Tag Archives: grief

Addressing the Elephant in the Room…

When his brothers got ready to leave Egypt, Joseph called the manager of his palace once again, and ordered, “Fill the men’s packs with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s money just inside his pack.  Then, put my silver goblet just inside the youngest one’s pack, along with his grain money.”  The manager of the palace did as he was commanded.

The brothers left with their donkeys at daybreak, but before they were far from the city, Joseph gave this order to his palace manager, “Chase after those men and when you catch them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil?  Why did you take my master’s silver cup that he uses to predict the future?  What you have done is evil!'”

So, the palace manager took off and chased them, and when he caught up with the brothers, he exclaimed, “Why have you repaid good with evil?  Why did you take my master’s silver cup that he uses to predict the future?  What you have done is evil!”

Joseph’s brothers were shocked at the man’s accusation, and replied, “Why do you speak this way, my lord?  We would never do such a thing, may heaven forbid it!  Don’t you remember?  When we found the money inside our packs, we brought it back to you from the land of Canaan!  So how could you think that we would steal silver or gold from your lord’s palace?”  Confident that they were guilty of no crime, they finished with, “If you find the goblet on any one of us, put him to death — and the rest of us will serve as your slaves!”

“No,” the palace manager replied.  “The one who has my lord’s silver goblet will be my slave, but the rest of you will be blameless.”  Then, each one of the brothers hurriedly placed his pack on the ground and opened them.  The manager searched each bag, starting with the eldest brother, and ending with the youngest, and he found the governor’s silver goblet where he had planted it, in Benjamin’s pack.

When the brothers saw this, they moaned and ripped their clothes in grief.  Each of them remembered their father’s fearful countenance, when he had finally allowed Benjamin to travel to Egypt with them.  Losing Benjamin, on top of his continued grief for Joseph, would kill him, and then, his death would be on their shoulders, too.  Each of them, except for Benjamin, who didn’t know of their sin against Joseph, realized their sins had finally caught up with them.  They believed that God’s retribution was finally upon them.  Therefore, each one quickly reloaded his donkey and returned to the city to face the governor.

Joseph was still in his palace, when Judah and his brothers arrived, and all of them fell down before him on the ground, trembling with fear.  Joseph was startled to see that all of them had returned, and he said, “How could you do this to me?  Don’t you know that I’m able to see into the future?”

Judah fearfully replied, “O my lord, what can we say?  There’s no way for us to prove our innocence.  God is repaying us for our sins, so here we are.  We have all returned to be your slaves, not just the one with whom my lord’s silver cup was found!”

Again, his brothers surprised him, and Joseph replied, “Heaven forbid!  I would never do such a thing.  Only the man who stole my goblet will be my slave, and the rest of you may go in peace to your father.”

Judah’s heart broke as he remembered both his father’s fear of losing Benjamin just as he’d lost Joseph, and the promise that he had made to protect Benjamin from harm.  So, he arose and beseeched Joseph, “Please, my lord!  May I speak freely with you, without arousing your anger?  For you are as powerful as Pharaoh himself.” 

At Joseph’s nod, Judah proceeded, “Do you remember when you asked us, ‘Do you have a father?  Or a brother?’  We truthfully answered your questions, my lord, telling you about our father, who is an old man, and about our youngest brother, who is a child of his old age.  We told you that this youngest brother also had a full brother, who is dead, and that he alone is all that remains of his mother’s children, and our father loves him greatly.

“Then, when you ordered us to bring our brother down to you, so that you could see him, we told you, ‘The boy can’t leave his father, for if he were to leave him, our father would surely die.’  When we told you this, my lord, you said that we would not see your face again, unless we brought our brother back with us, so we went back home to your servant, my father, and told him what you had said, and when our father told us to return to Egypt to buy some grain, we told him that we couldn’t.

“We said, ‘We can’t go down to Egypt again, unless our youngest brother is with us, because the governor won’t let us see his face without him.'”

Wiping tears from his eyes, Judah drew a deep breath, and continued, “Then your servant, my father, said, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons.  The one left and never returned, for he was surely torn to pieces by some wild animal.  Now, if you take this son away from me too, and something happens to him, you will send this white-haired old man down to his grave with grief.’

“So, how can I go to your servant, my father, without his youngest son?  For his heart is bound up with the boy’s heart, and when he sees the boy isn’t with us, it will kill him.  If his heart is broken yet again, the grief will send our white-haired father to his grave, and it will be my fault.  For I, your servant, guaranteed my brother’s safety.  I told my father, ‘If I fail to bring him to you, then I will bear the blame forever.’

