you eternal Home with Him. That is one of the benefits God gives us when He gave us Jesus Christ. Not only did He pay the death penalty for our sin, but He is with us always—as we finish this life and hold His hand when it’s our turn to soar across the finish line with Him.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4


Heavenly Father,      Surrender may seem like an action of defeat to the world, but I am learning that it can be the very moment of victory! Most of the time, defeat is pictured as someone who is beat down and helpless in battle and there is no way out so they must raise a little white flag in hopes that the enemy will be merciful. I am trying to surrender before I get so beat down and hopeless—trying to fight battles on my own that You never designed me for. I have definitely lost those battles I tried to take on with my own strength.

                Many times, I have found myself down in the trenches with attacks drilling me from every direction. There was no way out until I held up my little white flag and surrendered –not to the enemy—but to You, my Savior. It is so freeing to discover the peace and joy that comes from not trying to handle things my own way but by surrendering to You. You are always ready to lift me up and renew me. You always have a plan that far exceeds my own silly little schemes. I have always been awed by how You turn the battle completely around when I surrender to You, Lord.

                It’s funny how many times I have sung one of my favorite songs, “I Surrender All.” I really mean it when I say it. I believe I am surrendering it all to You. My hands are raised as I lift it all up to You. The burden becomes light as I trust You to take whatever it is and have Your own way. What joy there is in knowing who my King is, and the power He holds over anything I can possibly face. Yet, over and over I find myself surrendering a new area in my life (or even at times the same area again and again.) At different times, I have surrendered my dear family members and friends one at a time to You, my health, someone else’s health, finances, work, pride, writing, earthly stability, my future, hurts, mistakes, misunderstandings…The list goes on and on.

                Here I am again today, surrendering to You and trusting Your infinite love for me and others. Let Your will be done.

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“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  John 8:36

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10

“Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.”  Psalm 69:1

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, what do I need to surrender to You today?

 Heavenly Father,    I’ve survived a lot of storms in my life, most not related to weather. I see so many who I love and care about going through their own storms of different kinds right now. I cannot take their storm away, but I can urge them to take shelter. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been thinking and writing about tornado shelters lately since my son and his friends are kicking off a new type tornado shelter on a national television show this weekend. Maybe it’s because Spring weather and tornado season are approaching. But this morning, my thoughts were on where we go for shelter during the small and major storms of life.

               Seasoned Oklahomans know to keep alert during weather which can produce possible devastating tornados. They can do nothing to prevent those furious winds from coming but they know to take shelter when it happens. This life will definitely have its share of storms. The majority of Oklahomans have ridden out some major weather in some sort of “safe room” while the winds, lightening, hail rage all around. We all know that some shelters are safer than others.

               My shelter has been tested. Each time I have gone through a storm, I have run to Your strong tower, Lord! I don’t have to worry about driving to it, that it may already be filled, that I will be caught out in the open…Wherever I am , whatever is going on, whatever the attack is, no matter how powerful and overwhelming the storm is, I have found refuge, peace and strength. When I feel the most vulnerable, in the greatest danger, too weak to handle what I see…I can immediately find shelter in You, Lord. There have been many times I tried to ride out the storm on my own, and I was overwhelmed by its power and strength. But as soon as I call out to You and begin praising You in the storm, the storm either becomes quiet or I find the sweetest peace with You in the midst of the raging storm.

               The way to shelter with You is to call out the name of Jesus, realize Your sin against Him, Your need to be saved, and believe that Jesus is the door to everlasting shelter with You, Lord. As I begin to sing praises to You for being the Most High, for being stronger than whatever life blows my way, for trusting You will cause goodness out of the devastating blows- I know I am standing safely with You in the calm of the eye of the storm. Let the winds blow. Let the lightening crash and the hail come—for I am with You and all is well. How I want everyone to find this same shelter! I cannot drag them; they each must turn to You themselves.

