When the world stops

guest post by: Christine Laporte

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God”.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)
News about someone’s tragedy can be emotionally stinging for us. But for the person who just experienced this tragedy, their world stops. Their world as they once knew it is now broken. Shock sets in and loss overwhelms them. Grief engulfs their mind and soul. We need to try to put ourselves in their experience, empathize with them and walk through this season as a friend, neighbor, family member and as part of the body of Christ.
The Lord has recently shown me that I like “comfort” too much. But am I comforting myself by not stretching across into the world of “discomfort”. We are CALLED to comfort others. Why? Simply because we have received comfort from Jesus, Yahweh Raah, our Shepherd. Just as He places Himself in our lives, feels our heartache and cries with us, we need to suffer alongside others.
Recently, I learned of a young man who drowned at a popular beach resort. Although three of his friends were able to escape the powerful rip tide and under current, this boy could not get out. Experienced personnel, such as lifeguards and the coast guard, started searching for him when they saw him go under. He was 17 years old.
Although I didn’t know him or his family, as a mom of two children, I get a lump in my throat and an ache inside thinking of them. For this precious child’s parents, siblings, friends, teammates and classmates, their world has been forever altered. I know other parents who have lost a child and every year on the anniversary of their death, their parents mourn deeply.
His family may never go back to the beach to vacation again. And each summer will be marred with the memory of the last time they saw, hugged or talked to their son, brother, nephew and grandson. They have become part of a group of people who have an earthly emptiness that we who still have our children cannot comprehend.
Still, we can do something to aid in their healing. We can provide comfort as we go before the throne of our merciful God and request COMFORT, PEACE (which is not of this world), ANSWERS and STRENGTH. I know I would need this done for me if one of my daughters passed away before I did.
I searched online for the meaning of “comfort” and found this definition at http://www.stevesweetman.com: “Our English word “comfort” is translated from the Greek word “paraklesis”. Paraklesis is almost made up of two words. They are “para”, meaning “alongside” and “klesis” meaning, “call or called”. Thus, paraklesis, or “comfort” means, “to come alongside”.
This is the perfect picture of what Jesus and the Holy Spirit do for us, His children, and we are to follow His example. If you cannot reach out by phone, send a card or visit with someone who is suffering today, pray for them. Do NOT underestimate the power that our prayers bring into this world. I will leave you with one of my favorite verses

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective”. (James 5:16)

The Sentence of Death

By: Carole L. Haines 

“We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On Him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.” 
(2 Corinthians 3:8b-10) 

I’ve been going through a time lately that has just been so difficult, wave after wave of difficulties has rolled over our little family. Now I say little because two of our children are married and off on their own now and the third is just about to be, so it’s just my husband and I now, with our cats and dog of course. As the above Scripture says, we are under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure. But we have been through these valleys many times before. We have learned that God has always brought us through. 

One particular Valley was so difficult that I remember just falling to the ground in our living room, and crying out to God,  

“Lord, this is killing me, just killing me!”  

His response was almost immediate and gently whispered. “Yes, because there are some things in you that still need to die.” 

Now I don’t hear God audibly. But I have learned to discern My Good Shepherd’s voice, as it says in John 10. 

When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:4-5) 

I have learned how to follow his voice over our long journey together. But lately, the whisper is fainter, not because He has moved, but because I have allowed discouragement to creep into my heart and lure me further from Him. It’s as if His voice is coming from a mountain top, like an echo, instead of a whisper directly into my heart, as I usually hear it. Time for me to go away to a mountaintop alone with God, as Jesus so often did. Let’s look at those verses from 2 Corinthians again. 

“We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On Him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.” 
(2 Corinthians 3:8b-10) 

Have you ever felt that what you were going through was going to kill you? Have you, as Paul states, “felt you had received the sentence of death?” God loves us too much to leave us as we are, in our rebellions, our immaturity, our selfishness. The process of growing to maturity is long, arduous and often painful. God disciplines those He loves. He grows us up, like a good parent disciplines his/her child. (Hebrews 12:5-11) The sentence of death to all those things that hold us back from walking closer to God, that is His desire. He knows how blessed we are when we walk with Him closely. It is life’s greatest gift. But the journey is arduous and long. Let me leave you with one of my favorite verses to ponder. 

 Whom have I in heaven but You? 
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. 
 My flesh and my heart may fail, 
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 
 For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; 
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. 
 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; 
I have made the Lord God my refuge, 
That I may tell of all Your works. (Psalm 73:25-28) 

SEEKING MARY

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By: Carole L. Haines 

While working through a Step-Study with Celebrate Recovery, we were asked to pray about people we need to make amends with. People we have hurt in our past lives. I went to people in person, by email and I tried to share with them all. Some brushed it off, others tried to act as if they didn’t do anything wrong, despite my admitting my wrong in the situation. It was awkward and painful, but very freeing. God’s Word puts it this way. 

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 
(Romans 12:18) 

I did everything that was humanly possible to try to set things right. It produced in me an “As far as it depends on you,” kind of Peace. I needed to release myself from any further obligation to try to make things right. I had done what God asked, gone forth to seek reconciliation and make amends. I was at peace, I was released, I was free. It felt marvelous.  

However, there was one person whom I could not find, not even on Facebook. I found someone I thought was her, but when I messaged, “Hey, I’m looking for the Mary who went to ____________High School. Is that you? I heard nothing back. I couldn’t make amends with her. But I sensed from the Lord that I had done all that I could to try to find her, and I needed to release myself. I had really hurt this person after High School and wanted to apologize and seek forgiveness, but I couldn’t. That was hard. God spoke this scripture to me about it. 

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6) 

I would love to find Mary and apologize for my insensitivity in College/High School days, but I have done all that is humanly possible. I must leave this in God’s capable hands. The making amends part of my Recovery was hard but so freeing. So, I would encourage you to go to those you’ve hurt and seek to make amends. You are not responsible for their response, just for your own heart that seeks to be forgiven. Perhaps the person will reject you, perhaps they have passed out of this life. But either way, God holds us only to do as much as is possible for us, no more, no less. We get to a point where we must release ourselves in the power of Christ and stop holding these things against ourselves. We are all sinners, we have all messed up in our relationships at some point. We can’t possibly go back and do it over again But we can seek forgiveness, first from the Father, then from others and finally from ourselves.  

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 
(Romans 12:18) 

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