Sunday, May 20, 2018

Because He lives, she lives

         "...I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.  Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26)
         Yes, Lord we believe. 
         We believe that our dear friend--our remarkable, joyful, indefatigable, faithful, constantly giving, relentlessly loving, endlessly serving Jo Anna--is more alive this moment than she has ever been before.  We still reside here in the shadowlands...but she lives.  She laughs.  She sees.  She loves.  She worships.  She dances.  She rejoices.  She shimmers with Your glory.  And knowing Jo Anna, she surely also organizes, serves, and celebrates with gusto. 
         Oh my how hard, how impossible it is to imagine this old earth without her.  Such an unimaginably huge hole is left here.  Words can't begin to express how desperately we will all miss her, so I'll not even try.  But heaven grows even sweeter and dearer knowing that Jo Anna has arrived Home. 
           Thank You, thank You, thank You, Father, for Jesus.  Thank You that because He lives, she lives.  Because He came and died and rose again, Jo Anna is vibrantly, joyously, fully alive. 
          The great preacher Charles Spurgeon went home to heaven in 1892 at the same age as Jo Anna.  Both entered heaven at 57.  Hard to believe how two people could pack so much good, so much life, so much eternally wonderful work into just 57 years.  But they did--they both did. 
         When I read the words for Spurgeon's service, I couldn't help but immediately think of Jo Anna, for these words apply just as surely to her.  Here is some of what Pastor Archibald Brown, one of Spurgeon's close friends, shared that day in 1892--
         "Beloved president, faithful pastor, prince of preachers, beloved, dear Spurgeon--we bid thee not 'Farewell' but only for a little while 'Good night.'
          Thou shalt rise soon at the first dawn of the resurrection day of the redeemed.  Yet is the good night not ours to bid, but thine; it is we who linger in the darkness; thou art in God's holy light.  Our night shall soon be passed, and with it all our weeping. Then, with thine, our songs shall greet the morning of a day that knows no cloud nor close; for there is night there.
          Hard worker in the field, thy toil is ended.  Straight has been the furrow thou hast plowed.  No looking back has marred thy course.  Harvests have followed thy patient sowing, and Heaven is already rich with thine ingathered sheaves and shall still be enriched through the years yet lying in eternity.
          Champion of God, thy battle, long and nobly fought, is over; thy sword, which clave to thy hand, has dropped at last; a palm branch takes it place.  No longer does the helmet press thy brow, oft weary with its surging thoughts of battle; a victor's wreath from the great Commander's hand has already proved thy full reward."
            Yes, that's Jo Anna.  Only heaven knows how many countless folks she loved, encouraged, taught, strengthened, lifted up, served, and impacted for eternity.  How she makes me want to be a far better woman, wife, mama, sister, daughter, and friend.  Because let me tell you, she was simply the best in every one of those roles.     
           Thank You, Father, for the priceless gift of this amazing woman.  Thank You that we will see her again...and oh mercy, then we'll do us some serious sharing, laughing, and celebrating.  And she'll make sure everyone around us feels included, valued, and loved, because that's who she always was and is and will be. 
          Thank You for Jesus.  Thank You for Jo Anna.  Thank You for the promise of heaven.  And thank You that in the words of John Donne, "No man ever saw God and lived.  And yet, I shall not live till I see God; and when I have seen Him, I shall never die." 
          Thank You that Jo Anna now sees You...and lives.
          To God be the glory.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Soul Bullies...take a hike!