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“Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me/ My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught…I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.”  Psalm 55:1,2,8

“For You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to take dwell in Your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.”  Psalm 61:3-4

“One day Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.’ So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, He fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in grave danger. The disciples went and woke Him saying, ‘Master, Master, we’re going to drown!’ He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided and all was calm. ‘Where is your faith?’ He asked His disciples.”  Luke 8:22-25

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, are You my shelter? Do I trust You in the storm?

Heavenly Father, I didn’t ask for this amazing answer to prayer but You gave me a glorious overwhelming glimpse yesterday. It happened to be 26 years ago that my first husband Steve died yesterday. Most years Jan 13 comes and goes quietly and softly but I felt moved to post one of his hundreds of poems on Facebook in honor of his heavenly birthday. When I went to pick the poem out, I thought I would be posting one on death and heaven; instead You led me to pick one out on finding new life in the Lord. It was so appropriate after all he did and wrote about life with You. I added a simple line above the post that stated “He’s still pointing people to the Lord.”

Little did I know, You would show me how much has happened since that poem was written. Never had I known anyone who lived so fully yet suffered so deeply in 37 years of life. About 2-3 years before his death, he told me he was going to stop praying for healing. I was shocked and asked “Why?” He said You told him if he was willing to go through this, it would help many people in the future. He was willing. And he did truly suffer. Lord, You were faithful to give him what he needed through the horrific times. You gave him visions and dreams to encourage him. Some of those included actual people who would be helped in the future. You even allowed him to “die” and go before Your throne where he had the choice to come back and be put on life support or stay. Oh, how he wanted to stay—but out of love, he chose to come back to live another important year. (That’s a whole other story.)

Yesterday, my pastor was preaching on “The Power of Suffering” and it might as well been about Steve. You gave me a glimpse of the lives that have been and are still being impacted because of his suffering—family members, church family, and a huge amount of other people that You showed him in a vision including specific people he had never met (some who hadn’t even been born yet). I was the one who got to see some of these specific lives be transformed by Jesus Christ.

Father, thank You for this glimpse of what a single life surrendered out of love for You and others can do throughout eternity. I don’t want to waste whatever amount of time I might have left here on this earth. Help me surrender my moments to You so You can use them for Your eternal plan.

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“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.”  1 Peter 4:12-13

“If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”  1 Corinthians 13:3

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, show me what I need to surrender to You out of love…

Dear friend, when I woke this morning, the Lord reminded me how hard nights are when you are grieving. It is hard to go to sleep and hard to wake up. Night time is when it gets quiet. Everyone is asleep. There are no distractions—just your thoughts. That’s often when the tears flow the hardest. That’s probably why He laid it on my heart to post this in the middle of the night. It was like He knew someone would not be able to sleep tonight. Someone would be having a very difficult time.

It was 26 years ago today that my husband passed from this world to be with the Lord. I have no problems sleeping now. I will be asleep when you read this post…but the Lord is available all the time—even at night when no one else sees your pain or hears your sobs. There is not one tear that is shed or unshed that He does not know about.

Since He is the one who knew you would be awake and need Him, I urge you to hold up all your grief to Him. He is ready and waiting to help you bear it. I may be asleep but He is there with you right now. HE thought enough of you to have me write this. He desires to help you. He longs to comfort you. It is His will to bring about precious good things even from this unbearable pain.

I may not know specifically who this is for…but I know God does!

Love and prayers, my friend!

Eva

“I lift my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night, The Lord will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”   Psalm 121


Dear friends,   I just heard about another suicide of a high school student today. It happened to be the fourth suicide in that school in a year! It brought back some of the earth shattering shock and pain of my dear brother-in-law’s suicide 34 years ago. Every single death is a shock to us—probably because God created us to live eternally. Yet there is something about a self-inflicted death that wreaks havoc in survivors’ lives. As painfully hard as this subject is, I want to share some thoughts with you:

Every Life is Precious

God is close to the broken-hearted and you must admit that someone has to be extremely broken to take their own life. If only we would have the eyes of Christ to spot the broken hearted and share eternal hope more readily on a daily basis. Yet often, the person hides it well from those they love. They must truly believe there is no other way at that particular moment in time and they act in that hopeless-appearing state. God knows each person and loves them even more than we are capable of.  He alone knows their heart and is with them—yet as always, He allows free choice. If you are dealing with the suicide of one you love, rest assured the Lord knows them, sees their heart, and it is His desire that not even one should perish but have eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Nothing is Beyond Healing and Renewal for the Lord

There are times the death happens in front of others, and other times, the person did it alone. Either way, it traumatizes those left behind. The trauma has to work its’ course yet survivors must do their part to hold up this unimaginable pain before the Lord. Counselors can help, but only the Lord can truly heal and make all things new. Only God can take such a devastating death and make something good come from it. Just as each person is unique, so is each grief after a suicide. Yet God is the One who can heal anything. The scars will always be there, but the goodness of the Lord can shine through even the deep scars of suicide.

Grieving After a Suicide

This is a very simplistic sounding blog, but hopefully it will let you know that you can and need to work through your grief, no matter how painful it is. There will be many questions: “Why?” “How could they do this to me?” “Why couldn’t I stop it?” “Why couldn’t God stop it?” “Where are they now?” There may not be answers to some of those questions here in this life (as my mother-in-law said about 6 months after her son’s self-inflicted death.) Yet as in any death, it is critical to work through your grief.  The best thought I can share in this short blog is to continually pour out all your honest thoughts, hurts, fears and pain to the Lord in a journal. Hold it all up to Him. He can and will heal what no one else can.

Helping a Survivor of Suicide

Be willing to listen quietly and without too much advice. Let them get their anger, fear and pain out…then quietly pray with them. Keep praying for them. Gently point them to the Lord who can help them. Share good memories of the one who took their life. Their whole life was not that one moment of action. Watch for hopelessness in those left behind (other family members and students) for survivors can fall into the temptation to feel hopeless enough to consider suicide. Keep checking on them through short tests, calls, messages and visits. Invite them to do something fun as a break from grief. Be gentle as they grieve.

Not even suicide is impossible for God to make something good from. I think of my brother-in-law’s death 34 years ago, and I know the Lord has used that in many ways in my family and in strangers since that time.

Love and prayers,

Eva

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“Jesus looked at them at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’”  Mark 10:27

For more indepth help grieving a suicide or any death, MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU was written with love to help you work through your personal grief with God’s help.

 Heavenly Father,              I was all settled in my cozy precious quiet time with You—ready to share with You, my nearest and closest companion who has always been with me and has never left me…when I was overcome with WHO YOU ARE!!

YOU-who created the galaxies near and far which seem to go on forever- the more we discover, the more we discover Your vast presence and power!

YOU- who made and tenderly cares for that tiny little bird outside my window who sings for joy in the middle of winter!

YOU-who makes the sun rise and set on us, who gives us air to breathe, water to live and hearts with the capability to love.

YOU- who reigns over all heaven and earth, the One whose holy kingdom endures and is victorious over all kings, presidents, wars, genocides, disease, death and the power of evil and hell.

YOU-who has all angels, spiritual beings and every living thing under Your control yet created us to have the choice of whether to love and worship You or not.

YOU- who though every single one of us sin and rebel against You, sent Your own Son Jesus Christ to live a holy life here as one of us—yet without sin—so HE could die for our sins- the only One worthy in all history to save us.

YOU- the One who waits patiently for us to personally accept Jesus’ life, death and resurrection so we can only begin to know who YOU really are!

YOU- the One whose spirit lives in me because of Jesus, who I can share life so intimately with; who I can share my thoughts, fears, joys, requests knowing YOU are with me, leading me!

YOU- the ONE I am overcome with—How is it that You would care about me?! That YOU would love me enough to humble Yourself and die for me so I could live with YOU forever! And not just me…but each of my family, friends, co workers and every single person YOU ever created!

Most Holy Father, I choose to come to YOU in worship and love today because YOU love me and because of who YOU are!

