Loss brings grief. Everyone hurts when they suffer loss and many losses are met with grief. The recent Florida school shooting brings the trauma out in the open for all to see. Yet, before and after that singular tragedy there have been and will continue to be countless experiences of deep grief that are not so public. For many of us bereavement acts like a disease. Its symptoms can be deep and debilitating, and its cycle is repetitive and exhausting. Grief stinks and yet is an important and even healthy part of our coping with our traumatic personal losses. So, how do we go about finding the healing part ? How do we know what to hang on to, what to let go of and when any of this should happen? Finally, what can those of us who are not presently experiencing a personal loss do to help those who are in such pain and anguish?
You want to be happy. I want to be happy. Everyone wants to be happy, I mean, who wouldn’t want to be happy? The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America talks about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as being unalienable rights of humanity. What can we conclude from all of this? Happiness is a central objective and desire that belongs to all. Having said that...why aren’t we happy? Why are so many of us frustrated, disappointed and anxious about our lives? Why do we overeat, binge, eat chocolate, shop or do any number of other things to hide from our lack of happiness? Why can’t we just be happy? Why can’t we stop comparing, stop wishing, stop regretting, stop rationalizing and just start living today for the glory of it being our present? There is hope because happiness is attainable! We just need to know where and how to look for it and how to recognize it when we see it.
History does repeat itself. Sometimes in its repetition we can see the heartbreak of the transgressions of the past repeated in the present with an even deeper and more insidious result. Look around you and what do you see? Shootings, stabbings, bombings, race riots, gangs, rape, murder, genocide; Black lives matter, police lives matter, all lives matter but what does it matter? Politicians lie, people lie and so many lie unnecessarily in early graves. Save the whales, save the schools, save the planet, save the children, but save them for what future? Muslims against Christians, Christians against other Christians, and seemingly the world against Judaism while the Atheists say, "I told you so." Women's rights, animal rights, civil rights, gun rights, LGBT rights - so many rights, but everything still seems so wrong. The world has become dangerous and angry. Their clamoring for peace is drowned out by the ever increasing clamor of violence. Where. Is. God? Does He hear? Does He know? Does He care? Has God completely lost control of our world?
Life can get heavy sometimes. It can happen for all kinds of reasons – our own poor judgment or mistakes, circumstances beyond our control, accidents or a tragedy. Whatever the reason, the fact is that sometimes life just becomes a heavy burden. When life does get heavy we begin to doubt and to fear, which opens the door to begin down that ever-consuming road of discouragement and even depression. So, how do we fight this? How do we find a formula that will help us to stand up and walk under the weight, to fight through the fear and to persevere through the pain? How can we transform the heaviest experiences of our lives into the best growing experiences of our lives?
Regret can be a killer! We often carry around and dwell on regrets from some of our past experiences. Not only do we dwell on them, but we sometimes build those regrets into shrines of discontent and sorrow that overrun our present and then take hold of and manipulate our future. Pretty nasty, huh? On the other hand, if we know the secrets of managing regret, it can become a tool of peaceful acceptance for our present and a deep personal motivation for our future. How do you change from one result to the other? A few weeks ago, we began unveiling the powerful biblical lessons on managing regret and on this program we get to finish that unveiling!
We all have regrets. We all have times or decisions or moments in our lives that, if we could get a child’s game “do-over” we would take it in a heartbeat and go back with clearer thinking or firmer courage or more patience or deeper conviction or a bridled tongue or solid self-control. But we can’t get a child’s game “do-over.” We can’t change what we have already allowed to happen or what we have already said done or thought. So, what do we do? How do we handle our regrets in a way that keeps them from playing again and again in our heads? This is a good question and we think we have a good answer!
Here we are just a few days before Christmas 2012. This is a time when there is usually a magic in the air, an excitement for friends, family and good cheer. Usually, that is the case – but not this year. No, not this year. Something happened, and as a result the giddy joy is gone. We have suffered a great loss. A few short days ago, an unimaginable crime was committed and 27 people, 20 of them 6-and 7-year old children, had their lives taken from them, brutally and without mercy. Today we honor their memory and recognize the pain of their grief-stricken families and friends. Today we also search to find how the hope of the true meaning of Christmas can give us – all of us - strength to cope, strength to stand, and strength to begin to move forward.
It happened just a few short weeks ago, but by now we are almost de-sensitized to the horror. In many ways we can feel like it’s just another story of a senseless killer randomly taking lives. But it’s not – what it is, is a chronicle of a world filled with inequity and evil, in which those who are innocent suffer and die and there are no real answers as to how to stop it. Is there someone to blame? Is it parenting? Is it education? Is it religion? Is it atheism? Is it freedom? Is it guns? Is it easy access to violence? Is it God? How do we begin to put these tragedies into some perspective? Stay with us – there IS an answer!
Losing a loved one, especially a child, can bring unbearable pain and anxiety. It can cause us to question even those things we hold dearest – even the existence and plan of God. We will look into this grief and into God’s plan to try and understand where God is when tragedy strikes.