        "For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace." (Rom.8:6)
         A while back, I wrote this verse on a bright orange index card and just found it tucked in my overflowing calendar book (yes, yes, old-timey, non-technology me still uses a big old paper calendar).  And it's a mighty good word from God's supernaturally good Word...because it's a reminder that your mind set is key.
         It's so easy to default to a negative, destructive mind set.  I mean, the world provides plenty of ammunition, doesn't it?  Public discourse at an all time low.  Terror abroad and at home.  Completely dysfunctional politics. Division and rancor abound.  Poverty, homelessness, drug epidemics and on and on. 
         Yet we live in a fallen world, and in reality, while our particular problems may wear slightly different clothing, the problems, the sin, the fallenness, the sorrow, and the challenges have always been there.  At least since Adam and Eve ate of the apple. 
         But here's the thing: it's not just the world around us--it's what is within us. 
        Oh my stars, I can fall into a pit of discouragement so quickly when I start fixating on all the ways I'm failing.  All the ways I'm missing the mark.  Writer Leeana Tankersley described it so powerfully in her book, Begin Again.  She recounts a story of accidentally running over some canned and jarred goods she'd planned to donate to her children's school food drive.  She'd created an enormous mess and began internally berating herself.  "There I am, standing in my driveway, getting sucker-punched by Soul Bullies who are giving me more and more ammunition to use against myself, all the while I'm ankle deep in chunky beet juice.  Man, life is no joke." 
        "Soul bullies."  Haven't we all been there?  We go from being so busy that we forget a child's doctor's complaining about our chronic beating ourselves up for our total lack of organization wondering why on earth God entrusted us with children since we're so incompetent...and on and on it goes.  Twisting and turning down that dark, ugly trail of shame and guilt and defeat. 
       But you know what?  That's just plain wrong... in fact, worse than wrong--that's just flat out lies from the enemy.  Because after all, the enemy "comes only to steal and kill and destroy"--and he uses lies, distortions, division, deceit, and those ugly little soul bullies!  But Jesus "came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10)  Jesus came to give us life--real, abundant, eternal Life. 
       Yes, God loved you so much that He sent His only beloved Son to die for you, for me. (John 3:16)  He doesn't look at you and me and sigh with distress and despair.  No, He chuckles with love and understanding.  You can almost hear Him say, "That's my girl!  That's my boy!  Aren't they something?" 
        Don't take my word for it...take His.  "In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (I John 4:10)  Or "As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love." (John 15:9)  Now that's some serious love: as the perfect, eternal, holy Father has loved the beautiful, powerful, glorious Son, in the very same way Jesus loves us!  Jesus loves us like the Father loves Him.  That's crazy!  That's unimaginable!  But that's our Heavenly Father and our wonderful Redeemer.  We can't even begin to grasp that kind of love, but our job is simply to "abide" in that love.  To rest in it.  To enjoy it.  To savor it.  To share it.  To live in it day in and day out. 
        And in case you're wondering if your latest terrible, very bad, awful mess-up might've finally been the last straw, God immediately sets you straight through the apostle Paul in Romans 8:35-39.  Paraphrase?  Nothing, nothing, way...not ever...NOTHING can ever separate us from God's love.  If  you are His, YOU ARE HIS.  Forever.  I think that calls for a Hallelujah! 
        So instead of looking around and finding excuses for anger and fear or looking within and repeating ad nauseum all the reasons for discouragement and despair, how about looking to the Lord and His Word where you'll discover endless ammunition for peace, love, joy, and hope.  Tell those "soul bullies" to take a hike.  Go to God's Word and rehearse His promises.  Remember His past provision.  Repeat His Truth rather than rehash the enemy's same old lies. 
       Corrie ten Boom once put it this way: "If you look at the world, you'll be distressed.  If you look within, you'll be depressed.  If you look at God, you'll be at rest."
        Soul bullies don't stand a chance against the Savior and His supernatural Word. 
        To God be the glory. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Just keep trying and trusting

