It’s been a while since I’ve been here! My dad passed away six months ago now and the Lord has been working in my heart to post again. Whatever circumstance you find yourself in today, I want to encourage you to look UP!
“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3 NLT).
The last 8 months have been the most heartbreaking of my entire life. Words can simply not express how excruciatingly painful it has been. It has been said to me and now I can verify that the journey of grief is one each person must travel alone. I have had so many wonderful friends and relatives come alongside me, but it truly is a journey that I have had to walk by myself with Jesus because of the specific work He wanted to do in my heart. It is a unique journey in that no one else on earth had the relationship with my dad that I had. No one else was his daughter except me, and my love for him was unique and specific to that relationship. How thankful I am that where I have seen one set of footprints, it was not I who was walking, but the Lord Jesus who was carrying me! Remember that as believers, we may feel alone, but we are never really alone. The rest of my family has each had their own journey of grief. We have all suffered together, yet alone. It’s hard to see the other members of your family suffering and not be able to help them. But, FOR THIS WE (each) HAVE JESUS!
As Jesus and I have walked this journey, He has used Romans 5:1-6 to greatly encourage me. In my darkest moments, I have been tempted to doubt everything, including heaven itself! But God has gently reminded me that I must rejoice in hope of the glory of God (heaven). I began to realize that it’s a choice I must make out of faith even in the midst of doubt. Roy Hession has a sermon series called “Suffering in the Christian Life” that God used to show me this. You can listen to it here. I am learning that when I die to self and make that choice to REJOICE in the hope of heaven, I have reason to GLORY (same word as rejoice in the Greek) in my tribulation. When I rejoice in my tribulation, several things begin to happen like a chain reaction. First, I begin to experience ENDURANCE which is the God given ability to bear up under my trial. Secondly, as I endure, I begin to EXPERIENCE God’s grace in ways I have never experienced before (He proves His character to me and in me). And lastly, this experience of God’s grace in my life brings me to a greater assurance of HOPE than I ever had before because the LOVE of God has been shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Spirit which was given to me. (See Romans 5:1-6 KJV).
It’s hard to rejoice in tribulation isn’t it? God has shown me that one of the greatest ways to humble myself before Him and to die to self is to choose by faith to REJOICE IN HIM in the midst of great tribulation. Many times we cry out in desperation to God in our trial and wonder why we still feel so miserable? Maybe it’s because we have forgotten to rejoice in God. Maybe we are still holding on to “our will” instead of humbly saying as Jesus did, “not my will but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42). It’s a place of surrender we all have to come to eventually in whatever trial we may be facing. We may go there kicking and screaming, but it is the only place we will truly find peace. Once we bow the knee before the Father, He begins to do a work in and through us that we cannot explain.
As I close this post, I want to remind you of the old hymn, “In the Sweet By & By” written by Sanford F. Bennett in 1868. Bennett wrote the lyrics and Joseph P. Webster wrote the music. Bennett and Webster worked together often and Bennett came to know Webster as very melancholy and easily discouraged. One day when Bennett noticed that Webster was down, he asked him what was the matter. Webster’s reply was, “It’s no matter, it will be all right by and by.” Bennett was immediately reminded of the hope we have in heaven and how God will make all things right by and by! The words of the famous hymn came flowing from his pen:
There’s a land that is fairer than day, and by faith we can see it afar. For the Father waits over the way to prepare us a dwelling place there. In the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore; in the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore.
We shall sing on that beautiful shore the melodious songs of the blest, and our spirits shall sorrow no more– not a sigh for the blessing of rest! In the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore; in the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore.
To our beautiful Father above, we will offer our tribute of praise for the glorious gift of His love and the blessings that hallow our days. In the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore; in the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore.
You might say, “It’s great to think about the sweet by and by, but what about the terrible here and now?” I think the last verse of the hymn says it all. What is our tribute of praise? It is choosing to REJOICE IN HOPE OF THE GLORY OF GOD. Hebrews 3:14-15 says, “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to His name.”
Weary traveler, are you choosing to rejoice in God today? You may have no earthly reason to rejoice, but you surely do have a heavenly reason! Daily I am reminded of the fact that I will never see my dad again here on earth. But, I can rejoice in hope of the glory of God! No matter what happens to me on this earth, I can rejoice in heaven! If you are a believer, you can rejoice in heaven too. I know many of you are going through very hard things. I pray that we will all choose to look to Jesus! He alone is our strength. He knows the end from the beginning and He is worthy to be praised.
Dad, it’s hard to believe you’re not here. I miss you more than I know how to say. You were everything to me! I will never forget when we knelt together by the radiator and I received Jesus as my personal Savior. It is because of your example that our family walks with God. I know you weren’t perfect, but you so beautifully role modeled to me what it means to die to self and live a life full of God’s grace. You showed me that without Christ, I can do nothing to please Him! You showed me that I must decrease so that He can increase in my life. I can’t imagine living the rest of my earthly life without you. But I know you would remind me that the same Jesus that walked with you, walks with me. I don’t want to waste my life in sorrow and bitterness! I want to live my life as you did, fully surrendered to Him to the end! Today I choose to rejoice in hope of the glory of God! Today I choose to rejoice in my tribulation! What would we do without the saving life of Christ? Where would we be? Jesus got us through the long, harsh winter. My heart thrills within me to see the first signs of spring. I am excited to embrace the future and all God has planned for us. Dad, I thank God that you are in heaven. I rejoice that I will see you again. One day, “in the sweet by and by; we shall meet on that beautiful shore.”