Pearls of Wisdom: on loss

by | Jun 1, 2016 | 06 Articles, Family

About this series: Many years ago, we asked the matriarchs in our church to share “pearls of wisdom” they learned over the course of their walk with the Lord. We collected their stories in a booklet which we distributed through women’s ministries.  My copy of the booklet is now tattered and faded, and many of the women quoted are home with the Lord.

To honor their wisdom and keep their words alive, I am sharing their pearls here before my booklet turns to dust or gets lost in the clutter of daily life.

I hope these words inspire you to share a cup of tea with an older woman in your church and listen to her pearls of wisdom.

On being disappointed, depressed, discouraged or dejected

How does God lead me through times of discouragement?  There is a short answer that is often the response I have to disappointments or other negative circumstances:  submit that difficult thing to God.  After allowing my emotions to react (and then to settle down), I ask the Lord if this is from His hand in order to accomplish His purposes.  For example, did I pray for this when I asked that I decrease in order for Him to increase?  Usually I have to work at submitting my will, and I am aware of God’s help in the process.  When I am truly ready to receive this unwanted thing (as from God), I pray and tell God that my heart is now willing, and then I relinquish it to Him, submitting to the circumstance.  Often this is where things stay and it proves to be something God profoundly uses.  -Miriam Middleton

I grew up in the Midwest; my parents owned a business.  When I was in 8th grade, my dad left my mom.  That was a hard time.  Even harder was when my husband died.  My son was only 10, and I think he suffered, because I leaned on him a lot.  Everyone has stories of struggles they’ve been through.  Do something!  Don’t stay at home and think about your problems.  Call a friend who might be having a struggle, but don’t tell her you’re feeling blue.  Just get together and see what the Lord will do.  Look for ways the Lord might be encouraging you.  Pray; talk to Him while driving or whatever you’re doing.  -Anonymous

What follows is the prayer that my mother-in-law always carried in her Bible, and that we found after she passed away.  I have moved around to many different places and I found this prayer very helpful when I experienced troubles and had some very lonely times, being far away from a large family who were very close growing up.

When I am trouble and lost in despair,

I bundle up my troubles and go to GOD in prayer.

I tell HIM I am heartsick and lost and lonely, too,

That my mind is deeply burdened and I don’t know what to do.

But I know HE stilled the tempest and calmed the angry sea,

And I humbly ask if in HIS love HE will do the same for me.  

And then I just “KEEP QUIET” and think only thoughts of peace  

And if I abide in “STILLNESS” my restless murmurings cease.” 

Also, a funny incident sticks in my memory and reminds me to always try and count my blessings.  I was scrubbing out the bathtub one day when our children were young and we were in our first little house.  At my door, I heard the voices of my daughter (aged 5) and three little playmates say, “Can we come in and play?”  Then I heard one of the little playmates say, “You can’t come to my house, as my mother has the cleaning lady.”  My first thought was, “Boy, would  I like a cleaning lady!” and I felt jealous right away.  Then as I was on my knees, I remembered to thank the LORD for my good health and energy to be able to do the cleaning, so I let them come in.  -Anonymous

Proverbs 14:1 has been a “Pearl” for me, since I was a young woman in a difficult marriage.  That verse pointed out my responsibility, and the choice that was given to me, to be either “the wise woman who builds her house” or “the foolish [one] who pulls it down with her hands.”  -Anonymous

God has always been a constant presence in my life.  The examples of my parents and their faith that the Lord would lead them through all of life’s difficulties has aided me in enduring those with which I have been afflicted.  It has not been easy, but stopping to make myself count my blessings made things endurable.  Having faith that there would be a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how long or dark that tunnel was, enabled me to put one foot in front of the other and keep walking forward.  Also, I learned to look at tribulations as if they were happening to someone else who was asking my advice on what they should do.  Looked at that way, it became easier to give myself the same advice and take it.  -Maggie Maranto

We can trust God in difficult times because He loves us and knows what is best.  Psalm 37 has meant a lot to me, especially the first seven verses.  “Do not fret… Trust in the Lord…  Delight yourself in the Lord…  Commit your way to the Lord…  Be still before the Lord…  Wait patiently…”   -Esther Williamson

When we are depressed, discouraged, dejected, we must act.  We can apply discipline to “P.B.S.”

