A dear friend of mine gave me the link to this podcast to use in a youth setting. I would like to share it with you. I know it won’t be relevant for everybody – but if it helps you I am pleased 🙂
The Israelite nation in Marah are now away from the land of slavery making bricks day in day out; they have space and time to let emotions loose and face their trauma and loss. God has taken us out into the Wilderness to teach us and give us space to change. Pain isn’t something to push down and ignore – it needs addressing.
Gerald Sittser the Author of – A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss describes how he lost his mother, his wife and 4 year old child in a car accident where he was driving. The drunk perpetrator was never convicted because the it could not be proven beyond any shadow of a doubt at the trail that he and not his pregnant wife was driving. He write in his book “However painful, sorrow is good for the soul…The soul is elastic like a balloon. It can grow larger through suffering.”
God does not give us suffering or pain – but He can use what life throws at us to bring our heart increase. Lamenting can enlarge our soul. Many of the Psalms are laments of sorrow and are full of grief.
Ecclesiastes says there is a time to mourn. God can take our tears, take our pain and make us more. He can enlarge our souls through grieving well. Mourning can teach us compassion and empathy. We know that unless we mourn we cannot be comforted and in fact those that do mourn God will comfort Matthew 5:4.
Some may need to do the same as Nehemiah (1:4) – he sat down, wept, mourned, fasted and prayed. Some may need to read Psalms to express what they feel (try Psalm 43) other will need to just draw near to God and give him their pain. He has taken all our pain on himself on the cross. He has paid for it already so we can give him what it his. He doesn’t fear our pain, he won’t complain but just take it gladly from us.
How do you Grieve well?
Taken from Grieving and Healing: 5 Steps to Help You Through the Grieving Process. From Sharon O’Brien http://seniorliving.about.com/
1. Learn to accept that your loss is real.
For many people who are grieving a loss, the first impulse is to deny the loss. Grieving denial can range from downplaying the loss, as if it’s not important, to having the delusion that nothing/no-one has been lost.
2. Make it OK to feel the pain.
The pain of grieving can be both emotional and physical, and unfortunately there’s no way to avoid it. Denying the pain of grieving can lead to physical symptoms and can also prolong the grieving process.
Some people try to avoid grieving pain by being busy or traveling; others try to minimize grieving their loss by idealizing the loss/loved one or refusing to allow negative thoughts about the loss/loved one enter their minds. Some grieving people use drugs or alcohol to deaden the pain.
3. Adjust to living without the loss.
When we lose someone/something we also lose the part of our lifestyle that included our loss. Part of our grieving is for the parts of our life that will never be the same.
4. Let go allow yourself to move on.
This task can be especially hard as it can feel at first that you’re being disloyal/lost when you start to think about enjoying a life that doesn’t include the deceased/the thing you have lost.
Learning to cherish a memory or dream without letting it control you is a very important step in the grieving process.
Today: Release your pain of loss and give it to the one who has paid for it already. Draw close to your Father and let him comfort you in your grief. He can and will heal your heart.
Part of the healing process of our hearts includes paying attention to our loss.
The nation of Israel had lost many things in Egypt. Their freedom, dreams, dignity, babies and loved ones, among other things, during their time in Egypt. They needed a time away from work and tasks to pay attention to their grieving pain. For us this loss can be church moves , job, divorce, lost dreams, loss of a leader, loss of innocence, loss of a loved one, etc.
I spent some time thinking about the losses that I have experienced in my life I listed them in my travel log and was shocked as I reached 25 major losses in my life fairly quickly. Things that I had brushed over and not given myself time to deal with. There are two times particularly that highlight for me how slow I am to grieve and how it has caused damage suppressing emotional trauma within me.
When I was 18 one of my best friends, in our gang of 6 during college, was killed whilst driving a car past the end of our road. I didn’t cry over the loss for 7 months. I remember the day God tackled me to the ground in order for me to give him my pain. It was a vivid memory for me – the day I cried! One other time I didn’t know how to take my grief to God was after a late miscarriage. I was surprised at how much the loss affected me and didn’t know how to morn someone I had never seen. There are other times in my life when I have lost dreams, friendships, homes and other things that were dear to me. I had for a long time denied and excused the affect of emotional trauma on my life. Now it is time to face and deal with the hurt.
Peter Scazzero in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality lists ways in which we deny loss or excuse it:
Denial – We refuse to acknowledge a painful aspect : “I feel fine. It didn’t bother me a bit that my boss belittled me and fired me. I wasn’t bothered”
Minimizing – We admit something Is wrong but in such a way that it appears less serious than it is : “My son is doing ok with God. He’s just drinking once in a while”. When in fact he is drinking heavily and rarely sleeping at home
Blaming Others – We deny responsibility for our behaviour and project it “out there” blaming it another:” The reason my brother is sick in hospital is because the doctors messed up his medications!”