“Therefore, my lord, I beg you to let me stay as your slave instead of the boy, and let him return home to my father with our brothers.”  Judah sobbed, remembering Jacob’s pain when he lost Joseph, because of his and his brothers’ sin.  Now, more than twenty years later, his father still grieved for Joseph, and losing Benjamin would no doubt kill him.  “Please, my lord,” Judah pleaded, “allow me to stay as your slave, and let Benjamin return to our father, for I couldn’t bear to see his anguish, if I return without him.”

When he saw their compassion and discerned their repentance, Joseph could contain himself no longer.  He ordered his servants and attendants to leave the room immediately.  Then, when no one but his brothers remained, Joseph wept loudly, and revealed himself to them.  More than twenty years of torment were loosed with Joseph’s tears.  Indeed, he wailed so loudly, his entire household and even Pharaoh’s household heard his keening.

“I am Joseph!” he gasped in the midst of his wailing.  “Is it true that my father, Jacob, still lives?”  His brothers were so dumbfounded at the governor’s actions, that they couldn’t speak at first.  So, Joseph beckoned his brothers, “Please!  Come closer.”

elephant in the room 3

They approached him hesitantly, as fear and hope warred within each of them.  “I’m Joseph, your brother, whom you sold as a slave to Egypt,” he told them.  Their eyes widened in alarm, as the truth of their sin was finally exposed, and the elephant in the room was addressed for the first time in more than twenty years.  “Don’t be sad and angry with yourselves for selling me into slavery here,”  Joseph said, as the tears continued to flow down his cheeks.  He looked into the eyes of each of his brothers, who had betrayed him, starting with Reuben, the oldest, all the way down to Zebulun.  As he looked into each of their eyes, they at first tried to avert his gaze, but then they each looked back at him, and tears soon flowed from their eyes too.

Meanwhile, Benjamin stared at Joseph, completely enthralled by his brother, and filled with joy.  He couldn’t wait to share the good news with his father that Joseph, who had been lost to them for more than twenty years was found.  He couldn’t wait to see his father’s joy when he discovered that his son, whom he thought was dead, still lived!

Joseph grinned at him, then turned back to his other brothers.  “Don’t be sad and angry with yourselves for selling me into slavery here,”  Joseph said again, as he fully addressed the elephant in the room.  “For it was really God who sent me ahead of you to preserve your lives.  Indeed, the famine that has been over the land for the last two years will continue for yet another five years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvest.

“Don’t you see?”  Joseph asked.  “God sent me ahead of you to ensure that you will have descendants on earth and to save your lives in a great deliverance.  So, it was not you who sent me here, but God, and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of all his household and ruler over the whole land of Egypt.”

Joseph drew closer to them and said, “Brothers, hurry up and go to my father.  Tell him that Joseph says, ‘Elohim has made me lord of all Egypt!  Come down to me and don’t delay!  You will live in the land of Goshen and be near me with your children, your grandchildren, flocks, herds and everything you own.  I will provide for you there, so you won’t be impoverished because five more years of famine are yet to come.’

Artistic close up of an African elephant in black and white

“Brothers, you can see with your own eyes see that it truly is me, Joseph, speaking to you.  Benjamin, you see with your own eyes that I am truly Joseph, your long-lost brother!  Now go,”  Joseph said, as yet more tears began to flow from his eyes.  “Tell my father how honored I am in Egypt and everything you have seen, and hurry up and bring him down here to me!”  Finally, Joseph gathered Benjamin into his arms, and wept as he embraced him.  Benjamin, too, wept into Joseph’s neck.  Joseph then kissed all of his brothers, washing them with his tears.  Then, Joseph’s brothers finally began to speak to him, and each one finally gazed at the elephant in the room, the horrible sin they had tried to bury, and addressed it…

If we acknowledge our sins, then, since he is trustworthy and just, he will forgive them and purify us from all wrongdoing.  (1 John 1:9 Complete Jewish Bible)

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

 

When All Hope is Gone…

The burden Joseph’s brothers carried on their shoulders, when nine of them, and not ten, left Egypt was crushing.  “How are we going to tell Abba that Simeon is now imprisoned in Egypt, and their governor wants to see Benjamin as well?”  Reuben choked out, as he fought back the tears that flowed freely from his other brothers eyes.  As the eldest brother, he had to be strong for the others.  “This could kill him!”

“I know,” Judah sighed.  “But perhaps El Shaddai will show him mercy.  For it was we, who sinned against Him, when we sold Joseph into slavery and death, not Abba.  This punishment should be ours alone.”

“Maybe,”  Levi said.  “But I’ve noticed that every time we sin against El Shaddai, everyone, even the innocent, ends up suffering.  Look at Abba.  He has suffered enormously since Joseph died, and look at Benjamin.  He certainly committed no sin, and yet, he too, has suffered.  Since Joseph’s death, Abba won’t let him out of his sight.  He smothers Benjamin in his grief.”

