Thursday, February 18, 2021

A Tight Grip on Hope

It's been A WEEK, and as I type this, it's only Thursday night! The bad news has been in quick succession for many of us, including those suffering from the extreme cold and loss of utilities. 

And the deaths. Three in particular over a two-day period brought me low:

my friend Joe (see my previous post)

Rush Limbaugh (one of Beloved's heroes)

the Christian musician Carman (a favorite with my kids in their teen years)

In an effort to bring some cheer to myself, I spent time in Hobby Lobby yesterday and saw this:

There was a time when a sign like this would put a smile on my face and I'd perk up. Yesterday my reaction was to wince inwardly and think how I wish it was that easy.

Then there are these meant-to-be-cheery magnets that have been on my refrigerator for many years. 

I think most of you will agree with me, we are waaaay past the place where snappy phrases will lift us up to a happy place. It's going to take more than that. 

from my GriefShare workbook

We need a certain amount of tribulation in our lives if for no other reason than to keep us humble and so we can relate to those who are hurting more than we are. I am getting that truth like a semi-truck hitting me head-on. 

But as we pick ourselves up and reach for something, anything, to steady us, we've got to  have concrete truth to grab onto. Depending on the depth of the pain, we are able to discern what is just fluff and what is worth leaning into.

There has to be hope. 

I wake up every day with the hours stretched out before me. What will I do with them now that Beloved is not here? Yes, I had things that did not especially include him, but most of what I did circulated around his physical presence, his needs, his plans. 

It's funny because he thought his life revolved around me! He teased me about that all the time. I would ask him nearly every morning over breakfast what his plans were for the day and they were very simple and just about the same all the time. 

Me, I always had a To Do List, so when he reciprocated with the question, I would let him know what items on my list would require his input or masculine strength, and so forth. That seems like a long time ago. Yes. Nearly three months ago, to be accurate. 

I guess a part of me is still struggling to believe he is really gone, as in, he's not coming back to live in this house with me. never. again. And he's not going to sit beside me at the breakfast bar for breakfast and lunch and pivot around on his bar stool to hold me close after those meals as he kisses me and thanks me for the meal.

Yeah. That's hard. 

So what do I do with this now? I've got to have that hope I mentioned earlier or I will not make it. I'll just dissolve into perpetual tears curled up with that red wooly blanket,  lose more weight, and feel like a mechanical robot going through the motions.

What has helped me make it this far?

In August 2018 we heard a wonderful sermon by Robert Morris about putting God first in everything. That was not a new concept to me, but at that time, I made a more concentrated effort to be obedient to that thought. A little over two years later, that early morning habit of reading God's Word before breakfast, before checking email, before getting dressed -- is helping me get going in the worst of times.

So there's that.

Then there is prayer. Admittedly since Beloved got sick and then especially after he died, my prayers have definitely changed. Many times they are wordless. Other times they are unintelligible groans that God understands. I just trust what is coming out of me is what needs to be said from the deepest parts of my being. He gets it. He's God.

Sometimes I scream out to Him with my good hand lifted up to heaven as if to grab onto God's hand to get His attention. I am alone in this well-insulated house, so I have no qualms in doing that. 

This is lament. It's real. It helps to get that stuff out. God can handle it. He made me. My gut-wrenching grief is no surprise to Him. He designed me to be able to express myself in these ways. 

I am so tempted to feel terribly alone, and in this big empty house, in a practical sense I am definitely alone. 

But God is here. With faith-eyes He wants me to realize His Presence. Psalm 139:5 says "You hem me in -- behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me."

Not only am I not alone, but God's huge, strong, warm, gentle-yet-strong hand is enclosed all around me. 

Often when I wake in the mornings, my first thoughts are lonely, in spite of having felt good as I dropped off to sleep hours before. But today the Holy Spirit pointed out to me Psalm 139:18b, "When I awake, I am still with you."

When sleep leaves me, I'm still with the God Who held me all night long. When I climb out of bed, He's still got me. I need to meditate on that more.

Yes, the days ahead of me look to be long, and there will probably many of them. But another thought that comes to mind is the story of King David when his infant son was so ill. David fasted and did not take care of himself as he grieved what he feared was coming. 

