A favorite childhood game is to share things you would pack for a picnic or take on a trip using the ABC’s as a prompt. Each child must repeat the items that have been previously mentioned and then add to the list. For example, I’m going on a picnic and will pack an apple. “I’m going on a picnic and will bring an Apple and a Banana, etc.” By the end of the alphabet, 26 items have been listed for the imaginary picnic.
The journey through the valley of the shadow of death is not imaginary, although our imaginations often go wild with fear of the unknown. There are many things you will want to put in your knapsack for this unwanted adventure–faith, hope, and love just to name a few.
However, almost more important than what you do grab is what you shouldn’t grab. Just as having the right things in your bag will bring life, having the wrong things can make the journey near impossible.
So, I have made an alphabetical list of the 26 hindrances that will slow you down in your healing process.
Addictive fillers – alcohol, drugs, sex, food, shopping, anything that can become an addiction that will never satisfy. Replace with satisfaction in Christ alone.
“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).
Bitterness – Replace with forgiveness
“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (Hebrews 12:15).
Control – Replace your way with God’s
“Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
Deception – Replace with truth in all things
“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
Envy – Replace with contentment
“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord” (1 Peter 2:1-3).
Fear – Replace with faith
“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8).
Gossip – Replace with confidentiality. It is important to be a confidant.
“At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention” (1 Timothy 5:13).
Hopelessness – Replace with hope in Jesus. This is not the end of your story.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).
Impatience – Replace with the understanding that God is doing something new and it takes time.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).
Jealousy – Replace with contentment.
“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing” (James 3:16).
Killjoys – Replace with the reality that this world is not our home. Joy and sorrow run on the same track. It’s okay to be happy in the midst of grief.
“Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you” (John 16:22).
Lies of the enemy – Replace with truth
“Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31).
Meddling (busybody) – Replace with staying in your own lane and leading a quiet life
“Seek to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands…” (1Thessalonians 4:11)
Needing to know everything – Release the unknown to God. The present is where God’s presence is.
“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).
Over exaggerating the details – Replace with accuracy and honesty. Turn off the repeat button in your head.
“Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day” (Psalm 25:5).
Pride – Replace with humility
“But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
Questions without answers – Replace with releasing the unknown to God
“You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it” (Psalm 139:5-6).
Regrets – Replace with moving forward to what lies ahead. This is not the end of your story.
“…Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).
Shame – Replace with knowing who we are in Christ
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed” (Psalm 34:4-5).
Temper – Replace with self-control
“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).
Unbelief – Replace with asking God to help you believe
“Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
Vanity – Replace with an eternal mindset
“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways” (Psalm 119:37).
Woe is me – Replace with trusting that God is working everything, even pain and suffering, for our good and His glory
“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).
X – eXamination – replace the need to defend yourself by letting God defend you when others are examining your every move
“A defender of the widow and Father to the fatherless is God in His holy habitation” (Psalm 68:5).
Your former life – Replace with the new season God is bringing you to.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Zeal to pack up grief sooner than necessary – Replace with rest
“He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, without the possibility that mankind will find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Make these your non-negotiables for the WidowLife journey. You will make it through the valley of the shadow of death. Christ and your community will help you pack the right things for your journey, and when these sneaky hindrances try to make their way into your bag, remember to fix your eyes on Jesus.
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).