The brothers nodded in agreement, then fell silent, as they made their way home, with their donkeys.  They made camp by a river, as the sun began to set, and a few collected firewood, while others led the donkeys to the river to drink.  Then, after the donkeys had their fill of water, one of them opened his sack to get some grain for his donkey, and discovered his money on top of the grain.  He face paled, and he began to tremble, as he called for his brothers to come.  “Look!  My money has been returned; it’s here in my sack!”

Their hearts sank, as they gazed at the money in his sack of grain, and they, too, began to tremble.  Fear filled their hearts and minds, and they asked each other, “What has God done to us?”  But no one had an answer to that question.  Needless to say, no one slept well that night, and they were up before dawn.  They quickly packed their belongings, and were headed home, just as the sky began to lighten.

When the brothers got home to the land of Canaan, they went to see their father, Jacob.  There was no point in putting things off.  “Did you get the grain?”  Jacob asked, expectantly.

“Yes Abba,” Reuben spoke for the group, and continued, “but the man who is governor of the land spoke very harshly to us.  He accused us of being spies scouting the land.  We told him that we are honest men, not spies.  We said that we are twelve brothers, sons of one father.  We told him that one brother is no longer with us, and the youngest is at home with our father in the land of Canaan,

“Then the man who is governor of the land said, ‘This is how I will find out if you are honest men.  Leave one of  your brothers here with me, and take grain for your starving families and go on home.  But you must bring your youngest brother back to me.  Then I will know you are honest men and not spies.  Then I will give you back your  brother, and you may freely trade in the land'”

Tears welled up in Jacob’s eyes, as he gazed at his sons.  “He took Simeon?”  Jacob whispered and the brothers nodded, with their eyes downcast.  Then they opened their sacks, and everyone saw the bag of money, which they had used to pay for the grain, in each man’s sack.  Jacob began to wail, and he mournfully ripped his robe, as terror swept over him and his sons. Then he exclaimed to them, “You are robbing me of my children!  Joseph is gone!  Simeon is gone!  And now you want to take Benjamin, too.  Everything is against me!”

Reuben knelt down in front of his father, and the tears he had kept at bay for so long, ran down his face and into his beard.  He gently placed his hands on his father’s shoulders and waited for Jacob to look into his eyes.  Then Reuben said to his father, “You may kill my two sons if I don’t bring Benjamin back to you.  I’ll be responsible for him, and I promise to bring him back.”

Overwhelmed by grief and anguish, Jacob had lost all hope.  He had forgotten that El Shaddai, the All Sufficient God, cared for him and his sons.  He forgot the visions and dreams he had received from El Shaddai over the years.  He forgot the many times El Shaddai had provided for him and his family.  He forgot the promises El Shaddai had made to him, his father, Isaac, and his grandfather, Abraham, before him.  In his pain, Jacob was blind to the many blessings El Shaddai had given him.  He only saw what he had lost. “My son will not go down with you,” he spat at Reuben.  “His brother, Joseph, is dead, and he is all I have left.  If anything should happen to him on your journey, you would send this grieving, white-haired man to his grave.”

Beloved reader, have you ever felt such searing pain and loss?  Have you been so blinded by grief that you are no longer able to even see the many blessings God has given you?  I have.  When such agony envelops you, it is impossible to rise above it, as wave after wave of despair encompasses you.  But thanks be to God!  Even in the midst of our suffering, He is with us, ready to heal and deliver us from those broken places, if we will seek His face.  When we are overwhelmed with hopelessness and grief, let’s cry out to God, as this psalmist did:

Psalm 42
Complete Jewish Bible

Just as a deer longs for running streams,
God, I long for you.
I am thirsty for God, for the living God!
When can I come and appear before God?

My tears are my food, day and night,
while all day people ask me, “Where is your God?”
I recall, as my feelings well up within me,
how I’d go with the crowd to the house of God,
with sounds of joy and praise from the throngs
observing the festival.

My soul, why are you so downcast?
Why are you groaning inside me?
Hope in God, since I will praise Him again
for the salvation that comes from His presence.
My God, when I feel so downcast,
I remind myself of You
from the land of Yarden, from the peaks of Hermon,
from the hill Mizar.
Deep is calling to deep
at the thunder of Your waterfalls;
all Your surging rapids and waves
are sweeping over me.
By day Adonai commands His grace,
and at night His song is with me
as a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God my Rock,
“Why have You forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
under pressure by the enemy?
10 My adversaries’ taunts make me feel
as if my bones were crushed,
as they ask me all day long,
‘Where is your God?’ ”

11 My soul, why are you so downcast?
Why are you groaning inside me?
Hope in God, since I will praise Him again
for being my Savior and God.

