I'm out of town for a few days enjoying life in Arizona with my mom, grandma and Story! While I'm gone I've asked some friends to share with you! I love all these ladies and am honored to have them on my blog while I'm gone. Enjoy their words and share them with your friends. I know you'll be blessed by all they have to say! Leave them a comment thanking them for sharing their lives with you!
It's true what they say about grief being like an ocean. Sometimes the tide grabs hold of you with brutal strength and pulls you under. It tosses you about. A ragdoll in the swirling depths. Sometimes the force pulls so tightly that you just want to give in to it…to just let go and let it destroy you. The fight feels too hard and you feel too weak. I understand the panic that David felt as he penned “Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.” (Psalm 143:7) There are days that the grief consumes all else. There is nothing but sorrow–no light, only darkness. “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from You presence….if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.” (Psalm 139:7-8) Even in the depths–on the days where the bitterness and pain are my residence–He is still there. I cannot flee from Him. The pain is not too big for Him.
Grief is the loneliest place. When I'm sinking farther into the depths of the Grief Ocean I feel alone in so many ways. But every time I open my eyes, I see past the turmoil, and I see Him there–my Rescuer. The One who is close to me–the brokenhearted; the one who is crushed in spirit. He is there. And He rescues with His iron grip. He pulls me to safety. He pulls me into soundness of mind. He pulls me to the peaceful shore.
The Grief Ocean is an ironic place. In its depths it will destroy. The waves and breakers threaten to drown their victims. But on the shores, the waters bring peace and quiet to the soul. The waves lap against the shore in rhythm. Like a lullaby. What seemed so dangerous now brings peace. And a beauty is discovered as one looks out upon the Ocean. The magnitude of it all whispers awe into the quiet places inside you. The bruises on your heart & soul from being tossed about in the depths are so fresh and painful. But so much bigger than that, is the reminder of what it felt like to be rescued. The iron grip of the Rescuer cannot be forgotten.
Just like the waves that creep to the shore–just to be pulled back into the turbulent seas, the process of grief is a cycle. Some days I find myself wading ankle deep….eyes still taking in the beauty of the Ocean about me. Other days I stumble and plunge into the depths. But I am never alone. He is here with me–every step of the way He is here.
“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You.” (Psalm 139:11-12)
(March 2, 2011)
I wrote these words two months after my sweet Mama went home to be with Jesus after a 5 year battle with cancer. And now here I sit…hours, days, months later, still tearing up as I read these words because that pain in those words–that is still my pain. That is still the raw edge of my heart that is so tender to the touch. Has life moved on? Yes. Has the every-moment sting eased? Yes. Has God healed me in ways I never imagined possible? Absolutely. But the hurt and the confusion and the pain still lingers some days. Maybe it always will. That’s the hardest part about grief—the cycle of it—how it comes and goes all the time, like the tides of an ocean.
The last six years of my life have just been hard. I know that you don't know me, and I wish I could unzip my heart in front of you & show you that as I say that, I'm not trying to complain. It's just where I am. Life is full of different seasons…it just so happens I've been in a season of sorrow for a very long time. I could give you a laundry list of what I've walked through, but really that doesn't matter, and frankly some of it is still very fresh and hard to even capture in words.
So what are we supposed to do with this Grief Ocean? When life does not turn out how you thought it would, is God still good? When you look around and realize that you've descended into the valley of the shadow of death, is God still faithful? Is He still there? When Sorrow and Grief have become your constant companions (side note: Go read Hinds Feet in High Places right now…just trust me on that one!) and pain has cloaked you in its depths, where are you supposed to turn? It may not be the loss of someone you love—it may be the loss of your husband’s job, a rebellious child who has run “far from home”, a miscarriage or failed adoption, a fractured marriage. Pain and grief come in many shapes and sizes and every person processes them differently.
I really don't have all the answers. But years ago, I made a vow to be an honest person. I was so tired of seeing people act like they were ok when their messy life was just shoved behind their front door. I don't want to be that person. I want to be someone who is genuine and real. So here is the real truth: Life hurts. The closer you get to Jesus, the closer up you get to suffering. The Christian life is not an easy life–it is a life where we identify in the sufferings of Christ. But Romans 8 reminds us that those who share in His sufferings will also one day share in His glory (Romans 8:17). Wow. Hope is not dead friends–in spite of pain, hope lives on. I want to walk through a Psalm with you today that has come alive in my life, and just share a few practical ways that we can move forward when sorrow covers. Take a minute to read these poignant words penned by King David in Psalm 116:
1] I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
He heard my cry for mercy.
2] Because He turned His ear to me,
I will call on Him as long as I live.
3] The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came upon me;
I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.
4] Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“O LORD, save me!”
5] The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
6] The LORD protects the simple-hearted;
when I was in great need, He saved me.
7] Be at rest once more, O my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
8] For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
9] that I may walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.
10] I believed; therefore I said,
“I am greatly afflicted.”
11] And in my dismay I said,
“All men are liars.”
12] How can I repay the LORD
for all His goodness to me?
13] I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD.
14] I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all His people.
15] Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of His saints.
16] O LORD, truly I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your maidservant;
you have freed me from my chains.
17] I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
and call on the name of the LORD.
18] I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all His people,
19] in the courts of the house of the LORD—
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the LORD
I have turned to these words many times over the last year. I love how David was just so human—his words are always full of longing and question and ultimately trust in the goodness of the Lord. I see several action steps in this Psalm that seem so practical, and for me, often become a really good place to start. So….when sorrow, pain and grief begin to cover:
• Cry out to the Lord for mercy every day—He will listen to your cry (v.1-2)
• When overcome, call on the name of the Lord—there is power in His name to save (v.3-4)
• Recount His attributes and character—speak truth to yourself…cling to WHO God is! (v.5-6)
• Allow your soul to find rest in God—rest in His goodness to you and breathe (v. 7-11)
• Lift up the cup of salvation—preach the Gospel to yourself daily…hold high your salvation and the grace gift that it is (v.12-13)
• Fulfill your vows to the Lord—continue to love and serve Him…stay connected to the Body of Christ and your responsibilities to Her. (v.14)
• Find freedom in Christ—do not be chained to grief…allow Christ to bring freedom (v. 15-16) See also Psalm 107
• Sacrifice a thank offering to God—let thanksgiving and praise be continually on your lips (v. 17-19)
My name is Rachel Setliffe. I've been married to my best friend, Matt, for almost ten years and we have two sweet girls, Ava–our 6 year old bio daughter, and Jane–3 years old and adopted from Ethiopia in 2010. My husband & I have been serving in ministry together for lots of years, and are now following God's leading to plant a church in Glasgow, Scotland in 2013. I love my little life and so thankful for a God who pours out mercy & grace on me every day!