Tag Archives: isolation

Grief: Reactions to Grief

Peninsula Community Church 

Grief: Reactions to Grief

February 3, 2018 

Psalm 13:1-6 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

As we communicated last week grief is normal. When we love and lose a loved one, we will grieve. The truth of the matter is that grief and love go hand in hand. We also saw that everyone will deal with grief differently as no two people are alike and no two experiences are the same. The problem for most of us is that grief is a multifaceted bundle of emotions where we do not always know where one emotion begins and the other ends. Grief is messy. It is painful. To grieve is to take a journey that has no time limit or a preplanned path to take. For this week, I would like to look at some of the ways we tend to deal with grief and how to deal with grief in a healthy way.

The first way to deal with grief is to isolate ourselves. Because of the deep pain we have experienced it is a natural to want to isolate and hide. The truth is we do not want to deal with the grief. This is in part because we do not understand the grief nor we do we know how to deal with the grief we are facing. As a result we can shut ourselves off from the outside world, our friends, and even our family. We build walls so as not to let anyone in because we are afraid of being hurt in a deeper way. We can isolate ourselves to the point we will not allow anyone in, even those who are close to us. We shut everyone out. While this may seem protective, this can in fact prolong the pain and the healing process.

In the journey of grief, it is normal for us to want to run and hide. This is due in part to the emotions we are experiencing and the need to avoid contact with people because it can be too painful. For many of us, we find that we are retelling the story over and over again. We find that people want all of the gory details, while we just want to be silent and move on.

Isolating ourselves is a way to avoid the unfortunate things that people say and do in such times. I believe that most people mean well even when they say what they say and do what they do. As you know, I have grown to dislike the phrase “I know exactly what you are going through!” Or, “now you can move on and get on with your life.” Others will criticize those in grief that they cry too much, they are too sad, they are not getting their act together, they are not getting back to normal fast enough. This is by no means a complete list, but you get the idea of the things that people say and push us to do when we are not prepared to do so. 

During this time of grief we can feel depressed. We can be in a place where we do not feel like working. Fear can grip our hearts, it can blind us, and it can keep us from moving forward with life. We can also feel overwhelmed by our emotions and by all that we believe we have to do after the loss of a loved one. We can also face regret because there are things we wish we had done. We wish we had spent more time together. We wish we had been more loving. We wish we did not have a specific reaction to them. All of these can drive us to isolation, as we do not want to hurt anymore. We do not want to fail in another relationship. This can also be a situation where we do not want to hurt again so we do not expose ourselves to love, or what we think might bring us joy.

I should clarify here that isolation or solitude can be a beneficial resource when we are experiencing grief. Being alone allows us the opportunity to process our grief, deal with the pain we have experienced, and begin to regroup in a way that helps us focus on the new normal that is ahead of us. While being alone can be a positive response for grief, continued isolation and closing one’s self off can be detrimental to one’s health and can slow the healing we need. We cannot hide forever because there is still a world and a life to be lived. 

For those of us who may experience grief we must learn that we might not want to be with people and that is okey. We may not want to do holidays and that is okey. We may not want to go to church and that is okey. In time, you will. In time, you can do what you need to do again.

For those who have friends or family who are grieving. I suggest that we engage them. In today’s environment, we have the ability to text, email, facebook, phone call, and we can still send a card or letter. While we may not have a direct presence, we can communicate our love and support for our friends. Never allow a person go without some communication. When you communicate, do not judge their isolation, but simply let them know they are loved and you are there for them. Maybe take them a meal. Babysit their child. Stop in to help them with yard work or grocery shopping. Do not force them to grieve differently than they are in the moment, but allow them to take this journey in their time and they will. 

While some people isolate, others can busy themselves in order to avoid grief. The belief is that if we are busy enough then grief will go away and we will not have to deal with it. Doing so, however, often delays the inevitable. We will deal with our grief one way or another. It will come out in other ways and most often when you least expect it. Instead of running from grief, David and Nancy Guthrie, directors of GriefShare Ministries have stated that we must lean into our grief. We need to take it all in. Yes, you may cry in front of people. That is okey. You do not have to live like you have it all together. Do not allow your self to be deceived into thinking that you have to put up a front when you are hurting. It is never healthy to hold it in.