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

 

Do You Mourn? Be Comforted…

Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.  (Matthew 5:4 NKJV)

Are you grieving?  Has your heart been broken?  Do you long for the pain to stop?  Take heart, beloved, for the Lord of all mercy hears your cries.  He knows your pain.  Indeed, He has suffered your pain, and He promises that we who mourn are blessed, and that we will be comforted…

14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.  (Hebrews 4:14-16  NLT)

Jesus knew what it was to grieve and mourn.  He mourned the death of His cousin, John the Baptist…  He mourned the death of His friend Lazarus…  He mourned for those of us who were lost in sin, pain and suffering…

Who has believed our message?
To whom has the Lord revealed His powerful arm?
My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance,
nothing to attract us to Him.
He was despised and rejected—
a Man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.

Yet it was our weaknesses He carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed Him down.
And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for His own sins!
But He was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on Him
the sins of us all.

He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet He never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
He did not open His mouth.
Unjustly condemned,
He was led away.
No one cared that He died without descendants,
that His life was cut short in midstream.
But He was struck down
for the rebellion of my people.
He had done no wrong
and had never deceived anyone.
But He was buried like a criminal;
He was put in a rich man’s grave.

10 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush Him
and cause Him grief.
Yet when His life is made an offering for sin,
He will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in His hands.
11 When He sees all that is accomplished by His anguish,
He will be satisfied.
And because of His experience,
my righteous Servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
for He will bear all their sins.
12 I will give Him the honors of a victorious soldier,
because He exposed Himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.  (Isaiah 53  NLT)

mourn-sorrow

Beloved reader, you do not suffer alone.  He knows your pain.  He has suffered for it and from it, and He offers His comfort to all who would receive it.  Are you thirsty?  Are you weary?  Are you worn out from trying to carry the burdens of life by yourself?

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)

Beloved reader, if you are in the midst of grief, come, drink from the fountain of life.  Seek Jesus, our great Savior and Comforter.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7 NKJV)

In His first recorded sermon, Jesus tells us that those who mourn are blessed, and they shall be comforted.  It’s also interesting to note that His first scripture reading in the synagogue, after He had been in the wilderness for 40 days, also dealt with the brokenhearted…

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon Me,
for the Lord has anointed Me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent Me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
He will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for His own glory.  (Isaiah 61:1-3 NLT)

Beloved, you  are not alone in your suffering.  If you will seek the Lord with all your heart, He will comfort you…  Shalom.  Peace be with you.

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

A Day in the Life…

12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. ~ Matthew 24:12 NLT ~

I watched the news Friday night, and as I watched, I wept. Since then, I haven’t been able to get the news out of my mind or my heart. An old Beatles song came to mind as well, and I just couldn’t shake it, so take a listen to the song, before you read on or listen while you read.

Corporal Nathan Cirillo
Corporal Nathan Cirillo

Please bear with me as I share what I saw and heard on Friday night, that caused me to weep… On Friday, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, the twenty-four year old soldier who was needlessly slain Wednesday, was taken home, to be laid to rest. He was driven home along the Highway of Heroes, while hundreds of Canadians gathered to pay tribute to him, as he made his way to his home and final resting place.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau
Michael Zehaf-Bibeau

On Wednesday, after ruthlessly shooting Corporal Cirillo, his assassin, thirty-two year old, Islamic convert, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, then charged through Canada’s parliament, before being fatally shot by Sargeant-at-Arms, Kevin Vickers. Not only did an innocent young man lose his life, but also, his assassin, their lives cut terribly short.

The following day, when parliament reconvened, Sargeant-at-Arms, Kevin Vickers, was hailed as a hero for killing Zehaf-Bibeau before he could murder or harm anyone else. You could see tears rolling down the staunch officer’s cheeks, as he stood otherwise composed, while the members of parliament gave him a standing ovation, and I couldn’t help but cry for this brave man too, for though he had done the right thing by killing the killer before he could kill anyone else, he would have to live and come to terms with the knowledge that he had taken a human life.

This whole story is heartbreaking. An innocent twenty-four year old, with his whole life ahead of him, including a wife and a six year old son, who will now grow up fatherless, not to mention a brother and parents, was senselessly slain. As a parent of two grown children, I can’t imagine losing one of my children. In the natural scheme of things, parents are usually the first to pass on, and I can’t even begin to imagine how devastating this loss must be to Corporal Cirillo’s family. How could I not weep over this story?

Thomas Eric Duncan
Thomas Eric Duncan

Another story covered, was the ebola epidemic, and the nurses who cared for Liberian national, Thomas Eric Duncan, who was forty-two years old, when he died of the deadly ebola virus in the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. The nurses who spoke to reporters seemed to be genuinely compassionate, as they shared what it was like to care for the dying man. One nurse in particular said that he held Mr. Duncan’s hand, staying by his bedside, in the place of his family members, who were not allowed to be there, because of the danger  of catching the highly infectious disease.

