These regular My Forever Memories blogs are written with love to offer encouragement, help, hope and love through your personal journey of grieving your loved one.
There are times that suffering feels like the life is being squeezed out…when it seems more than we can handle…when pain, grief and sorrow threaten to drown us—but even then, You are right here. Lord. You are closer than anyone else could possibly be. You truly never leave us. We can count on You and Your goodness. Last night, I felt the suffering trying to overtake me once more. I knew I needed to be still in Your presence and look to You instead of the suffering. So much pain, tears, sorrow, suffering all around… I need You, Lord—and Your hope.
Less than a week ago, our precious tiny granddaughter died in her mommy’s womb. It has been so sad. I couldn’t share it with the grief group that I host until our grown children decided how they would handle it. I couldn’t ease their pain no matter how hard I wanted to. There have been so many others who are suffering lately…and yet I see how You turn that suffering into something beautiful.
Life keeps going despite our suffering. Several of us go into a neighborhood once a week to leave gospel tracts and pray with people who want it. The day after our granddaughter’s death, I asked You to use my suffering… and You did as I prayed with three different people I had never met about the preciousness of life. I believe it had eternal impact. My sweet daughter-in-law is a NICU trauma nurse. I can’t even begin to imagine how her suffering will impact her future compassion and ministry to families. I see You at work in our son and 4-year-old grandson. There are more ways You will use this suffering than any of us can comprehend right now.
Jesus was with You as You made all there is. He holds all power and authority–yet He knows all about suffering. He was willing to suffer unjust punishment, judgement, desertion, mockery, bullying, physical, mental and spiritual abuse—even unto death so we could live with You for all eternity. He knew His bitter suffering would result in the sweetest gift ever given- eternal life.
Isaiah 53:3 says about Jesus “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. “
“And we hope in the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” Romans 5:2-5
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. I consider our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:17-18
Your Prayer Peek-
Father, what suffering do I have to offer to You?
There seems to have been a flood of deaths around me lately. Some of them have been very close to me and others involve relatives or friends of those I am close to. Death is never easy- no matter the age or circumstance of the one we mourn. My forever Pastor Jerl, who just died, enjoyed teasing and called me “a grief guru” because he knew I would protest! Who wants to be associated with death and grief? I would much rather deal with life than death! Yet they go together…
Those dear ones who just left this life—the two young football players, the young man in his twenties, the little girl everyone loved, the beloved husband, and our amazing pastor friend, Jerl are more alive than they have ever been! They had to die from this life to fully experience eternal life with our Lord! Before this, they had to die to their own will and surrender to Jesus as their Lord to receive His life and all the inheritance His life offers. You sent Jesus to die for us so that we might have eternal life! Jesus’ death was the only way to give us the gift of life with You, our Father. Jesus’ death brings us TRUE LIFE which can never ever die or be taken from us.
Father, how I pray for those who are left behind; those who are grieving the death of their loved one. I know they feel surrounded by death. I realize they feel overwhelmed by death…yet I know that You are with the broken-hearted, tenderly calling them to a new deeper life with You. You will never ever leave them or forsake them. You know they must go through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, but You have much more life ahead for them to live—both here on earth and for all eternity.
Lord, as much as I would love to take away the taste of death from those who are hurting, I know even as I pray that You are bringing life out of death. You are the expert on birthing life from death! We wait upon You! We look to You, the Victor over death and the gracious Giver of Eternal Life!
“Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves Me must follow Me…’” John 12:23-26
“I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” Jeremiah 31:13
“He will wipe 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 is seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” Revelation 21:4-5
Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, help me to trust You to bring life even through death and grief…
There are some new people and families on my heart today who are still reeling from the shock of a sudden death of a loved one. How I wish I could take their pain away—yet I know I cannot. Though I have had a grief ministry for over 25 years now, I am ever so aware I cannot make everything better for these dear people I love (or for those who are just joining our group that I don’t know yet.)
I can offer to be here while you go through one of the hardest things you will ever have to go through. For some of you, it is not even really real yet. You keep thinking you can call and share something with your loved one. God is so tender and close to the broken-hearted. He knows we cannot possibly bear all of our grief all at once. It comes in waves or “attacks.” Almost anything can set it off—a whiff of a scent, a line of a song, a glimpse of a shirt, that moment when you turn to share something with your loved one and you are shocked to remember they are not there…
Each of you has a one-of-a-kind special relationship with your loved one that has never occurred throughout history before because there has never been another you and them before. No one but you knows what you are missing–and you are still realizing. You are interconnected with your loved one in a way no one else was. Therefore, your grief will be very personal and unique. No one can go through it for you. No one can tell you how you feel because they don’t truly know.
There is only one who truly understands your loss and your grief…and that is our Lord God Almighty. He made you—and your loved one. He’s the one who orchestrated your lives to intertwine together. He understands you better than you understand yourself. He can help you through this painful walk through the Valley of the shadow of death.
It will take more tears, physical and emotional energy than most anything you can go through. Be gentle with yourself as you go through each day. You have been deeply wounded as part of yourself has been ripped from your very being. But you will be okay. I am praying that you will discover our Lord in a new and deeper way than ever before as He walks with you.
My deepest love and prayers,
PS. My Forever Memories of You books were written with much love so you can actually write your own book through this journey. It will be a book of your own relationship with your loved one… and a growing relationship with the Lord.
Most Glorious Heavenly Father,
Precious in Your sight is the death of one of Your saints. You see it as their ultimate Homecoming to life with You. We, who are left behind, struggle between being incredibly happy for them and incredibly sad for ourselves. Late last night my “Forever Pastor” Jerl Joslin crossed that great finish line. He, nor any of the rest of us, realized how close he was to the victory line. He was going about his race mapped out before him. He was running hard. He and his beloved wife were about to begin their annual Refresh Ministry Pastors’ Conference in less than a week. They had a revival with multiple Kiamichi churches lined up next weekend. What an eternal impact one humble loving man and his beautiful faithful wife had on so many lives! You can do great things through one or two surrendered lives, Lord!
About eight years ago, this selfless humble man underwent a traumatic attack which You ultimately used to make him more determined than ever to finish his ministry strong for You. Despite hardships, trials, heartache and misunderstandings You built him up to keep on going. You gave him the most perfect life partner to share Your work with and to sing duets with. Jerl’s kindness, sincere love, wisdom, encouragement and ministry to others went way beyond his human capabilities. It flowed out of his personal relationship with You through Jesus Christ. He loved You and others with all his heart. That’s why there are so many grieving today. His genuine love caused each person he met (and immediately knew by name!) to know they were loved. There was no doubt his sincere love flowed straight from You.
Father, thank You for such a life well-lived. Thank You for the thought of him worshipping You even more fully in Your presence! Lord, it is so hard for me to imagine his wife Dani without her beloved Jerl. May she keep singing solos knowing You are with her. You formed in them a much deeper partnership than the average marriage. I have no doubt You will sustain her and their family to finish their own races strong. Jerl is just over the finish line cheering them on! He’s cheering us all on. I will forever hear Your words through his voice and writing. May we all be willing to run our race with You and finish strong—all the way to the victory line!
“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but to all who have longed for His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Psalm 116:15
“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory!’” 1 Corinthians 15:54
Your Prayer prompt-
Father, Help Jerl’s family – and all of us- to finish strong…
Most holy Father,
Yesterday I attended the graveside service of a young beautiful 42-year-old woman. She was the daughter of a dear friend and co-worker. As I waited for the service to begin, I was thinking how short this life is. There were four drownings this weekend (two of which were four-year-old children). Whether we live just a few minutes as my nephew’s little 1 ½ lb baby did or 93 years, as my grandmother did, this physical life is short! Especially compared to eternity which is really what life is all about. That’s exactly what the humble man spoke about at the service- the brevity of this life!
Since I have dealt with living and dying all my life- but most certainly in the past 25 years as I have encouraged those who are grieving, I may be more aware of the brevity of this life. I have had the often-painful honor of hearing the stories of the broken-hearted who are missing their loved ones. It is so hard to be walking in life next to a loved one and then to have them gone in the twinkling of an eye. It can be very painful to be the ones left behind to finish out this life without them. Yet it is also a reality check of how very real the end of this age is. If we already know and trust You, Lord, we get extra homesick for our eternal lives with You and our loved ones. Even if we do not know You yet, we realize we all will die at some point and it could be today. It is an important time to struggle with what this life is truly all about. It is about You, Lord and our relationship with You!
As painful as death is on this side, I have also had the honor of seeing glimpses of life in the next chapter that never ends—people on their death beds seeing You and Your glory calling them home in one way or another! Father, You do not leave us alone as orphans to face this world. You sent your pure and Holy Son Jesus to guarantee our place with You forever. All we have to do is confess we need Him and ask Him to be Lord of our lives. Then He sends the Holy Spirit to live in us—to comfort, guide, lead, encourage, correct, refresh, and strengthen us in this life and forevermore. We can live with the joy of Your presence in us—even in this earthly life.
Life here on this present earth may be brief, but we never have to walk through it alone. We can begin our eternal life with You now and know that we will live with You for all eternity. Thank You for loving us so much that You want us to spend forever with You!
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” Jesus promising us the Holy Spirit in John 14:18
“You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes…” James 4:14
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, my life is nothing without You. I have sinned against You. I need Your Son Jesus to save me, live in me and give me eternal life…