Lori Apon

Too Wonderful for Me – 20 Years Later

Last week we crossed over the 20th anniversary of my husband’s death. Without fail, this day still produces a catch in my throat, tear in my eye, and tenderness in my heart. It doesn’t take much effort for memories of the trauma to flood my soul even for my children as well.

Is that okay? I think so. May 17th is our Good Friday—a dark day of death. Are we emotionally stuck even after two solid decades? I don’t think so. For the Apon family of nine, remembering this scene in life’s drama has been good, necessary, and impossible to avoid. This is the day that changed the trajectory of our lives.

From our finite view, this day wasn’t supposed to happen, or was it? God wrote the story in a book even before time began. Because of Psalm 139 we know He knew, but did He allow or appoint such suffering? The same unanswered questions remain. The enemy knows when and how to use these to bring torment, if I let him. However, like Job, my response to silence the enemy keeping me at a place of surrender to my God is this information is too wonderful for me!

God responded to Job’s questions with the reminder of Who He was instead of explaining what He was doing. In my Bible, the title of this section makes me smile, “Job’s wise silence.” We are told that Job even put a hand over his mouth almost as if to say, “I am nothing, know nothing, and already said too much.” I can relate to Job.

“Then Job answered the LORD and said, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore, I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”

When you break down the word wonderful in this famous response, it means marvelous, surpassing, extraordinary, beyond one’s power, and difficult to understand. Most of us easily admit that suffering is beyond our control and too difficult to understand, but to define suffering as marvelous, surpassing, and extraordinary requires an eternal faith-based perspective. Shifting the focus from the natural to the supernatural is often a moment by moment, day by day, week by week and year by year requirement for healing.

There is a weight of pain AND glory in our stories that can’t be avoided—the tension is not to be resolved, understood, or explained. It’s just too wonderful!

Reflections of two decades with God as Husband and Father:

  1. God is God and I am not which is a very good thing.
  2. God is good no matter what our perception of “good” is.
  3. The Lord went before me whispering that we would go through transition, but it would be for our good and His glory, and we have found this to be true.
  4. Fight to avoid spiritual numbness.
  5. The Word of God is the anchor for your soul. Read God’s Word every. single. day.
  6. Embracing the pain is necessary for healing.
  7. We are not the same people on this side of the valley which is good!
  8. Single parenting wasn’t as bad as its reputation.
  9. I love my life! I’m content with God’s call to widowhood.
  10. Loneliness is real, but purposeful.
  11. There are treasures to be found in the dark.
  12. I know God in ways I never ever could.
  13. God has been my Husband. This is a foreign concept for many but relating to God in this way was life to me.
  14. Perspective matters and can determine the outcome of your life.
  15. It is crucial to think on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellence, and anything worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8)
  16. God IS Father to the fatherless. This promise from Psalm 68:5 is true! We put our trust in God and His promise to be Who He said He was. The power in this trust gave us hope.
  17. Statistics are not the final word—by choosing life after death, you can change negative statistics.
  18. God taught me the necessity of being a prayer warrior. The best way to parent our children is on our knees.
  19. God hears our every cry.
  20. Great is God’s faithfulness! He uses the body of Christ and provides in miraculous ways. He is worthy of our praise!

 

 

 

 

May Ministry Update

It has been a great joy to fulfill God’s call to meet the practical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the widow and fatherless through Perspective Ministries! Since the beginning of the year we have met 314 emotional needs, 102 spiritual needs and reminded the fatherless 119 times that God is Father as promised in Psalm 68:5.

How do we do this?

Emotional needs are met through the timely arrival of a bouquet of flowers, cards, butterfly gardens, ice cream gift cards, Easter lilies, and resources to help with the grief process. Spiritual needs are met as we disciple widows through our monthly WidowLife support groups. And we are always looking for opportunities to encourage the widowed mom. Her job is difficult, and we feel it is important to remind her that God is there as her defender and the Father to her children. It’s exciting to have already gifted camp scholarships for four fatherless girls this year!

God’s timing is always perfect as Jennifer shares:

I thought about not sending my daughters to church camp this year thinking we might use the money for elsewhere, but the Lord spoke clearly to my heart, and I knew they were supposed to go and room together as sisters. I spoke to them about this idea and learned that they really wanted to go, and this news made them happy!

As I was paying their deposit, I was told to write their names on the memo line. As I was writing, the staff member said, “Ivey and Erica? You won’t believe this, but Perspective Ministries just called let us know they wanted to scholarship your girls for camp!” WOW, this was an enormous financial blessing and the timing confirmed that they are supposed to go. God’s will is undeniable!  Thank you Perspective Ministries!!!

Often, we hear stories of how a card, gift, or visit was perfectly timed by the Lord.

Thank you for helping us to Light Their World during a dark season!

 

Help Us Care for the Widowed Mom this Spring and Summer!

Looking for ways to care for the widow in a practical and meaningful way this spring and summer? Through the years Perspective Ministries has found some amazing ways to bring light and love into these women and children’s lives. We would be honored for you to make a donation in one or more of these areas of need. Help us make this spring and summer one to remember!

Mother’s Day Appreciation

As Mother’s Day approaches, let’s remember the Widowed Mom as her job can often continue to be hard and heavy. Pray she meets God as her el Roi, the One who sees. “According to U.S. census bureau as of 2009, there are around 13.7 million single parents in the United States alone. These parents are managing to raise around 21.8 million children – which in case you are wondering is 1/4th of all the children in the United States. This means that 1 out of every 4 children is being raised in a single parent household. Of these households, around 87% of them are headed up by one of the most powerful, levelheaded and adept people on earth. A single mom.” (Professors House, A Tribute to Single Moms)

A great way to show a Widowed Mom you care is by giving her and her kids a fun night off! Consider donating to Perspective Ministries as we care for Widowed Moms on Mother’s Day:

$25-50: Bruster’s Ice Cream Gift Cards

$100: Restaurant Gift Cards

$150: Mother’s Day Pampering Basket

Usher in Spring!

Delivering flowers or planting them in her garden reminds her that when her focus is on God, she can bloom where she is planted! Will you make a donation to helping the widow feel seen by her community in this way?

$75: Sending Her Flowers

$300: Plant Her Garden

$500: Maintain Her Yard (this will allow Perspective Ministries to provide consistent lawn care, especially through the warmer months).

Summer fun for the Fatherless!

One of the biggest gifts you can give to a Widowed Mom is loving her fatherless children well! Please consider making a donation to Perspective Ministries as we provide a summer of love to both the Widow-Mom and her kids!

$25: Butterfly Gardens for the widow and her kids! (this is a great reminder that life can indeed come after death!)

$25-100: Gift Cards for summer activities and travel

$250: Send a Fatherless Child to Camp!

$50-500: Give them a day to relax (Day passes to White Water/Aquarium/Movies)

Thank you for caring for the widow and her children! We are excited that you have entrusted Perspective Ministries with your donation as together we care for the widows and children God has led to us.

To make a donation, click here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding your Identity in Christ not the Crisis

A famine required relocation for survival taking Naomi, her husband, and two sons to a completely new place. Soon after their arrival, Naomi’s husband died leaving her a widow in a strange idol-worshiping land.

Being transported to a physical far-off land isn’t necessary for a widow to feel estranged in her own community. When the curtain falls signaling the end of the marriage season, women left alone often experience loss of the familiar taking them to unknown territory emotionally and sometimes physically. Here she finds herself in an identity crisis—she is no longer a wife, but a widow with the potential not only to uproot her physical being but her identity as well. One moment she is Mrs. Elimelech and overnight she became Naomi-the-widow, asking who am I?

Within a few short years, Naomi also buried her two sons! Talk about potential to lose identity—she was now no longer a wife or a mom! I will be the first to admit how easy it is to wrap ourselves up in the identity of who we are to other people or for other people instead of who God says we are. Not only do our roles in our family vie for our identity, but our dreams and aspirations also create a sense of a false self—someone I want to be but deep inside I am not. Don’t fret, the Apostle Paul struggled with this identity dilemma as well when he cried out, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate…miserable person that I am” (Romans 7:15,24).

The good news is our identity is not in what we do but who Jesus says that we are.