Other nurses shared how their community has responded to them. One said that her niece was asked not to return to school for twenty-one days, even though they don’t even live together. Still others said they were being shunned by various friends and businesses, who were fearful of the medical team contaminating them with the virus, even though the virus is transmitted by body fluids, and is not airborne.

Again, I couldn’t help but weep, for Mr. Duncan, who caught the deadly disease when he buried his pregnant daughter, who died from it. In the aftermath of his falling ill with the dreaded disease, both the Liberian government and the Dallas County prosecutor considered filing criminal charges against the dying man for bringing the disease to the United States.

How ironic this is, when it was the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital that failed to test and treat Mr. Duncan immediately, when he arrived in the Emergency Room on September 24, 2014. When Thomas Duncan told the ER staff he had just returned to the United States from Africa, they should have questioned him more closely about where in Africa he had come from. He should also have been tested for ebola, based simply on the knowledge that he had come from Africa, where the ebola epidemic rages on, yet instead of admitting him to an isolated unit and testing him for the disease, they dropped the ball, sending him home with antibiotics, which could not fight the disease; and to his family, thereby putting them at risk of catching the ebola virus.

When Thomas Duncan returned four days later, on September 28, 2014, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital dropped the ball yet again, with this very sick patient. Yes, they admitted him to an isolated room, but they failed to treat the disease until six days later, on October 4, 2014, when they treated him with an experimental drug. Sadly, it was too little, too late, and Mr. Thomas Duncan died on October 8, 2014.  Had he been tested and treated immediately, there is every reason to believe that Thomas Duncan would have survived the disease, like every other patient who has been treated here in the United States. Again, how could I not weep over the injustice of this?

Man-attacks-police-with-hatchet-jpgAlso in the news was a recap of the unprovoked attack by a man armed with a hatchet on Thursday, who struck two police officers, one on his arm, and other on his head, before he was shot and killed by the two other officers who were there. Sadly, an innocent bystander, a twenty-nine year old woman, was shot in her lower back. Yet again, I couldn’t help but cry, and still, the news continued.

Jaylen Fryberg
Jaylen Fryberg

Friday, during the early lunch at a high school in the state of Washington, Jaylen Fryberg, a fourteen year old freshman, shot and killed a female student, and wounded four others, before shooting and killing himself. It was said that he shot both family members and friends. What could be so wrong, that he would do something so terrible? I couldn’t seem to help myself, as I sat in my recliner, weeping for the lost souls, who placed no value on human lives.

The final story was an uplifting story, yet it, too, broke my heart. Lauren Hill, nineteen years old, and a Freshman at Mount St. Joseph University, near Cincinnati, Ohio, is also a basketball player. After discovering she had a malignant brain tumor that was terminal, Lauren’s response was, “Can I at least still play basketball?”

Lauren Hill
Lauren Hill

Wearing jersey  number 22, Lauren gets up early every morning to practice with her team. Though the tumor has weakened her coordination and energy, Lauren still pushes herself to come to practice. Her goal has been to play NCAA basketball for Mount St. Joseph University since she first found out about her tumor, but because it is likely that she has only a couple of weeks left to live, the NCAA did something unprecedented. Because Lauren’s situation is so urgent, the NCAA made a special exception to change the Division III school’s opener against Hiram College to Nov. 2, despite its rules that require seasons to start later in November.

Lauren’s hopefulness is inspiring. Her goal isn’t just to live to play that one game. She has stated that she hopes Sunday’s game will just be her first basketball game with  her team, and that many others will follow. Again, how could I not weep as I witnessed this young woman’s courage in the face of certain death?

As I sat in my recliner weeping, I wondered what was wrong with me. After all, it’s not as though I knew any of the people in these stories personally, but then, just as quickly, another thought ran through my  mind. “There’s nothing wrong with you for weeping for those who are suffering. Instead, you should ask, “What’s wrong with the people who are not as affected by these stories?”

Sadly, far too many people have become desensitized to the pain of others, Even Christians have become hardened to the pain of strangers. Many adults and young people watch horror films and murder shows, not to mention the nightly news, with all of the violence going on throughout the world, while still others play violent games, and search out violent websites. After viewing so much violence and killing, many people have become desensitized to these things.

However, for those of us who are Christians, this should not be. It’s easy not to feel personally affected by the suffering of someone we don’t know, and have never seen, yet, as followers of Christ, we are to love even those we don’t know, and when you love someone, you care about what happens to them, even if you haven’t seen him/her for a long time. In fact, look at this command for Christians…

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. ~ Romans 12:15  NASB ~

Beloved reader, when is the last time you wept because of the plight of people you may not even know? When you hear of human trafficking; of children being sold as sex slaves; of men, women and children dying of dreadful diseases like ebola; of tragedies like hurricanes and tornadoes destroying people’s homes and even killing them, do you feel the weight of their pain? Does your heart ache for the abused and misused? The prophets wept for the people of Judea and Israel, especially Jeremiah. Jesus wept for Mary when He saw her weeping over the death of her brother, Lazarus…