Then when the baby died, the servants were afraid to give him the news for fear of his reaction. David surprised them all by getting up, refreshing himself, and eating a meal. When questioned why, his reply was something I hold onto tightly now:

"...Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." II Samuel 12:23

That's hope. And as I explained in a previous post, it's not, "I really hope this comes about."  No, it's "I KNOW this will happen."

I am not grieving as one without hope, which is how non-believers grieve. I mourn for Beloved's physical absence from me now but I KNOW I will see him again and it will be good, all good, so good, better than any of us can possibly imagine now. 

For the present, I am tasked with living a faithful life before the Lord and fully expect the sharpest pangs of sorrow will dull and the joy of what lies ahead will become more clear. 

When you have the time, click on this link for the message from Robert Morris.  If the link is a little wonky, look for the title,  This Changes Everything: The Principle of First. will be both entertained and blessed.

Until next time, may you be aware of God's desire for your salvation and peace. He loves every single one of us.


  1. What a beautiful and heartfelt post. My prayers continue for you. Sending lots of hugs!

  2. Happy to have found your blog. I visited "A Forest Cathedral" blog after she left a comment on my blog and then saw your blog listed on her site and well- here I am. What a wonderful post to land on. Hope is SO important and your post really ministered to me. I also did not know that Carmen had passed as I was a fan of his and he visited my old church so many times to do concerts. Thanks for sharing a link to the sermon that inspired you- I will check it out. Many blessings to you as you adjust to life's changes. Keep the faith and hope.

  3. Your hope is so evident in what you write, Barbara. Thank you for every word you wrote here. I even watched the sermon. I benefitted from watching it. So thank you for sharing that, too. :) I also read your post from earlier in the week tonight. I am too late to post a comment there, but I truly loved seeing the pictures of your family and reading how they ministered to you on Valentine's Day. Hugs to you!

  4. What a hope-filled post, even in the midst of the sorrows and angst. Yes, where would we be without that hope we have in Christ Jesus? I honestly do not know how those without Christ can make it through such sorrows. Reminds me of the old hymn, "We have an anchor that keeps the soul, steadfast and sure though the billows roll. Fastened to the ROCK which cannot move, Grounded firm and deep in the Savior's Love!" I know you are fastened to that Rock as am I, and how thankful we are to be "grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love." Thank you for sharing the depths of your heart with us. I believe it is bringing hope to others as well. It has blessed me today. (((hugs)))

  5. Hope is my word for the year, Barbara, and you have captured the essence of what it means to have hope in the Lord. That is exactly what will get us through our sad and troubled days, and the glorious ones, too.
    Like Beloved, I adored Rush Limbaugh. This certainly has been a week filled with grief for so many of us.

  6. Your words are so true and heartfelt... This is true here..."We need a certain amount of tribulation in our lives if for no other reason than to keep us humble and so we can relate to those who are hurting more than we are" I have always said that previous generations knew this more than ours. I have had my share of tribulation, but feel many scoot through life with none. Many prayers for you and I do like the magnet that if it is not in the scrapbook it didn't happen. I think that is my photo albums.

  7. I continue to pray for you. Your words are such a tribute to your love of your Beloved and your unending faith in our Lord. Hugs

  8. It's been such a terrible week for so many. I'm glad you are staying close to family and to all of us. Your words help us all through these trying times. And I hope you will treat yourself to some things that make you feel better. Take care of yourself! Sending you lots of hugs on this rainy morning!

  9. Praise the Lord that you are continuing to blog in your grief journey. It is real and it is good to read. "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."

  10. Thank you, Barb, for sharing your journey with us. I am on a similar journey here, as you know. The tears and wailing are still new to me but I know they need to be let out. I talk to Joe and I talk to God often. Yes. Alone, but not alone. Faith is what saves us. Thank you.

  11. I forgot to mention that Joe was also a Rush fan so now I can see Tom, Joe, and Rush having quite a rousing conversation in Heaven! Thanks for that image!

  12. I am so sad about Joe, and was also saddened to hear about Rush. I hadn't heard of Carmens death though. I knew he had lots of health issues.
    It's wonderful that we can call out to God and know He hears us.
    Praying for you and now Terri too!