“Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” asked the men. “He is not here, but he has risen! Remember how he spoke to you when he was still in Galilee, saying, ‘It is necessary that the Son of Man be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and rise on the third day’?” And they remembered his words.”-Luke 24:5b-8
One year. One year of heartache. One year of tears. One year of lies. One year of setbacks. One year of doubt. One year of growth. One year of hope. One year.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been a little over one year since we lost our daughter, Leah Grace. When we look at the only photo we have with Leah, it’s brings up all different kind of emotions and memories. The biggest question that comes to both of our minds is “How did we get through this year?” The simple answer is Jesus Christ. Within that answer are more details like us drawing close to Him and receiving love, encouragement, and prayers from those close to us. Today, we could easily reflect on the grave, but we don’t want to do that. Today, we want to talk about the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, which brings life to the natural and in the supernatural.
Now, let me be clear about something. Not focusing on the grave doesn’t mean we are in denial. We both know and experience the emotions of losing our daughter. We don’t try to deny or hide the reality of it. We are open and honest with each other and those close around us. But when we just focus on the grave, we forget about the hope of life. For example, after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, many of the disciples were full of somber and fear. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. The man, who claimed to be the Son of God, who healed the blind and set the captives free, who promised salvation, is now dead. You spent three years following Him and listening to Him and now you may be asking yourself, what went wrong? Honestly, nothing went wrong. This is exactly what He said would happen.
“Then they left that place and made their way through Galilee, but he did not want anyone to know it. For he was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after he is killed, he will rise three days later.” But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask him.”-Mark 9:30-32
See, Jesus Christ needed to die so we could be redeemed, or won back from bondage of sin. Because of sin, the consequences are death, both physically and for eternally. One of the greatest blessings of Christ’s death and resurrection is that we no longer need to focus on the fear of death, but rejoice in life! There is life beyond the grave! That’s what keeps us going. Knowing that Leah is resting in the hands of the Father and one day we will all be together worshipping Him.
Not only does the Lord Jesus Christ redeem us so we can have eternal life with Him, He also redeems or frees us from harm and distress here on earth. Now, I don’t mean that life becomes perfect and we don’t have any problems. What I mean is that our difficult chapters in life have a purpose and what the enemy meant for evil, God means it for good.
In the past year of distress, Rachel and I have heard a lot of lies from enemy. Below are some of the following lies we heard;
“We aren’t really parents.”
“We killed Leah.”
“You have been cursed by God.”
“God doesn’t really love you. If He did, He wouldn’t have allowed this tragedy to happen.”
“This is punishment for not being the “perfect” pastor.
“You’ll never has kids.”
That last lie has been the toughest lie to overcome, especially when many close to us are or are expecting to have kids, and when we have experienced a false positive. What do you do in those moments? Well, as Rachel taught on Mother’s Day about Hannah, “you pour out your soul to the Lord” (1st Samuel 1:15). While we can choose to focus on the sorrow of the grave and be beaten by satan’s lies, we choose to focus on the giver of life, both in the natural and supernatural. Leah has been given life for the rest of eternity as she enjoys being in the glory of the eternal Father. Christ has given Rachel and I life as we anticipate the arrival of our second child in March/April of 2023.
It’s no coincidence, but the Lord’s perfect timing. We ask all of our family members and friends to continue praying for us as we go through this second pregnancy. There are already some spiritual battles we are fighting against, but we know that we are not to be defined by our fears, but to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
It’s been over six months since you went to heaven. I have missed you of late and I long to hold you in my arms because it’s getting to harder and harder to remember what it was like to hold you. This scares me because I never want you or anyone to think I have forgotten you. How can I forget you?! You’re my daughter! You’re my little Leah. While I will never forget you, I can’t stay stuck on this road that is called grief.
For the last three weeks I have had three individuals, ranging from the age of 14-55, tell me that I don’t look good, don’t seem like myself, or look like I’m hurting. In my head, I had no idea what they meant, but in the depths of my soul the pain of loosing you still feels raw. Just writing or even saying “I miss my daughter” brings me to tears. The journey of grief is an interesting road, but I believe the enemy wants me to stay stuck on this road so I end up bitter and angry with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and with those whom I love on this earth. To that I say, “It’s time to move forward.”