33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and [h]was troubled, 34 and said,“Where have you laid him?” They *said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. ~ John 11:33-35  NASB ~

Beloved reader, if you find yourself unmoved by the pain and suffering of others, then you need to pray for God to change your heart of stone…

26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. ~ Ezekiel 36:26  NASB ~

Ask the Lord to fill you with His love for others. Ask Him to help you to love others the same way that He loves them. Ask Him to help you to weep with those who weep, and to rejoice with those who rejoice, in Jesus’ name. For this is God’s will for His children. In fact, Jesus commands us to love even our enemies…

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” ~ Matthew 5:43-48  NASB ~

Finally, beloved readers, ask your heavenly Father to help you to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice, in Jesus’ name. For He is faithful to His children, and if we delight ourselves in Him, and ask for anything according to His will, He will give us the desires of our heart…

14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. ~ 1 John 5:14-15  NASB ~

Take delight in the Lord,
    and He will give you your heart’s desires. ~ Psalm 37:4  NLT ~

Beloved reader, don’t become desensitized (hard of heart). Rather, weep for those who are hurting and struggling. Weep for those who are lost. Weep for the many nations, including our own, who are bent on going to hell.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Daily Prompt: Happy Happy Joy Joy

Daily Prompt: Happy Happy Joy Joy

by michelle w. on March 28, 2013

We cry for lots of reasons: sadness, pain, fear . . . and happiness. When was the last time you shed tears of joy?
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I haven’t responded to a Daily Prompt since March 18, because I’ve been sick and tired and depressed for quite a while, but when I saw today’s prompt I had to respond!

Since you don’t know me well, let me start off by telling you that for many years, I was unable to cry. I learned years ago to stifle my tears, out of fear, pride, bitterness and rebelliousness. As a child who was made fun of for having “buck-teeth” and the last name of Payne, I learned to swallow my tears, because even though my classmates tormented me, I refused to give them the satisfaction of seeing just how badly their words wounded me.

Image Credit: http://mybedsidemanner.blogspot.com/2012/07/ kind-word-turns-away-wrath.html

And then, there was my home life… All too often, if I would cry, my mother would warn me to, “Shut up or I’ll give you something to cry about!” And she would too. I can remember getting beatings from my parents, and nearly choking on my tears, trying not to let any escape past the huge lump in my throat, sometimes with success, and sometimes unsuccessfully. 

Did you know that you really can will yourself not to cry and not to feel? The problem with that is when you begin blocking one emotion, it inevitably leads to blocking all emotions. When that happens, we become so out of touch with our feelings, that we really don’t know how we feel about anything. I remember not knowing how I felt about things, and so I would carefully watch how others responded to certain situations, to see how I “should feel.” I eventually came to the point that I was unable to cry — whether I was happy or sad. The tears just wouldn’t come.

It is a good sign if a person is able to shed tears. An individual who had had much experience in spiritual matters once made this statement: Giving your love to a person who cannot shed tears is like handing over your money bag to a thief to keep. This is quite true. A person often feels uneasy about giving his love to one who cannot shed tears. For tears are the one thing that is indispensable in this world. It can rightly be said that a person who is unable to shed tears has lost something of the very essence of man: he can no longer be considered as being human.

~ Practical Issues of this Life ~
by: Watchman Nee

To be unable to cry was a terrible thing. As a child, I learned to repress my emotions as an act of self-preservation, but by doing so, I killed something inside of me. You see, tears are an outlet of the heart. So what do you do, when that valve has frozen and will not let any tears escape? 

You could do what I did. I remember reading the following verse from Psalm 56, and how it caused me to begin to ponder and pray to God about it.

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.

~ Palm 56:8 NLT ~

Image Credit: http://waitingatthewindow.blogspot.com/2012/10/tears-in-bottle.html

Isn’t that amazing? God keeps track of all our sorrows. He knows how deeply wounded I was as a child, and He cared. I can’t help but be amazed about this every time I read it or think about it! He has collected all of your tears, and all of my tears and placed them in His bottle. Imagine that! Your tears and mine too, are so important to God, that He has collected each and every one of them. Isn’t that awesome? And get this — He has a written record of every single tear that you have shed throughout your entire life, because those tears mean that much to Him. Do you remember every single tear that you’ve cried? I don’t, but God does.

When I read that scripture and realized how important our tears are to God, I began to pray, first, asking God to forgive me for quenching my tears, and then, asking Him to give me back my tears. Lord, help me to cry again. Restore my tears in Jesus’ name.” I won’t lie to you. It took a few years for me to have the privilege of crying again, but I got those tears back.