  1. Prayer. We must share our feelings with God, and listen for His voice.  Remember Psalm 23:  “The Lord is my shepherd…”  He loves and comforts us.  The writer of Heb. 4:14-16 says, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence…”
  2. Bible Study. We must seek God’s wisdom.  “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet…”  Ps. 119:105. “As God adds years to your life, ask Him to add LIFE to your years.”  (Our Daily Bread (ODB))
  3. Sharing. We need to seek encouragement from others, and encourage others.  “Weep with those who weep,”  Paul says in Romans 12:15.  “Sympathy is two hearts tugging at one load.”  (ODB)

I believe we have to apply discipline into our busy lives, and just do the PBS above, no matter how limited the time or difficult the task.  “Spend your time counting your blessings, not airing your complaints.”  (ODB)  -Judy Wood

God is still taking me through trials and disappointments.  It is my strong belief in the sovereignty of God that gets me through these trials.  I believe God is in control of all the details of my life and that He could change any of my circumstances in an instant, if He so chooses.  However, He is molding me through these trials to be more Christ-like.  But it is my sinful pride and desire to have things my way keeps the pressure on until I am willing to be submissive to His ways.  -Shirley Bading

My children were all born healthy.  I never dreamed that I would outlive any one of them.  But when my daughter Faith was murdered, I thought I was going to die.  I could not get a grip on life.  Yes, I was too grief-stricken to even call on the Lord for help.  I didn’t want God; I wanted her back.  It was so painful to go to church; I don’t know why I even bothered to go.  The minute someone spoke to me, the tears started flowing.  Finally, I went into the nursery where no one could see me and I could still hear the minister, and I could cry my heart out.  And cry I did!  I felt guilty and sad because my husband had to sit there alone, except for the Lord.  I know he grieved tremendously.  Then I had bad thoughts, and that gave me a jolt.  I got professional help.  I knew my husband was hurting too, so I made an appointment for him.  He didn’t want to go, but when I told him I would go with him, he agreed.  It was in the doctor’s office that he spilled out his heart and his feelings, and I knew then that he was as grief-stricken as I.

I asked for someone from the counseling ministry to come and talk with me.  Well, I did all the talking and she listened.  She was wonderful and I can’t thank her enough.  I also asked for someone to come and talk to my husband but no one came; I guess it didn’t reach the right person.  I do feel somewhat guilty, because during his illness it would have eased some of his stress just to have someone to talk to.  But the church family was so good to him.

One day I received a card from a dear sweet lady that had to be God-sent.  Enclosed was a 3×5 card with Isaiah 41:10 written on it.  That card went with me every day throughout the murder trial with the words in my heart.  I very lovingly carry it with me in my purse all the time– I shall not forget.  Praise be to God.  Even though I tried to push Him aside in my grief, I knew God was there all the time.  -Mary Trogdon

I would like to share three things that have sustained me as I walked through the dark valleys in my life.  First, His Word, especially Romans 8:35-39 (my “life” verses).  What joy I have experienced in years of inductive bible study, learning to dig deeper in His awesome Word.  Second, I have had the privilege of being in a group of six “prayer sisters” who have prayed for each other and our families for over 25 years.  Third, singing (or listening to) the great hymns.  My favorite says it well.  “Summer and winter, and spring-time and harvest… morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed Thy hand hath provided: Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”  -Dot Exum