In order to identify someone or something, one must recognize traits that establish the person or thing. If three objects were presented for identification, their characteristics would help one to identify that specific substance. For example: hard, grey, and mass of stone would help one to detect a rock. Noticing a transparent, odorless, tasteless liquid would aid in detecting water. We recognize people in similar fashion—by their appearance, sound of voice, or the way they smell. These characteristics help to clarify who we are; however, identity is determined not only by outward appearance but who we are as a whole.

For the Christian, Jesus Christ plays a huge part in our identity. In fact, Jesus paid a high price—purchased us with His blood so that our identity would be in Him and not ourselves. We must die daily allowing Christ to live His life in us. My identity is no longer my own unique personality, but His. If someone wants to identify a Christ follower, the characteristics of Jesus Christ must be evident, “no longer I but Christ.” My identity should not be based on who I think I should be or who others want me to be but in who Jesus says that I am. My identity is in Christ.

Truth must replace the lies we believe defining our identity as a child of God:

Rejected: I am God’s special possession

“For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” Deuteronomy 14:2

Betrayed: I am chosen by God

“But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION…” 1 Peter 2:9

Worthless: God treasures me

“The LORD has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession, as He promised you…” Deuteronomy 26:18

Messed up: Forgiven

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

In bondage: Free indeed

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

Unprotected: God is a Defender of the widow

“… a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Psalm 68:5

Unloved: Loved beyond comprehension

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?…For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39

Set aside: Set apart

“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain…” John 15:16

Widowed: Jesus is a Husband to the widow

“For your husband is your Maker, whose name is the LORD of hosts.” Isaiah 54:5

Fatherless: Child of God~Fathered

“A father to the fatherless is God in his holy dwelling.” Psalm 68:5

Insecure: Eternally security

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:27-28

When tragedy strikes, it is easy to place our identity in that crisis instead of Christ. Our circumstances become our identity—widow, divorced, betrayed, fatherless, rich, or poor. Naomi returned home embracing the identity of bitter only to discover as time went on that God would change her circumstances to better. Did you know that this bitter-circumstanced-widow became the great, great, great, great, great grandmother of Jesus Christ?! That’s right! Her daughter-in-law from that foreign land followed her home experiencing conditions allowing her to meet Boaz—her kinsman redeemer placing her in the bloodline of Christ.

When our identity is in Christ, bitter always finds a way to become better.

 

 

 

 

 

Anna, An Example to Follow

Anna was left alone after a brief seven years of marriage. The only part of her life that God chose to include in His Word is that she spent the rest of her life serving in the temple until the age of 84. Oh, to know exactly what this must have looked like. Did she have a bedroom there in the house of God? As a prophetess, “a woman to whom future events or things hidden from others are at times revealed,” was she on the temple staff? “She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.” Wow! She never ever left the temple? Was this her decision? Did she have other options? Did she actually pray from sunrise to sunset?

Fasting is giving up food for the purpose of prayer. Scripture records only one instance where Jesus fasted (Matthew 4:2) but His 40 day fast was unlike any other—it prepared Him for His three-year ministry that would end in victory of resurrection life over death.

Jesus, the Son of God, is known for prayer:

“But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” Luke 5:16

“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” Matthew 26:36

If Jesus chose to fast and pray, these disciplines are worth our consideration as well. The widow, Anna, is the kind of woman I would like to enjoy a cup of tea with learning the details of her story and prayer life. Even though much is left out, there is enough information to present a challenge for our own personal lives:

She never left the temple. News and anticipation of a coming Messiah hovered over time and space. In those days, the temple represented the presence of God – He was there even before He was there! Anna chose to remain in the presence of God for the rest of her life in the absence of the man in her life. We don’t need to take up actual residence in the local church building today because through Jesus, God makes His home in us.

During our dark seasons of grief, we can choose to leave God in or out of our life. But He is indeed our covering and defense. With this promise, we can take Anna’s perspective to live in His presence—to never leave the temple. During the storm, to see God as refuge and fortress—and discovering great is His faithfulness.

She served day and night. One of the realities of being left alone is that you have been left alone. Time is on your hand even if you have been launched into the busiest season you’ve ever known with the extra tasks on your plate without a husband. How you spend your time is yours. When Joshua was called to lead His people to the Promise Land, he professed, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Precious friend, may we be like Anna in making the same declaration – as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. This new season has great opportunity. You can let life’s circumstances become a crutch to lean on or a chisel to mold you into a vessel of great use in God’s Kingdom.

She served with fastings and prayers. Anna modeled for us important tools required for serving the Lord and walking through this journey – with fasting and prayer. Fasting is surrendering lack in exchange for His presence and power paired with talking to the Almighty God in prayer.

Because of Anna’s position in the valley with over 60 years of fasting and praying while waiting for the arrival of the Messiah, when the Jesus was presented in the temple as a babe she recognized Him, gave thanks to God and shared this great news with others!

“At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” Luke 2:36-38

10 Verses on Trusting God with Your Finances

Trusting God with our finances can be so scary, especially after losing the security of a loved one. In the uncertainty of the widow’s journey, it can be so easy to close our hands around what is left after the death, but greater freedom will be found in opening our hands and provisions to God, allowing Him to do what He wills! But we know that trust and change doesn’t usually happen overnight, so here are so verses to give you confidence in our one true Provider.

  1. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1
  2. “Behold, the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and was strong in his evil desire. But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever. I will give You thanks forever, because You have done it, And I will wait on Your name, for it is good, in the presence of Your godly ones.” Psalm 52:7-8
  3. “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11
  4. “He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like the green leaf.” Proverbs 11:28
  5. “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:7-8
  6. “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!” Matthew 6:28-30
  7. “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
  8. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. “Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” Malachi 3:10
  9. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
  10. “Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.” 1 Timothy 6:17

 

Practical Ways to Care for the Widow this Spring

Oh, what a joyous time it is to watch and experience the birth of Spring! The miracle of life after death is simply glorious. Although the widow may feel encouraged by the warmth and beauty of spring, frost may continue in her grieving heart. As society makes plans for getaways and summer fun with their loved ones, her monotonous routine remains the same–alone. Alone to figure out ways to dust off her home, make repairs, and manage her lawn. Perhaps God would use you to lighten her load by considering meeting one of these practical needs.

1.     Help her with spring cleaning:

  • Service her air conditioner, change the filters, maybe even leave a few extra filters for the months ahead.
  • Give your time to help her clean out a closet. She may be ready to tackle her husband’s possessions, but she may need someone to hold her hand and wipe her tears during the process.
  • Offer to dust ceiling fans and window blinds.

2.     Help her usher in spring:

  • Deliver a spring bouquet just to let her know you are thinking of her.
  • Plant flowers in her yard as a reminder that when her focus is on God, she can bloom where she is planted.
  • Trim her bushes or spread fresh pine straw.
  • Provide consistent lawn care through the warmer months.

3.     Remember her on Mother’s Day!
The job of the widowed-mom is hard and heavy. One out of every four children in the United States is being raised by a single parent, most of which are single moms.

  • Pampering baskets, including gift cards for a manicure, pedicure, or massage, will help her take care of herself.
  • Ice cream and/or restaurant gift cards will provide her and her children with a fun outing.
  • Send notes of appreciation, affirming a job well done!

4.     Include her in your summer outings and plans:

  • Invite her to share a time of fellowship with you. Keep in mind that the widow often feels like the “3rd wheel” when couples gather together. Perhaps you could invite several widows to join you.
  • Consider giving her the keys to your beach or mountain home, trips away can be very healing for the grieving heart.

5.     Provide for a day trip or weekend away
Gift cards for food and gas will help make a simple retreat possible.

6.     Offer transportation

  • Drive her to medical appointments
  • Help with running errands
  • Pick her up for church or a community event

7.     Enlist a trusted handyman for home repairs
Make arrangements to come and conquer her “to-do” list—paint a room, re-arrange furniture, or fix that leaky faucet.

8.     Provide summer fun for her fatherless children.
Loving on her children is a gift to her.  One of the main concerns for the young widow is her children.