        Yesterday was one of those golden days that will live long and happy in my memory.  Why?  Because God reminded us afresh that He is a God of second chances and that much of life is simply a matter of showing up, refusing to quit, and trusting Him even when times are tough or discouraging or overwhelming.  Just keep showing up.  Just keep on keeping on.  Just keep refusing to give up.  Just keep trying to give it your best effort even when the results don't seem to come and discouragement hovers heavy and hard on your heart.
        Because we serve and love a Lord who loves to lift up the broken-hearted.  Who loves to empower and magnificently use the weak, the worn, the lowly.  Who loves to revive and redeem the deceivers like Jacob, the doubters like Thomas, the deniers like Peter, and the down-and-outers like, well, like about every one of us!
       He gives us fresh new seasons to remind us that we can begin again. After the unrelenting cold and gray of winter, spring arrives with new possibilities and beauty.  Then the warmth and joy of summer.  When we can't stand the heat one more moment, fall ushers in cool breezes and brilliant foliage.  And then the winter comes with it's cozy fires, hot cocoa, and bracing serene beauty.  New seasons, new opportunities to start afresh and try again. 
         "Always we begin again." 
         Always we put the past failures and short-comings behind us and start each day anew.  Always we keep showing up.  Keep trying.  Keep trusting.
        Paul put it so perfectly: "But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Phil.3:13-14)
         And that's what we saw illustrated live and in living color yesterday in, of all things, a golf tournament.  The States.  Our high school team--the Broughton Caps--played in the State Championships.
          Now before we get to yesterday, let me tell you about last year.  Oh mercy, last year was one of those "forgetting what lies behind" kind of times.  Same State Championships. Same course in Pinehurst.  Pretty close to the same team.  But last year our guys struggled, and by the end of the first day, they were totally out of the running.  It was a tough, discouraging couple of days for the whole team.
        One of our players--a really great player--had an especially difficult time.  Golf is such a strange sport--you can be playing really well and then suddenly lose your confidence and can't hit the broad side of a barn.  Well that happened to one of our guys.   It was surely a terribly discouraging time for him.  But frankly, they all struggled last year.  I guess golf is a microcosm of life--some days the sun is shining and all's right with the world.  And then other days, the rain pours down and you feel alone, exhausted, defeated.
        But here's the thing: they could've quit.  They could've given in to apathy and indifference.  They could've stopped working at it--surely it's easier to just stop trying or even to quit than to keep on working and trying but risk disappointment  and defeat again, right?
        Wrong.  Because men and women of character keep showing up.  Keep trying.  Keep trusting that God's at work even when they can't see it or feel it. 
        Keep forgetting yesterday's failures and beginning again today.
        And in our case, keep forgetting last year's disappointments and beginning again this year. Working and pressing ahead, eyes focused ahead and not behind. 
        Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities crept in; forget them as soon as you can.  Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
        Like I said, we saw it yesterday.  And it was beautiful to see such refusal to give up or give in.  Such fight--trying hard to the very last shot.  Such focus--forgetting the past, eyes looking forward.  And beginning again--each day, each hole, each shot.
         These guys have been through some tough, discouraging battles--but they kept showing up, kept working hard, kept simply refusing to give up.  And the result was a victory.  A hard fought, well-deserved, incredibly appreciated, and wonderfully sweet victory.
         By the way, that player that had a particularly hard time last year?  He was one of the big reasons the Caps won yesterday.  Played solid as a rock...even when he had a really tough break on the next to last hole.  He could've looked back to last year and gotten tight and discouraged.  But instead, he took a deep breath, eyes focused ahead and nailed a long putt on the 18th hole.  We all whooped and hollered.  He's a senior, and boy, we're going to miss him next year.  Because, yeah, he showed us what character does--digs deep and keeps trying and trusting to the very end.
         So in case you're in the midst of one of those long, hard, dark seasons of life (and we all go through them, every single one of us), just remember that nothing beats plain old trying and trusting.  Just keep showing up.  Keep beginning again...who knows what surprises God may have for you just around the bend?  And believe me, it will be all the sweeter and greater because of the struggle.
          Just ask the Caps.

          To God be the glory. 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

What words are you speaking?

