Over the past few weeks, I shared devotions pulled from my book Living in the Shadow of Death: Learning to Thrive through Tragedy and Uncertainty. If you want to learn more about this book, scroll down or click here. If you want to read this series from the beginning, click here.
This is the last week in our series from Living in the Shadow of Death. Before we move on to a new topic next week, I want to take one more post to summarize the importance of all that we covered.
And it starts by looking back to last week.
Thriving Is Worth the Cost
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. ~
Why did I spend so much time last week on rest? Because far too often, I’ve watched someone come through a time of intense pain and immediately jump back onto the battlefield so they can help others.
My concern isn’t that they aren’t capable, that they don’t have the empathy or even the skill necessary to do some good. No, my worry is that they have not yet rested and recovered. They’ve not allowed the Holy Spirit to speak into their hearts and minds, permitted God the access He needs to bind their wounds and heal their emotions. These sweet people are not yet what they could be if they exercised patience.
They are just like me when I get busy scrubbing my bathroom at midnight after a fight with my husband. Hurt and exhausted, I don’t suppose I can do much harm to a porcelain tub. But if I pick up my phone or log onto social media, coming across the tender heart of a friend fresh from her own battle with whatever challenge is facing her?
Please understand that I’m not advocating we lock ourselves away until a team of psychologists declare us fully returned to health. No, too often, in fact, I believe God calls us back to the battlefield before we’re convinced we’re ready.
Instead, I encourage you to consider this: Have you taken the time you need to rest? Have you settled the question of God’s goodness until your heart is secure in His love? Are you in a place where your response to the pain in this world is godly and will encourage and uplift others?
Our Response Matters
“How we choose to respond to life’s challenges, setbacks, and tragedies makes an enormous difference—not only to our own experience of life but also to the experience of those who travel through life with us” (God Loves Broken People, page 105). And if we’ve not yet taken the time to rest, if we’ve not yet settled the battle over what we believe about God, if we’re still too afraid of the shadow of death in our lives, then we cannot be as effective as we otherwise could be.
Thriving after tragedy is possible. But you have to settle these fundamental doubts first. “God promises to render beauty out of ‘all things’ [Romans 8:28], not ‘each thing’” (You’ll Get Through This, page 83). If you believe deep within yourself that God is good even when He permits pain, then you’ll also be able to see how God passionately loves you and everyone around you.
And that’s when He can most easily transform you to be a light that guides others to Him.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. ~Matthew 5:14–16
This is an excerpt from my book Living in the Shadow of Death. You can purchase the book on Amazon (other retailers coming soon!).
Does God have a purpose for the turmoil or tragedy you are experiencing? Does a good God allow loss and send pain? How can that lurking feeling of dread for tomorrow be part of abundant life with Christ?
Grief hits us unexpectedly. A job loss, a failed relationship, a health crisis, an unexpected move, a rebellious teen, and other difficult circumstances force themselves upon us, demanding our attention. Fear, insecurity, and loneliness intimidate us into quiet submission and attempt to dictate our choices.
But what if we could shove them out our front door?
With loving concern and unyielding devotion for those facing a loss they never imagined, Carrie opens up her heart to reveal the biblical truths she’s learned through the heart-wrenching turbulence in her own life. She answers questions many Christians struggle with but dare not admit:
- Is God really good?
- Does the presence of pain and loss cancel out the abundant life promised to us?
- How can we follow God when life seems to only bring heartache?
- Is He even trustworthy?
If these are your questions, take heart! Within these pages, Carrie shares some of her very unchristian-like doubts and how she developed an intense faith and abiding trust even while Living in the Shadow of Death.
If you want to dig deeper into this book, you can also buy the journal featuring quotes from the book (links of the Book Page). Also, on the Freebies Page you’ll find a small group study guide and a leader’s guide!