When I try, I fail. When I trust, He succeeds. - Anon
I think this concept, and the reality, that 'I can't do it' is one of the hardest to keep ahold of though it is entirely, 100% true. Because I can't do it. Only the LORD can cause His will to come about. Only the LORD can see His will accomplished. I, myself, truly can do nothing in my own strength to ensure His will is done. I can't even ensure my next breath.
God is not only sovereign but He is the force through which all things pleasing to Him occur. He opens hearts and shuts doors. He causes nations to rise and fall. He sends rain for harvest and causes the ground to spring forth. He commands our every step and causes us to prosper. He brings about trials to test our faith and demonstrates our utter dependency upon Him.
Truly, we can do nothing in our own strength. Only when we depend upon the LORD will doors open, paths be made clear, and thoughts be established. Only when we place our trust in Him and keep our eyes ever upon His face will we see Him work on our behalf. Faith and trust must absolutely be placed in our LORD and Savior for the big and little things of life - for He alone will do the work and fulfill His will for our good and His glory.
Look deep within yourself and recognize what brings life and grace into your heart. It is this that can be shared with those around you. - Christopher De Vinck
At first this sounds like a bunch of nonsense. "Look deeeeep within yourself..." but then you realize that De Vinck is actually correct - for the Christian, at least. For what brings life and grace into our hearts? What is it that we can share with those around us?
As a child of God, when you look deep inside yourself, what do you see? When you look so deep you go past the muck and mire of sin, continue beyond your selfishness and vain desires and secret compartments of stashed away hopes and dreams. Farther, deeper, through the caverns and hallways of your heart. What is it you finally see there? Jesus Christ!
None of that other stuff really matters because it's not permanent. Christ knows how desperately you want to get rid of that junk and He will do the cleaning - because He resides there! He is the only permanent resident in your heart of hearts. What a glorious thought. And it is this we can share. Not all our junk and sin, because everyone has that, but the glorious, cleansing, and redemptive power that is Jesus Christ! Our whole lives, our entire world, no matter what it is we are doing, hoping for, or working toward, should be all about Jesus. And when it is He that brings life and grace into our hearts, when it is He that we focus on and see there, it is then He that we can share with the world around us.
While certainly not a subject most of us like to think about, due to the fact that we live in this fallen world it becomes one which will inevitably come up. Death of loved ones, untimely deaths, expected deaths, tragic deaths - we will experience them all whether it be in our immediate family, a friend's family, or a news story. The simple reality is that we cannot possibly hope to escape death's sting.
There are a multiplicity of sermons on the web and in church libraries which are meant to bring hope and comfort to hurting Christians. Some do, some undoubtedly do not. Because though knowing your loved one is with the Lord is indeed comforting, it still does not take away the pain due to the fact that they are no longer with us. I think there is a degree of misconception over grieving within the church. Grieving is not wrong. Regardless of the fact that we know our loved one is with the Lord. Regardless of the fact that we know they are kicking up their heals in joy and glory. Why? Because we do not grieve for them. We grieve for us.
We were NEVER meant to experience death. We were NEVER meant to go through the heartache and soul shattering loss - however temporary - which death brings crashing into our lives. We were NEVER meant to experience that. EVER! As ordained by God, the garden was to be a place of endless togetherness, fellowship, and love. We were never meant to be separated - from anyone! So to say that we ought not grieve simply is not right.
The verse which often gets short-quoted is I Thessalonians 4:13 which reads, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope." The key here is in the ending. It says we are not to sorrow as those which have no hope. Does it say we are not to sorrow at all? NO! Please, do away with this misconception. Stop telling people not to sorrow because their loved ones are with God and they'll see them again. We KNOW this! We KNOW they are with God and that God is still good! There is no disputing that. But we were never meant to be touched by this ugly thing called death. Even God turned his presence away from Jesus Christ upon that cross and the entire sky darkened. Death cannot possibly happen without our soul crying out against the injustice of being left behind. It is not wrong to grieve and mourn this agony.
My friends, even JESUS wept when His friend died! Do not ever believe the lie that you cannot sorrow over your hurt and loss. Sorrow. Grieve fiercely. Rant and cry against the injustice of what you are suffering. Then cling to Christ and trust Him to help you rise and continue walking until that glorious day when you can shout, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" Cling to Christ and joy in that day when you, too, will dance on heaven's shores and live forever before Christ with those who have gone on before you. But by all means, grieve.
As a side note: Don't know what to say when someone is grieving? Don't say anything at all. Just be there. LET them cry. Don't quote scripture. Just give them the love of Jesus. Because Jesus will get them through and more likely than not they know the verses you would quote anyway. Without the Lord's leading, quoting scripture for lack of something to say will simply fall flat and sound calloused. What they need is for you to weep with them, listen to them, and let them weep some more.
Life is absolutely full of opportunities to give grace to others, isn't it? To overlook faults and failures, to extend grace when shoved aside or actively sinned against? To cover up sin in love and look through the lens of Christ's atoning blood instead of our oft self-righteous me-first attitude that demands the best and highest in the universe's treatment of ourselves as God's gift to mankind.
Though we may not say it quite like that, is not this the attitude which surfaces from our hearts whenever someone cuts us off on the freeway or manages to sneak into line in front of us in the overcrowded press at Walmart? What if a fellow Christian does something or says something that's offensive, different, or certainly not what we would do? Is our first reaction to say to ourselves, 'Christ is transforming them just as He is doing with me' and extend grace? Or is our reaction to mentally log away in our book of self-righteousness the things they did or said which were "incorrect?"
Oh were we to extend grace to those around us - what a difference it would make! Were we to mentally put ourselves on the back-burner of life and start preferring others before ourselves, what a change we would see! We all need grace and we have already received so much of it. We have been given the grace of Jesus Christ on the cross! How can we dare do any less than extend to others what Christ has so freely and abundantly given to us? Let us show forth His love and pour forth His grace today.