I remember Michael Bennett as a man who truly loved God and it showed in the way he treated people. Mike was funny, kind and a quick wit. He was totally in his niche as a children’s pastor. When he unexpectedly died last year he left a hole in a lot of people’s hearts and a grieving wife and four children. I wasn’t able to attend Mike’s funeral. And I didn’t do a good job of connecting with Annie*, his wife, always missing her with phone calls or procrastinating. But last week, prompted by the Holy Spirit, I knew I needed to talk to her. In the sovereign kindness of the Lord it was the night of their wedding anniversary.
Sorrow is an amazing emotion. You can feel it in the air. Sometimes it is heavy and almost overpowering. Other times it is subtle like some light mist. But talking to Annie I experienced a different kind of sorrow—a dignified grief that conveys the unmistakable signature of wisdom.
Ecclesiastes 7:3—Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. (NLT)
Annie reflected on how her journey with grief has taught her many things. I’d like to share some of the lessons she conveyed with the hope that it might encourage some of you who are going through difficult times. Sorrow can often make us question God. But what Annie is learning through grieving is that God’s character does not change. He remains faithful and loving and trustworthy despite her pain. She has grown spiritually through the valley of the shadow of death and found that God meets her through people and through His Word.
Recently Annie was attending a women’s retreat located near a grove of California Redwoods, towering majestic cedar trees. Near the conference center there was a circle of trees that formed a natural chapel. In the midst of seeking the Lord and soul-searching, God led her to that special place in the forest. There she saw Michael with the Lord. He communicated to her, “You don’t have need for me anymore, what you need is Jesus.” He then took her hand and placed it in the hand of Jesus. It was an incredible moment of closure and understanding that her sufficiency truly is in Christ. Renewed by God’s kindness, she found strength to move on.
“If God can use my pain, I will be happy. . .” Pain and happy can only go in the same sentence when Jesus is the One holding our hand. Something to think about . . . in reveration.
If we try to evade sorrow and refuse to lay our account with it, we are foolish, for sorrow is one of the biggest facts in life, and there is no use saying it ought not to be, it is.—Oswald Chambers in The Place of Help
*If you would like to read the magazine article written about Annie’s journey with grief go to http://www.110mag.com/archives/0604/0604a/0604a.shtmlHer blog can be found at http://michaelsrest.blogspot.com it contains some remarkable writing by a special woman.
©2002 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)