Tag: infantloss

Living on the Mountain Tops – Part 2

Grief and Infant Loss

In my last post, I pointed out from John 16:33 how we, as Christians, will inevitably experience trials and tragedies in life. It is simply one of those unfortunate truths brought about by a sin-cursed world and fallen humanity. We will find ourselves in various valleys throughout life. Some of them will be a shallow dip between mountain tops while others will be a deep and arduous descent that will test our faith in the worst ways. My main point last time was that how we live and prepare on the mountain tops will determine how well we are able to navigate through those valleys. This time, I want to give you three spiritual preparations that will help you prepare now, before you come to your next valley. If you are in a valley now, these things will be a great help to you in your climb out.

The first, and most important spiritual preparation you need to make is to take care of your eternity. Do you know for sure that you will join Jesus in heaven when you die? Chances are good that if you’re reading my blog, it is likely you either have that matter settled or have been presented with this truth before. However, if you have found your way here because you are struggling with deep grief and/or the loss of a child, let me pause for a moment and tell you something.

Jesus tells us in John 10:10 that He came to give us life, and an abundant one at that. The first step toward that is to recognize our need for God. You see, we are all sinners (Rom 3:10-23) and because of that sin, we are separated from God and are destined to spend eternity in Hell to pay for that sin (Rom 6:23; John 3:18-20; Rev 20:11-15). The bad news is that there is nothing we can do to fix our situation (Eph 2:8-9). The good news is that God loved us so much that He paid for our sin Himself (John 3:16) and all we need to do is acknowledge our situation and accept His gracious payment by calling on Him for forgiveness and salvation (Rom 10:13). If you want to get this settled and aren’t sure what to do next, please send me a message. I desperately want to hear from you and help you.

Now, why did I stop to make sure that matter was settled? I mean you didn’t come here for a sermon and altar call right? Well I’m glad you asked. Without Christ, your valley will be deeper, darker, and more desperate. If you lean only on people, they will disappoint you. If you lean only on yourself, you will find the support is rickety. You may eventually find a way to live with your pain and be less sad or depressed, but apart from God, you will find no true and lasting healing. Understanding eternity and God’s desire to spend it with you is the only thing that can truly transcend your pain. Whether you can overcome grief in the next year or you have to live with it until you draw your last breath, your pain is ultimately temporary if you have Christ (Isa 25:8; Rev 7:17, 21:4).

The second spiritual preparation you need to make is to prioritize the things of God. If you want to be able to lean on God in your valley, you have to be close to Him first. We often have this tendency to neglect spiritual disciplines such as prayer and Bible reading when times are good and forget that we’re supposed to be walking with God. Then we wonder with amazement why God seems so far away in the hard times. It’s not that He has abandoned us. It’s because we have wandered off the path He is leading us down and ultimately away from Him. If you want the comfort and healing of God in the valley, you need to stay close to Him on the mountain top. When times are good, it’s important to develop and cement your prayer, reading, and church attendance habits. It’s important to establish and cultivate those relationships with other Christians that will be a great source of help and comfort in your times of need. It’s important to get involved in a ministry or two of your church. All of these things are ways you can draw close to God, and you can rest assured that He will draw close to you at the same time (Jas 4:8)

The third spiritual preparation you need to make is so simple that it’s often neglected as a silly exercise. You need to count your blessings. Some of the best medicine for both prevention and treatment of a sad soul is the realization of how blessed we truly are. If you are reading this post, it is likely that you have a computer (or smartphone) and an internet connection which means you have (or have been provided) expendable income and the spare time and freedom to do so. That in itself makes you more fortunate than a vast number of people in this world. As Americans, we generally have our real needs met (food and shelter) and are concerned more with how much excess we have. God has promised that if we put Him and His business first, He will provide for our needs (Matt 6:33). Everything beyond that is truly a gracious blessing. Whether you list them out on paper (which I highly recommend on occasion) or simply enumerate them in your head, counting your blessings will show you just how bright and vivid your life really is with Christ and make the dreary portrait we paint in the midst of our grief seem a little less real.

I’m not promising that these three spiritual preparations will insulate you from all pain and grief or that they will immediately wipe away all sorrows. What I will promise is that if you employ them in your life consistently regardless of whether you are on a mountain top or in a valley, those tops will be a higher, those valleys won’t be as low, and wherever you are, life will be infinitely richer.


Living on the Mountain Tops – Part 1

Grief and Infant Loss

In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. – John 16:33b (KJV)

John 16:33 reminds us of two important truths. The first truth is that, as Christians we’re going to face some hard stuff. The word tribulation (and the word it’s translated from) means “severe affliction, distresses of life.”[1] Biblically speaking, it is derived from the laborious act of threshing wheat. There were different methods used at different points in time, but they all had one thing in common:  it was back-breaking work for the laborer and it was a harsh and relentless drubbing for the wheat. Whether we compare ourselves to the laborer or the wheat, tribulation is a highly unpleasant, and often painful, experience that will test our faith and our spiritual fortitude.

It is an inevitable part of the Christian life that we will face trials and tribulations of various kinds and degrees throughout our life. If we were to look at the timeline of our lives as a landscape, we would see a series of peaks (good times) and valleys (trials and tribulations). As I often tell my Bible study class, we are either in the middle of a trial, coming out of one, or one is headed our way.  We are headed for a valley whether we want to or not. It would be great if we could just stand still on the mountain top, but life just keeps moving forward anyway.

The question is, then, are you spiritually prepared for whatever the next valley holds? How well you prepare yourself on the mountain tops will determine how hard it will be to navigate through the valleys. Now, I understand no one wants to go through life looking over their shoulder for some tragedy. That would zap the joy right out of life, and that’s definitely not what God wants for us (see John 10:10, 15:11). Rather, spiritual preparation involves the things you do on a daily basis to draw closer to God. Just like with any sport, the way you practice is the way you will perform during game time. If you’re walking closely with God in your daily life on the mountain top, it will be easier for you to lean on Him in the valley.

In the next post, I will give you some specific things to do to prepare yourself while living on the mountain tops. If you find yourself in the middle of a valley, they will be the footholds you use to climb out.

-Matt Marlar

[1] An American Dictionary of the English Language, s.v. “tribulation,” accessed May 24, 2017, http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/tribulation.

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