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As a Christian in the midst of the Sandwich Generation, dealing with the issues of caring for elderly parents and babysitting grandchildren, grief and loss have definitely been a distinct part of my life. In the last 15 years alone, I've seen my husband, my father, and four dear friends go on to heaven ahead of me, along with several distant relatives. Pain and suffering is a part of life, no matter who we are. But it's hard, isn't it? God is the One Who has brought me through the different seasons of "the valley of the shadow of death" and I would NEVER want to do this without Him!
First and foremost, He uses His awesome Word – full of encouraging and comforting Bible verses to lift my spirits and comfort my heart. He brings special people into my life to pray for me, hold me, and comfort me. And I am blessed that He also uses many wonderful writers and their uplifting books to touch my heart and help it heal. I love to share the best of these resources with others when they are going through various trials and tribulations. As God tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
This past year, I have been blessed twice by excellent Christian books that deal directly with the subjects of grief and loss, pain and suffering. I reviewed the first of these books, When the Hurt Runs Deep, by Kay Arthur earlier this year. Today, I wanted to share with you a book by a long-time favorite author of mine, Randy Alcorn. I have given several copies of his book, Heaven, to friends and relatives dealing with loss. His fiction books include one of my favorite series with Deadline, Deception, and Dominion. And now, he has written what I consider to be one of the best Christian devotions books for all ages – from 20-somethings on up through boomers to elderly senior citizens. I want to thank Waterbrooke Multnomah for providing a review copy of this book, and I know I will be buying my own copies to give as gifts in the coming years! It's excellent!
My copy now has "dog ears" all through it, and I have so many pages with underlined quotes! It has turned out to be one of those books you keep forever, and return to when you are hurting and in need of encouragement. I wanted to share one of the devotionals with you, and since we are in the midst of the ten commandments series for kids, and specifically focusing on "worship God only" this week, I chose a devotional that goes wonderfully with that.
He starts each day with encouraging and comforting Bible verses – and the ones he has chosen have been such a blessing to my heart. This particular devotional used the passage from 2 Corinthians 4:8-18
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you. But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE," we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Hard pressed, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed? Anyone who thinks the Bible doesn't face suffering head-on hasn't read it. Yet, while outwardly wasting away, those who draw on Christ within, who listen to God's Holy Spirit speak to them through His Word, and who gather with the church, Christ's body, can be renewed day after day.
Robert Roger's entire family drowned in a a 2003 Kansas flash flood. In a moment, he lost his beloved wife and all four of his children. This Christ-centered family went to church, tithed, read the Bible, and prayed together. After the disaster, Robert entered a dark world of Job-like suffering.
We need only to read Scripture, or look around us, or live long enough in order to learn that trusting God doesn't ward off all evil and suffering. He never said it would. In fact, He said just the opposite…but with a promise: 'In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!' (John 16:33)
On the worst day of his life, his ten children taken from him, Job worshiped God. On the worst day of his life, when a flood swept away his wife and four children, Robert Rogers turned to God in worship. He told me he did so because he felt his loss so deeply that he could not lose the one object he had left to grab on to: God. He couldn't function, couldn't go on living, without worshiping God…*
(You can read the rest of this devotional by clicking here to head over to Amazon, then type WORSHIP GOD in the search box for the book and select the PAGE 29 option.). 🙂
I was interested to note that at Amazon there were over 25 reviews and all but one were excellent. The one negative one was a good reminder that we all grieve in different ways and it's important for us to be sensitive to how others are dealing with grief and loss when sharing books with them. When I give a book or book recommendation I try to always let them know how the author deals with the subject and let them know it's ok to set it aside for awhile if it's not "their cup of tea" for the moment.
Overall, though, I found this to be a big blessing to myself and plan to share it with others through the years, as God leads. How about you? Have you read it? Or do you have other devotions – for all ages from young to senior citizens – to recommend to us? We'd love to hear. 🙂
P.S. *The above passage was excerpted from 90 Days of God's Goodness by Randy Alcorn, Copyright © 2011 by Eternal Perspective Ministries. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
P.P.S. As I wrote above, I had underlined so many words of encouragement in this excellent book by Randy Alcorn, it was really hard to decide which of his many quotes and devotionals to use – so I used the ones above AND you'll find another sweet encouragement for all of us boomers and senior citizens in the Sandwich Generation over at SandwichINK Real Estate Info. Be blessed. 🙂