        "Today you will spend solitary moments of conversation with yourself, either listing your complaints or counting your blessings."  Paul David Tripp
         No one speaks to you more than you.  What are you speaking to yourself?  Words of grumbling or of gratitude?  Words that rehearse all your difficulties and sorry complaints or that recall all of God's extraordinary goodness in your life?  Are you rehashing all you lack that you think you deserve or recalling all you possess that you know you could never deserve? 
         Are you speaking words of death and discouragement or of life and hope?
         Because here's the thing: we are always, always, always talking to ourselves.  What kind of inner monologue is your heart speaking?  Is it based on your ever-vacillating feelings or on the never-changing Truth of God's Word? 
         Yes, I've repeated this mighty often...but if you're anything like me, you're a mighty good forgetter!  We're all of us spiritual those Israelites wandering in the dessert.  They witnessed God's miraculous deliverance time and time again--delivering them out of slavery in Egypt, parting the Red Sea, destroying the Egyptians, providing water out of a rock, giving them daily mana for food, even sending quail for meat. 
         But it was never quite enough, because the moment a problem arose, there they go again...doubting, complaining, grumbling, longing to return to Egypt.  Egypt?  Really?  Egypt, where you were enslaved, starved, worked to the bone? Where your boy babies were killed and your freedom destroyed?  That's what happens when we forget God's goodness--we grow delusional and bitter and despairing.
         The Israelites forgot God's past goodness...they doubted His present love and power... and so they lost their hope, complained, and wallowed in misery.  Yep, sounds a bit like yours truly...first I forget, then I doubt, and then I start grumbling and growing more and more discouraged. 
         What do we do?  PREACH TO YOURSELF!!  Start speaking words of truth and life to yourself.  Start remembering God's faithfulness and goodness.  Start rehearsing His gifts to you. 
         Paul puts it this way: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say , Rejoice!...Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (Phil.4:4,8)
          Choose to consciously remember and recount the gifts, and then choose to rejoice in them.
          Choose to marinate in His supernatural Word and be encouraged and strengthened. 
          Choose to think about the true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent.  Preach those words of TRUTH to yourself rather than your words of doom and discouragement. 
          Because we can all choose what we will think about.  We can all choose the meditation of our hearts.  And that which we think about will increasingly dominate the mediation of our hearts.  That which we think about and meditate upon will be what we're relentlessly speaking to ourselves.  And that which we speak to ourselves will ultimately determine our attitudes and actions. 
          Let's stop listing our complaints and start counting our blessings.  Let's stop rehashing our troubles and start rehearsing the Truth. 
         Help us, Father, to preach the Truth--Your Truth--to our hearts on a daily basis so that we increasingly count our blessings and are filled with Your hope, peace, and joy.  Help us this day to choose to preach Life to ourselves and to others.  In Jesus' name, Amen. 
          To God be the glory. 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

God's Word

        "A Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn't."  Charles Spurgeon
        There's nothing like God's Word. 
        But sometimes we forget...or allow ourselves to become too distracted or too busy or too prideful or too plain old foolish, so that we rush pell mell into our day without reading and savoring the treasure of God's very words, His very thoughts--all warm, fresh, and ready for us that day.  And oh, what we forfeit when we do that!  We miss out on all the wisdom, peace, love, understanding, joy, hope, strength, discernment that the Lord longed to shower upon us.
        I was reminded of this afresh a few days ago on a trip to Washington, D.C. with several dear friends.  The entire city, of course, is magnificent...but the new Museum of the Bible is a must see.  I won't go into all that is there, but if at all possible, plan a  trip to our inspiring capital and run, don't walk, to the Museum of the Bible!
        But whether or not you ever see this museum, here's one thing all of us can do beginning today--open our Bibles and read! 
        Duh, you say, but seriously, have you read it today?  Have you needed its wisdom today for some perplexing problem?  How about its encouragement for a hard, dark place you're confronting right now?  Or have you lost your vision of who God is and what He can do?  Are you feeling like a failure or struggling with that destructive habit that you can't seem to overcome?  Do you simply need to be reminded of One who loves you unconditionally and extravagantly? 
        Then open the Word and dive into His love letter for you.  His revelation of Himself to you.  His energy infusion for you.  His manual for living for you.  His flood of encouragement for you.  His supernatural wisdom and peace for you.
        Yeah, I'm sure we've all got a million excuses why we're too this or that to take time to read and meditate upon the very words, the very thoughts of Almighty God.  Or maybe we've just let it all slide, and the world didn't stop spinning...and one day became two, then four, then ten...
        So here's the thing--you can start again.  Today. 
        The Rule of  Saint Benedict had it spot on: "Always we begin again."
        How I love that, for it applies to every area of our lives in which we're feeling defeated and discouraged and tempted to quit.  NO!  "Always we begin again."  And that applies right here, right now, to God's Word. 
       Did you know that the average American household has at least four Bibles.   Stop procrastinating and making excuses.  Jettison the guilt and self-condemnation--they're useless and destructive--and go find a Bible and start reading.  Ask God to speak to you and then listen.  He will, for He's promised His Word will never return void. (Isa.55:11)
        Here's what John Wesley once wrote: "O Begin!  Fix some part of every day for the private exercises.  You may acquire the taste which you have not: what is tedious at first will afterward be pleasant.  Whether you like it or not, read and pray daily.  It is for your life; there is no other way: else you will be a trifler all your days."
         Always we begin again...and today that means reading God's Word.  He has hidden, beautiful treasures in store for us...but we've got to close our computers, silence our phones, cut off our TV, push aside our to-do list...and dive into the life-giving, strength-infusing, hope-restoring, wisdom-overflowing ocean of His Word. 
        He's ready and waiting for you.  Begin again now.
        To God be the glory.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Beautiful scars