  • Summer camps
  • Butterfly gardens for kids, reminding them that life comes after death
  • Day passes – White Water/Aquarium/Movies

9.     Call:
Out of all the widows we surveyed, their greatest ongoing struggle is loneliness. Take time to pick up the phone to let her know she isn’t forgotten.

10. Write:
Widows love a hand-written note just to let them know you care.

11.  Visit:
Give your time away. Be intentional about planning a time to listen to her, keeping in mind that adult conversation may be limited in her new season.

12.  Pray:
Dear God, thank you for showing us that life comes after death. We thank you for Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the grave, so we can experience new life in Christ.  Please remind the precious widow of this truth. May she experience life after her own season of walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Please let her feel your Presence as she waits on you in this season.

“They waited for me as for showers and drank in my words as the spring rain.” Job 29:23

Unconventional Provision

No doubt the minute you entered this valley of transition, money crossed your mind – or the minds of family and friends – carrying with it a variety of emotions. Immediate loss or gain of income, the need to go to work or quit work, the fear of low income or responsibility of new riches could be a part of the loss you are experiencing.

Even though many widows are reduced to living on a poverty level, others represent some of the wealthiest women in the world. Money has power. It can bring false security and attempt to fill a void that only Jesus can fill. Or it can be a tool the Lord uses to build His kingdom and test our hearts.

Studies abound that tell us what we already know: for the most part, the income of a single woman is less – sometimes dramatically – than the income of a single man. There may be bills, known and unknown, that pile up, and accounts and invoices we did not know existed and aren’t sure how to handle. This is not true for all women, but it is a reality for some. Either way, we must cultivate a deeper trust in the Lord, whether riches abound or poverty crouches at the door.

In 2 Kings we get to see first-hand a widow whose financial burdens lurk at her door. I love it when God highlights a woman in Scripture that many can relate to, especially when it’s a widow.  Our identity is not in our status whether married, single, divorced, or widowed; however, it is interesting that often when God performs a miracle of faith for or through a widow, He mentions her identity—widow. Perhaps He does this just so other widows can be encouraged or perhaps because those He has allowed to carry the title widow have a calling and purpose that only God can fill because of His title, Husband to the widow.

In order to excel in our role as widow, we must understand that it is our job description to walk by faith. We have a clear example of this through the widow in 2 Kings.

When the curtain opens on act one, our 2 Kings (2K) widow is distraught. She has circumstances and needs similar to ours…a family, bills, loss, and pain. She faces these daily battles all while the shadow of grief hovers over her, yet we will begin to see how she is always under the umbrella of grace.

Mrs. 2K just experienced the death of her husband. He was a godly man; in fact, he was one of the sons of the prophets (possibly Obadiah). Wow—a very important person to the people and to God! Let’s take a peek into her situation. Would God allow pain to knock on her door? After-all, her family had given their lives to the ministry! The answer is yes He will, and He does. We are never exempt from pain in the economy of God. It seems that the environment of suffering is His favorite place to rain His grace and display the rainbow of His great glory.

Creditors knocked on this particular day to summon the precious sons of this brand-new widow!  How could this be? Her husband just died, and now the city officials announce they have a right to her sons because of insufficient funds to pay her debt. My guess would be that many have received notice from the bank announcing ISF, insufficient funds! That declaration in itself stabs at our stomachs, but to face the removal of a child would be a stab to the heart!

At this moment of need she cries out to Elisha, the top prophet in the land, for help. Was access to this man of God really as easy as Scripture reads? Before Mrs. 2K could pack away the past, God had made away for her present. Before she faced judgment for her debt, God sent the Judge to her defense. “God is a judge of the widow.”

Elisha asks, “What shall I do for you?”

The answer to the first question would be obvious, “Mr. Elisha, SAVE MY SONS!” I believe a secret lies within his reply. Elisha himself could do nothing for her outside of the amazing grace of God.

The second question, what do you have in your house?  Brings us to the place where all miracles begin—where we are.

Her response, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” We know from past Bible precedence that this is the perfect setting for God to work—at the moment of last things and resources. (Oil is often symbolic of the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit.) When empty best describes the situation, we know that an eternal purpose is in the heart of God.

She was issued a command,

“Go, borrow vessels at large for yourself from all your neighbors, even empty vessels; do not get a few.”

So here she is at her end. Others now must be included in the story—her neighbors, of all people. I wonder if they had heard the news and gasped, “Poor widow (literally) to lose sons because of debt.” God is certainly able to perform a miracle without the audience of her neighborhood. However, in this crisis, the neighbors were summoned. After the jars were collected, the widow gathered her family, shut the door, and poured oil.

“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

The widow had to step out in faith. She had to GO to her neighbors (uncomfortable), she had to GET a lot (unquestionable), and she was to GAIN provision (un-natural provision that is) not only for her debt, but for the rest of her life. The miracle took place because of her faith, and her provision was measured by her faith.

We are encouraged in Scripture that a faith capable of moving mountains begins the size of a small mustard seed. However, considering Mrs. 2K’s testimony, mustard seed faith is just the beginning of what God wants to do in our lives. To the extent of this widow’s faith was the amount of her provision. Do we obey in the areas God calls us to? Are we willing to include others? Are there regrets over the amount of faith we offer to God?

“And it came about when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, ‘bring me another vessel.’ And he said to her, ‘There is not one vessel more.’ And the oil stopped. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debt, and you and your sons can live on the rest.” 2 Kings 4:6-7.

 

 

Covering the Widow in Love

  1. Remember Her – the emphasis on couples, marriage and romantic “love” is a tender reminder of what is missing during this season in her life. Letting her know that you are thinking of her does not replace that old love but covers her with a new kind of love and support.
  2. Invite HerCover her lonely moments through intentional opportunities to fill the void. An invitation to join you for lunch or coffee shows her she is truly not alone.
  3. Pray for HerCover her in prayer and send her a Valentine card letting her know you have done so! Lifting her cares and needs before the One who can truly satisfy is the covering she really needs on this hard day!
  4.  Serve with Her – Give her an opportunity to be covered with a new perspective by directing her focus to the needs of others.
  5. Cover Her – Actually deliver a blanket to her house! The blanket is a symbol to her that God is her defender and her covering now that the covering of her husband is gone.

If you don’t already have plans this Valentine’s Day or were hoping to incorporate serving those who will find this holiday hard, Perspective Ministries welcomes your help in visiting new widows in the Metro-Atlanta area and bringing them this gift of care! If you are interested, please email http://lori@perspectiveministries.org.

Donate to purchase a blanket for a new widow $10 each!

 

 

Surprised by Power while Picking up Sticks

1 Kings 17

Widows, often unnamed, are scattered throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The limited detailed biographies of these ladies who have been left alone offer a treasury of wisdom, encouragement, challenge, and hope reminding us that it is always good to put our trust in God.

*****

She was a young mother, living alone as a widow in a big city, Zarephath, with evil leaders who sought to put to death God’s messengers. Food and water were scarce, death seemed imminent and Widow Z was scared.

No doubt she had heard of the prophet in the land and the reality that his declaration to Ahab and Jezebel that there would be a drought in the land had come to pass. However, never did she dream this wanted man of God would show up, while she was picking up sticks, requesting a cup of water and her last breadcrumb.

How could this be? Here stood Elijah, the man on Jezebel’s hit list asking for her last meal announcing the supply of bread and water would match her need if she honored his request.

“Then Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son. For thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain on the face of the earth.’”   1 Kings 17:13-14

She was in the middle of a mess destined to end in the miraculous. Perhaps it was the little bit of hope from God’s promise that enabled her to take a step of faith, and another, and another as the Widow Z had heard of Elijah’s amazing God. Faith became sight and God’s Word was true – the bread and water did not run out for two whole years!

Scripture shares there were many widows living in the land however the Widow Z was the one chosen to play an important part in history. She may not have known the specifics of God’s command for her life, but through step-by-step participation in the unfolding unseen story of God, she experienced the miraculous. When fear knocked, she kneeled. When death triumphed, resurrected life restored her spiritual brokenness.

Little did she know that God’s temporary removal of grace over Israel, his chosen people, allowed for personal grace to come her way. Little did she know that her steps of obedience were orchestrated by God even before time began And, little did she know that her choices today would impact her tomorrow.

“And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” Psalm 139.