If I’m feeling discouraged, I sing a lot; it just comes out!  And I pray a lot.  If I have a hard time going to sleep, I sing “Jesus Loves Me” out loud.  It helps!  When I was a girl, my sister and I were kids of the Depression.  We lived a ways from town and my mother didn’t drive, so she was my first Sunday School teacher.  She would put us on her lap and every Sunday we’d read from a book of children’s Bible stories.  The Lord has provided for my every need.  -Muriel Grose

A very difficult time for me was when my husband, Junk, was diagnosed with lymphoma.  However, I was blessed with a committed prayer partner.  We were living in Lynchburg, and Jane Bopp’s mother, Mary Spencer, called me every morning for a month to pray with me before I left for the hospital.  And then one night, I experienced the presence of God, telling me, “Don’t worry, he’ll be all right.”  And he was!

We moved to Lake Monticello, and were blessed with remission for 15 years.  There, Jane took over where her mother had left off, helping us find our way to Trinity.  When Junk died, I knew he was with the Lord, so in that way I was happy for him, and that helped me accept his death.  I missed him terribly, but I still praised the Lord.  -Po Whitten

God gives wisdom and often He uses the tool of suffering to send us flying desperately to Him.  That was my experience.  Painful experience was, I believe, the only tool that would work on this intense, egotistical, stubborn, people-pleasing woman.

The suffering?  Nothing that I can name in a word or a phrase.  (Isn’t that true of many of you?)  After college, I hated the profession I had trained for.  After I married, the conviction grew that “this is not the way it is supposed to be.”  There came a day when, aggressively folding laundry in the basement, I defiantly said to God: “You have shut me up in a black box, without doors or windows.  I can’t breathe.  I can’t worship a God who does that.”  Family relationships were contentious.  Our children made choices I hadn’t expected.  Our firstborn, our joy and pride, declared he was an “agnostic.”  My mother had a paralyzing stroke; she and my father came to live in our living room.  And victory over besetting sins never seemed to arrive.

My life has been worse than I could have dreamed. And infinitely better.

A dramatic turnaround?  A post-conversion conversion?  No.  Just God at work in my heart.  Keep coming to God.  Come with your frustration, anger, disillusionment, and fear — just come.  Don’t worry about all the things you are doing wrong — God can fix those.  Just talk to Him.  Sit in His presence.  Bask in the sunny warmth of His love.  Think about His promises.  Listen to Him.  Be helpless.  Persevere.

God is faithful.  After flinging that declaration at God in the basement that day, I stopped talking to Him.  But over the next weeks, He reminded me that I had made a promise on my wedding day, and that my claim to eternal salvation was based on His keeping His promise.  Then, “How dare you rely on Me to keep my promise if you don’t keep your own?”  I knew I would have no integrity if I claimed to be a Christian because of the promise of God, and yet was not willing to keep my own promise to love and obey my husband.

Make your time with God the non-negotiable of your life.  Tell Him how hard it is — tell Him you get sleepy, tell Him your mind wanders.  Tell Him of your pressures.  My competing urgencies feel heavier than ever, which means — Stop!  Go to God.  Make a list, praying over the priorities, then putting at the top not what is most urgent, but what is most important.  That usually turns out to be an extended time of prayer.  For me, wisdom begins with letting God carry my burdens and order my time.

If you will seek God every day and lay your life before Him, wisdom and joy will come.  And with them will come an ornament of imperishable beauty, a gentle and quiet spirit.  This is a costly gem, priceless in God’s sight. -Lois Westerlund

Also in this series:

Pearls of Wisdom: Advice from our Mothers

Pearls of Wisdom: If I could talk with one of my old teachers

Pearls of Wisdom: on Family

Pearls of Wisdom: on Marriage

Pearls of Wisdom: on Adjusting to the Empty Next

Pearls of Wisdom: on Loving the spouses our children choose

Pearls of Wisdom: on Parenting

Pearls of Wisdom: on Dreams Lost and Found

Pearls of Wisdom: on the battle against materialism

Pearls of Wisdom: on stretching pennies

Photo used here under Flickr Creative Commons.