Blaming Yourself – we inwardly take on the fault: “It’s my fault my mum doesn’t take care of me and drinks all the time. It’s because I’m not worth it”
Rationalising – We offer excuses and justifications to explain what is going on: “Do you know that John has a genetic disposition toward rage that runs in his family? That is why the meetings aren’t helping him”
Intellectualising – We give analysis, theories and generalities to avoid personal awareness and difficult feelings: “My situation is not that bad compared to others in the world. What have I got to cry about?”
Distraction – We change the subject or engage humour to avoid threatening topics: “Why are you so focused on the negative? Look at the great time we had last Christmas.”
Becoming Hostile– We get angry or hostile when reference is made to certain subjects: “Don’t talk about Joe. He’s dead. It’s not going to bring him back.”
Today: Use your journal and list the losses through your life. This loss can be church moves , job loss, divorce, lost dreams, loss of a leader, loss of innocence, loss of a loved one, loss of friendship etc. It is time to let yourself grieve for these.
I don’t want us to brush past this important part of the journey. We need to take some active steps to deal with unforgiveness before we move on. This is not a one off act but we will need to deal with it again when it crops up in the future. We are always learning how to forgive others.
Forgiving someone has to be act of the will. Quite often the person you must forgive may already be dead. These people are often the most difficult to forgive, but are the most important. There may be people from situations in your life which you may feel are impossible to forgive, or ones that you simply refuse to forgive, or even ones that you say you just cannot forgive since they have caused you such deep pain. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring you to a place where you are enabled to make the choice to forgive. He will reveal to you all the people and situations which make forgiveness necessary.
Today : Sit down and take your time doing this exercise. With each of the names written down in your travel log pray through this prayer. It might help to visual the person in the room sat in front of you as you pray.
“ —(insert the name)—- I forgive you for all you have done to me. I release you to the grace of God. I break agreement with bitterness dwelling in me. I now breathe in your love and forgiveness God”
After you have let go sit down and refresh yourself in God’s presence. Perhaps listen to some music, or just wait quietly.
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15
Forgiveness is a choice and vital to our relationship with God. Unforgiveness determines intimacy with our Father and feeds rejection. Harbouring any unforgiveness or unconfessed sins will definitely hinder our spiritual growth and communication with God.
Unforgiveness can be detrimental to our physical and spiritual wellbeing. It can manifest itself as depression, anger, hatred, resentment and bitterness etc. It can cause physical ailments, all of which rob us of peace and joy.
We need to invite the Holy Spirit to remove weeds form the garden of our hearts. We can ask him to search our hearts as David did in Psalms 139 and He will look for any hurt, wounds or pain that the enemy would seek to exploit through unforgiveness. We must not do our own digging. It is important to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal:
1. Any unconfessed sin
2. Any unforgiveness of others
3. Any unforgiveness of self
4. Any ungoldly beliefs (lies you have believed)
It is helpful to make a list of all the people and situations that have ever caused you
Hurt, Pain, Fear, Resentment, Jealously, Shame, Rejection, Loneliness, Anger, Guilt, Dishonour
Don’t forget to put you own name and God’s name at the top of the list. This is very important!
Unforgiveness is a doorway for Satan to come in , gain a foothold and take control in certain areas of your life, and even the lives of family members. Forgiveness closes the doorways to the enemy which is vital before the house or temple can be cleansed and filled with the Holy Spirit.
Today: Spend some time with God and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any body in your life who needs forgiving. This includes forgiving God or yourself. We will look at what to pray in more detail tommorrow
For few days we will be looking at the power of forgiveness – the answer to bitterness
I start with a personal revelation whilst watching World Without End by Ken Follet. In the last episode there is a scene where the wicked Petranilla (who had killed many for the sake of ambition) was in a room with the heroine, Caris. Petranilla had killed Caris’ mother, father, best friend and tried to burn Caris at the stake. When Petranilla realises all her evil plans had turned against her she takes some poison to kill herself and Caris has her chance for revenge. I found myself seething with anger at this venomous character and wanted Caris to make her move. Caris, however, turns to her enemy looks her in the eye and says “I forgive you” and then starts praying for her. I was moved to tears and thought “so this is what it looks like to be truly powerful”.
Here are some key thoughts on how to be powerful in forgiveness.
• God recognises that we have been treated badly
‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.’ Genesis 50:17
• He sees our tears
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8
• Forgiveness always costs
They are to bring to the priest as a guilt offering a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value. In this way the priest will make atonement for them for the wrong they have committed unintentionally, and they will be forgiven. Leviticus 5:18
• We are not to forget the sacrifice God made for us to be forgiven
“who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion”, Psalm 103:2-4
“I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” Hebrews 8:12
• God forgives as we forgive
But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:15
• Forgiveness is as powerful as a healing
Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? Mark 2:9
• God wants us to forgive others much as we have been forgiven much
Read the parable of the unforgiving servant – Matthew 18:21
Today: think about the the attitude of heart that Jesus encourages where one person freely forgives another (Matthew 18:22). This is what a powerful person looks like in action.