Having said all of that, 2013 has been an especially difficult year for me so far. Lord willing, the worst is behind me, and the best is yet to come! I lost my mother in February, the day after Valentine’s Day, and my heart has grieved for her. I never dreamed it would be so painful, and though I knew I loved her, I never realized how much I loved her. I’m sitting here weeping as I share this.

Anyway, January and February were both difficult months, as I dealt with my own physical issues, and my mother’s dying. Then, in the beginning of March, I got terribly sick — to the point that I thought I was dying. I had a horrible infection called Clostridium Difficile. It was terrible, and I was hospitalized for several days because of it. After returning home from the hospital, I was extremely weak and nauseous for several weeks — actually up until just a couple of days ago. 

Image Credit: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/eyes/images/
16143904/title/tears-photo

It was horrible. With all that has gone on in these first few months of the new year, I was unable to attend church during this time of trouble, and I fell into a dark place, as the spirit of heaviness oppressed me. During the last few months, I’ve wept more tears of pain and sorrow than I ever remember crying. You would think those tears would just dry up, but they just keep coming. However, if I have to choose between shedding those tears or repressing them, I choose to shed them, because there’s a release that comes after I’ve cried, as though those painful things have been cleansed. It also helps, knowing that my dear sweet heavenly Father values my tears.

I shared all of this so that you can truly appreciate my answer to the question, “When was the last time you shed tears of joy?” The last time I cried tears of joy was last night, when I attended a very special worship service at my church, as we celebrate this holy week in remembrance of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. As I walked into the sanctuary with my pastor, who drove me to church, because I was unable to, I felt the joy of the Lord wash over me. As I helped prepare the communion, pouring the juice into the individual cups, and then helped to prepare the altar for the service, my heart was filled with contentment.

Have you ever been homesick? That’s how I’ve felt these last three months, and when I entered the sanctuary, I felt as though I’d come home. And then, my pastor asked me to open the service in prayer, and overwhelming joy flooded my soul as I realized that in spite of everything, I had been through, the Lord could still use me to bless others. When it came time for the foot washing, in remembrance of when Jesus cleansed the disciples feet, my pastor called for the ministers to come forward to wash the feet of the least among us, the children, and so, the other ministers and I knelt at the feet of the children in our congregation, and washed their feet as we prayed over each child. 

“But many who seem to be important now will be the least important then, and those who are considered least here will be the greatest then.”

~ Mark 10:31 NLT ~

What a privilege to humble ourselves and serve the children and the youth! My pastor then had the ministers sit down, as she humbled herself and washed the feet of the adult members of the church and the ministers. After this, she singled out one of the children, a girl who is often angry and rebellious, a girl who reminds me a little bit of myself as a child, in that she feels overlooked and unloved, and so she acts out sometimes. It was this girl that she asked to wash her feet, as she told her that the Lord had chosen her over the adults and ministers, to pray for her and wash her feet. You could see how seriously this girl took this invitation, as she soberly looked into her pastor’s eyes, with tears glistening, and then knelt at her feet and slowly, solemnly and gently washed first one foot and then the other, quietly praying.

After this, we sang together as the Spirit led. My heart was flowing over with joy, and last night, for the first time in such a long, long time, I wept with joy, and as I wrote this post, I was again, weeping with joy!

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

I Will Always Love You, Mom

I will always love you, Mom
No matter how far away
It doesn’t matter how long
No matter what some may say

You are the mother God chose
And I will love and respect
The love that you gave — God knows
As I look back and reflect

Mama, I miss you so much
Though it’s been only a week
And though I long for your touch
Comfort in Christ I will seek

Mama, I fervently pray
While in this world I still roam
That we’ll meet again one day
When my Lord Christ calls me home

Mom, your work is completed
It’s time to go to your rest
With Christ, you’re not defeated
I’ll always love you — be blessed!

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Tears in a Bottle

http://fineartamerica.com/featured/tears-in-a-bottle-dolores-develde.html
http://fineartamerica.com/featured/tears-in-a-bottle-dolores-develde.html

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. (Psalm 56:8 NLT)

I just read a beautiful, heartfelt post from Jodi Karren this morning, and one verse of her prayer spoke to my heart, and I need to share it this morning. It’s one of those words that the Lord sometimes gives that just burns within you until you release it. 🙂

I remember as a child, willing myself not to cry when I was cursed, rejected, beaten or abused, sometimes I was successful, while other times, I was unsuccessful in my endeavor to shed no tears. You see, at the time, I had no idea how good tears are. I had no idea that they were important.

All I knew at the time is that I didn’t want to give those who hurt me the satisfaction of seeing me cry. I didn’t want people to see my “weakness,” and so I worked very hard trying to swallow that lump in my throat and trying to harden my heart so that the pain couldn’t touch me. I remember how hard I tried not to cry when I received a beating, because it was my way of rebelling against the abuse being inflicted on me. When I was laughed at and made fun of, I tried very hard to laugh at and poke fun of myself, so that those who were trying to hurt me would feel thwarted in their efforts. At the time, it made sense to me. It was my way of coping with the pain — by not coping with it.

