Isaiah 51:3 – The LORD will surely comfort Zion and look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, here wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.
It started with a car’s mechanical failure sparking a small fire.
But the fire didn’t stay small for long. It broke out into a ferocious fire storm; a literal fire tornado at one point. It ate everything in its path and soon it was reaching by handfuls into towns and the center of a city.
Who would think that a fire would reach downtown? Then the the firefighters had to let the fire go so that they could help with evacuations.
Those who had nowhere to go, rushed to evacuation centers. They had to leave their homes quickly and were unable to take many of their possessions.
Some heard about neighborhoods and businesses that were completely destroyed. People cried at the thought of having lost everything they had.
In a similar way those affected by floods and tornadoes face evacuation and the possibility of losing everything.
But had they lost everything?
No. Not if they still have what matters the most – their families. Families are the glue that will help you build a new future.
“What?” You may say. Yes, a tragedy can actually provide some positive changes in your life. It can be a time to reevaluate your priorities as you attempt to put the pieces of your life back together.
Yet, how do we actually do that? What steps do we take to restore out lives after a fire or other disaster? Take a look at the article on wikihow.com, “How to Put Your Life Back Together After a Fire.” Its suggestions include getting help from your community such as contacting disaster relief services, how to recover financially such as how to file an insurance claim, replacing your possessions such as documenting your losses, and recovering emotionally.
Having a disaster wipe away elements of your life can seem daunting. But remember that God can send you his comfort from within your ruins, as the Bible verse above speaks of. It also states that gladness and thanksgiving can be found. That may seem impossible at first, but when you remember that you haven’t lost everything if you still have your family it can give you the strength you need to move forward.
Isaiah 46:4 - Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
You’ve just gotten off work for the day and you have a few minutes, so you decide to visit your mom. You haven’t always had the best relationship with her, but over time you grew close again.
You pull up to the street and head out of your car towards the door when you notice it’s already opened. Your heart begins to beat rapidly as you hope something hasn’t happened to your mom.
You enter your mom’s home and start calling her name. You hold your nose because it smells like something is burning. You call your mom’s name again, as you reach the stove and take off the burning pan.
Searching from room-to-room you discover your mom watching TV in the living room; oblivious to what’s going on around her.
It’s happened again.
Your mom forgot that she had something cooking on the stove. She’s done this before, but not to this extent where the pan was burning. You also notice how cold it is in her mom. Maybe because the door was left over, but you discover she’d turned off the heater.
You sigh and move into the living room sitting down next to your mom. Once again you have a conversation with her about leaving things on the stove and not watching it. She shakes her head and says that she has no idea what you’re talking about then tells you to leave her alone and let her finish watching her favorite TV show.
Though there is grief involved when a parent dies, there is also another kind of grief – losing a parent when they develop dementia. Though you don’t lose her here on earth, you still lose her as you watch them lose a little bit of themselves day-by-day.
How do you know when it’s time to consider your parent can’t live alone anymore? And is it simply finding someone to live with her, or does it mean it’s time for them to go into a care home. Caring.com posts an article titled, “11 Signs it Might be Time for Assisted Living,” which shows signs such as piles of mail in various places and stale or expired foods in their kitchen.
Though it can break your heart when you realize one of your parents has to move into an assisted living facility, there can still be time for you to be part of your parent’s life. And always remember, as the Bible verse above says, God will sustain your loved one and carry them even to their old age.
Psalm 23:4 - Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Loss. There are different kinds of loss: loss of a job, loss of a friendship, loss of finances, loss of health, loss of direction and many others. But the loss that is most likely to cause you to walk through the darkest valley is death.
This loss is universal. It hits everyone at some time of our lives. And when it hits, the light that once flooded our life is shut out.
Up until a couple of years ago, I had experienced all the losses above except for a loss in death. But then, my father passed away. I’d seen other people go through loss of a loved one, even read about it, but I hadn’t experienced it. And until you personally go through this kind of loss, there’s just no way you can understand what someone else is going through.
When I found out my father had died it was like as if someone had thrown a punch at my stomach. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. Everything around me felt like I was going through slow motion.
I found myself walking through that ultimate dark valley. But I wasn’t in it alone. I had my family who were also walking through grief. And I had my friends who supported me and the One who is always with me.
In the Bible verse above it states that God’s rod and staff comforted the writer. This reference was in correlation to a shepherd taking care of his flock.
The staff was not used to beat the sheep into submission. The staff was used to gently tap the sheep to move them in the direction they needed to go, or it was raised in the air as the shepherd himself guided the sheep to greener pastures.
It was also used to protect the sheep from the attack of a wolf or other wild animals. So it is with God. He uses his staff to guide us on our path and to protect us from harm.
We need not fear a dark valley for ultimately our sure hope will guide us even through the valley of death to our eternal home.
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Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.