                                  A little food for weekend thought--
         Two simple but profound lines from the powerful song, "Don't you want to thank Someone," by singer and songwriter, Andrew Peterson"--

        "Maybe it's a better thing to be more than merely innocent, but to be broken then redeemed by love." 

        Think about that.  Which would engender more love, more gratitude, more joy: to be merely innocent...or to be broken and then the redeemed and restored by God's sovereign love and grace?
        Why does God allow evil in this world?  It's the ultimate question, but yet...perhaps in God's mysterious providence that very evil, that very brokenness in our lives and in our world ultimately makes God's redemption even more beautiful, even more stunningly glorious. 
         When we're stuck in the midst of our stories of heartbreak or disease or discouragement, we cannot imagine how good could ever possibly come out of our desert of disappointment or despair.  At those hard or desperate times, 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"--can feel like a pious, empty platitude.  But...
          ...but what if "it's a better thing to be more than merely innocent, but to be broken then redeemed by love?"  What if our scars ultimately become agents of beauty, because they joyfully remind us of God's amazing grace and astounding love? 
        Can I give just one little example?  When our daughter suffered a traumatic brain injury that left her in a coma for two weeks, she also suffered some physical scars on her legs.  The glass from the shattered car windows apparently cut her legs in several places, but there was one particularly terrible scar.  A big, long, deep jagged one on the thigh of one of her legs that she still has to this day.  With the passing of years, that scar has faded a bit, but it's still there...
       ...and still beautifully noticeable.  For every time I see that scar, my heart rejoices and has a mini worship session with the Lord!  I've shed more than a few tears of joy just glancing at that scar and remembering all our Lord did.  Recalling His miraculous healing and deliverance of our girl.  Remembering how He redeemed and revived and restored her.  And recollecting how He took a seemingly terrible, terrifying circumstance and truly brought "beauty from ashes" and "the oil of joy for mourning." (Isa.61:3)
          Might not our Lord be doing that in all of our hard, dark, confusing stories?  Taking our scars and crafting them into masterpieces of His astounding goodness, grace, and glory? 
         Maybe we'll begin to see and understand when we shift our focus from the temporary to the eternal...when we stop fixating on the short term here and now and instead fix our gaze on the long term forever and ever. 
         As Andrew Peterson commented, "God is not merely making a new world.  He's making the world new."  And that means He's doing something far more glorious than wiping the slate clean and starting over.  No, no, He's taking something that seems completely unsalvageable and making it stunningly, infinitely beautiful. 
         Remember celebrating Easter last weekend?  Jesus was resurrected from the dead--praise God!  Yet in His perfect, glorious, powerful, resurrection body, there was one seeming imperfection: scars.  Jesus still had scars in His hands and feet and side.  Yet those scars only enhance His beauty and perfection, because they are a continual reminder of what He did for us and how much He loves us.   For all of eternity when we glimpse those hideous, beautiful scars, we will rejoice and worship afresh for His gift of salvation, eternal life, and our heavenly home.
          Because, "Maybe it's a better thing to be more than merely innocent, but to be broken then redeemed by love." 
          And it is.  Thank You, Lord.  Thank You, Jesus.  Thank You for Your scars...and for ours.  Help us to remember and to trust.  For You are infinitely, beautifully worthy.
          To God be the glory.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Silent Saturday...

