Tag Archives: death

When God Says No

When God says NoMonths ago I started reading a book. For the life of me, I cannot remember the book or the author. But the author made a statement that has stuck with me ever since: It is easy to have faith when God says yes and everything happens the way you want it to, but it takes a deeper faith when God says no. The moment I read those words, I wanted that kind of faith.

I should know by now to be careful what I wish for. In order to develop a faith strong enough for God to say no, I have to let Him say no. And that’s not easy. In the last few months, I think that is about the only word I have heard from God: no. In big things, like selling our house, to little things, like finding Philip’s lost glasses. I have asked…and not received. After a while, it has weighed down on me and made me ask what is faith really?

I think we subconsciously view faith like this: if I have enough faith, God will do it. If I don’t, then it’s my own fault. And that has paralyzed me. I am a woman of little faith. Some people have the gift of faith. Not me. I have always been a logic, scientific kinda gal. I need to see it to believe it, figure it out, understand how it works, and then I will accept it. So because of my natural inclinations, does that mean I will see less of God’s blessings? Because I don’t have enough faith?

Then it hit me today: that kind of thinking is the same kind as hoping I am good enough for heaven. People who strive to be good enough for God always have a fear in the back of their mind, “Am I good enough?” Same with faith. “Do I have enough faith?” And when a loved one dies, or the bank takes the house, or you lose your job after praying hard on your knees, you can’t help but think you didn’t have enough faith, so God didn’t provide.

But in the end, doesn’t that place everything on ourselves? That we need to first have faith, then God will work?

Perhaps our view of faith is wrong. It is not about what God does, but who He is. Because if our faith is set on what He does, then we are going to be disappointed. But if our faith is set on who He is, then we will be confident no matter what happens because we know that He is in control. When He says no, we will not be shaken. We will  believe He has a reason for saying no, a reason we may not see or understand (after all, if we truly understood everything God did, then He wouldn’t be much of a god, would He?).

I still have a ways to go in developing this kind of faith, a faith placed squarely on God. But I want it. And I will continue to pursue it.

How about you? Has God told you no before? How did you react? Was it hard? Did your faith grow from the experience?

Can Suicide Separate Us From God?

Stormy skyThis week brought shocking news: the son of Rick and Kay Warren (author of the Purpose Driven Life) committed suicide. Within days, this news has spread, raising a lot of questions and discussion about suicide and Christians. I want to share with you two years ago I went through a very dark time in my life, a dark night of the soul. And unless you have experienced this, you have no idea what it is like to be suicidal.

My life was already full of cracks by the time my husband was fired from the church we were serving at. I was like a piece of glass with multiple fractures. We had been laid off from one church, lived on unemployment for almost a year, experienced loss of health and almost the life of our son, burned out by ministry, forced to move every few years, and now this. I remember the shock to this day: walking around in a numb state until my insides shattered into a thousand pieces. I was broken beyond repair and I entered the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

Those months after my husband lost his job were the darkest in my life. Even though I was still around people, I felt such intense loneliness it hurt physically. Depression hung on me like a black shroud. At one point, I remember visualizing myself curled up in a ball, naked, laying on a rock in the middle of a raging storm out in the ocean, with the wind and the harsh rain pounding down on me. All alone.

StormI couldn’t hear God anymore. Up to that point, I could always hear God, feel Him near me. But not anymore. I would look up to see only black raging clouds. I knew God was around somewhere up above those clouds, but I couldn’t see Him like I used to. And my spiritual hearing was gone, like being hit by a blast wave that leaves you deaf.

The depression went on for months. I felt like I was drowning. I was still fighting to stay afloat, but there was part of me that wanted to give up and sink down into the waters and be done.

This empty, deathly feeling scared me. I’ve been depressed before, but usually the thought of my husband and kids drew me back. But this time it was not enough. I was afraid that I was going to give in to the desire and kill myself. It’s like standing on an edge, looking down, and having that wild feeling to throw oneself off.

There was only one thing that stopped me: I did not want to meet God that way. I did not want to take my life and stand before God and see the disappointment on His face. I could not take my life… because my life was not mine to take. It belonged to God.

That was the anchor I clung to during that wild tempest in my life. Eventually I dove into God’s word, especially the Psalms, finding comfort in the fact that I was not the only one who had ever felt that way. Psalm 42:5 says, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again—my Savior and my God!”

And even Paul writes about his discouragement: 2 Corinthians 1:8-9a “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves…”

The sentence of death. That is exactly what it feels like. But Paul goes on to say this: “…so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on who we have set our hope…” (2 Corinthians 1:9b-10)

I made a choice that day, a choice that I have stuck with ever since: my life is God’s and God’s alone, for Him to use, and for Him to bring me home when it is time. I still could not see God, could not hear Him when I made this choice. But I chose to trust that He would deliver me someday. And He did, through the prayers and friendship of my husband and two close friends. This is how God delivered Paul as well: “And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers…”

I am blessed to have come through a time like that alive. But what happens to a person who chooses to end it all? Is that person damned? Is his or her salvation no longer valid since the person took his or her own life?