This also means that we cannot turn to unhealthy means to cope with our grief like excessive alcohol, drugs or medications, sex, and other addictions that do little to alleviate our grief. These things serve only to mask our grief and to delay the inevitable. But know this, the pain will not last. Once again we hear the heart of David when he makes this powerful statement in Psalms 30:5. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. Here is the deal. We may not know how long our night might be, but I do know that joy comes in the morning. You will experience a new normal, and you will come to a day where you will live again. 

While we can isolate or busy ourselves, we can also focus on the unchangeable and unmovable love of God. In our grief, we can become closed off to God. Sometimes in our grief we can believe that God has left us and is not concerned about us. Sometimes our pain can be so deep that we cannot pray. We cannot read the Bible. We cannot listen to Christian music or any other kind of music for that matter. We are numb and feel lost in the darkness. 

But listen to David’s word. How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. , because he has dealt bountifully with me. Let me ask you have you ever proclaimed those words. Have you ever exclaimed how much more Lord do I have to take.

But also listen to David’s reply to his own question. But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD. It is here that David is sharing the pain of his heart and suddenly he seems to take a turn. He is saying yes all of this is true, but I have realized that I can trust in God’s immovable and unchangeable love. His love for me is not contingent on how I feel or what I have experienced. His love never changes. He loved me before the grief. He loves me in the grief. He will love me as I establish a new normal in me life. 

It is for that reason that David wrote these words in Psalms 23:4. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. In the valley, the shadow of death encompasses us. It floods our hearts and effects our spirit. But, when we trust God even in death we do not have to fear, because He is with us. He is there for us and He is there to direct our steps through the valley. Notice that David did not say that when we stay in the valley of death, but rather He made it clear that we walk through the valley of death. There is hope, there is a new normal, and there is a new day ahead.

Finally, let me read one more passage from David’s writings in Psalm 34:17-20 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.

Not matter what you are experiencing God is with. He is our delivery. He is our healer. Our grief speaks to us one thing but God speaks another. We can be healed and reach a place where a new normal is realized. Watch this video with me and then we will pray. “I Say.” by Lauren Daigle. 

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

We Do Not Have to Battle Alone

Peninsula Community Church 

We Do Not Have to Battle Alone

July 22, 2018

Exodus 17:8-14 Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”

Throughout the Bible, we find stories of battles fought. It is noteworthy that every battle described in Scripture was different in its scope, different in how it was fought, and different in how God intervened each time. The bottom line is that each time a battle was fought and won, those in the battle had to commit to God, follow His will and His way, and trust Him no matter what they were asked to do. Many times, God had to clear the way of their fears, their hesitations, and their concerns in order to focus them totally and completely on His ability to fight for them. In so doing, each battle was won in amazing fashion and certainly not in what we would consider the usual ways. Each of these events were in reality a test to see how much those in the battle would surrender themselves to God and to His ways. 

As we review these battles, we find the battles that ensued were not a fair fight. The army confronting Israel was always bigger, more powerful, and better equipped than the armies of Israel. In a human sense, there was no way they could win. There was no way they could overcome the odds against them. In a human sense, they were already dead and were already defeated, before the battle even began. The truth, however, was that the God who was fighting for them was always greater than any enemy that could ever confront Israel and for that matter confront us. That is why John could unequivocally state in 1 John 4:4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 

Do you grasp that this morning? The God we serve, the God who has redeemed us, the God that is living in the depths of our hearts, has and continues to overcome every enemy we encounter. Here is the question I need to answer and so do you. “How different would I live if I truly grasped the concept that God has the power to overcome every situation in my life?” Would I live in fear and faithlessness, or would I live a humbly fearless life fully confident of God’s power and ability to fight every battle I encounter. Sadly, too often, we do not live with that expectancy.

To help us address this question, over the next couple of weeks, we will look at some of the Biblical battles found in Scripture so as to learn how they were won. We will also consider the lessons we can learn that will help us fight the battles we face with greater clarity, wisdom, patience, and grace. By grasping these lessons, we can have a greater understanding of the God we serve and who is on our side. Remember what Paul said in Romans 8. We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. Notice this, we are not conquerors in ourselves or our ability, but in Christ, the one who gave His life so we could live in the abundance of all He has done. 

As I was preparing for this, I was wondering, how often do we live in less than the full power of God? I think that too often we try to live off of the crumbs and the morsels rather than pulling up to the table to live within that which has been prepared for us. Some years ago, a man had saved all of his money to travel to America. This happened before the invention of airplanes. He purchased his ticket and the day came to board the ship and head to America. 

