Grace in the Grief

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – (Matthew 5:4, NIV) 

Great blessings belong to those who are sad now. God will comfort them. – (Matthew 5:4, ERV) 

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – (Matthew 5:4, NLT) 

 

This morning, as I checked my messages, there was a notice from a friend at church informing me that an incredible lady – a wife and mother about my age, has passed. It has been both inspiring and heartbreaking to watch, for she battled cancer with courage and strength over the last several years, as her family fought alongside her. There was a sense of maintaining as much normalcy as possible, despite the devastation that all must have been feeling. The comfort in this heart-breaking loss, is that she is free of the pain and walking in glory. That being said, her husband has lost his best friend, and the children have lost their mother. Grief is a heavy space. As I pray for the family and those closest to her, I lay hold of the promise held in this verse in Matthew. Though it is not an easy road, God will bring comfort. God will bring His perfect peace. May we hold fast to the promise that He holds the grieving in His hands, and God is our Source of comfort in every season. 

 

God of all comfort, Being Made New

We lean into Thee; 

For the ones mourning, 

Bring Your grace and peace. 

No words that we speak, 

Nor acts done in love; 

Can comfort the grief, 

Like You Lord, above. 

For You know each heart, 

How to help the ache; 

To soothe the sorrow, 

And mend the heartbreak. 

O Lord, be near them, 

As they walk through pain; 

Be their close comfort, 

‘til just love remains. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our comfort when we grieve. Thank You that You know this family and all that they need. Thank You that You will bring exactly what they need to navigate their new normal. Forgive us for forgetting our own mortality, and not receiving each day we wake as an incredible gift of time that not all are afforded. Teach us to appreciate each new day, and to seek You in all things. Show us how to love well, those who are mourning. May we be used in the practical as well as the prayerful. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for being our comfort and our peace, even in the most heartbreaking of times. Amen.

 

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

(There is) A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. – Ecclesiastes 3:4

Show the Love

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. – (1 John 3:18, NLT)

My children, our love should not only be words and talk. No, our love must be real. We must show our love by the things we do. – (1 John 3:18, ERV)

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. – (1 John 3:18, NIV)

 

If ever there has been a time in our nation to show love with action and in truth, the time is now. Between the natural disasters and devastation that have taken place to the racial tension that is being highlighted through the actions of our top paid athletes, people desperately need to know that there is hope and that they are loved. To look at the big picture before us seems insurmountable. How on earth do we go about meeting the needs of so many impacted by fires and floods? How can we honor our dedicated police officers and military personnel who serve, and work to see change in the discrepancies of how people of color are treated by the few law enforcement officers that are not acting with honor? There is no easy answer, nor can any one person do everything. However, we all can do something. Each of us can demonstrate truth as we choose to love. Words are lost in the wind if they are not backed up by action. Rather, if we are consistently demonstrating the love of God to all as we are called, imagine the change that the world would see. May we let our love be shown in truth by our actions, rather than merely spoken in words.

 

Our love should not be, Show the Love

Just words that we say;

Instead, let us show,

With actions each day.

It’s truth over time,

That truly will show;

The great love of God,

So others might know.

Love not just with words,

But back them with deeds;

Show truth over time,

As true love meets needs.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us Your love with actions, again and again. Thank You that You call us to do the same. Father, You see and know the need in our nation – please show us how to love best, so that hearts may be healed and truth may be made tangible by Your goodness and grace. Forgive us for speaking rather than listening, and for our inaction when we need to move to demonstrate Your love through tangible movement. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would listen to Your leading and do whatever You ask to love with our lives. Show us how to love others with the things that we do, so that they might see Your heart in our actions. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we do not merely say that we love each other, but we show the that we do through our actions in truth. Amen.

 

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

 

I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and power. – Daniel 2:23

Help and Hope Realized

I am praying to You because I know You will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray. – (Psalm 17:6, NLT)

Every time I call to You, God, You answer me. So listen to me now, and hear what I say. – (Psalm 17:6, ERV)

I am crying aloud to You, O True God, for I long to know Your answer. Hear me, O God. Hear my plea. Hear my prayer for help. – (Psalm 17:6, VOICE)

 

David, in the midst of his struggles with Saul, cried out to God, asking to be heard as he remembered and trusted in His faithfulness. Though I am not in a season of struggle, and am standing in the dawn of a new day that marks the beginning of a brand-new school year, I cannot help but have a heavy heart for so many that surround us with fires blazing throughout my state and those that surround us, as well as the devastation that has befallen those in the path of Hurricane Harvey and those threatened by the impending landfall of Irma. May we pray as David did, and call on the Lord for help, trusting that He hears our cries and will show us what we are meant to do.

