Last week we talked about being fearless in the face of trials – even fearless in the face of death! Our precious Beth was one who faced her awful circumstances full of confidence in the Fearless One. She used her God-given weapons well too, including her Sword of the Spirit! (Take a look again at the verse of the week in Joshua 1:9- this was a favorite one used many times throughout the battle.)
In week seven of Heartbreakingly Beautiful we seek to BE Real and share the feelings that engulfed us immediately after Beth’s diagnosis. I want to say upfront that I believe being fearless goes hand in hand with being real. We have been created to feel and express our feelings. They are real and we do not need to deny them. Our feelings matter very much to God and He feels deeply for us and with us, more than we can imagine. But thankfully, He does not leave us choking in the midst of our negative feelings but desires to move us on to a deeper awareness of His truth through them.
We read in the gospel accounts that Jesus was real when it came to feeling and expressing emotions. For example, Jesus felt deep pain and wept when His friend Lazarus died – even though He knew the resurrection outcome was soon to follow. He was not afraid to show His real feelings in the face of death of a beloved one (John 11).
We read in John 18 that Jesus faced His own impending death with the full reality of what was to come and yet He was fearless in the face of it! Jesus was not immune to the normal feelings of what was about to crash upon Him – we see that He felt sheer agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-44). The adrenalin in Jesus’ body kicked in – just as it does for us when we are facing life-threatening circumstances. Yes, the Lord Jesus was real and expressed Himself in real human ways.
After Beth’s diagnosis, we had the challenge of sharing honestly the disastrous news with our younger girls. These precious gifts to us look very different when compared with their older sister. (They both have blonde hair and green eyes and take after their daddy in their looks. Bethy was the image of me in looks – but just like her dad in personality!) Rachael was just 10 years old and Nicole a mere 8 years when we had to share our heartbreak with them. We did it in the most positive yet realistic way we could. We all cried together and clung to each other in desperation.
Like most of our weeping times, this was one to keep in the ‘treasure box’. How wonderful to have people to BE Real with and not to have to do it all alone! Bethany was ‘big sissy’ to Rach but ‘little mummy’ to Coley. Oh how they loved her! We were so very proud of the way they coped through this time. Again, like their sister, they coped only because of their child-like faith in the love of God. He surrounded them with friends to care for them like their own. Thank you to all those special friends who sheltered our little girls in their time of need.
Since that time, I have had lots of advice about coping with the feelings of suffering and grief. A common statement goes something like this… “Oh everyone is different – there is no right or wrong way to do it.” Friends, while I believe this statement is intended to bring comfort and freedom, I want to BE Real here and suggest that we need to bring some correction and truth to the statement. The truth is that while we are all created uniquely, we share the same basic needs. Our unique, God-given personalities and circumstances need a variety of right ways to BE Real and express sorrow and grief. But let’s face it – there are also many unhealthy, unrealistic and unhelpful ways of facing suffering and grief. (I am sure you can think of some examples where people have chosen wrong ways to journey through pain and increased their suffering.)
So my encouragement this week dear ones is to BE Real with God, BE Real with others and BE Real with yourself in your sorrow and grief – and in your joy too! God has the experience and resources to help you do it well. Ask Him to help you find the right ways to travel through the aftershock of disaster and deal with real feelings in honest, godly and real life-giving ways!
A song to encourage you:
I love the old classic ‘When You Walk Through a Storm’ by Gerry and the Pacemakers
An interview to build you up:
Beth’s words and attitude after her diagnosis are inspiring.