Writing those words, “It’s time to move forward”, fills my eyes with water because I don’t want you thinking moving forward means I have forgotten you. Leah Grace, I love you and I will never forget you. There is nothing I can do to bring you back to this earth, but one day, I will be reunited with you as we worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the rest of eternity in heaven.
What does moving forward mean? For starters, it means putting out the campfire that I have made I the road of grief, packing my supplies, and starting to walk. What am I walking towards? For starters, the calling the Lord has put on my life. Without a shadow of doubt, your daddy has been called to preach and teach the good news of Jesus Christ. There are many who need to hear the truth of who He is. Some will accept the message I’m supposed to share and others will “kill the messenger.” Whatever happens, it’s my duty and responsibility to share the message the Lord has entrusted me with.
Another thing I am walking towards is our family. Before your mom and I got married, she told me she wanted ten kids. I think she was trying to scare me away, but I told her “Well I want at least 3, so if the Lord provides us ten, then ten it is!” (That’s how I remember the conversation.). Anyways, hopefully the Lord will provide you some siblings. Don’t worry, your brothers and sisters will know about you. Just because you aren’t here on earth doesn’t mean we won’t talk about you.
Finally, moving forward means I will leave behind the anchor of guilt at the campsite I made on the road of grief. Ever since you passed, I’ve been feeling guilty that I couldn’t do more to save you. While that sounds silly, it’s been a constant battle. The enemy has be throwing “what ifs” that have at times made me believe I killed you. That’s not the truth. The curse of sin killed you. One day justice will triumph and the enemy will be thrown into the pits of hell because our King will make restore all things! That’s exciting because when the King comes to restore all things, it means we will be reunited! That’s why your mommy and I trust in His steadfast love. The enemy thinks he has won, but the truth is he lost. The enemy lost when Jesus went to the cross and defeated death by rising from the grave three days later.
Well kiddo, now that the fire is out, it’s starting to get chilly. I better start walking if I want to stay warm. Until we meet again, I have a mission to complete on this earth. I can’t let the King down. I love you, and I’ll never forget you.
I came across an article titled “It Is Well With My Soul”, and it reads as followed;
“One of the best-loved hymns of the faith, “It Is Well with My Soul,” was written by Horatio Spafford. Mr. Spafford, a wealthy businessman in Chicago, lost much of his real estate holdings in the Great Chicago Fire. After the fire, he sent his wife and four daughters on a ship to Europe, intending to join them later, for a time of rest as well as to assist Moody and Sankey with a revival in Great Britain. But the voyage was struck by disaster, and Spafford received a cable from his wife with the painful message, “Saved alone.”
Spafford quickly made arrangements to join his wife. When they reached the spot where his daughters had drowned, Spafford marked that sad event with words of hope: “When peace like a river attendeth my way; when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul.’”
The article concludes with the following;
“These powerful words written in the midst of such pain are a reminder to us today that, even though we may be enduring great suffering and hardship, it is not the end of God’s plan for us. Sometimes God’s children get discouraged because it appears that life is going better for those who are doing wrong. Yet the end result of both paths is already settled. Those who fear God will be able to say, “It is well.” Those who oppose God will quickly find that the end of their path is death and destruction. Keeping the end result in mind helps us keep doing right.”
It will be six months, on the 29th of January, when my wife and I lost our daughter, Leah Grace, to a rare medical condition after she was born. The dreams and anticipation of raising our daughter were quickly crushed. Our joy turned into sorrow; our excitement turned into pain; Our answers turned into questions. All of us have suffered pain at some point in our life. Whether it is the pain of losing a job, the pain of a broken friendship, or watching someone you love take their final breathes. Maybe, in the midst of your pain and suffering you are wondering, “How can I get through this?” or you might be saying “Where are you God?!” Psalm 42 provides us wisdom on how we can praise the Lord, even in the midst of pain.