 

O Lord, we cry out, Fire Map

Trusting that You hear;

We know You’ll answer,

Your love for us, clear.

Bend down and listen,

O God, hear our cries;

So many in need,

Bring help to these lives.

Show us what to do,

To see through Your eyes;

So help and Your hope,

Are soon realized.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can pray to You and be heard. Thank You that You bend down from heaven to hear our prayer and listen to our cries. Thank You that You are our help and our hope in all things and at all times. Forgive us for doing nothing when we are overwhelmed with the weight of the need that surrounds us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would step up and do one small thing at a time, as even the small things matter to the one who receives. Show us how to love well, all those around us in practical ways, so that they might see Your heart through our love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pray to You, trusting You to hear and answer us. Amen.

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

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

Taking Courage in Trials

As I continue to make my way through the book of Acts, an underlying theme that continues to come forth from the pages, is the ongoing assurance that Christ is present with us, no matter what comes our way. As Paul faced angry crowds, accusations, assault and murderous plots, the Lord provided protection and His very presence. God did not take away the difficult road ahead of him, but He assured Paul that He would be with him, always. The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” – (Acts 23:11) Though Paul seemed to have an insatiable faith, imagine how empowered he must have felt after the Lord actually came and stood near?

 

The very same God that stood beside Paul, resides in the hearts of all who believe. When we are in the midst of difficulty, or are called to go into the face of adversity, He will go before us, be with us, and grant us what is needed to make an impact for Him. As an educator, I cannot help but think of the monumental task that is before the community only ninety miles north of my home. Yet another school, shattered by the brokenness of one child’s permanent solution to a temporary problem. May His courage and grace be poured out upon all whom He sends to bring healing, where devastation has been dealt.

 

When facing giants,Taking Courage in Trials

mountains we must climb;

His nearness constant,

for now and all times.

Our courage is found,

in Christ, the true King;

He supplies power,

and all needed things.

In trial, in loss,

in wholeness, in grace;

circumstances don’t,

determine His place.

For God is on high,

He’s still on His throne;

no matter what comes,

Love will be made known.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are with us, no matter what comes. Thank You that You go before us, remain with us, and that You supply what we need to see us through, even in the darkest of situations. Forgive us for losing sight of Your Light within us, and help us to shine brightly before others, even on the darkest of days. May we offer Your hope to the hurting and Your love to the lost, just as You have so generously done unto us. Father, please be present in the Marysville-Pilchuck community. Help every person impacted by the tragedy to find comfort in You. Equip and empower those You are sending to be Your hands and heart to the hurting in that community. Let beauty come from these ashes, we pray. Be glorified, O God, as we seek to stand firm in the gift of Your presence. Amen.

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

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

Standing Firm

By standing firm you will gain life. – (Luke 21:19)

 

Though seemingly simple, this is a tall order in the face of persecution, devastation and destruction. To stand firm, we must first be certain in Whom we are placing all of our trust. The more we know and better we understand the heart of our Heavenly Father, the more certain we become in the security of our firm foundation, and are better able to take a solid stand upon it in the face of adversity. Christ assures us that in Him, we will gain eternal life, regardless of what happens in our present circumstance. Despite possible persecution or worse, we know that anything that is endured in this life is merely temporary, and the joy that is yet to come, is eternal. May we stand firm in You, Lord, as we gain Your grace and understand the hope that is ours, as we hold fast to the life everlasting, that we are granted in You.

 

Trust in the Lord,Do Everything in Love

with all that You are;

the path to life,

is nearby, not far.

Reach out to Christ,

He’ll show us the way;

planted in Him,

in His fold to stay.

Choose to stand firm,

no matter what comes;

life shall be gained,

through our Righteous One.

His grace sustains,

His strength shall uphold;

our hearts and minds,

so we may be bold.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, we find You. Thank You that as we invest our hearts and lives in You, You teach us how to stand firm in our faith and grant us eternal life. Forgive us for the times that we have not stood firm in our convictions, and help us to learn from each of those moments, so that we may choose better the next time we are faced with something similar. Teach us to trust You more, so that we stand firm in all things and at all times. Lead us to love others as You so completely love us, so that many may come to gain life in You as well. Be exalted, Lord God, as we stand firm in You. Amen.

