In Jul 2012 about two weeks after I lost Regina, I signed up for a 365-day email subscription from GriefShare. It’s free and anyone can sign up. No obligations or commitments. The emails can be stopped at any time. I intend to ride them out for 365 days. I look forward to the emails every morning. I almost always find them helpful, sincere, and thought provoking.
The daily emails are described this way: “When a loved one or friend dies, grieving that loss can take a long time, but you are not alone. GriefShare is here with support groups, and now daily emails, that provide encouragement and reminders of the recovery process.” As I have mentioned before, I did participate in 13 weeks of the GriefShare group sessions in the fall of 2012. I met many wonderful and grieving people who I will never forget. Listening to their stories – and me telling mine – drew all of us together in ways that I had never experienced. I have recommended GriefShare to a number of people over the last few months. I hope others have been able to heal through this excellent program.
Each of the daily emails from GriefShare are fairly brief. They maybe take five minutes to read. The emails arrive each morning for me around 4am so they are always ready and waiting in my email queue when I get up in the morning. At the end of each email there is usually listed one book or website that a person can read or visit for further support and information about grief and coping with grief. But most importantly, each email consists of a main body of text with words of advice, encouragement, caution, or stories from others walking the path of grief. Each message also includes a Bible text for consideration. I actually have been mildly surprised at how much Scripture refers to grief and hurt. Who knew? And here we thought and it has been suggested that the Bible is all about joy and happiness.
Anyway, today was Day 258. And I really have been thinking about Day 258 since I read it this morning. I would like to share it with you for your consideration.
When life is comfortable, you lose that awe, that fear of God, putting Him in a compartment that is convenient for you. When things are going well, you might put God on the back burner because you don’t exactly need Him at that time.
“Self-sufficiency is a terrible place to be,” says Dr. Joseph Stowell, “because it is the worst deceit you can bring on yourself. You need God. You need God every minute of your life. I believe God knows that, and He desires fellowship and dependency from you, radical dependency in terms of your relationship with Him.”
Each person needs to be taken to a place where God alone is sufficient. Suffering takes you to that place. And suffering does not happen to some people and not to others; it is a crucial part of every person’s life.
“Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked? When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other.” (Ecclesiastes 7:13-14).
God, I need You. Please heal me. Amen.
This message really hit home with me today. Those of you who kindly follow me understand the aridity that I have and do experience in my personal and spiritual life. But I have most absolutely come to understand that in the dry and difficult planes, God is most easily recognized and available to and for me. And shame on me. God has always been in my life but, as the email suggests, I was a worshiper of and believer in self-sufficiency. And I accomplished many things. But to what end? And now that I have lost one of the most special things in my life, all of those accomplishments are not much more than memories and plaques. But in these hard times, I have been “taken to a place where God alone is sufficient.” Yes, and I agree that “suffering takes you to that place.”
I have been with a friend who is struggling because she is losing her physical self-sufficiency. She becomes angry, agitated, and morose. Those of you who have lovingly dealt with aging parents or invalids who can’t take care of themselves sufficiently understand what I am talking about. To lose the ability to be independent and self-sufficient is to lose, for many, a whole and complete identity. And yet, isn’t this what God expects of us spiritually? Doesn’t he expect us to depend on him for spiritual sustenance and well-being completely and totally? I think so.
The message in this email is powerful to me. I am having to adjust even now from a physical and spiritual life of being, I thought, completely independent and self-sufficient to a life that has me walking through the valley of the shadows of death. There has been and will be much more suffering. It doesn’t make life horrible or anything like that. I still harbor joy and hope and I know it will all get better someday But for the time being, I am in the place where God alone is sufficient. And, frankly, I have never felt more secure. Even in the suffering, doubt, and fear, I find my relationship with God to be stronger now than ever before.
I suppose the deep truth in the email is the deep truth that we need to acknowledge and recognize. God will only be sufficient to us when we find no sufficiency in ourselves. And it would seem that in this life, we are most apt to lose our self-sufficiency in suffering. Sadly but because of the grace of God, perhaps suffering is what will – sooner or later – bring us all closer to God.