The problem with this is that when you harden yourself like this, the pain within you doesn’t go away. It isn’t released, and so it festers on the inside, and like an infection, it poisons you. Because I was able to stop the faucet of my tears, the tears of others irritated me. My heart became hardened to the pain that others felt.

And then there were times, when we are supposed to be able to cry in order to appear human… such as at the death and funerals of loved ones. The problem was, that I had become so adept at stopping the tears and stopping my feelings, that I was numb in the face of tragedies. When a loved one was sick or dying, even though I wanted and needed to feel something, try as I might, I couldn’t feel, and I couldn’t cry.

http://freedominjesus.piczo.com/post/581058/
http://freedominjesus.piczo.com/post/581058/

It left me feeling empty and incomplete, as though a vital part of me was missing. I felt inhuman, and unloving, therefore, I must be unlovable. Do you see? In trying to protect myself… in trying to shield myself from pain, I also shielded myself from feeling the good things as well, like love and joy, peace and grief. Yes, grief is a good thing to feel as well, because as we grieve, we are able to heal. It’s when we are unable to grieve that our wounds continue to fester and poison us.

After so many years of stifling my tears, I was now unable to cry and feel, and heal. So, I began to pray for tears. Does that sound crazy to you? Understand this, holding those tears back does not get rid of the pain, nor the tears. It just buries them, and the more you bury your pain and tears, the more they build up… and then you begin to have small explosions, as you are only able to hold so much in… and because that pain and the tears have been festering and boiling within you for so long, when they are released in an explosion over some trifle little thing, you end up spewing poison on people who don’t deserve it… often on the very ones you love the most.

God keeps my tears in a bottleI didn’t realize the value of tears, until I didn’t have any. Then, one day, my counselor, a very wise woman, quoted this scripture to me, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalm 56:8 NLT) 

Wow. Did you know that God keeps track of all our sorrows? I’ve had so many different sorrows in my life, that I’m not sure if I even remember all of them, but God does. Our tears are so important to God that not one of them is wasted. Think about this. God has collected all of our tears… all of my tears… all of your tears…

Do  you know what all means? Dictionary.com defines all as:

  1. the whole of (used in referring to quantity, extent, or duration)
  2. the whole number of
  3. the greatest possible
  4. every

There are more definitions that you can check out by clicking the link, but you get the point, don’t you? All means all. That means that God has collected every single one of my tears, every tear I have ever cried in my lifetime, and placed them in a bottle, and He’s done the same thing for each one of you. Now why would He do that? Could it be that our tears are valuable to God? Could it be that He loves us so much that each and every tear we ever have shed and ever will shed are so precious to Him that He saves them, much as some people save a lock of their children’s hair?

http://waitingatthewindow.blogspot.com/2012/10/tears-in-bottle.html
http://waitingatthewindow.blogspot.com/2012/10/tears-in-bottle.html

And think about this, not only has God collected each and every tear that we’ve shed, but He has also kept a journal of them. You have recorded each one in your book.” This absolutely blows me away. Think about the magnitude of this. I can’t remember every tear I’ve ever cried. I can remember some, but not all. However, God not only collected each tear and placed it in a bottle, He also took the time to make a written record of those tears. I wonder how many pages He’s filled with my tears? I wonder how many pages He’s filled with your tears?

My beloved friends, don’t feel foolish when you cry. Never feel ashamed of your tears, and don’t let anyone else ever make you feel ashamed of your tears, because each and every one of your tears is precious to God. Each one of your tears cleanses you and helps you to heal from the wounds that have been inflicted on you as you walk through life.

In Jesus’ name, I pray that each and every one of you will feel free to cry, and that you will embrace those tears. Grieve when you need to grieve. Allow yourself to feel pain, because even though it’s unpleasant, it is better to feel it and deal with it immediately, rather than letting it infect your heart, soul, mind and body.

May the Lord bless you abundantly, and if you are unable to cry because you, like I, have pushed those tears down, pray for tears so that you may heal. God will hear your cry for tears, and He will give them to you. I prayed for tears for several years, and they came back slowly, until eventually, it was as though a dam had burst. It was frightening to me at the time, and I was afraid I might be losing my mind. Therefore, my instinct was to cut those tears off, but I ignored that instinct, and when I finished crying, I was healed from much of the pain that I had been carrying around. I was able to look at some of the things that had caused me pain before, and find that they had lost their power to hurt me any longer.

If you’ve felt tears welling up within you as you read this, don’t quench them. Allow them to flow and cleanse you, knowing that those tears are valuable, and that God is taking care of them for you. Embrace your tears, and discover the blessing that is found as you release them. God bless you all!

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers