The Weight of Grief in the Garden

When He rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, He found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. – (Luke 22:45, NIV)
When He finished praying, He went to His followers. He found them asleep, worn out from their grieving.  – (Luke 22:45, ERV)
When Jesus finished praying, He got up and went to His disciples and found them all asleep, for they were exhausted and overwhelmed with sorrow. – (Luke 22:45, TPT)
I am not sure why I have not ever noticed the phrasing of Luke’s account of what took place in the Garden of Gethsemane before, but why the disciples fell asleep, becomes far more relate-able somehow. The disciples had every reason to be grieving, for they had shared their final meal with Jesus, heard His last words of wisdom, sung their last hymn together, and then heard that one among them would betray Him and another would deny Him… That is some serious heaviness to hold. How often do we find ourselves in the same sort of space? There  are times that the grief is too great, and even as we try to pray, exhaustion takes over, and sleep finds a welcomed win. The disciples, though Jesus had told them what would take place, could likely not wrap their hearts and minds around it all. They were in the throes of the suffering and sorrow-filled part, and could not yet see the glorious hope that would come after the horror Jesus was about to endure. Incredibly, Jesus continued to pray. When Judas and his entourage of Sanhedrin and soldiers arrived to have Jesus arrested, Jesus continued to love as He healed the ear that an over-zealous disciple cut off in His defense. He went willingly, without argument nor needed force, for love led Him to the cross at Calgary.
I paused writing to go run, and ended up having a great discussion about the potential disparity between the four accounts of the disciples’ time in the garden. My running bestie is a nurse, so she reminded me that Luke was a doctor. Between us, we recognized that the other accounts were recorded by fishermen, who likely felt bad for falling asleep, and simply recorded that alone. Luke, however, from a physician’s standpoint, was the most likely to recognize the toll that grief and sorrow take on the body, and reported the occurrence accordingly. Like me, she had not ever noticed the difference in the accounts of what took place, but together, we discussed how it indeed made sense. Many of us find ourselves in a similar space of grief or sorrow. There is loss that we are uncertain how to process, and that weighs heavily, no matter how much we pray. Perhaps this forced slow down season is meant for more than just protecting ourselves from the further spread of a pandemic; maybe, just maybe, this is a season where we are to allow our bodies to sleep when we can fight it no longer, rest up, reflect on what truly matters, and rise up renewed and refreshed, as Jesus carried it all for us and rose again. May we give ourselves grace in our moments of sorrow, grief and exhaustion, and look to the Lord who is the One who strengthens, renews and grants us what we need to rise up restored, once again.
In grief’s heaviness,

The Weight of Grief

Sculpture by Celeste Roberge

We’re burdened and worn;
Exhausted and spent,
In sorrow, forlorn.
Our bodies in need,
Of overdue rest;
Sometimes a shut down,
When sleep is the best.
God knows all our needs,
He loves us with grace;
Refreshes, renews,
And brings brighter days.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us Your goodness and grace, even in humanity’s most exhausted spaces. Thank You that You love us back to life again, even when our weariness from loss steals our resolve to rise and fight. Forgive us for thinking that we can somehow power through things without giving room for grief. Teach us to lean into You to show us how to properly process, rest and rise again in all that You are calling us to do. Lead us to love others well, so that their burdens may be lessened and their sorrow’s shortened. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come to You in our heaviness and seek You for rest and refreshment as You restore and renew us in You. Amen.
My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your word. – Psalm 119:28

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Clean the Inside of the Cup

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside will also be clean.” – (Matthew 23:25-26, NIV)

“It will be bad for you teachers of the law and you Pharisees! You are hypocrites! You wash clean the outside of your cups and dishes. But inside they are full of what you got by cheating others and pleasing yourselves. Pharisees, you are blind! First make the inside of the cup clean and good. Then the outside of the cup will also be clean.” – (Matthew 23:25-26, ERV)

“You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. Stupid Pharisee! Scour the insides, and then the gleaming surface will mean something.” – (Matthew 23:25-26, MSG)

 

On the Tuesday of Holy Week, Jesus began His day, departing Bethany with the disciples. As they were leaving, they passed by the fig tree He had cursed, only to discover it had completely withered. That point of passage began a day filled with teaching, as Jesus started with a lesson on faith. He further taught several parables and answered important questions as people gathered in the temple to hear. The Pharisees, up to their usual attempt at trapping Jesus in some sort of misstep for which they could arrest Him, began a barrage of questions as well. After Jesus brilliantly answered, and completely silenced the scholars with His wisdom, He began a list of woes to them for the practices that they were participating in. One that stood out to me as particularly poignant, and one to ponder personally, is that which is found in the above listed verses from Matthew 23. What does it mean to clean the outside of the cup, but neglect cleaning the inside? To me, it seems He was using the image as an illustration of the heart versus how things appear. We must attend to the motives, desires and purposes within us to be considered clean. For if we seek the Lord and allow Him room to purify our hearts and cleanse us from within, the outside reflects the beauty on the inside. It does not work in reverse. I imagine we have all met or known someone who at first, appeared quite appealing. However, once the heart was made known, the ugly insides tainted the perspective on the outside. Jesus cares about the condition of our heart. Yes, wash your hands, for at least twenty seconds please, but really, it is what flows out of us that impacts those around us, not the package that holds our hearts. My take away today is to seek the Lord and ask Him to show me what filth within me still needs cleansing. We all have spots that get missed, or manage to lie hidden out of plain sight. Jesus is gentle and kind when we choose to seek Him with the hope of being cleansed to more clearly reflect His heart to the world. Lord, cleanse us from the inside out, so that Your love may be made abundantly clear, and no good thing withheld from those in need.

 

Lord, come and show us, Clean the Inside of the Cup

Where we need be cleansed;

Point out the places,

Help us make amends.

Places we’re selfish,

Greedy or unkind;

Over-indulgent,

Show us what You find.

By Your loving grace,

Show us how to change;

Be cleansed from within,

So Your love may reign.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us the way to be cleansed from the inside out. Thank You that not only did You clean the temple, but You are willing to clean the hollows of our heart. Forgive us for the times that we have worried more about “appearances” than being cleansed on the inside. Teach us to fix our eyes and heart on You and what You ask of us. Show us how to love selflessly, without greed, gluttony or reservation. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us the ways to wash ourselves within, so that we may shine bright, reflecting Your love to all whom we encounter. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. – Psalm 51:1-2

 

 

Kind, Loving and Forgiving

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – (Ephesians 4:32, NIV)

Be kind and loving to each other. Forgive each other the same as God forgave you through Christ. – (Ephesians 4:32, ERV)

But instead be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love. – (Ephesians 4:32, TPT)

 

Typically, I am quite even tempered, as I seldom get overly upset or worked up about things; usually, I choose to take a deep breath, and keep pressing forward. However, like anyone, I do have my breaking point. When I reach a space where no matter how hard I work, and how much I try, I still feel grossly inadequate, it is then that I begin to withdraw, and the sarcasm spews out as an ugly coping mechanism. Thankfully, my Viking is kind and compassionate to me. He sees me wherever I am, and grants grace and extends love, with some humor, in a way that helps pull me out of my place of frustration and back into a space of depending on God’s abundant grace. Somehow, I am blessed with tremendous friends that do the same as well. In this season of adjusting and adapting to staying at home and working remotely, we all need to be kind, compassionate and forgiving. It is easy to extend these things to others, but much more difficult to offer the same to ourselves. God, in His outrageous grace, sent His Son for us, so that we might truly know and understand the depth of His forgiveness and love. My hope is that as we set our sights toward Easter, we might look to the cross and recognize that the forgiveness and redemption extended to all is a gift that we are meant to embrace, and then extend to those around us. May we each look for ways to be loving and kind to one another; graciously forgiving each other in love, just as we have been loved and forgiven by God.

 

Kindness, compassion,

wp-15860080495045996625406504401627.jpg

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Extended in grace;

The Lord’s forgiveness,

New, every day.

We all are chosen,

To love the same way;

Give love and forgive,

God’s grace on display.

As we extend love,

God’s love and light’s shown;

Forgiveness and grace,

In kindness, made known.

So, keep reaching out,

Choose love and forgive;

In kindness grant grace,

Where hope truly lives.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are kind and compassionate toward us, forgiving us in love. Thank You that You call us and empower us to do the same. Thank You for the people whom You have placed in our lives who show us these things in tangible ways. Forgive us for the times that we have lacked compassion, kindness or forgiveness toward those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would extend the very things that You have so lavishly granted to us, to those around us. Show us how to best love those around us with kindness and compassion. Point out the places where we need to walk in forgiveness with one another. Grant us Your grace and strength to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to be kind and compassionate, and forgive one another as You have forgiven us. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. – Romans 12:10

To Do Good and To Share

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. – (Hebrews 13:16, NIV)

And don’t forget to do good and to share what you have with others, because sacrifices like these are very pleasing to God. – (Hebrews 13:16, ERV)

Let’s not neglect what is good and share what we have, for these sacrifices also please God. – (Hebrews 13:16, VOICE)

 

It is amazing to see how an order to “Stay at Home” has produced incredible opportunities for people to utilize their time and talents to do good and share with others. One of the things that I have been most impressed with that my school district is doing, is they are mobilizing and making “grab and go” breakfasts and lunches available to all students in our district. The service will continue during our scheduled spring break, despite it technically being a time that our amazing nutrition service team ought to have a reprieve. In addition to the breakfast and lunch program, local businesses and churches, including my own church, have partnered with the district to identify families that may need additional meal/grocery support in this season, and are providing extra supplies to assist. The stories of neighbors helping and caring for one another bless my heart each time I hear them, and the army of seamstresses that are heeding the call for protective masks and sewing for hours on end are doing the very good and sharing with others as we have been called to do. Doing good can be acts that are great or small – each will make a difference. Our time, talent and resources are what we have to offer. Sometimes, doing good is reaching out and checking on whomever comes to mind. It is never an accident. May we seek the Lord and ask of Him how we can do good and best share what we have with others. He is faithful and will show us where to best utilize our time, resources and talents to bless and encourage those around us.

 

Seek the Lord our God,wp-15859180799861846871613245770390.png

And choose ask of Him;

What shall I do next,

Where do I begin?

Show me how to use,

Time, talents, supplies;

To bless and to serve,

Lord, help me be wise.

For each choice to give,

Is honoring You;

Overflow of thanks,

As Your love shines through.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to do good and to share what we have with those around us. Thank You that You bless us with more than just “things”, but You grant us time and talents too. Thank You that all of us have something to offer. Thank You for the countless examples of those who are rising up and doing good, selflessly, in this season. Forgive us for forgetting that we were indeed uniquely and intentionally designed with purpose to do good for Your glory. Show us how to best honor You in all that we say and do. Teach us how to love those around us in the ways that You have designed us to love and serve. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to do good and serve others with our time, talent and resources. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you must love one another – John 13:34

Ponder the Pain

Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, He took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day He will be raised to life!” – (Matthew 20:17-19, NIV)

Jesus was going to Jerusalem. His twelve followers were with Him. While they were walking, He gathered the followers together and spoke to them privately. He said to them, “We are going to Jerusalem. The Son of Man will be handed over to the leading priests and the teachers of the law, and they will say He must die. They will hand Him over to the foreigners, who will laugh at Him and beat Him with whips, and then they will kill Him on a cross. But on the third day after His death, He will be raised to life again.” – (Matthew 20:17-19, ERV)

 

As I opened my Bible application to read the passage for today, I was taken aback as I realized our nearness to Easter, and the significance of the passage presented. It has taken all of my fortitude to simply keep current on what day of the week it is, and recognize which particular date corresponds on the calendar, (with loads of helpful reminders from modern technology) let alone look further forward than a day or two. This passage, however, jolted my head and heart back to the reality of the sacred remembrance of this season. Jesus boldly and willingly went to Jerusalem, knowing what stood before Him. The love within Him was far greater than the human desire to detour away from pain and suffering. Jesus chose the agonizing road, so that we could have life, light, hope, love and freedom in Him. I imagine the days leading up to the cross seemed agonizingly long. He knew what He had to do, yet He could not stop preparing and living and loving, leading up to that point in time, when all of the sin, shame and suffering of the world would be His to bear on our behalf. There are a million directions my mind could go when I ponder the pain He endured for me. This morning, my thought is simply that if He could continue in living and loving, knowing that He would have to endure so much suffering; how much more ought we choose to live and love with hope, knowing that our present circumstances will not remain as they are forever. Though we do not know the end date, and have disappointments and losses and reasons to grieve, we also have reason to live and love and spread hope through extending the very same kindness that Christ has granted to us. May we take pause and ponder the purpose of this season, as we observe new life sprouting and taking root all around us. He is risen, and hope is here.