Each evening he would retire to his room where he would eat the canned fish and crackers that he brought with him for the trip. Towards the end of the trip, he was on one of the decks and he met the captain of the ship. The captain introduced himself, and after some discussion the captain stated that he had missed him at dinner each night. The man seemed confused and explained that he could not afford the meals and that that he had brought his own food. The captain shook his head in disappointment and said you must have misunderstood. You see your ticket includes the meals each day. The sad part of this is the man was not living from the fullness of what was already provided for him. How many times do we do this? Sometimes we face battles only to be reminded that we have an abundance of blessing from God.

Today, we will briefly look at the battle fought by Israel against the Amalekites in Moses’ day. In this story, we find that Israel encounters the Amalekites at Rephidim. They were about to go to war. It did not matter what they did, they were going to have to face this enemy. So based on the news that war was unavoidable, what does Moses do? He commands Joshua to choose men and go and fight with Amalek. What did Moses do personally? He went up on the mountain with his staff or rod, as well as with Aaron and Hur. From there, he watched the battle below, but he was not inactive. Notice that as long as he kept his arms lifted with the rod in his hands, Israel was winning the battle, but as soon as his arms were lowered, they began to lose. As the day progressed, Moses became tired. He was weary. He needed help. Aaron and Hur stepped up and became the support he needed in that moment. 

This speaks to us that we do not have to be martyrs when it comes to the battles we face in life. We need to allow people to come around us to hold us up when the battle is overwhelming us.  We need to remove the mask of self-sufficiency and admit we need help. You see the enemy loves to get us to do a couple of things when we are tired and battle weary. First, we have a tendency to give up and concede the battle. The problem is that the enemy realizes that if he fights hard enough we will concede, so, he learns not to give up his fight. He will continue to fight us with all that he has because he knows we will eventually give up. But we do not have succumb to this, but rather we can stand and when we have done all to stand, we can stand in the armor that God has given us. 

Secondly, we often engage in battles that are not ours. Here we see the battle was Joshua’s to win. Joshua was the warrior and Moses was the intercessor. Joshua was the one who was to fight the battle, but Moses was to pray and to support Joshua and the warriors. This can be the hardest position to be in. There is a battle but it is not our battle. There is an illness. There is a personal issue. There is problem. And there is nothing we can do but pray. But prayer is the most powerful tool in our arsenal.

Thirdly, we may not give up, but we begin to isolate and hide. In isolation, we are a target for the enemy to attack us and minimize the work of God in us. Sometimes isolation is good for a time of reflection and prayer, but too often we can become so isolated that we do not let anyone in to help us. We reject the help of others and try to fight all alone.

So what do you do? It is at this moment that we have a choice to make. Will we isolate, or will we engage with others who can assist us? One of the greatest problems we face is the pride and fear of going it alone in life. It is prideful to say we do not need anyone to help us. Fear also moves us to fight alone because in fear we do not trust others. We believe we are tough, independent, and capable of handling things on our own. Conversely, we need to take off the mask of self-sufficiency, pride, and fear to acknowledge that we need help.

I am reminded of the story of one of the greatest preachers in history, Charles Spurgeon. Many of you do not know him, but his sermons today continue to be referenced by modern pastors. He pastored one of the largest churches in London, England for years. People were coming to Christ and the church was growing every year. He was a successful pastor in every sense. While on the outside his ministry seemed to be effective, inside he had a battle raging. You see, he dealt with a heavy depression. You see, he was being criticized for his ministry. Even though the church was growing, he often felt ineffective and felt that he was failure. At 22 he was preaching and a prankster started yelling fire. Chaos ensued and that night seven people died because they were trampled to death and 28 others were severely injured that night. His wife proclaimed that she thought he would never preach again. 

With all of this, he knew he could not fight this battle by himself. So, he asked a group of intercessors to meet in the room just below the platform where he would be speaking. Their job was to pray for him as he was ministering the gospel. They were in essence lifting his hands in battle. They were supporting him. The result was he was able to preach with even greater victorious power.

So this morning, are you isolating yourself when you really need help? Do you feel trapped because you are engaged in what seems to be a losing battle? Does it feel the weight of the world is on your shoulders? Do you feel overwhelmed? You see as powerful as Moses was, he needed help. He needed people to come into his life. Rather than isolate, we need to invest in others who will share hope and will encourage us. Do not be afraid to let others in. The fact is fear is a liar. Because of fear and anxiety, we isolate and we disconnect. Moses gives us the example however that we need help. We need people to engage with us as we fight the battles we face. Will you?

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized