A Grief Observed

Grief – the type we’ve faced since May 13th – is unlike anything my family has ever known. It has changed us. That said, although we think of Jordan every minute of every day, some days are good – really good – as our Shepherd, Jesus Christ, slowly restores our souls.

One thing that’s become painfully apparent, though, is how fragile we all are emotionally. What would normally be an easy, matter-of-fact task, at times these days, takes on more the look of a precipice that must now be scaled.

Yesterday, my daughter, Macy, was having an otherwise good 2nd day of school. And then – “out of nowhere” – reality attacked. I spent the entire afternoon with her. We cried together, prayed together, hoped together, hurt together, and hugged a lot. We often have these types of days: all seems fine, if not downright good, and – like being ambushed with a spear through the heart – we’re crippled with pain. The grief is beyond description. Just yesterday, I was visiting with a person. Everything was great. Then – “out of nowhere” – my eyes quickly filled with tears, my heart began racing, and I was having trouble breathing.

I’ve deeply enjoyed reading C.S. Lewis’ “A Grief Observed.” It helps me know what we’re feeling at this suffocating level of grief is normal. In regard to this type of “emotional ambush” (having lost his young wife to cancer) Lewis describes perfectly what it felt like when he was doing quite well – but then “reality attacked”.  He writes, “Tonight all the hells of young grief have opened again; the mad words, the bitter resentment, the fluttering in the stomach, the nightmare, the wallowed-in-tears. For in grief nothing ‘stays put.’….Round and round. Everything repeats…..How often – will it be always?…The same leg is cut off time after time. The first plunge of the knife in the flesh is felt again and again. They say, ‘The coward dies many times’; so does the beloved.”

In only the way Lewis, the Christian apologist, can, he poses this question: [Given this corrupt & painful world in which we live], “sooner or later I must face the question in plain language. What reason have we to believe that God is, by any standard we can conceive, ‘good’? Doesn’t all the prima-facie evidence suggest exactly the opposite? What have we to set against [this overwhelming evidence]??”  And then Lewis answers his own question:  “We set CHRIST against it!”

In CHRIST we see “a man acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3) In CHRIST we see the depth of the love of God as He “demonstrates His love to us in that, while we were still sinners [hostile toward Him], Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) In CHRIST we see the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:6) In CHRIST we see that this corrupt & painful world (due solely to the sin of mankind) is “not the end of the story.” (John 14:1-4) In CHRIST we see a God who loves us so much that, though we deserve eternal death, we receive eternal life. (John 3:16-17) And, in CHRIST, we see the hope of a new [restored to what God originally intended] heaven & earth where we will live eternally with Him and with those who, having put their faith in Christ, have gone before us. (Revelation 21:1-4)

THIS is the CHRIST, writes Lewis, we set against every argument and/or circumstance that tries to convince us that God is not good. Is God good? One look at the cross and the empty tomb shouts YES throughout eternity. In the Watts home, God is still GOD – and God is still GOOD. And, one day, this “mirror through which we see dimly” (1 Corinthians 13:12) will give way to perfect sight, no more pain, no more tears, no more death. One day….

John wrote, “And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new…..And behold, I am coming soon.” (Revelation 21:5; 22:7)

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All Things Through Christ Jesus

Well, I lost it emotionally this morning as I was leading music. But, the Body known at BHBC lifted me, embraced me, and carried me through the rest of the music portion of our worship service.I really can’t imagine not being among this very special “family” during this time.

A friend of mine who was in the congregations sent me the following note. May it bring just as much peace, strength & joy to you as it did to me:

Philippians 4:13…Nick, I know you know this popular verse…usually it is associated with accomplishing great, noble, or awesome things in our lives and rightly so…however the Holy Spirit revealed another truth concerning this wisdom…as I watched your grief overwhelm you this morning during worship service, for a brief moment I too felt the palpable pain and suffering that you go through every day…I could see how difficult it was for you to breathe much less get words out of your mouth…I was thinking “how can Nick get through that everyday? I feel his pain just watching him and yet this is just the tip of an iceberg!” Then the truth hit me like arrow through the bulls-eye. Philippians 4:13!! When it says ” I can do ALL THINGS through Him who gives me strength”. It is only through Christ’s strength that you are able to endure the unimaginable grief you face everyday. We usually do not think about this verse in times like these, but yet it does not change the fact this verse applies just as much here as any other time. You can get through the grief, the pain, and the suffering through Christ who gives you His strength. My Lord what glorious truth!!! I love you, my brother! Your weakness< Christ’s strength. It’s not even close!

Baby Steps

I wake up each day thinking, “Will there ever be a minute I do not grieve?” Then I have to accept the fact that we’re only 3 months removed from Jordan’s death. It’s just gonna take time. I still battle daily with trying to “undo it all” in my mind, which exhausts me mentally, and makes it difficult to breathe. Michelle’s exactly where i am. We still cry everyday. However, we’re trusting God each day….baby steps.

Only in heaven will all of you know how deeply grateful we are for the uplifting, encouraging notes. We read every word. Thank you for the Scripture, and the prayer. It all matters.

Please pray for Michelle as her students show up. She teaches 6th grade Reading & English at Hutch MS. Pray that she won’t be overwhelmed emotionally, and that the grace of Jesus Christ would fill her with strength, stamina, joy and peace. I love you all.

“Are you tired? Worn out?….Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace…” (Matthew 11:28-30, Message)

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Suffering: A Fishhook in the Human Heart

In his award-winning book, “Where Is God When It Hurts?”, Philip Yancey writes, “Novelist Peter De Vries has called the problem/mystery of pain [in this world] ‘the question mark turned like a fishhook in the human heart.’….Many suffering people want to love God, but cannot see past their tears….Sadly, the church often responds with more confusion than comfort.” Yancey’s indicting statement regarding the modern church is, at times, true, no doubt. However, I am so grateful that my local church, Bacon Heights, in no way fits that description.

Yesterday afternoon, I had an extremely rough day emotionally. To be perfectly honest, I had a full-blown, 5-Alarm meltdown. I had been putting off mailing two separate official documents that federal agencies had been requiring regarding my son’s death. I thought enough time had gone by so I could read & handle these documents while “keeping it together.”

I was wrong.

We have Staff Meetings on Tuesday mornings here at BHBC. When I arrived at the office this morning I was still hurting from yesterday’s events. I entered the Staff Meeting with my stomach tied in knots and feeling like I could hardly breathe. My “default” is too “man up”, “assemble my armor,” and “keep everyone out.” But, after I sat down, the Holy Spirit whispered, “Nick, be weak. For when you are weak, I am STRONG in you. Trust Me, Nick, with your pain. I love you. I’ve got this.” (2 Cor. 12:10)

What followed was me removing my “armor,” opening up about the events of the previous day, and allowing the people of God hold me up. The harder I cried, the stronger the grace of God filled that room. Our staff immediately help me up, and held me close. They prayed for me, and cried with me. And the entire meeting agenda was set aside so that “one of their wounded” could be tended to.

Satan wanted to keep me isolated, alone & hopeless. But God reminded me,” I AM with you, always.” (Matthew 28:20)

In retrospect, I cannot help but think about Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes 4:10 – “Two are better than one,…If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”

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Jordan’s Grave Marker

Jordan’s grave marker came in about a week ago…my family went to see it today.

It was brutal.  Surreal.  There’s no other way to describe it.

But knowing that Jordan isn’t in that grave gave my family peace and joy. Jordan left his earthly body and is in the presence of God Almighty in Heaven. John 3:16. Jordan just beat us there.

First photo is of all three of my children. 🙂  Second is simply a close-up of Jordan’s grave marker.  The Scripture written across the bottom represented each day Jordan lived on this planet.

all three children - grave sidegrave marker

Soul Food

Isaiah 40:28-29, 31 – “…The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak [He causes it to multiply and increase]…those who [wait on, hope for, trust in] the Lord will [change and renew their strength and power].They will SOAR on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Soli Deo Gloria

Psalm 62:1-2 – “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him. He’s solid rock under my feet; breathing room for my soul; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

Psalm 6:6-9 – “I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping…. My eyes grow weak with sorrow;….the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.”