The story doesn’t stop there as each day has enough trouble of its own. Her circumstances went from bad to worse when her fatherless son died. She blamed herself and quickly shifted the blame to Elijah, yet all the while God was in complete control! Fortunately, this man who walked with God knew just what to do—grab the boy and run to God, the One who not only hears our cries but brings life out of death.

She wasn’t cast aside but set apart for a bigger story in history—His (God’s) story, right alongside the kings and prophets. God took care of her. She gave her all and received abundantly. Their story became her story. She was an empty vessel filled for God’s glory. God brought her in so he could make himself known to her. She had value, worth, the covering of God, His great love reaching out to demonstrate that she was not forgotten. She did nothing while God did everything. God brought a man of God to her, representing the body of Christ, leading her to put her trust in God. Elijah was the first step to her salvation. When the curtain had closed on her darkest hour, there was an encore to the story—even in death, God resurrected life.

“And He said, “Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown. But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.” Luke 4:23-26

How is God at work in your story? Jesus stands ready to interject powerfully the miraculous into our mundane activities—even while picking up sticks or the pieces of our lives. Pay attention to the “behold moments” where God is at work.

Accept death as God’s grace-filled plan to give you new life.

Bible Verses of Hope when Trusting God with the Unknown

Each one of us faces the unknown every single day! This is why James offers an important reminder:

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.  stead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” James 4:13-15

When facing the unknown, the Bible offers great promises for those who put their trust in God:

Read the verse and make note of the promise to claim:

Jeremiah 49:11 “… let your widows trust in Me.”

Psalm 9:10 “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.”

Promise: When I put my trust in God, He will not forsake me.

Psalm 37:5 “Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it.”

Promise: Commit my way to the Lord and He will do it.

Psalm 40:3 “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear and will trust in the LORD.”

Promise: God will put a new song in my mouth and many will fear and trust in the Lord.

Psalm 62:8 “Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.”

Promise: Trust God at all times.  Pour out my heart to Him.  God is a refuge for me.

Psalm 115:11 “You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD; He is their help and their shield.”

Promise: For those who trust in the Lord, He is their help and their shield.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

Promise: Trust the Lord with all my heart leaning not on my own understanding.  He will make my paths straight.

Psalm 31:14 “But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD, I say, “You are my God.”

Psalm 33:21 “For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name.”

Psalm 56:3 “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.”

Psalm 56:11 “In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

 

Treasuring

As we pack Christmas away, may the message and power of this true eternal story remain with us.  The end of the year lends itself to times of reflection.

Scripture records two occasions where Mary “treasured.” Both times came after experiencing something beyond her understanding and imagination.

Luke 2:19 records that “Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” This time of consideration came after Jesus was miraculously conceived, birthed and now she held the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world, in her arms. There are no words to express the joy and wonder felt as you finally look into the eyes of your newborn after months of anticipation, but to hold the Son of God, as Mary experienced, is more than we can begin to comprehend.  What a great gift!  She had so much to treasure and even more to ponder.

The next time Mary treasured was after her young son, Jesus, had been missing for three days.  When she found Him in the temple, Jesus’ response to Mary was, “Did you not know that I had to be about my Father’s house?”  Of course she didn’t know. The Bible goes on to share, “…they did not understand the statement He had made to them.”  How could she understand why her boy had left her side to teach men in the temple? She just couldn’t. Luke 2:51 states, “…and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.”

In his commentary, Matthew Henry discusses the act of treasuring:
“The truths of Christ are worth keeping; and the way to keep them safe is to ponder them. Meditation is the best help to memory. That which at first is dark, so that we know not what to make of it, may afterwards become plain and easy; we should therefore lay it up for hereafter.”

Mary set an example to all of us: When we are troubled, we must treasure. God is always at work beyond our limited understanding. Darkness is always light to God (Psalm 139:12), but honestly, always appears dark to us – in our experience, understanding and knowledge of the work God is doing on our behalf and for His glory.

When my children were in the home, we were intentional about one-on-one moments expressing different emotions we were feeling i.e. what made us sad, what made us happy, etc.  This helped me learn how to pray for them. Their responses were recorded in a journal that I updated each time we shared.  As we closed out the year, our family followed Mary’s example of reflection.  We each filled out our “Year-At-A-Glance” to share together on New Year’s Day. You may want to take time to think through these questions and plan a time of intentional sharing with your family. You may discover something you want to treasure or jot down an experience you will need to ponder before the Lord.

Treasuring At-A-Glance

What made you happy?

  • What made you happy this year?
  • Were there any special celebrations?
  • What do you look forward to in 2019?

What made you sad?

  • Did you experience something painful or difficult?
  • What was your biggest lesson learned from this?

What did you treasure?

  • What memories did you make?
  • Did God answer a specific prayer need or teach you something?

What causes you to wonder?  What is your current prayer request or area you are surrendering to the Lord?

God’s Provision:

  • How did God care or provide for you in practical, or in supernatural ways?
  • How did God use you to bless someone?

Psalm 68:5, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”

To the fatherless: How did God “Father” you?
To the widow:  How did God care for you as your Defender and covering now that your husband is gone?

May 2019 be a year of treasuring and trusting the truth that God hasn’t left your side. He loves you and He cares. God will provide, protect, and be near to you as you ponder.

Light Their World This Christmas 2018

Christmas is one week from today! Perspective Ministries has personally cared for over 55 widowed moms and 110 fatherless children during this giving season. While it is a blessing to light the world of the widow and her children at Christmas, it is equally important to carry her throughout the year helping to lighten her load. Please consider making a donation towards Perspective Ministries, as we meet the practical, emotional, and spiritual needs of widows and their children in 2019.

Our Giving Catalog is full of ways you can care for the widow and fatherless through Perspective Ministries.

12 Practical Ways to Light Their World this Christmas

The cold days and long, dark nights that are characteristic in the winter leave the widow feeling like the winter of her soul may never end.  We have all had seasons like this, when the biting cold outside matches the biting hurt we feel on the inside. Without the comfort and love of her husband, the winter months have way of intensifying the loneliness and grief the widow feels. Thankfully, God gives snow in the winter as a beautiful picture of His grace, and before we know it, the snow melts away reminding us that there is life after death. We invite you to be another picture of grace for the widow and fatherless this winter season. This list of practical ideas, compiled by widows, will help you bring light into otherwise dark places. For all you will do, we thank you!

  1. Winterize her home:
    Service her heating system and change air filters.
    Check batteries in smoke detectors and fire alarms.
    Bring firewood
    Trim tree limbs that could be hazardous in a storm
    Provide flashlights and candles in case of power outages
    Change light bulbs inside and out
  2. Help her prepare for the year ahead:
    Financial planning
    Tax preparation
  3. Give your time to preserve her memories:
    Offer an evening or weekend to help her sort through pictures—having someone to share these special moments with is a blessing.
    Take time to write out a specific memory of her loved one, and deliver it to her.
  4. Thoughtful ideas:
    Buy her warm and cozy things:Winter gloves / scarf / warm socks / blanket—something to snuggle up to on the chilly nights
    Candles—these always have a way of making the holidays warmer and brighter, especially on the cold and dreary days.
    Fill her pantry with love: Tea, hot chocolate and coffee are always a safe bet.
    Stock her freezer with casseroles and soups.
  5. Give her a good book:
    “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.” – Mason Cooley
  6. Send gift cards: food and gas are always needed
  7. Care for her fatherless children
    Babysit her kids or come with an activity to share with her and her children
  8. Provide help with medical attention, if needed
  9. Call: Be available if weather isolates – make sure she is okay.
  10. Write: After the rush of the holidays, it’s easy for loneliness to set in—send a card letting her know you are thinking of her. Hand-written notes may be her greatest friend.
  11. Visit: Invite her to join you at the movies, for dinner, or take her to run errands.
  12. Pray:
    Dear God, please show the warmth of your love to this precious widow during the winter months.  Thank you that you promise to be her covering.  May she experience your protection in the storm and provision from the cold. As she faces the year ahead, remind her that your plans are good, you are with her, and you will help her. Amen.

    “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

My Yoke is Easy, My Burden is Light?

