Facing Grief at Easter

Facing Grief at Easter

I am the Resurrection and the LifeToday is Good Friday. Sunday is Easter. Is there a more important weekend in all of Christianity? The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of our faith, our hope, our joy, indeed our entire existence. And it’s this weekend that we remember and celebrate that reality.

This weekend is especially poignant for me in the aftermath of my husband’s death just a few weeks ago. It brings death and life and eternity into a new kind of focus. What do I do with my grief at Easter? What does Easter have to say to me in the midst of pain, loss, and even confusion?

Perhaps you’re facing something just as difficult. Perhaps you’re facing trouble right now in your marriage, your finances, your health, your job, or your family. Perhaps this Easter, like me, you’re reeling after the death of someone you love. How can you and I feel joy in the middle of all that? What does Easter have to say to you in the middle of your troubles?

When we think of Easter we think of the stone being rolled away and Jesus coming out of tomb with an earthquake, a blinding light, and a glorified body. And well we should. He is alive! The tomb is empty!

But Easter is meaningful, and Jesus’ resurrection glorious, precisely because of how horrible death is.

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What to Do With the Question, “Why God?”

What to Do With the Question, “Why God?”

Man MourningAt some point you will face difficulties that will cause your faith to be challenged. You may or may not question the existence, goodness, or power of God outright. But when you become overwhelmed, there will come a time when you ask some version of the question, “Why, God?”

The cause of your question may be current or long past, a single incident or long-term suffering. It may not seem that devastating to someone looking on from the outside, but it wrenches and tears at you in the deepest places of your soul. It might be:

  • Child abuse – your own, or that of someone you care about
  • Domestic violence
  • Betrayal in your marriage
  • The death of someone you care about
  • A child’s sickness, disability, or serious injury
  • A news report such as the terrorist shootings in San Bernardino, CA

You may ask your WHY in a number of ways: Why didn’t You stop this from happening? Why can’t You bring relief or healing? How could You allow something so evil to happen? How long will this suffering go on? Couldn’t You have fulfilled Your plan some other way?

You know the Bible stories of those who asked some variation of that question.

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Declaring the Death of Death

Declaring the Death of Death

[guestpost]This weekend we laid my wonderful husband Al Tanksley to rest. Although my heart is broken, my spirit is determined to carry on the legacy that he left behind, and worked so hard to prepare me for. These are some words that I shared at his going-home service. Next week the regular blog post schedule will resume.[/guestpost]

Al TanksleyIt’s OK to rage against death. And I do! This is not the way it was supposed to be. God did not create us to live a few years – or even many years – on this planet, and then to die. We were created for eternity. We were created to live forever! Death is an imposter. The Bible calls death “the last enemy to be destroyed.” (1 Corinthians 15:26)

As good as this life may get, it’s never enough. It doesn’t matter how many years you live, how much money or things or success you have – or don’t have. It doesn’t even matter how many people you have around you. It’s never enough. It never can be enough. Because we were created for more. Al Tanksley was created for more. You and I were created for more. And right now Al is finally experiencing that “more.”

And we will have that more in eternity. I know that heaven is real. When people say, “I’m sorry you lost your husband” I want to say, “No, I haven’t lost him. I know exactly where he is!”

Yes, we are separated for now, but not forever.

This is not my husband. Al Tanksley is not in this box! This may be his body, his shell, but this is not him!

Paul said, “If only in this life we have hope in Christ we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19) We can grieve. I will grieve for a time. That’s as it should be. But I know that this is not the end. For Al, it is the beginning! As Buddy (the preacher) charged us at our wedding just seven too-short years ago, Al and I were given a mission. And that mission is only partially completed. And now, it’s up to me to continue that mission, and I’m committed to doing so.

Death, you may think you have won. Yes, the wounds you have inflicted are deep. And we will mourn as we nurse those wounds somewhat. But in truth you have lost again! While to human eyes you may seem to have won this battle, you have already lost the war. And every life you take – temporarily – such as Al Tanksley’s, is but another nail in your own coffin. Death, you will be destroyed! And Al Tanksley, along with me and all the rest of us who trust in Jesus, will live forever.

Now, “Where, O death, is thy sting? Where, O grave, is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)

As the gospel preacher said, “It may be Friday. But Sunday’s coming!”

Honey, I love you! And I’ll be looking for you next to the Jesus that we both love. You are, and always will be, the wind beneath my wings!

Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!

P.S. For those who wish to make a gift in Al’s memory, you can do so here.

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Christmas Greeting 2015

Christmas Greeting 2015

Wise Men and StarI and all of us at Dr Carol Ministries want to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

If you’re gathering with your family today, may you remember to welcome the Christ Child into your family as the honored Guest. It’s because of Him that we celebrate Christmas.

If you’re alone this Christmas, may you remember that Jesus came as Emmanuel – God With Us. (Matthew 1:23) So you’re not really alone. He is truly with you today – if you ask Him! And also, think of this as a personal Christmas greeting just from me to you. Know that somebody – me – knows what it’s like to feel lonely on Christmas, and that I care. If you wish, make a comment below and I promise I’ll respond before Christmas is over.

Instead of the usual article I post on Friday, I’m sending this to you today. Perhaps these thoughts will help you focus on the true  meaning of Christmas.

To help you with that, I invite you to watch this series of short videos depicting the story of Christmas using the words from the gospels. Just click on the picture below.

Lumo Studios Christmas videos

For me, the Christmas symbol that means the most is the Star of Bethlehem. In Numbers the prophecy was given that “a Star shall come out of Jacob.” (Numbers 24:17)

Then when Jesus was born, Wise Men from the East saw that Star, and came to worship Him. “When they saw the Star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy!” (Matthew 2:10)

Have you seen His Star? Are you rejoicing this Christmas that the Star of Bethlehem still shines? Are you following that Star, and seeking to worship the One it points to?

But Christmas is not only about the past. It’s also about the future. The Christ Child born on that first Christmas morning is no longer a babe in a manger. He is King of the Universe, alive, risen from the dead and seated at the right hand of God Almighty, and ready to soon return for you and me.

I pray for you this Christmas that His Star guide you daily, that you hear His voice and follow Him – not only today, but every day this New Year, and forever.

Our Jewish friends have a saying they repeat at their Passover celebrations: “Next year in Jerusalem!” Will you join me today in this greeting: “Next Christmas in heaven!”

Merry Christmas! And God bless you!

[reminder]What does Christmas mean to you?[/reminder]

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Where is that Peace on Earth?

Where is that Peace on Earth?

Church BellsI heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth goodwill to men.

Every year during the holiday season I hear from those who wish Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s didn’t exist on the calendar. It’s usually not because they thing giving thanks is wrong, or that they don’t believe in the miracle of the Christ-child being born in Bethlehem. No, it’s usually because of their own sadness, loneliness, or hurt.

Seeing others looking happy at holiday events, hearing upbeat Christmas music on the radio, being unable to escape the commercialism and decorations and images of joy – all that can make your own heart bleed if that’s not where you are right now. There are many for whom Christmas is anything but merry.

Perhaps that’s you. Perhaps the family gatherings you anticipate are certain to be filled with more conflict, anger, or trauma than joy. Or perhaps you have no family gatherings to anticipate at all. Perhaps you’re facing your first Christmas without someone you loved. Perhaps memories of Christmases past bring up feelings of fear, shame, or regret. Or perhaps the season only serves to remind you of what feels like a total lack of loving people in your life.

This year there’s much to NOT be joyful about.

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