Tears to Joy

Tears to Joy: March 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

Survivors of Suicide

Almost every month, I am faced with the reality of suicide as I receive letters and phone calls from people all across the nation who have lost someone they love. Each time my heart aches with the person (many of whom I’ve never met), because I know the path before them is one of gut-wrenching pain. I also know that God is able to bring healing, but only as we face the pain. There’s no shortcut on the road to healing.

Last year, I began working with an organization called SOS (Survivors of Suicide). There are SOS Support Groups all over the nation. These groups are designed for adults who have lost someone to suicide to meet with other survivors in an attempt to face their grief and find healing in a personal way. As survivors meet with each other, a mutual healing often takes place. Those who are newly bereaved often find comfort and hope from those who are further along in the grief process.

Losing someone to suicide is different than other types of loss. The grief is complicated. Not only do you face the normal stages of grief, but you may also experience guilt or shame. I remember feeling guilty and wondering what I could have done differently to save Michael. I also remember the shame. There are times I still feel the shame. Each time someone asks how my husband died, I can feel the shame rising within me, and I have to remind myself to hold my head high. Michael’s death did not define who he was. He was an amazing man, and I need not feel ashamed.

If you or someone you care about has lost someone to suicide, encourage them to visit a SOS Support Group. I encourage people to try it at least three times. If after three times it isn’t helpful, then feel free to stop coming. Sometimes it takes a while to feel safe in the group. To find out where a group is near you, go to http://www.survivorsofsuicide.com

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wanting What I Can't Have

Ever notice how you don’t really notice something until it’s gone? (I think there’s a song out there that says something like that, but I can’t remember it exactly.) It has always been around, but you never really realized it until you couldn’t have it anymore. Why is it that so often the things we desperately long for are things we cannot have. I decided to give up soft drinks for forty days in an effort to pray for trafficking and slavery around the world. My office sells soft drinks to students every day. In the past, I never really thought much about it, but as soon as I “forbade” myself from having them, it was like some dragon from deep within me starting roaring for a coke.

Just hearing the top pop is enough to make my mouth water. Even talking about it now makes me long for a coke. I’ve thought a lot about this (maybe too much actually). The Bible talks a lot about waiting. Delayed Gratification. In my life, the longer I pray about something, and the longer I have to wait for it, the greater the longing becomes.

I’ll be honest, I hate to wait! I get irritated if the “fast food” line backs up causing me to wait. I abhor traffic because it causes me to wait. I don’t like waiting for my teachers to grade my papers, for the light to turn green, and on and on the list goes. I suppose that God continues to make me wait on more important requests to develop a spirit of patience in me (trust me, I am not there yet!).

So, in the meantime, I begin drooling (not really but my mouth really does start watering) whenever I even think about a coke --- don’t even mention the word “Dr. Pepper” or there’s no telling what might happen. But along with my discomfort, I am moved to pray. While I miss such a simple pleasure, others are longing for their next meal, longing for freedom, longing for love and acceptance. My trivial longings for a coke pale in comparison.

So I wait in hopes that God will hear my prayers and bring healing and freedom (physical and spiritual) to those who are trapped in slavery. Still, I am waiting.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Miracle of Hope...

Mother’s Day 2011, the couple felt compelled to plead with God to give them a child. They made their promise to the Lord public at their church. They committed to dedicate this child to the Lord in the same way Hannah gave up Samuel before he was ever born. They asked family and friends to pray with them, asking God to bless them with a child.

            A month and a half later, their dream became reality. She was expecting! O the joy and the fear! Could this be? Had God answered their prayer? Or was this yet another child to be lost before he was ever born? The couple continued to pray and give God glory for this conception.

            At nine months, the mother was hospitalized. Fear gripped everyone! Would their dreams die again, or would God bless them with a new life?

            This was reality for my friends, Josh and Amanda Hanke. She and her husband Josh pleaded with the Lord to give them a child. Time and again, their hopes had turned to heartbreak. Then on February 3, 2012 God gave them the cry of their heart by bringing Ryder Hanke into the world. What a miracle! Born at 4 lbs and 12 oz, he was so tiny. He had to stay in the neonatal unit even after mom and dad returned home.

            While their bodies were at home, their heart was at the hospital with their miracle baby. Day after day, they visited Ryder, praying for him, longing to bring him home. On February 13, 2012, Little Ryder did just that! At last, Josh and Amanda were able to bring home their son!
            I share this with you because it is one of hope! After nine months of praying with Amanda in the crying room, week after week, begging God to protect Ryder, it was with exceedingly great joy that we prayed for him this past Sunday in that same crying room, only this time he was with us not in utero, but in the flesh! Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine. When I look into Ryder’s face, I see hope. I see the result of answered prayers! I am reminded of the widow who continued to plead with the judge until he heard her case. I am inspired to continually seek God’s face in earnest, not giving up hope! 


Monday, March 5, 2012

Utterly Inadequate

There are times when I feel like superwoman and feel like I could do anything I set my mind to. But more often, I feel ill-equipped and totally unprepared for what lies ahead. Have you ever felt totally inadequate for the task at hand? There have been times in my life when I knew God wanted me to do something and I not only felt unprepared, but I also felt incapable. Fear threatens to paralyze us in these moments, preventing us from moving forward in obedience to Christ. 

Several years ago, I was invited to be a part of a mission team going to a part of the world that is hostile to the gospel. I knew that God had called me to go. The trouble was that God didn’t share that calling with my family and friends. Many were afraid for me and as they voiced their concerns, I too began to doubt my calling. Did God really want me to go? What did I possibly have to offer this people group? Surely I could pray for them from the safety of my own living room.

A wise friend once told me, “It’s when you feel like you have something to offer God that He can’t use you. When we are weak, He is strong. He works best in us when we admit we can’t do anything for Him, and yet we allow Him to do what we could never do on our own --- that way He gets ALL THE GLORY!!!

In the end, I went on the trip, and I will never be the same. Looking from the rooftop over the city, my heart broke as I saw millions of people who have never heard the gospel. How will they hear unless someone tells them? I decided in that moment that obedience is worth the price…even when it is costly.

Do I still feel inadequate? Absolutely! But obedience to Christ has taken me places I never dreamed I’d go (literally and figuratively) and I wouldn’t trade the adventure for anything this world has to offer!