At the time of my husband’s unexpected death, I had eight children under the age of ten. The first four months were filled with business meetings, phone calls, and visits from well-meaning friends, family, and even strangers…oh and chaos – complete grace-filled chaos! The normal rhythm of our daily life had been turned upside down.

There were days that I would focus on something I had planned to do, like teaching school, when suddenly, I found myself doing something completely unplanned! It was that “grief thing” of keeping busy so I wouldn’t feel the pain. Or, it could have been the “grief brain” that removed the ability to focus on anything at all. Can you can relate? In my flurry, I would often enter a room to put something away and before I walked out again, I was involved in something I hadn’t ever planned to do.

For example, one afternoon I had the idea to separate a set of bunk beds into twin beds. I zipped into the room to perform this simple task without any thought at all that it would be something beyond my physical capability. My husband built the kid’s furniture to withstand any storm, apparently except for my grief attack. As I pulled the top bed off, I quickly realized that this was not a task to accomplish by myself. I was stuck! I couldn’t get it down to the floor, and I couldn’t get the bed back on top, and I couldn’t leave it hanging in mid-air. Frantically, I looked around only to see my precious little ones staring up at me willing to assist in any way they could. With the help of my two sons (ages 4 and 5) and my determined six-year-old daughter we managed to get the bed to the floor without hurting the babies in the process. The only damage was a minor hole in the wall and a broken bed. That little fit of independence brought out so many emotions. My inability to complete a simple task brought about anger I has buried deep inside. What do I even do with all this unresolved anger? Who do I resolve it with? Is unresolved anger what leads to depression? Oh my, what an emotional price to pay for the new bedroom arrangement!

Taking care of 8 children was always a bit overwhelming, but now, without my husband, I felt shaken, pressed down to my wits end, and running over. Actually, I felt that I had been run over. Even though I knew God was working through it all, life was hard, oh so hard. Change was taking place – physical, emotional, and spiritual change. Many days by 5:00 p.m. I felt that I just couldn’t make it through the rest of the day. However, with a houseful of small children, stopping wasn’t an option, so I pushed through. Soon dinner would be over, children bathed, and we would be onto my favorite part of the day – devotions and listening to the hearts of my children. Often, I had to confess my own wrong attitudes, a poor choice of words, or an action I didn’t think fully though. I loved to hear my children share their hurts and struggles, as well. (Side note: this simple but planned time of communication brought more fruit to our family more than anything else we do.)

Even though I had help here and there with the whole single-parenting thing, I still felt that my yoke wasn’t easy, and my burden was not light! Didn’t the Bible offer that promise somewhere? I asked God to give order to each day and to the large task ahead. I worked hard to be brave and courageous, but honestly, I was overwhelmed and exhausted. As I evaluated where I was in the timeline of my life, there were some very difficult years still ahead of me. I didn’t have in-house babysitting, I had a bunch of toddlers that need lots of consistent training and encouragement, and the adjustment to doing all of this alone was still very new. If God’s yoke was easy and His burden light, then I must be wearing the wrong yoke, right? I felt confident that the old yoke would feel so much better than my new one! But, I couldn’t take this new yoke off! (Weren’t yokes made for two oxen? I’m sure if it was for one ox, the load behind was smaller than 8?!)

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light”  (Matthew 11:28-30 NASB).

Easy? This was anything but easy. Light? In my own strength my new load was heavy. Rest? I didn’t think that would be possible for decades. I found myself pulling into a shell. I wanted to hide, disappear, and pretend that this had not happened. God kept telling me this was not a shell but a cocoon. To get the easy-light-rest that the Bible talks about, I had to trust God and learn from Him in this season, so that I would come out a beautiful butterfly rather than a dead caterpillar. When I looked up the meaning of the word easy in this text, I learned that the Greek meaning was much different than one would think. Easy is not the opposite of hard, but rather means to be fit for use, virtuous, and good. The process in this spiritual cocoon would be worth it all, and it was. His faithfulness proved that His burden is light when received with humility from His hand. God was performing a work of grace with this yoke upon me.

His easy, purposed, fit-for-use yoke is always tailor made to fit just as He planned–for our good and His glory.

 

Choose Life

(If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Suicide Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States, please call 1-800-273-8255)

Dear friend in the battle between life and death,

You are so precious and loved in the sight of God and many others. I know, life can be so hard, but you are not alone in the world, God is with you. In your darkest moments call out to him, and he will rescue you. Do not sit alone in this darkness either, find a friend, a counselor, a doctor and ask for help, you are worth helping!

The battle you are in right now is not only emotional and physical, but spiritual,

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” Ephesians 6:12

Satan wants you to choose death, but God desires that you choose life. Your life is worth living. Ponder His words today and let them sink into your heart. You are loved!

Life is a gift from God

Psalm 139:2-3, 13-16 “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways…For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Isaiah 49:16 “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands…”

God did not create us for death

John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

God desires that you choose life

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

Life doesn’t stop with death

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 5:28-29 “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”

1 Corinthians 15:50-57 “Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

Life allows for you to experience God’s faithfulness

Isaiah 38:18-19 “For Sheol cannot thank You, Death cannot praise You; Those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your faithfulness. It is the living who give thanks to You, as I do today; a father tells his sons about Your faithfulness.”

Psalm 30:8-12 “What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your faithfulness?”

Life trusts in God’s plan and allows God to be God

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways.”

You are deeply loved and will be missed!

Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

There is purpose in your pain when you turn to God

Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Life reaps reward in heaven

I Corinthians 3:13-15 “…each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

Destroying God’s temple is a serious matter with loss of reward on judgment day.

1 Corinthians 3:15-17 “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.

Life allows restoration and forgiveness

I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

God says to CHOOSE LIFE!

Romans 6:13  “Do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

 

Telling Children about the Suicide Death of a Parent

(If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Suicide Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States, please call 1-800-273-8255)

Q&A with kids who have lost a dad from suicide

The night before my husband chose to take his own life, I heard Psalm 68:5, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Because God charted the next season of our lives with this promise, I was able to gently repeat this promise to my children as the way of sharing this life-changing news with them,

“You have a new daddy—God promises to be a Father to the fatherless!”

It was hard to tell this information to myself so I knew right away that God had entrusted me with a huge responsibility in telling my children. They would always remember this pivotal moment of their lives. God was entrusting suffering into their lives at these young ages as well. We were really crossing a holy moment and the sovereignty of God and His promises would be our foundation.

When telling children difficult information, I heard it once said that you should insert only what the suitcase of their hearts can hold. It is important to tell your children the facts but be careful to share only what is age-appropriate. My older children (ages 8, 9, and 10) were told as little as possible, but enough for them to feel they had sufficient information to satisfy their curiosity. Telling my younger children that daddy died was all they could handle. They did not need to know how he died because they just could not understand at the ages of 1-6. Sadly, like sharing the secrets of sex, people will talk, and you want to make sure that you are the one to delicately and lovingly share the details of this news with your children.

Grief over a suicide death is complex and will manifest in many ways for children. Grief may lie dormant for years until their understanding catches up with their reality. I knew my children would eventually want and need to know the story of their dad; therefore, I took time to write out the story and details of his choice to the best of my understanding and experience and let it sit until it was time to share with them. I took time to share this information with them before they left home after high school. It is never easy to discuss but is important enough to share so that the enemy doesn’t continue to use this scheme against future generations.

What would I do differently today?

I’m not sure that I would change anything as I prayed that God would direct my steps and I believe that He did. I found comfort in the promise that God was their father. I trusted also that He is the great counselor even though God will often use others to speak into a life. The impact of this sin is deep and long-term. Getting wise counsel from the Word of God is important. My daily prayer for my children is that God would restore their soul from their walk through the valley of this death.

How are the children impacted by all of this?

Here is a Q&A with my children almost twenty years after the suicide death of their dad.

Q: When and how did your mom tell you your dad committed suicide?

A:

Abi (age 10 when her dad committed suicide/age 30 today): I think I learned details 3 days after he died. Slowly, over time I think I got a lot of my information by asking questions. It was probably by 5 years after his death that I had a good idea of what happened.

Kayla (age 9 when her dad committed suicide/age 28 today): I remember knowing that Daddy had killed himself right away – maybe that very night? For sure within the first week. I don’t remember the exact way this news was shared, but I do remember that she answered every question we had and didn’t try to hide information from us. I was 9 years old – I think age plays into this in a big way. A 4 or 5-year-old probably can’t process this at all, but an older child needs to be given all the information that they are able and willing to carry at the time. Also, if mom doesn’t tell them, they will probably try to find out from someone else.

Christieanna (age 6 when her dad committed suicide/age 26 today): I think I overheard the police say that they found him, and he had committed suicide. When mom told us that we had a new daddy, I don’t remember her saying he had committed suicide, but I already knew. I’m not sure I actually remember having anyone tell me the facts. I remember the way in which she told me and my siblings, but as far as the mechanism of injury, I’m not sure where I got that from. I assume a sibling told me, or maybe mom did that night and it was just a blur.

Isaac (age 5 when his daddy committed suicide/age 24 today): Really the only thing I remember is all of the kids sitting together in the downstairs living room and she came down and said, “Kids you no longer have an earthly daddy, but God is your Father now.”

Evan (age 4 when his daddy committed suicide/age 23 today): I do not remember exactly when my mother told me the details of my father’s death. I have asked questions of deeper levels as I have grown and matured, and my mom has always answered my questions to the best of her ability. I think a child needs to know the truth when he/she is ready. Some children are ready to receive information sooner than others. Just tell the truth. For me, being told the truth young was more important to me than figuring out the truth later and feeling like I’ve been lied too.

Micah (13 months old when his daddy died/age 20 today): She told us over time, I think she also helped us to understand through books that explained death in a way we could understand. I also remember her answering our questions whenever we would ask.

 Q: What was your first response?

A:

Abi (age 10 when her dad committed suicide/age 30 today): I don’t remember what I said, but I remember being surprised as I did not really understand. Suicide was, and always has been, something that seemed super intentional instead of something that could be accidental.

Kayla (age 9 when her dad committed suicide/28 today): I was shocked, devastated, and so confused. I felt completely blindsided by his death, and the way it happened.

Isaac (age 5 when his daddy committed suicide/age 24 today): Sadness at the loss but not much more than that because I was too young to understand what any of it meant.

Brandon (age 8 when his dad committed suicide/age 27 today): The first response is shock. It’s very surreal and hard to explain. Initially you just run the words through your mind and try to break down what you’re hearing, then you go through the waves of emotions. That first year really, you don’t hardly feel anything, you just keep thinking he’s going to walk in the door.

Christieanna (age 6 when her dad committed suicide/age 26 today): I remember my first response was watching everyone else fall apart. My older sisters were wailing, the younger siblings started crying too, but I think that cried just because everyone else was. I don’t know if the younger two actually understood what was happening. I remembered that my mom was strong, and we were about to start down a life altering journey together.

Q: How have you handled this reality as time went on?

A:

Brandon (age 8 when his dad committed suicide/age 27 today): It’s a wound that never quite heals completely. It’s always tender. To this day, I can’t hear, see, or talk about suicide without cringing. I think a lot of that is ok, there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to become calloused to it. As I’ve gotten older, the gravity of his decision weighs on me.  It’s much more distant as a child, but as I’ve grown, it becomes more tangible, like you can actually feel the reality of the decisions he made.

Christieanna (age 6 when her dad committed suicide/age 26 today): I have handled the reality of my dad committing suicide differently over the years. When I was younger, I questioned God a lot and asked Him how it could be love to take away someone I wanted to be there. I also questioned why we missed the signs, and if we could have done anything differently. I remember I would always daydream about what I would have done if I was there with him, and how I would have attempted to talk him out of it. My ideas weren’t that bright as a six-year-old, but I knew I would tell him he was worth it and that he was enough for us. I thought of different ways I would have stopped him if given the chance. I think that was my way of trying to cope by feeling I could have stopped it, and not fully understanding that the Lord had allowed it and I would not have been able to change any of it.

As time went by, the suicide part became less and less of a big deal, it was more just the fact that he was gone period. I think the reality of him killing himself is a push for me to make sure I let people know they are loved, and it’s help me see that there are signs everywhere. People are hurting, and one smile could change what they decide to do later on in their day.

I think that because I have faith, I actually do understand. I understand that my dad was in bondage, and genuinely thought that it would be easier for us if he weren’t there. Do I agree? Absolutely not, but I do understand his thinking, and hope that the next person I know who starts down this path will understand my thinking in that they are worth being alive, loved, and living.

Isaac (age 5 when his dad committed suicide/age 24 today): Probably easier than some. God is faithful over all. Yes, it’s a horrifying experience to lose a parent, but I don’t think it’s healthy to continually live in our past, but to learn from it. Accept what’s happened and allow God to continue to write your story.

Amy (2 ½ when her dad committed suicide/age 22 today): I handle it differently depending on the season. I’ve never been mad at God, though. I know He is sovereign and took my dad away for a reason that I may never understand. It has always hurt me that he thought he was not worthy enough to live though. Nobody should have to feel like that.

Q: What have you learned regarding your dad’s choice after 19 years? What have you learned regarding God and this choice?

A:

Abi (age 10 when her dad committed suicide/age 30 today): I have struggled with the intentional selfish abandonment of it and that has affected me in ways I’m still learning. I do not feel much compassion for his choice at all, although I can empathize with him.  I trust the Lord fully and know that he could have saved him, and in his sovereignty chose not to. I agree with God that he made the best choice for daddy and for our family. I am at peace with what happened and continue to trust the Lord and have the comfort of knowing that he holds all of our futures in his hand.

Kayla (age 9 when her dad committed suicide/age 28 today): I know now that my dad’s choice was multifaceted – the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. His hand in my dad’s choice cannot be overstated. He lays traps of temptation and comes like a lion to devour. I also know that my dad was completely responsible for his own choice. He was in bondage to sin that he was not able to escape, or maybe he didn’t hate it bad enough to do the hard work of repentance and surrender and learning to really walk by the Spirit and not carry out the desires of the flesh – I don’t know. Now as an adult, and parent, I see a level of selfishness in his decision that I never thought of as a child. I also know that at the end of the day, the sovereignty of the Lord rules over ALL. Even in this, God was there – He did not turn a blind eye, nor did He cause evil, but He was there and I know He cried first.

Brandon (age 8 when his dad committed suicide/age 27 today): From my dad’s choice I’ve realized the implications of sin. Sin will never let you go apart from the saving grace of Jesus. And if you let it, you can be turned over to it. I think with my dad, God allowed him to be turned over to his sin because time and time again he made the decision to turn back to it. I believe he allowed himself to get into a pit of darkness and lies that he was almost a walking dead man, and the action of suicide was just fleshing that out. I’ve learned that God is sovereign and if you can’t “trace His hand, trust His heart.”  He really does do all things for our good and His glory… that’s a big thing to say 18 years later because that was preached to me in the moment, but I’ve now lived long enough to validate the truth for myself.

Isaac (age 5 when his daddy committed suicide/age 24 today): I’ve learned that if you don’t take care of what may be eating away in the inside, it has the potential to ruin your life.  I know dad was a good man who just let the enemy continue to feed a lie to him that he eventually believed.  Regarding God it’s the same as above.  He is sovereign.  Everything that happens is within His plan.  I’ve not been much of one to question ‘why’, as much as I have ‘what now.’  So now that I know what happened, how am I going to use that to live my life tomorrow.  How will I use what God allowed to minister and lead others?

Evan (age 4 when his daddy committed suicide/age 23 today): Over time I have learned the severity of my father’s sin and how it has affected not just him, but many people linked to him. It’s a big deal, and I know it was a spiritual battle for him. We all deal with sin, and we will all be accountable to how we fought against sin. My dad’s story has stood as a lesson for me and how I will personally fight sin. But through my dad’s story, I have been able to use the ugly parts to reflect on the beautiful parts of God’s forgiveness and grace. It’s given me opportunities to warn others against the dangers of meddling in sin. God receives the glory for the good and bad in our lives, and that’s where I have landed after 19 years. We do not have permission to write our own stories, but we absolutely do have the ability to control how we respond to our adversity and what we do with it.

Amy (age 2 when her daddy committed suicide/age 22 today): I have learned that it is dangerous to mess around with big sins like my dad did. I’ve learned that it never gets easier telling someone that my dad killed himself. I now know that I am always going to grieve his death through the different seasons I go through. And I learned that God allows certain things to happen in order to glorify Himself and draw me closer to Him.

Q:  What do you feel is the best way/time to tell a child of this kind of death of a father?

A:

Abi (age 10 when her dad committed suicide/age 30 today): I think the least amount of information at first is the best, although all information should be shared over time.  Any amount of info, large or small, will be difficult to process. I have had friends and family members share very gruesome details about the method my dad chose over the years, and of course have come across too many movies and TV shows in which this is common. I always sympathize with other people who have lost family members this way, and I’m thankful it was probably not a super gory discovery. Although regularly I think of the men who found my dad and pray for them, I doubt they have been able to fully recover from finding him. This info is always gutting, always devastating. But I would rather hear it from family members first instead of finding out myself later. I don’t think it matters what method a person chooses, the hardest part is that it is a decision, not an accident.

Brandon (age 8 when his dad committed suicide/age 27 today): Make sure you have support around you. Maybe wait until family comes in to town etc.  It was very helpful having people in the house during the first few months. It would’ve been very dark, lonely, and sad if it was just our family.

Isaac (age 5 when his daddy committed suicide/age 24 today): Probably just tell them straight up and as soon as possible.  You don’t want them to hear rumors or stories from anyone else.

Evan (age 4 when his daddy committed suicide/age 23 today): Knowing God is sovereign and in control is important to grasp as a child. Understanding that it was God’s plan for me to be a fatherless young man was important for me to know right away. The details of the story can come later when I’m more matured if/when I need them.

Q: What would you want to say to a child who is just starting on this journey?

A:

Abi (age 10 when her dad committed suicide/age 30 today): That it is not your fault, there is no way you could’ve prevented it, even if he could go back in time and do this or that differently there is no way you could’ve stopped it, nothing you could’ve said to change his mind, no behavior or you could’ve done differently to make the circumstances different. It will be OK, the Lord will use time to heal.

Kayla (age 9 when her dad committed suicide/28 today): I would encourage you to press into God the Father, through His Word. Open your eyes and heart to see His mercy, goodness, and love for you. Meditate on His lifegiving Word, and let it heal you. He will make everything beautiful in His time, as you trust Him, love Him, and walk in His purposes.

Brandon (age 8 when his dad committed suicide/age 27 today): I’m so sorry.  You have been given a very heavy weight to carry.  But don’t use it as an excuse or a weakness. Let it make you stronger, embrace your pain.  The storms make us stronger.  Don’t blame God, He has the best heart and loves you.  There will come a day where you will be grateful that you went through this.  Or, you can be a victim and end up a statistic, you make that choice.

Evan (age 4 when his daddy committed suicide/age 23 today): Don’t ever accept that your story is anything other than GOD’s story for YOU. We are intricately designed and given a story that we are responsible for using for the glory of God. Find mentors and Godly people to help mold and grow you. Dig into God’s word to find out how He (capital H) wants you to use your story for His glory and YOUR good!

Amy (age 2 when her daddy committed suicide/age 22 today): I would tell them I’m sorry and that no one should have to go through something like this for any reason. I would tell them that no matter what, the Lord is going to be by their side every step of the way and hold them when they can’t take steps for themselves. I would tell them that believe it or not, God is sovereign. That they are not in this alone. I would tell them to not get angry at God – getting angry will not bring your loved one back to life. Go through the motions, but don’t resent God. He is there FOR you, BY you, and WITH you at every single moment.

Micah (13 months old when his daddy died/age 20 today): Press into Jesus, it’s okay to have hard times – when you do, talk to your mentors and peers and don’t hold it in!

Related blog articles:

The Seduction of Suicide

The Sin of Suicide

 

 

 

The Sin of Suicide

(If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Suicide Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States, please call 1-800-273-8255)

Within days of my husband’s suicide death, people started to give me their humble, maybe not, yet inaccurate opinions of where my husband would spend eternity! Yes—they really had the boldness to tell me that my husband would spend eternity in hell because of his choice to take his own life based on wrong theology! The circumstances of his death were horrific enough without the voice of others amplifying the tormenting questions that were already flooding my heart and soul. When my precious husband walked into eternity would he hear God say, “depart from me I never knew you” or “welcome home my prodigal son?” To this day, I don’t know the answer to those questions, but I do know this, if my husband had a saving covenant relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, nothing—not even suicide, would separate him from God as he was saved by grace and the blood of Jesus Christ is able to keep him.

Willfully terminating human life is a sin. The real question is, is that sin mortal – is it unforgivable, consigning the victim to an eternity outside the presence of God? The short answer is no, absolutely not, based on the Word of God.

Suicide can evoke intense theological discussion. Fortunately, for the most part today, “No major religion teaches anymore that death by suicide automatically means hell, but this merciless thought persists, inferring that God punishes people for being sick. In our broken world, unspeakable tragedies occur daily, but that doesn’t mean God causes or approves of those tragedies. Sadly, some grieving people have turned away from God as their ultimate source of comfort because of such misguided belief, generally following this line of reasoning:

(1) Murder is acknowledged as sin; (2) Suicide is self-murder; (3) Suicide is the last action of the person committing it, so (4) the suicide victim goes into eternity unforgiven and therefore is automatically eternally lost.

I suppose that follows a certain logic, but it reaches an unscriptural conclusion on at least two counts:

  • Eternal salvation is not based on our works but on the work of Jesus Christ!
  • There is a way we can renounce our salvation, but not one of the listed requirements includes murder!

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”  (John 3:17, 16).

“But to him who does not work [for his own salvation] but believes on him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness. . . Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven and whose sins are covered, blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin” (Romans 4:5-8).

“Even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”  (Ephesians 2:8-10).

We are saved by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and there is nothing we can do to contribute to the saving process. A person who genuinely knows Christ as Savior, cannot by a single act annul the covenant of God to save his eternal soul! AMEN!

God’s Word teaches differently from those who believe suicide is the sin that separates one from God:

“What the shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:31-37).

It is rank foolishness for any person to declare that they know what transpired between the victim and God in the minutes or split seconds before they slipped into eternity. No one knows how God may reveal Himself to the person in that moment. The scriptures plainly teach that those who call upon the Name of the Lord will be heard! Who can conceive of a victim who would not cry out with His final breath, “Oh God! Help me! Oh God, Save me!” It is not in the hand of any human to declare they know with certainty the future of any suicide victim without knowing what took place between God and that individual.

At the same time, it is vital that we acknowledge that salvation is promised to those who believe in the power of the blood of Jesus Christ to absolve their sin. The same God who made that promise also said that those who reject the sacrifice of His Son will perish. It is a serious matter. Even though suicide is a forgivable sin that will not separate one from God if they have a saving relationship with him based on the blood of Jesus Christ, choosing death over life is the wrong choice with consequences.

I submit that the “real” sin of suicide is dereliction of duty!

“I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. Plans handmade for each person by the Lord Himself. Plans to bring each person to a good end and not a disastrous one! Plans which can be subverted and never fulfilled because of a human choice to surrender to deception!

The Bible says that each of us when we enter heaven will have everything we have been and done exposed openly in the presence of the Lord, and all those things will be tested by fire – meaning our “gold” won’t burn but our “wood” will (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).

The Bible says that it is possible for everything we’ve done could be classified as “wood, hay and stubble, and burned in that examining fire yet the person will still be saved. Eternal salvation is not based on our works but on the work of Jesus Christ! Perhaps the scene will look like this: Jesus says, “I love you and receive you from the pain of your failure. You are forgiven, and you may enter into the presence of the Father, but everything you were to do and be for Me has been lost. I call you to account: why did you waste a moment of the life I planned for you to have?”

The Bible says that God will “wipe away all tears from our eyes.” What occasions those tears?  I think it is when we fully see what we have irretrievably squandered and fully know that “way of escape” made for us which we refused. We are accountable for every choice that we make. The day will come when we will all answer, “What have you done with the life I gave you?”