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

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. – Psalm 67:1

Finding Freedom

On this Independence Day, my heart cannot help but fix on the freedom I’ve found in Christ. My freedom is not a ticket to do as I please, but rather is my redemption from sin, and the recognition of my need for total dependence on Him to be righteous before God. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. – (Romans 6:18)

Our exchange the moment we choose to give our lives to the Lord, is that He takes the shackles of all of our sin and shame that have been binding us, and sets us free, so that we may live the lives He has prepared for us. Rather than being bound by the things we know we ought not do, we find the freedom to follow Him, listening to His still small voice, as He leads us and guides us in the ways in which we are meant to go. The former is fleeting and finds nothing but devastation and destruction. Choosing to follow Him, to place our dependence on Christ, is the only way to have eternity secured.

May we celebrate,Finding Freedom
the freedom we’ve found;
not to run amuck,
but in Christ, abound.
Redeemed from our sins,
all unrighteousness;
Christ has set us free,
robed in righteousness.
The freedom we have,
must not be squandered;
may we be His voice,
to those who’ve wandered.
On this freedom day,
may His love impart;
redemption for lost,
and seekers fresh start.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You above all, for the freedom we have in You – the freedom from being stuck in sin and shame. Thank You that You covered all as You paid the price on the cross. Thank You that when You look upon us, You see us as righteous, through the veil of Your Son. Thank You for the freedom that we know in our nation – to gather, to worship, and to speak freely of what we know to be true. Forgive us for taking our freedom for granted, and help our hearts to overflow with gratitude for all that You have done for us. Teach us to be completely dependent on You, so that we might better reflect who You are to all whom we encounter. May many come to know true independence today, and may they give You all the glory. Be exalted, O God, in all that we say and do. Amen.

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

Because of the tender mercy of our God, …the rising sun will come to us from heaven. – Luke 1:78

Summoned to Stand

image by Muara Fatan

image by Muara Fatan

In the path of destruction,

and in the throes of such pain;

let us not forget our God,

who rules in spite of the rain.

Amidst the devastation,

where all seems rubble and dust;

these places where hope rises,

evidence of faithful trust.

For even in great sorrow,

promised joy again will rise;

as beauty from the ashes,

grants us hope to realize.

Where there is fear and darkness,

we are called to stand and pray.

May we offer what we can,

be His hands and heart today.

Rise up all His beloved,

for we all can do our part.

Today, what is He asking?

Answer.  That is where we start.

image from abcnews

image from abcnews

“We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.” – (Psalm 33:20)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in the midst of devastation and destruction, You are still God.  Help us to not lose sight of Your strength to save and restore, even out of the spaces of seeming total wreckage and rubble.  We lift up all of the lives impacted by the recent collapse of the garment factory in Bangladesh, the earthquakes, the fighting, corruption, terrorism, and most recently, the terrible tornadoes in Oklahoma.  Lord Jesus, help all to see Your light in the darkness and devastation, and grant us wisdom to know what You would have us do in response.  Forgive us for being apathetic to that which does not directly impact us, and grow in us, a passion to pray and to pursue that which You would have us do, to be Your hands and heart to the hurting.  Lead us in Your love, so that many may come to know that lasting hope is held in You alone, and is not dependant on time, space, nor circumstance.  Thank You that You are forever faithful and worthy of all of our trust.  Amen.

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

My Soul Waits

To see such suffering

painting by Mary Southard

painting by Mary Southard

tears my heart into shreds.

Then I think of Jesus,

the crown placed on His head.

Imagine the Father,

as He took it all in.

The pure devastation,

as He bore all our sin.

The sickness and disease,

He bore all of those too.

Now I’m trusting His word,

and His promise of truth.

Bring healing, dear Jesus,

take away every pain.

Restore what is broken.

Please breathe Your life again.

My hope is in You Lord,

my soul trusts as we wait.

Please Father come quickly,

for her pain is so great.

I know that You give her,

Your strength and lasting peace.

Please bless her with healing,

make all illness release.

Psalm 130:5 “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope.”

It is so difficult to see someone who is by nature very vibrant and full of life, in anguish and huddled up in a hospital bed.  My dear friend, Anne, is a very weary warrior in this brutal battle against cancer.  God is far greater than that which is trying to take over, yet she needs His miraculous intervention to triumph over this diabolical disease, once and for all.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Healer.  We lift Anne up to You in faith, believing that You will do the miraculous in her.  Father, as we wait, may all of our hope and trust be found in You, and not in what we see or hear from the doctors.  Forgive me for the fear and doubt that can creep in, and come closer still, so that such things will be far from me, as faith continues to rise up.  Lord, You knit Anne together in her mother’s womb and You know intimately, how to make her healing happen.  Please take the nausea from her so that she may receive nourishment, restore her kidney function to full strength, and remove every cancerous cell from her body.  In Your Mighty Name.  Amen.

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