“How are you doing?” Someone asks as if it’s an easy answer.
I know they mean well, but the truth is, my real, honest answer is going to take more than the 3 minutes and 40 seconds most people are really willing to commit to listening… or half-listening.
No, if you really want to know how I am doing, the answer isn’t a one-word “fine” or “ok.” You see, I have just been walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I have been grieving, and I have MUCH to praise God for, much I am THANKFUL for, but it’s been rough, to say the least.
Answering “I’m good” or “doing better” simply won’t suffice because though I grieve, I have much to GIVE THANKS to God for.
It seems ungrateful to God to leave the answer with a phony or superficial “fine.”
What I desire to tell people is this: I just lived out and am living out Psalm 30!
“I will extol thee, O Lord; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed [art healing] me.
O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.
Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved.
Lord, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.
I cried to thee, O Lord; and unto the Lord I made supplication.
What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? Shall it declare thy truth?
Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me: Lord, be thou, my helper.
Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness;
To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.”
Psalm 30, KJV
Oh, how I have cried unto the Lord.
Some of the deepest groans and lamentings I have ever experienced were sung to the Lord upon the death of our babies.
In the midst of the first tragedy of losing a baby, I nearly perished, losing well over half of my blood (close to 67%). I could say that it was an accumulation of many people who saved my life starting with my husband, the surgeon, my daughter, and a friend, BUT it was God who chose to save my life.
Through this tragedy and suffering there was weeping and mourning, but there was also been laughter, singing, and joy because our joy is the Lord’s. It’s not ours- IT’S HIS JOY!
What good is my life if I die? How can I give You praise from the grave? How will I declare Your truth then?
Gird me with gladness has been my daily prayer.
“To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and NOT be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.”
As I have been reading through the Psalms, journaling every Psalm that ends with Selah, our daughter’s name, I do what her name means: I pause, think, watch, and praise. Read my post here about what her name means.
There is much grieving, weeping, and crying out to God are all throughout the Psalms, but what is most beautiful to me is the lesson we all should glean from the painful sorrow the writers lamented and expressed–they always gave thanks to God and praised His holy name forever.
James 1:2-3 challenges us.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
No matter what we walk through in this life, we are called to give thanks, to praise His holy name, and to worship Him. To know God and make Him known. To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
WE MUST NOT GLORIFY THE SUFFERING, BUT THE LAMB WHO WAS SLAIN.
We do not thank God for the sins of others which cause us harm, the trials we walk through because of foolish decisions we have made, and we do not thank God for disease or any of the consequences of this life that are consequential from living in a fallen world, lest we be thanking God for sin, which was the cause of separation in our relationship with Him in the first place. But we do and should thank God for what He has taught us by walking through the trial and tribulation. We thank God because we believe His promises; that He will produce an eternal fruit in us, a character, a hope which is NOT perishable, as we endure through the pain.
We praise God for who He is because His goodness endures forever and there are always things to be thankful for. We thank God for walking with us through the valley of the shadow of death, for the good outcomes that can come out of the bad things we experience in this life, and for the miracles and ways we experience His presence in our personal lives, as He meets us there, in the midst of suffering and grief.
I don’t thank God for the death of my babies, but I do thank Him for their lives, regardless of how short they were. I thank Him for the blessing their short life was to me, my family, and so many others. And I thank God for trusting me with this trial and all He has taught me about suffering, loss, and grief because of it.
I have learned that you can know all there is to know about suffering, even in Scripture, but until you have walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death and experienced His promises, one cannot fully comprehend the promises and paradox of rejoicing in suffering.
“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
Read my post, We Will Worship While Weeping, where I share 20 of the most touching songs that led my heart, mind, and soul to worship in the midst of grief.
It is a bittersweet paradox to walk through the hardest aspects of life with Jesus.
Most people, even some Christians who haven’t yet experienced the sting of this fallen life to the fullest extent, can’t understand the joy and hope we truly can have in the midst of grieving. People can even get mad not understanding that life IS HARD, but GOD IS GOOD!
No matter how hard life gets, we get to live with GLADNESS and JOY that is SUPERNATURAL because it isn’t something we can strive to have, we just HAVE it. It’s in us because God’s Spirit lives in us.
The “fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
If you have the Spirit in you, that fruit isn’t based upon earthly circumstance, it should be evident even during the trial! When we live by the Spirit, these are the fruits others can bear witness to as our reaction to trials: temperance, peace, longsuffering, faith, and joy.
We can grieve like Jesus did BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
We can worship while weeping and as we worship our sorrow is turned into gladness and thankfulness. We can give thanks in the midst of grieving, not because of our nature, but because it’s the nature of the Holy Spirit who lives in us–by whom we live.
So how am I?
I’m Giving Thanks in the midst of Grieving and I am worshiping when I weep and watching His Spirit have it’s full effect in my heart as I heal.