 

Even in darkness,DSC00009

Light finds its way in;

Buds begin blooming,

As springtime begins.

In our rough seasons,

We are not alone;

Christ’s gone before us,

Each pain He has known.

And just when darkness,

Seemed it would not end;

His death on the cross,

Then He rose again…

From out of the grave,

Three days He had lain;

Christ resurrected,

Hope rose once again.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You came and chose the painful road on our behalf, because You love so deeply. Thank You that Your life, death and resurrection made the way for life, hope and love for us all. Forgive us for allowing our present darkness to overshadow the light of all that You have done and continue to do for us and in us. Show us how to love those around us in ways that offer love, light, life and hope in the same way that You do for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the incredible sacrifice that You made on our behalf, and the love that carried You down that difficult road. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him. – Hebrews 9:28

Be Glad, Lovely Sky

Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones. – (Isaiah 49:13, NIV)

Heavens and earth, be happy! Mountains, shout with joy! The Lord comforts His people. He is good to His poor people. – (Isaiah 49:13, ERV)

Oh joy! Be glad – sky! Take joy – earth! Burst into song – mountains! For the Eternal, moved to compassion, has comforted and consoled His people. – (Isaiah 49:13, VOICE)

 

Though we may not feel it in the midst of our struggles, God is moving with compassion and supplying His comfort. Perhaps that is the “why” to rejoice, for when we do, it further comforts us, despite our circumstances. Additionally, even if we do not choose to rejoice and be glad, “…the very rocks would start to shout!” (Luke 19:40, VOICE) The truth of who God is will be made known, with or without us. We are in a unique position to demonstrate joy, despite our circumstances; rejoice in the truth that we know, and hold fast to the hope of all that is yet to come. It does not mean that we will be “Miss Susie Sunshine” all the time, but what it does mean is that there is an underlying joy and hope, deep-rooted within us, that shines forth somehow, even on the most difficult of days. May we set our sights on He who is good to His people and has compassion and comfort for those in need. Let us take joy in the truth that we know and be glad in ways that spread goodness to those around us.

 

Be glad, lovely sky, wp-15856580783495833011096505555461.jpg

Take joy, all the earth;

For God sees us each,

With infinite worth.

In His holy love,

Comfort He does bring;

Full of compassion,

Our reason to sing.

So, sing out with praise,

All the earth rejoice;

Lift praise to the Lord,

One heart and one voice.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that all of heaven and earth has reason to rejoice and be glad, as You bring comfort and compassion to the afflicted and those in need. Thank You that You hear every prayer and see every need. Forgive us for our lack of praise in spaces of struggle. Show us how to rejoice and hold hope in tangible ways that spread joy to those around us. Help us to love all those whom we have contact with in ways that encourage and strengthen them with joy and hope. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You with grateful hearts, full of hope, as You are our Comforter, full of compassion in every season of our lives. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

“I tell you,” He replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” – Luke 19:40

Focus on Forever

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – (2 Corinthians 4:18, NIV)

So we think about what we cannot see, not what we see. What we see lasts only a short time, and what we cannot see will last forever. – (2 Corinthians 4:18, ERV)

Because we don’t focus our attention on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but the unseen realm is eternal. – (2 Corinthians 4:18, TPT)

 

At times, even with the very best intentions, our focus gets lost on what we see directly in front of us, rather than trusting in what we know to be true, that we cannot yet see. Yesterday, though my morning began well, and my eyes were fixed on God as I began my day, it became a slippery slope as I found myself caught in the monotony of staying home, with all my guys caught up in their own things. Two were out in the shop working on a vehicle, and the other two were downstairs enjoying an online game with old friends. Discouragingly, that left me to far too much solitude, and I was about to lose it. After two weeks of staying home, with the exception of morning running and a rare trip to the store for needed groceries, I was ready to jump in my vehicle and just drive away. I didn’t care where, just somewhere; anywhere. Desperately, I needed a change of scenery, and really, I think my heart needed to be outdoors, where I am far more aware of the unseen. Thankfully, my best friend called, and we wandered to the water. We found a path that had few people, so social distancing was not difficult, and just walked. Breathing in the salty air, with a slight breeze and a gentle drizzle of rain sporadically falling, the weight of feeling stuck fell away, and I was free to move and breathe and be. For some of the walk we spoke and caught up with one another, yet, there was a sweet comfort in silence as well. Time, space, and being outdoors, granted fresh perspective, that there is so much more than right now. God is good, and He places eternity in our hearts. It is up to us to seek Him so that we might know Him, ever growing in our understanding that He has prepared a place for us that is beyond what our minds could begin to conceive. May we turn to the Lord in our struggles with what we are seeing now, and trust Him in faith; for what is unseen is an incredible forever that we cannot even begin to fathom.