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“Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol Him, all you peoples. For great is His love towards us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!”  Psalm 117

“I will exalt YOU, my God, the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise YOU and extol Your name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.”   Psalm 145:1-3  (Written by “powerful” King David)

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, give me the eyes of Jesus to see who YOU are…

Heavenly Father,

               Like so many others this morning, I looked out my window and saw the largest snowflakes I had ever seen falling softly and quietly to the ground. I felt like I was in a silent snow globe with Your glory falling all around me. The snow almost immediately blanketed the yard, roof, bushes and that dirty pile of leaves that has been sitting untouched on my yard. Everything is covered with a pure white blanket. Even the ugliest eyesores have turned into scenes of beautiful sparkling pure white.

               There is nothing I can do to cause it to snow. There is nothing meteorologists can do to make the clouds pour out their flakes. No one can stop it no matter what sophisticated up-to-date technology lies at their disposal. It is poured out freely and generously in Your perfect timing. There are some who wanted it to snow and others who didn’t. You alone, Lord, know when to let the snow fall.  It is whiter than any white we can make. In fact, when the sun shines on it, we can barely look at it with our unprotected human eyes.

               Thank You for the way Jesus’ blood falls softly and quietly on me- completely covering my sin. When You look at me, You no longer see my ugly evil sin, but only the pure and holy covering of Jesus which causes me to shine with His glory. My holiness may not be visible to the human eye (including my own eyes) but the very moment I surrendered and asked Jesus to save me from my sins, I am covered. I am free of the ugly filth of guilt, shame, fear, rebellion, hate…all my sin is washed pure in the holy blood of Jesus Christ. I could never wash away my own sin—no matter how hard I try. You sent Your Holy Son Jesus, the only One worthy and able to do what we cannot- make us whiter than snow in Your precious eyes.

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“’Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’    Isaiah 1:18

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”   Isaiah 55:10-11

“The hair on His head was white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and coming out of His mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. Then He placed His right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.’”      Revelation 1:14-18

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Prayer Prompt-

Holy Father, do I believe Jesus is Your holy Son and have I accepted His precious blood to cover my sin and make me like snow?

Dear Friends,

               For some of you, this is the first new year you are facing without your loved one with you; others can barely believe it’s been 4 years or 25 years since they last touched their loved one. You always feel the absence of their physical presence but joy does come again- Joy in the Lord. As people around you make resolutions, you may just want time to stop. Yet as if you didn’t already know, life keeps going.

               If I can, I would like to encourage you as you write the new year on checks, documents, and hopefully your prayer journal. (Prayer journaling is my number one suggestion for going through grief. I will write more on that again soon!) Don’t stay stuck in the deep hold of grief too long. Life is for living. Your loved one is living more fully than you can imagine in their new life with the Lord. They have a new life we can only imagine. It’s true that we have to do the work of grief—review our lives together, realize the deep impact they had on our lives, forgive them and ourselves for any unfinished business, thank God for the gift He gave you in your loved one, and decide what are the best things we received in our loved ones that we can carry on in our own lives (their compassion, humor, strength, service…).

               Years ago, a lady in my grief group told me of a dream she had about her dear brother who had just died. They were climbing a difficult mountain together. Her brother was up ahead of her in his favorite red flannel shirt. The climb was steep and the rocks were loose. They had to periodically rest to catch their breath. She kept climbing, always keeping his flannel shirt in view. He reached the top and was out of sight. She began to panic when she lost him. Then she heard him call out though she could no longer see him, “Keep climbing! I made it and you will, too!”

               As you face this new year with your loved one out of your sight, I urge you to keep climbing. Keep living! Jesus is still on the trail with you. He will never ever leave you even if your loved ones do. He is waiting for you to trust Him/lean on Him/accept Him as the One who came to save you from your sinful end. He may not be seen. But He is softly calling, waiting for you to take His hand and go through life and whatever is up ahead in this new year and beyond. He is waiting to lead you Home!

Love and prayers,

Eva

PS. Just a reminder that the MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU book will help you work through your own personal grief in ways that go deeper than this amazing group.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9