Loss-cancer

Salons, Scissors & Seeking

God still works miracles! I remember the day I decided to shave my head. I didn’t want to have to deal with seeing big strands of my hair fall off due to chemo. I woke up early that morning and got in the shower, thinking to myself that I would make an appointment at the hair salon and drive over. I was determined to be radical in my brave decision to cut it ALL off! 

In my younger years, I had watched the movie GI Jane and the actress Demi Moore just looked SO COOL!!! I had even thought, if I lived in Europe, I could probably pull it off and get the look.  

As I was getting dressed and thinking of where and who could do the job, my phone rang unexpectedly. Amanda’s Salon, one of the high-end beauty salons in the city, was on the other end of the phone line.

Amanda’s soft voice greeted, “A friend at church told me you might be needing a haircut.” I could not believe what I heard! I told her I was just about to grab the phone and make an appointment to get my head shaved off. She told me I didn’t have to go anywhere, because she wanted to come over and help me out.  

Instantly, I thought how awesome and amazing God is. He knows our desires and always shows us that He IS WORKING THINGS OUT that we can’t see!  

She ended up coming over, and even prayed for me before starting the process. This moment in time reminds me of God’s LOVE and MERCY. He is in the smallest of details. Sometimes His miracles are in the middle of the hardest, most painful things that we go through in life. And, in the painful, fearful place, He shows up with a miracle, and it is the very same place that we worship Him. PAIN/FEAR to MIRACLE to WORSHIP. 

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 

Contributor-Ivette Menendez

Photo-Kadir Celep

Loss-spouse

Stones of Remembrance

Dartmouth College has developed a Life Change Index Scale also referred to as “The Stress Test.” One is to go through the listed events assigning them a designated score for that event. Events include death of a spouse or close family member, divorce, loss of job, moving, change in eating habits, etc. The higher the score, the harder it will be for one to recover. Many of us have gone through such events. How is our recovery going?

Think of Joshua and the Stones of Remembrance. After the loss of a close family member (Joshua and the Israelites had lost Moses), after moving (they had moved around for forty years), and after experiencing a change in eating habits (think manna and quail)-What would Joshua’s score have been? What would all of the Israelites score have been?

According to Dartmouth, it would be very high, and they were at risk for a very difficult recovery.  Yet, despite the stressful events, including crossing what was a full river Jordan (yet miraculously dried), Joshua decided that a memorial should be built, “Stones of Remembrance.” He wanted them to REMEMBER all that God had done: To stop and take the time to reflect on God’s faithfulness in the middle of their stressful circumstances and to use this to teach their children about who God was.

In Joshua 4, the Israelites built a memorial out of stones. These stones were taken from the middle of what could be considered the SOURCE of their stress. The Jordan River. This was also the exact spot of miraculous work. They stayed longer in the dried-up source of stress, the place of miracles, to create a memorial to remember God’s divine deliverance and great goodness. In the exact same dirt: the source of stress, a miracle, then worship.

The stones were to serve as a prompt–so that future generations would ask what the stones were for and they would be told the testimony of how they could not cross the Jordan River (their stress) until it was dried up by the Lord. So that ALL could know that “the hand of the Lord is MIGHTY, so that [they would] fear the LORD [their] God forever.”  

I want to be like Joshua, allowing the Lord to use stressful events and my recovery to bring him GLORY for generations to come. Now… what will my “stones” be?

Contributor-A. Rightmire

Loss-child · Loss-pandemic

How Long, O Lord

This is a New Year. Over the past year, I have listened to many sermons. Many focused on the disappointments of Covid. Changes, cancellations, job loss, death-all unexpected & unwelcome. 

We are not used to suffering. We are not used to death. Understandabily. It hurts.

In the middle of unforeseen tragedies, there is groaning deep inside: HOW LONG, O LORD? 

Maranatha means, “Come, Lord Jesus!” I whisper this more often these days when I hear news of another strand of the virus, or of a neighbor dying from Covid, or a friend’s friend losing their child to suicide. I wonder–how long, O Lord? How long until Covid is gone? How long until You come back?

It reminds me of the Israelites wandering in the desert for forty years asking the same question. But, I also think of how they persevered in great trouble. Generations of people in history have withstood massive suffering: the Roman Empire brutality, the Black Death, religious wars in Europe, the Crusades, slavery, potato famines, the Holocaust, the French Revolution, corrupt kings, the Russians under Stalin, the Italians under Mussolini, wars, wars, and more wars.

Paul David Tripp comforts that “Scripture never looks down on the sufferer, it never mocks his pain, it never turns a deaf ear to his cries, and it never condemns him for his struggle.”

Lam. 3:22-23 states “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease. For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.” Lovingkindness means loyal love, faithfulness based on a promise, not on performance. Since the death of my son, this verse has woken me up every morning. I awake and don’t plan to say it, but I do. I rely heavily on its promise.

How long? God’s answer: I am faithful. No time given. This year, take one day at a time. Each day with new mercy, focusing on God’s character. A challenge-choose to remember, think, speak, sing of God’s faithfulness and mercy.

We aren’t the only ones who have asked this question. This is David speaking in Ps. 13  likely during the time that his own son tried to stage a coup to overtake him:

How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever?

How long will You hide Your face from me?

How long shall I take counsel in my soul,

Having sorrow in my heart all the day?

How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;

My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.

I will sing to the LORD,

Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

Contributor-L. Vincent