I Don’t Have THAT Sorrow

As I write this, Christmas is just starting to appear in the rear view mirror – New Year’s is straight ahead.  How did your holiday season go?  Boy, we all have stories from that, don’t we?

Mine was definitely a mixed bag.  Some very tearful times as this was my first Christmas at home without Dale.  And yet some times of blessing, too, with friends and family.

But this post is not about the holidays.  I’m moving on from those pretty quickly.  Grateful to have survived!  I want to share a revelation, of sorts, that I had while reading one of my daily devotions in ‘Streams in the Desert” this past week.

This particular one was encouraging the reader with the promise that God is always by our side no matter what we might be feeling.  The author asked the questions, “Do you feel like God has turned His back on you?  Do you feel unloved by God?  Does it seem like He doesn’t care about what you’re going through?  Do you feel forsaken by Him?”

I could honestly, and gratefully, answer, “No, I do NOT feel like that!”  Despite the great sorrow and loss of this past year – and other difficult times in my life – I do not doubt God’s love for me.  I rest fully in the promises I find in His Word.  They are what sustain me in my darkest moments.  And for that, I am eternally grateful to God.

Because, ultimately, He is the one who has blessed me with that faith.  It’s nothing that I’ve conjured up out of my own strength.  It is something that He has mercifully bestowed upon me.  Oh sure, it definitely helps that I have sat under solid biblical teaching for years.  And that helped me get my theology (what I believe about God) in place before the deepest trials hit.

But I can take no credit for it.  If you find yourself answering, “Yes” to any of those questions posed earlier, I do have some encouragement for you.

I have to take you to another Christian holiday to illustrate my point.  Fast forward to Easter, or more accurately, Good Friday.  If you’ve ever read the excruciating details of what Jesus physically suffered through the scourging and eventual death by crucifixion, you know that it’s about as bad as anything can get.

But an even deeper suffering that Christ endured was evidenced by His words on the cross that fateful day; “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  When Jesus took the weight and the penalty of our sins on that cross, God DID forsake him while that penalty was being paid.  This article from the Desiring God website does a great job of fleshing that out a bit, if you’re interested in more depth.

But back to the devotional.  As I read the comforting words about God never forsaking us, I realized it was BECAUSE Jesus was forsaken on that cross, that I don’t need to feel alone in this life.  I may be suffering from many other sources of sorrow, but I don’t have THAT sorrow.

He paved the way for us to have unbroken fellowship with God forever, if we confess our sins and ask Him to be Lord of our lives.  He has already done the heavy lifting.

So, when you start to question whether God loves you or would ever forsake you, be reminded of the great lengths and depths Jesus went to so that you could be spared that kind of sorrow.  Please don’t take it lightly.  He wants us to fully trust His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us.  It’s not just a simple platitude; it’s a truth borne out of Jesus’ suffering on our behalf.

Now there’s a Christmas/Good Friday gift that we can all be grateful for!  May you know that truth as you finish out 2018 and head into a new year.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them,

for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.

He will not leave you or forsake you.

Deuteronomy 31:6





Roller Coaster Lessons

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been on a pretty steep roller coaster ride.  And I’ve thought there were worthy blog post topics at the peaks AND the valleys.  But just when it seemed the time was right to put pen to paper, so to speak, the ride would change directions and either plunge me down or lift me up, and the writing just didn’t happen.

I’m sure I’m committing a cardinal sin of blog-writing, but I’ve decided to combine it all into one blog post.  Because I think there is a lesson, not only in the peaks and valleys, but also in the whole ride.

So, buckle up – we’re actually going to start at the top!

As many of you have probably seen, I recently launched the ministry site – Be a Blessing to Your Grieving Friend (at lynnehoeksema.com).  A lot of behind-the-scenes work went into preparing for that and it was such a blessing to see it come together earlier this month.  I’m excited to see how God will use the ministry for His purposes.  Definitely a top-of-the-coaster event.

Then, of course, there’s the expected let-down after a big event.  Not a huge dip on the ride, but one of those partial hills.  You know the kind!

I had coffee this week with a friend who also has a ministry and we were both looking at some down time with nothing on our schedules.  No presentations or interviews to prepare for.

She planned to spend this break in her schedule by studying God’s Word and drawing closer to Him.  I thought that was such a meaningful way to fill up what could have been wasted time.

It reminded me of a devotional I read several months ago that has stayed with me, partially because it has a musical theme, but also because it’s very insightful.  The author talked about how important the rests are in a musical composition.  Whether it’s a solo piece or a full orchestra composition, the rests are integral to the making of the music.  It could be a short sixteenth note rest, or 32 measures of rest if you happen to be the timpani player in an orchestra!

But without them, there is no color, there is no depth, there is no rhythm, there really is no song.  That’s one of the reasons that God wants us to also take the appropriate rests in our lives. (Or allow Him to place them there!) Especially hard to do this time of year, but I’m sure you’d all agree that it’s vitally important to maintain any semblance of sanity.  Don’t look at these times of rest as an interruption to your life, but as a way to bring more beauty to it.