        Already it is Saturday.  Silent Saturday.  The day after Good Friday. 
        My heart wants to jump ahead to Sunday.  Skip the silence and sadness of this day.  Jump over the gloom and right into the celebration of Easter.  After all, we know the end of the story, so let's dispense with this hard waiting and zip straight into joy, renewal, rebirth. 
        Yet isn't that just like me?  Maybe just like many of us, I'm guessing, to want to bypass the difficult and sorrowful, to gloss over the challenging or confusing and get right to the good stuff?  And resurrection is mighty glorious good stuff--it's the best stuff, the greatest news, the most wondrous life-changing event ever in the history of the universe... 
        But first, we have to wait.  Before the resurrection, there is the horrific, terrible death.  Before the crown, there is the cross.  Before the joy, there is the sorrow.  Before the fulfillment, there is the waiting.  Before the beautiful healing, there is the painful illness or injury.  Before the joy of hope realized, there is the sadness of hope deferred...or even discouragement or despair. 
         And so we wait...on this sad, silent Saturday.  Don't let your heart and mind run ahead.  Rest in this stillness.  Remember the disciples and Jesus' followers on that Silent Saturday as they despaired of all their hopes and dreams.  As they surely questioned how this could possibly have happened.  Why would God allow it?  Maybe they even asked themselves how they could have been so misled; how they could have been so wrong.  Why they had sacrificed so much...for this.  For this--an outcome that was not just the worst possible outcome, but was far beyond the most awful thing they could have ever imagined. 
        Maybe that's where you, or someone you love, are right now.  You--or they-are in the midst of hard, prolonged waiting.  The suffering seems to have no end.  The diagnosis holds no hope.  The future looks bleak.  The present feels empty and hollow.  Perhaps, even the worst possible outcome has occurred.  And you are left waiting...weeping...despairing...doubting.  Much like those disciples on that Silent Saturday. 
        But you are not alone.  God knows. God sees.  And whether you can feel Him or not, He's there, working and moving in the silence, in the stillness. in the suffering, in the sorrow.  Know that the God who threw the stars into the black heavens with a mere word, is with you in your suffering...for He, too, suffered.  He, too, knew what it was to be exhausted, ignored, rejected, betrayed.  He, too, experienced pain, difficulty, frustration, sorrow.   He, too, knew hard waiting. 
        Jesus lay dead and buried on that Silent Saturday.  And He waits with you in yours and holds you close.
        But deep in your heart, even in the silence and sadness, hold tightly to that tiny seed of hope...because I don't care how it looks or feels on Silent Saturday, Sunday is coming.  All the hordes and minions of satan, all of the enemies of Jesus could not hold Him in the grave.   Roll that huge stone into place.  Seal that grave.  Post that fierce Roman guard.  Doesn't matter one iota.  Jesus would easily burst the bonds of death into newness of resurrection life no matter what His puny little enemies tried to do. 
       It may be Silent Saturday...but Sunday's coming.  "When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.' 'O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?'  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."  (I Cor.15:54-57) 
         So, yes, let's rest in the silence and sadness today and know that our God is with us in it.  But all the while cling to the joyous hope, the beautiful promise of the resurrection.  Just as it came on the day after Silent Saturday, so it will come one day in our lives as well.  We, too, we be able to proclaim that all our suffering, hurting, and waiting have all been swallowed up in victory.  And that victory will be all the more glorious because of any kind of death--smaller deaths or ultimate death--that we had to endure. 
          Rest in this day, don't rush through the pain...but know, deep in your heart, that Sunday's coming and then it will be time for rejoicing. 
         As has often been said, "God works best in a graveyard."  Oh might we trust Him to work in ours.  Help us, Father.  We believe...but help our unbelief. 
          To God be the glory.