I believe God’s answer is no.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow— not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38

Not even suicide.

But I believe that person will miss out on all that God could have done in his or her life: all the people that person might have touched, all the people that person might have helped or comforted; the view of the rainbow after the storm.

And yet there are many living that are already missing out. A lot of people today are missing out on what God can do in their lives because they are too busy chasing their own dreams. It doesn’t take death to stop God’s work in our lives, just our selfish ambition and belief that our lives are our own to use and pursue what we want to.

I encourage you to love and pray for others. You never know if there is death lurking behind a smiling face. And pray for the Warren family, that they experience grace and peace. Our heart goes out to them with love.



The Problem with Death

DeathA few weeks ago, I read one Christian’s point of view on how the world began. This person laid out the different views out there, ranging from evolution to creation, to God using evolution in His creation, young earth, old Earth, and everything in between. This person concluded that there was not enough evidence to support anything; but what was important was the Maker, not how everything came to be.

I have heard this case before. I have strong Christian friends who believe God used evolution in His creation of the world. And lately, I have been rethinking my views. After all, there is a lot of debate on this issue, each with a valid point. But one thing keeps pulling me back from embracing the view that God used evolution: the problem of death.

My understanding of evolution is that through countless changes in both the world and species, what we see now came to be. And through that process there was a lot of death. Slowly, the genetics of the species changed, evolving to survive. What couldn’t live, died. What did live changed again, then died out so the new level of genetics could survive.

However, the Bible states death came through one man: Adam (Romans 5:12). Before Adam sinned, there was no death. Nothing died. And if there was no death, then there would be many species running around, each of them in a different state of evolution. The world would be filled with half-baked critters that were not done changing yet.

And where did they all go when Adam sinned and death finally entered creation? Did the imperfect die away? Yet that would contradict what God said when He finished creating: that everything was good (Genesis 1:31).

Ultimately though, the problem of death and the creation of the world has to do with our salvation. Through one man’s sin death entered the world, and through one man life came as well. We are all connected to Adam, and therefore we will die. But through Jesus we can have life. But if we are not connected to Adam, then can we be saved?

Imagine Adam and Jesus as doors on either side of a room. All who came through one door may go through the other door. But if you are not even in the same room, can you go through the other door? If mankind really did evolve, then are we all connected? What about those who did not fully evolve into humans, who were not Adam? Are any of us related to those pre-evolved humans? If so, can we be saved?

See the problem?

In the end, both faith and logical thinking are required for any belief about the origins of life. Yes, the Maker is important (if you believe in a Maker). But so is how He created the world. Life and death hinge on that.


Words of Life, Words of Death

I stood there and watched my son’s face deflate. In less than a second, my words had shot across the room, hit him in the chest, and let all the joy out of his soul. I wanted to take back what I had said, but there is nothing in this world that can stop a speeding word. All I could do was witness the damage I had done.

Ever done that?

This verse has been on my mind lately: “The tongue can bring life or death…” (Proverbs 18:21a). Am I pouring life into a person through my words? Or am I pouring bitter death?

You know that feeling, when a person pours life into you. Encouraging words, uplifting words, words that give you enough energy to move on, to take that next step. Your soul feels refreshed and ready to face the world again.

And I’m sure you know what deathly words feel like: disheartening, gut wrenching, like you were just stabbed in the chest and left on the ground. Instead of feeling empowered, everything looks dark and discouraging. And you can’t get those words out of your head, because they have been tattooed onto your heart.

Life. Death. All within the power of our tongue. Even the written word brings life or death. Emails, facebook posts, comments left on a blog.

There are times that truth must be told, but even then, the way it is phrased and the setting it is delivered in can bring life or death. Truthful words must come from a loving, humble heart. And delivered in such a way that shows respect to the person receiving it, even if they deserve less.

I am trying to be more careful with my own words. I want to bring life to people, encourage the broken, and speak hope to those in the dark. I don’t want to see a face again, stricken and wounded because I let my tongue fly without restraint.

After all, I may be the only one that speaks life into that person.


Hurts and Heartache

It comes in the form of a phone call, a letter, the distraught look of the doctor across the desk. You try to prepare yourself. But no matter how the news is delivered, it hits you like a punch in the gut. You reel back from the blow. Shock sets in. You wonder what you’re going to do. Life as you know it will never be the same again.

I know I’m not the only one who is or has gone through something, whether that is the death of a loved one, news that the cancer is back, or the loss of a job. And if you’re like me, you find your confidence shaken. What you once thought you believed you’re not sure about anymore. So what do you do?