 

It is not about,wp-15854930675978120052737617085496.jpg

Just what our eyes see;

But also unseen,

All eternity.

Our circumstances,

In the here and now;

Are temporary,

And will end somehow.

But the things unseen,

God and all His good;

Do not know an end,

Through all times, withstood.

So, choose trust in God,

And what is unseen;

For trials right now,

Will no longer be.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and loving and eternal. Thank You that the struggles and trials that we face in the here and now are temporary. Thank You that the things we see are temporary, and even the best of them are but a glimpse compared to the good that we cannot see yet. Forgive us for losing perspective. Teach us to hold fast to eternity in our hearts, especially when what we see right now is overwhelming. Show us how to love and encourage those around us, so that they may find hope in despair and peace in times of turmoil. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to fix our hearts and minds on that which we cannot see that lasts forever. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. – 2 Peter 3:13

 

 

Live “Otherly”

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. – (Philippians 2:3, NIV)

In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves. – (Philippians 2:3, ERV) 

Be free from pride-filled opinions, for they will only harm your cherished unity. Don’t allow self-promotion to hide in your hearts, but in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourselves. – (Philippians 2:3, TPT)

 

If this were truly the standard that people were following, I do not think that we would have empty store shelves and discover shortages of basic necessities. Before all of this COVID-19 craziness hit, stores were seldom out of the items that people needed on their typical grocery list. Now, however, grocery shopping online is not even an option, as such a large portion of one’s list is unable to be filled. Thankfully, we are well, and have all that we need. Being an early riser is helpful in more ways than one. That said, it matters how we conduct ourselves as we venture out to find what we need for our families. We must only take what is needed, so that others too may have what they require for their families. Also, how we treat these essential employees matters. Yesterday morning after I ran, I made a quick stop at Rite Aid to purchase Vitamin C for my family. The store was quiet, and the sweet cashier looked uncertain as she made her way to the register as I approached. We engaged in friendly conversation, and before I left, she was expressing her gratitude for my kindness. I had not done anything unusual, I simply was polite and respectful, and let her know that I appreciated her hard work, as it is likely a challenge right now in the midst of these circumstances. She informed me that she had been yelled at multiple times, for things that were completely beyond her control. I imagine I had a look of shock and horror on my face as she told her story, that I followed with an understanding apology for the ugly that comes out of humanity when fear enters in. Though our exchange was brief, I am further reminded of just how important it is to prefer others and make sure they know that they are valued and appreciated. This passage in Philippians is written to the church in Philippi, yet it can be applied to all of us and how we treat one another. It is amazing to see the shift in people as they are the recipients of being a priority and treated with respect and dignity. May we all seek the Lord to show us how to steer clear of selfishness and pride, and how best to honor and prefer others around us, above ourselves.

 

Let not our motives, Ambassadors of Love

Be driven by pride;

Lay down selfishness,

Seek the Lord to guide.

For He will show us,

How to choose to serve;

Prefer each other,

Help each see their worth.

Choose live “otherly”,

With kindness and grace;

Look for ways to bless,

As we live each day.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us what it is to live life this way through Your Son. There was no selfish ambition nor pride within Him, and He walked out His days humbly and sought to serve. Forgive us for the times that pride or selfishness get in the way of who You want us to be. Teach us to trust and rely on You to lead and guide us in all that we say and do. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we prefer one another and extend kindness and grace in humility, without selfishness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we lay down our selfishness and own ideas of how things ought to be, and look for opportunities to prefer others by extending kindness and care in tangible ways. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17