So, now we’ve just coasted for a little while.  What could be next?  For me, it was a deep plunge down.

This past week has been extremely difficult.  I’m sure that’s partially due to the upcoming holiday.  Both of my parents died right around Christmas so there’s always some melancholy associated with that.

I also received some difficult health news from a good friend this week and got some semi-bad health news for myself the next day.

But what really sent me down to the valley were the two days where I spent hours going through a lot of Dale’s personal items.  Every time I went downstairs, it just made me sad because that’s where his office was and all of his stuff.   I knew I had to deal with it at some point and since I didn’t have much on the schedule, I decided to go for it.

Of course, much of it made me smile, and there was a LOT of memory lane strolling.  Many items that I didn’t even know he had kept.  For example, he still had his very first pay stub from Northwestern Bell from February 18, 1956!  I’m keeping it, too.  And five envelopes of his high school graduation announcements.  I don’t even have any of my own!

But the hardest part of this project was that the totality of all the things I went through was such an overwhelming reminder of everything that made Dale who he was.  A folder full of jokes that illustrated his great sense of humor.  Job evaluations that highlighted why he was so often their “go to” guy to handle problem situations and people.  Books and articles that covered everything mechanical – no wonder he knew how to make or fix anything.  Photos that showed his love for his friends and family.  And so very much more.

The stark contrast of all these reminders with the reality that he is never coming back just felt like a body slam.  I was in tears for so much of this past week and missing him deeply.

This was truly the very bottom of the coaster ride.  On Saturday morning I literally cried out to God to bring something into my life that would bless me in this sorrow.  Because, I was so emotionally spent and so tired of the tears.

The night before I had signed up for a free webinar on how to find places to do public speaking –no matter what your subject was.  I thought it might be handy information and had set it up for 10 am Saturday morning.

So, I dried my tears and opened up my laptop for the webinar.  It was put on by a man who is currently a professional speaker, but used to be a youth pastor.  Extra points for that!   In the hour or so of the webinar, he shared some great information and helpful tips.  But, as these things always play out, the REAL meat of this subject could be found in his on-line training classes which were NOT free.

But the detailed information covered there was exactly what I needed for this next step in the ministry.  Finding the right places to bring this message of blessing those who are hurting.  I also never want to be “taken” by a sales pitch, so I didn’t immediately purchase the class.  But I must admit I was really excited about what this could mean for the ministry.

I actually went to my Bible app and did 4 different studies on finding God’s will!  I also talked this through with a good friend.  She felt that it was an almost immediate answer to my prayer and encouraged me to go for it.  This was no small amount, so hence the bit of agonizing I was going through.

That’s when God reminded me – as He did this summer – that this ministry is what He has for me at this stage of my life and that I need to take it seriously.  I had once again fallen back into a waiting game to see what God would bring to me.  He wanted me to take action.  And so I did.  I signed up for the classes and can’t wait to delve into all that I will learn through this training.

I might not be back at the top of the roller coaster, but I have learned (again!) that God faithfully walks with me through the valleys and brings blessings that lift me out of them when I need them most.

Thanks for hanging on for the ride!  If you’re on your own right now, just remember Who’s at the controls.

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:12-13

Official Ministry Launch!

I know I’ve been talking about this for a while now and I am SO excited to let you know that I’m officially launching the ministry website TOMORROW!

Words are inadequate to express my deepest, heartfelt appreciation to everyone who has encouraged me in this endeavor, strategized with me, prayed for and with me, and helped me with the mechanics of making this a reality.  But, first and foremost, I want to give glory to God for taking me by the hand and leading me step by step over the past months.

While I’ve spent much of my life “waiting on God,” this was a journey where I felt like I could barely keep up with where He was going!  So, there is no doubt in my mind that this is His ministry, and I’m merely the vessel He’s using to spread the message.  Be a Blessing to Your Grieving Friend!

You can reach the ministry site through this link:  https://lynnehoeksema.com/

What’s the difference between this blog and the ministry website?  For those of you who have been following It’s Beyond Me, you probably recognize that it’s very much my personal journey through the grief of losing my husband.  Sharing the heartache along with the blessings I’ve seen – and hopefully helping others see that God can and does walk beside us through our valleys.

The ministry website will feature weekly blog posts designed to give you some “behind the scenes” perspective and practical advice to help you step out in faith and help a friend who is hurting.  It is much more focused on education and enlightenment.  And the posts will even be a little shorter!

I’d love for you to visit the site and spend a little time roaming around it.  I think you’ll get a sense of what this ministry is all about.  You can sign up to receive the weekly blog posts directly to your email – just look for the green SIGN UP button on the homepage.

I will also post these new articles on my personal FaceBook page AND the new ministry FaceBook page – Be a Blessing to Your Grieving Friend.

My prayer going forward is that God would continue to teach me deep truths through THIS blog that I can pass along to each of you.  And that He would work in new ways on the ministry site to equip His people to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a world that is longing for compassion.

I’m grateful for each and every one of you!

I have not stopped giving thanks for you,

remembering you in my prayers.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,

may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,

so that you may know him better.

(Ephesians 1:16-17)