As I prepared for this post, I read an article about the five stages of grief. As I read, it hit me: I was experiencing those stages. You do not need to experience death in order to have your world turned upside down. At first I found myself in denial. I kept thinking there had to be some mistake; that this was some kind of strange nightmare and I would eventually wake up, right?

But soon reality set in and I found myself angry. Really angry. I wanted an answer for why my husband had lost his job. But none came.

Then I began to bargain with God. I told God I would do anything if he would just get my family safely through this. Being a planner, I began to make plans after plans of what I would do to keep my family afloat. No matter the cost to myself, I would do what it took to get my family safely to the other side.

More days past and my plans fell to the wayside. Depression set in. I will admit its still here, sapping my heart and mind, clouding my vision. I once heard the Chinese symbol for perseverance was a heart with a dagger in it. I’m not sure if that’s true, but that is what life feels like right now. You hurt so bad you don’t want to move. But you must. Because life goes on.

The last stage of grief is acceptance. I can feel it on the horizon. But I’m scared of it. I’m afraid that if I accept what has happened, then that will make it okay. I know it’s illogical, but many times there is no logic in grief. Only deep intense feelings.

So where is God in all of this? Where is God during the hurts and heartache? I will be honest and say I don’t know why God allowed Dan to lose his job. I do not know what our future holds. And I hurt right now. But one thing I know, that in darkness there is light.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5

That light is Jesus. No matter how dark life gets, it can never extinguish God. I am clinging to that promise now. And though I can’t see Him through all the pain, I know God is holding me. For if His hands can hold every star in the sky and He cares about even the smallest bird, then I know He will carry me through.

Another Day Older…

And hopefully another day wiser. In other words, its my birthday. I’m now over a third of the way through my life (if I live as long as the average human being… then again, I’m not average ;)).

So today I look at my life, both my future and my past. I have been blessed, I have had sorrow, I have been through fearful dark valleys and I have seen miracles. I’m sure my future has the same forecast. But the one constant between both past and future is God. He was there the day I became me. He will be there the day I take my last breath. And everything in between.

So here’s to a day that brings me closer to finally going home and seeing the invisible God who’s hand I have felt all my life.

“You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalm 139:15-16



The Hands of God

This was the bunny fluffy post I was going to write about two weeks ago. At the time, I felt more exhausted that anything else, so I wrote about God’s Gym instead.

I decided to write about the hands of God the following week. Life happened and my bunny fluffy post took a decidedly different turn. I personally experienced the hands of God this weekend when I faced the death of a small furry friend.

Let me start off by sharing a story. Two boys came to my home a month ago carrying a pet carrier between them. Inside this carrier was the smallest, skinniest kitten I had ever seen. He had also just peed on himself, which made him appear even more pathetic. These boys were trying to find a home for the little guy.

I am an animal lover and felt instantly sorry for the kitten. But before I would take him, I had to make sure he wasn’t feral. So I took him out of the carrier and immediately the little guy looked up at me with the biggest eyes and began to purr. Love at first sight.

We named him Tiger.

Tiger immediately went to the vet. He had a flea problem and who knew what else. He was small for his age and needed fattening up said the Vet. So we took him home and fed him, loved on him, and gave him everything a growing cat needs. Our dogs loved the little guy and got along great with him. And he was a lover: all he did was find a lap to lie on and purr.

Sometimes when you get a cat, you take a chance on getting a cat with good personality. Tiger was perfect. Except for one thing. He was a very sick kitty and we didn’t know it.

He went in for his next vet visit and had only gained an ounce. The vet was concerned now and wanted to start running some blood tests the following week.

Tiger never made it past the weekend.

I will not go into details, but watching an animal die broke something inside of me. You feel helpless as you try and comfort the little thing. In the end, we had to put Tiger to sleep.

I cried and prayed and cried and prayed. For the first few hours I would find myself expecting to see Tiger come trotting into the kitchen and asking for food. Or jumping up into my lap. Then I would start replaying his last painful hours. Going over and over my helplessness to save him. I couldn’t let Tiger go, even though he was already gone.

I asked God to help me. I couldn’t do this alone. And then I had this picture in my mind: me as a little girl with pigtails clutching her little kitten while God knelt before me, holding his hands out, telling me to let him have Tiger. I was scared to give him Tiger. I felt like letting go of Tiger would mean I would forget him.

But then I realized God could take care of Tiger so much more than I could. And he was asking me to let go. I do not know what happens to animals when they die; I do not believe the Bible is clear enough for us to make a stand one way or another. But the Bible does tell us about God. And what I’ve read about God is that his hands are loving, strong, and gentle. He takes care of this world and everything in it. Including kittens. So I know whatever God has done with Tiger, that Tiger is in good hands now. And so are we.