Grief is Not Sin

Grief is not sin.  

It wasn’t until another grieving mom asked the question that I realized there are some (many?) in the community of believers that think grief is sin.

Not at first, mind you-everyone is “allowed” a certain amount of time to get over the loss of a dream, the loss of a job, the loss of health or the loss of a loved one.

But carry that sadness and wounded heart too publicly for too long and you better be ready for someone to question your faith.

And (heaven forbid!) you drag your limping soul to church on Sunday and sit silent during worship, tears streaming, as the rest of the congregation heartily affirms all the things you now wrestle with every day.

Is God good?  ALL the time?  Does God protect the ones He loves?  ALL the time?

“We bring the sacrifice of praise….” What sacrifice have you made lately?  Have you buried a child?

I think anything has the potential to be sin.  If I allow my heart, mind and soul to focus exclusively on what I’ve lost instead of what I’m promised through Jesus Christ, that is sin.  

But grief itself is not sin.

Paul said, “We do not grieve as those who have no hope”  NOT  “we do not grieve”. (I Thessalonians 4:13)

Sadness is not sin.  Sorrow and missing my son is not sin.

For a time, especially at the beginning, grief occupied most of my field of vision.  It’s that huge.  

We are made of dust and it cannot be otherwise.

Death is awful and the redemption of what was lost in the Fall cost God His only son. “The whole creation groans” (mourns, grieves) “to be set free from bondage to decay”. (Romans 8:21-22)

death matters lewis

Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me?” as He bore the full weight of sin and sorrow of the world.

I believe that grief becomes sin when I choose to turn my face away from God and only toward my sorrow.

If I am holding it and dragging it with me toward the foot of the cross, that’s not sin.

If I turn my heart and face toward the One Who made me and trust that even in this painful place He is carrying me and will care for me, that’s not sin.

The writer of Hebrews speaks of bringing the “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15).  It is no sacrifice to praise God for the beautiful blessings.

It is quite the sacrifice to praise God for what Joni Eareckson Tada calls a “bruising of a blessing”.

If I continue to wrestle, like Jacob-clinging and begging for the blessing-I am not sinning when I walk away with the limp the wound leaves behind.

Jesus has opened the way to the throne of grace by His own blood.

I don’t have to hide and I don’t have to be afraid. 

He knows my pain.  He knows my name.

I keep bringing my broken heart to the altar and lift it up in broken praise.

That’s not sin.

It’s the widow’s mite-it’s everything I’ve got.  

 

worship-that-means-something-costs-something

 

Repost: Costly Worship

worship-that-means-something-costs-something

Years ago this verse made me cry-God’s Word pierced my heart and His Spirit spoke, “Genuine offerings COST something.”

David: No, I will buy these things from you. Name your price. I will not make an offering to the Eternal One, my True God, that has cost me nothing.

2 Samuel 24:24 VOICE

I. Had. No. Idea.

But now I do.  

Worship is no longer just singing along to a hymn or praise song, getting in the groove or swaying to the beat.

Worship is a sacrifice.

It. Is. A. Sacrifice.  

It costs me more than I ever thought it would…

And it cost the wise men something too:  Costly Worship

#CoffeeTimePrayer: Wave offerings — notes

Lee does a beautiful job sharing how the Old Testament is full of pictures of the heart of God.  This brief devotional spoke to my heart this morning:

What makes “wave offerings” so interesting is that, even though there is a sacrifice, in God’s goodness the offering itself becomes a blessing. God doesn’t hoard offerings; God doesn’t need offerings. But sometimes we need the act of offering to bring us back to God.

All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to the Lord. – Exodus 35:22 NIV GotQuestions defines a wave offering as “a portion of a sacrifice presented to God, then released by God for […]

via #CoffeeTimePrayer: Wave offerings — notes

Worship as Warfare

After [Jehoshaphat] had advised the people, he appointed people to sing to the LORD and praise him for the beauty of his holiness. As they went in front of the troops, they sang, “Thank the LORD because his mercy endures forever!”

2 Chronicles 20:21 GWT

Image result for image music and worship

 

I love worship music.

My heart is transported from here to there in a single note.

 

In a moment, I am before the Throne, inside the Holy of Holies, crying out for more, more, more of Jesus.

Worship makes me vulnerable to the Spirit’s deep work in my heart-I hear truth, I see beyond the pain and I feel God’s love.

But it also makes me a target for the enemy of my soul.

Yesterday I plugged in Pandora to my stereo and was lifted higher, higher until… in a breath I was brought low.

Leaning over to raise the volume of a favorite song I came eye-to-eye with my missing son.

The photo we chose for his memorial folder is hanging with his siblings’ on my living room wall.

And I was transported from here to there in a heartbeat-

from almost two and a half years past that awful day to the moment I first breathed in the truth that he was gone.

Image result for image tears

 

I covered my eyes with both hands and refused the whispers of darkness.

The tears fell and my heart hurt, but I hissed back, “He’s not dead.  He’s just not here!”

 

 

And I cranked the Truth up higher and dared the devil to come back.

I raised my hands and chose to worship the One Who is loving my son until I get there, Who loves me even in my brokenness and Who will redeem this pain and restore what the enemy has stolen.

I took out my sword and declared  “He is a Good, Good Father.”

Image result for image he is a good good father

Costly Worship

I don’t know what the wise men expected to see.

It seems natural to us who know the story–who know the REST of the story–that they ended up finding Jesus-The King of the Jews-the One whose birth was announced by a star in a humble abode.

But I think it might have surprised those rich rulers traveling so far to worship Him.

In their experience, future kings were born in palaces, surrounded by servants.  Such births were announced and trumpeted loud and long.

So when they found this little child with poor parents in a poor house, perhaps they thought they were mistaken.

We don’t know because Scripture is silent on this point.

What we do know is that they offered the gifts they brought, they worshiped the One they had traveled long to see.

They undertook a treacherous and costly journey for the purpose of worship.

True worship is expensive.

To raise my voice and my hands after losing Dominic is hard. It requires that I trust God regardless of my circumstances.

It means I lay my treasure at His feet even when I don’t understand why or how He intends to use it.

But worship inclines my heart to the God Who made it.

Just like the star led the wise men, worship leads me to the feet of Jesus.

And there is where I can safely leave my treasure.

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

Matthew 2:1-2, 10-11 KJV