Sin is sin, each with its own set of consequences. Suicide is just that—a sin, but not the unpardonable forever separating sin. The consequences of this sin deeply impacts others possibly for their lifetime. As stated in the previous blog on The Seduction of Suicide, Satan is often involved in the decision against life because his mission in this world is “to kill, steal, and destroy.” If you struggle with depression or thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help. We want you to know and experience the truth that Jesus came to give life abundant!

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants” Deuteronomy 30:19.

 

 

 

The Seduction of Suicide

(If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Suicide Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States, please call 1-800-273-8255)

Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. This is the bottom line in suicide.

Suicide and suicidal thoughts are at their core an activity of Satan. The Word of God teaches that our struggle is not against flesh and blood. That means that the battle for life and death is often an invisible, yet very powerful battle against the greatest forces of darkness, “against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). We are at war with Satan himself. Scripture tells us this powerful adversary is crafty, a liar, thief, schemer, and the great accuser.

Sample notes from those who believed Satan’s lie:

  • Mom and Dad, I can’t seem to cope with the problems I have as a teenager. You don’t give me any help and no one else does. I can’t face life any more – Teenage child
  • Honey, I know I haven’t done my best, but I have tried. I can’t face life any more – take good care of the children – defeated husband and father
  • I don’t want to embarrass you, Mom and Dad, but I’m in the kind of mess for which there is no solution and no hope. I cannot go on living like this any longer – 25-year-old single
  • If I looked a certain way, people would like me. I’ve been rejected by many; I will just reject myself – Lonely adult

Suicide is submission to a deceiving spirit, a spirit that urges its victim to surrender because of emotional and physical pain he can no longer endure—pain usually stemming from humiliation or hopelessness. It is Satan’s main aim to make those who are in a dark spiritual battle feel ashamed and guilty. He is relentless in speaking lies to our mind and soul: you have really messed up, you will never be forgiven, and you will never be free from this turmoil. Not only will Satan lie, but waits for the opportune time to bring destruction in our lives. He is happy to wait years and even decades as he strategically plans his victory.

Death, even at one’s own hand, is finally presented as a valid option and the answer—the only way to experience freedom from bondage. In fact this self-focused mindset causes the struggling one to believe the deceptively wrapped lie that this is a self-LESS choice–others will be better off without you. The seduction from the devil is the shallow “promise” that death will be gain when, invariably, it will be great loss!

Satan does not play fair. We must be aware of his schemes and the lies. He uses fear of all types, abandonment, rejection failure, generational sin, and even statistics. We must fight for truth both for ourselves and those around us. We do not have to be victims of our circumstances or even of the generational sin. Just because depression, anxiety, addiction, and suicide have had victory in the family line does not mean you must carry this baton. Every family has sin, all the way back to Adam in the garden. Romans 3: 23 is clear, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Ezekiel 18 teaches that each man must choose truth for himself and not succumb to the sins of their fathers. Don’t sit back and wait for the shoe to drop or the ax to fall. God’s Word teaches differently, He equips us to fight, really fight, against Satan’s schemes. God grants us the power to observe and then choose to not do likewise:

Ezekiel 18:14, 17 “Now behold, he has a son who has observed all his father’s sins which he committed, and observing does not likewise . . . he keeps his hand from the poor, does not take interest or increase, but executes My ordinances, and walks in My statutes; he will not die for his father’s iniquity, he will surely live.”

Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus came to give life abundant.

Do not fight this battle alone, please seek help if necessary.

Know and believe God’s truth from His Word.

  • Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper.”
  • Romans 8:31 “If God is for us, who is against us?”
  • 1 John 4:4 “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”
  • Revelation 12:11 “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb.”

How to help one who is struggling:

  1. Believe their cry
  2. Listen
  3. Point them to the one who can give them hope – Jesus Christ
  4. Fast
  5. Pray
  6. Seek help from a professional source and point them to a professional source.

 

 

The Sovereignty of God in Suicide

(If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Suicide Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States, please call 1-800-273-8255)

Dear precious widow to suicide,

I am very sorry for the death of your husband. I am deeply grieved with you over the choice your husband made to take his own life. For many, you were blind-sided and caught completely off-guard, unaware of the deep turmoil your husband faced bringing him to make this painful choice. For others, you fought this spiritual battle with your husband almost daily, and now the fight for him is over and a new and difficult journey begins for you.

A myriad of huge questions needing clear answers tormented me for years. Why didn’t I respond differently to his cries? Why did my husband believe the lies? Why didn’t God answer our prayers? Surrendering to the truth that God is sovereign eventually became my resting place. By faith, I continued to trust that God is good, loving, kind, wise, and all-knowing even in the midst of this unthinkable act.

It is easy to accept the fact that we have nothing to do with our own birth and existence – we did absolutely nothing and here we are experiencing life in the world today. The Bible also confirms that death is in God’s hands, “The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up” (1 Samuel 2:6) or “No man has authority to restrain the wind with the wind, or authority over the day of death” (Ecclesiastes 8:8). But what happens when man intervenes and takes his own life? Is God in control of this as well? If God is sovereign, and He is, then suicide messes with the neatness of our thinking because suicide really is a messy topic without clear-cut answers. Since God is sovereign and did not intervene Himself into the war for my husband’s soul, how can I find comfort in this One who has sovereignly ordained such suffering?

There is a good chance that until you have experienced extreme pain and suffering in life, you have never thought much about the sovereignty of God. Most of us do not until God’s plan interrupts or disappoints ours. Even though we declare God to be God with our mouths, in our hearts we often struggle with the fact that God is God and we are not. Books have been written on the sovereignty of God covering a variety of topics – disease, natural disasters, evil, and man’s choice. For the one impacted by the loss of a loved one to suicide, the sovereignty of God over and in their choice is generally a subject to avoid. God’s sovereignty can become a wall that will push us away from God or a safe haven we run to when nothing else makes sense.

Here are 4 scriptural truths that help with the understanding and acceptance of God’s sovereignty:

1.       God allows physical death, He just does and we have to come to terms with that. This may be by natural means, consequence of poor choices, through Satan who comes to “steal, kills, and destroy,” or at the hand of man but Satan doesn’t have the last victory over death.

2.       We may not always understand the mind of God. Joseph’s story is one of mystery when we read that he suffered for two decades while God was at work: “But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive’” (Genesis 50:19-20). Over and over in scripture God reminds us that he is in control and we are not and His ways are higher than ours:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

“He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

3.       God allows Satan to attack us. In the story of Job, Scripture tells us that Satan asked permission from God to attack Job and God granted his request. The response of Job is what offers the most encouragement and comfort in light of God sovereignly allowing Satan to intervene, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).

Much like the story of Job, God sometimes allows Satan to work in our lives. Take Peter in the book of Luke, for example, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31) It is encouraging to note two purposes in this suffering: Jesus Christ prays for the strengthening of our faith even when Satan has access to our lives, and God will use our trial to strengthen others.

4.       We live in a broken world. The dominion, rule, and ownership of the planet which God had given to Adam and Eve, along with their allegiance, transferred to Satan when they chose to know his evil. What originally belonged to God by creation rights transferred into the hands of a self-made evil one!

If humanity was to be saved, it would be because of a choice man freely made! God would not force us to come back into relationship with Himself, but He would make the way available if man would choose to come! Yes, the world was broken, but God had a plan for good.

Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, volunteered to become the payment to Satan for humanity’s redemption! God, through Jesus, took all sin into Himself, and paid the debt of sin Himself so that humanity could be freed from the genetic of sin! There was a way made for humanity, in very fact, to be born again!

“For Jesus, who knew no sin, was made to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Corinthians 5:21).  In effect, God declared wherever there is a person anywhere on the planet who will refuse the leadership of Satan and who will choose Me again, I will come to him, and I will receive him.  Having paid the debt of sin, I will personally forgive every person who chooses Me to be his God.

The rule of choice – free will – has never been revoked. All of humanity is free to make deterministic choices about his or her own life! Deuteronomy 30:19 reminds us that the choice is ours, but encourages us to make the choice for life,

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.”

May you feel the presence of God as you wrestle through the subject of life and death under the sovereign hand of God.

You may never know if God appointed death or allowed Satan to bring death, but you can be confident that God is with you in the valley of the shadow of death.