Expression of Pain:
David was considered a man after God’s own heart (1st Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22). In this particular Psalm, with the help of the sons of Korah, we see David desperately seeking the heart of the Lord by sharing his heart. David doesn’t hide his emotions. He is in pain. Look at verses 1 and 2.
“As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?”-Psalm 42:1-2 NLT
David opens up by saying “Hey! I’m in pain! Agonizing pain!” Too often I believe we as Christians do a terrible job of sharing our pain. We have bought into this idea that when we come through the church doors that we need to pretend everything is okay. The most frequent lie we tend to say is “I’m good” when deep down inside we are hurting.
As a reader, maybe you are in the midst of pain and you can no longer hide it. You are desperately wondering where you can find relief. David reveals to us where true relief comes from. Look at verse 2 again.
“I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?”-Psalm 42:2a NLT
True relief for our pain comes from the Lord Jesus Christ because He is the living water that can remove or lighten our pain.
“On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’ ” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)”-John 7:37-39NLT
Oppression From The People and The Enemy
In the midst of David’s pain, we see that there are people adding on to his pain. Look at verse 3 and 9-10 of Psalm 42;
“Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, “Where is this God of yours?”-Psalm 42:3 NLT
“O God my rock,” I cry, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?” Their taunts break my bones. They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?”-Psalm 42:9-10
David has been in a spiral of grief and sorrow that he says the only thing he has eaten is his tears. He feels alone and forgotten, and to make matters worse, there are some who are adding to his misery. In the midst of our own pain, we can feel these emotions. There are times, people, and the enemy of lies, Satan, can make it worse.
How To Respond in the Midst of Pain
So how do we get through the pain, the oppression, and the lies? David provides three ways on how he was able to overcome.
1.) Remember the Lord:
“Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you—even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar.”-Psalm 42:6 NLT
David remembers who the Lord is. We too can remember the goodness, love, and strength of Jesus Christ.
2.) Praise the Lord:
“I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.”-Psalm 42:7-8 NLT
When we remember who the Lord is, it makes it easier for us to praise Him for what He has and will do. I encourage you to find (or even write) biblically sound worship songs that you can singing and cry out to the Lord to.
3.) Hope in the Lord:
“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!”-Psalm 42:11 NLT
Hope is an expectation of the fulfillment of something desired or promised. Our hope and promise is found in the works of Jesus Christ on the cross and His second coming to restore all things.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.
“But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
Then one of the seven angels who held the seven bowls containing the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come with me! I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”-Revelation 21:1-9 NLT
Turn Your Eyes On Jesus Christ:
In the midst of our pain and suffering, it is easy for our eyes to be fixed on the circumstances around us. The apostle Paul encourages us to fix our eyes on Jesus.
“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.
But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”-2nd Corinthians 4:8-18 NLT
May we be encouraged to fix our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of our pain and suffering by remembering who He is, praising His holy and wonderful name, and holding on to the hope of what has and will be done.
“You don’t think this is a silly idea, right?” “Mike, don’t forget the pie that’s going to my grandparents!” “Who wants desert?!” “Rachel, I think I just ate some ice or something in your pie…” “Why are there plastic babies in the pie….Oh my goodness! You are having a baby?!?!?!”
I write these highlights from last years Thanksgiving with tears start rolling down my face. It was this time last year that Rachel and I announced to our family that we were expecting Leah. There was a lot of hugs, tears, and joy. This year the hugs, tears, and yes, joy are still around.
As each month goes by, I often imagine what would be happening with Leah around. Maybe she would be smiling a lot? Maybe she would be making a lot of cooing sounds? How many shirts would need to get washed from messy food? How often would I take her to the church office and hold her as I prepare for Wednesday Night services? What would Thanksgiving be like today?
While there are a lot of “What if’s”, I know that right now there are a lot of mixed emotions between being sorrowful and joyful, especially today. Sorrowful because instead of Leah being at the Thanksgiving Dinner table with us, we are going to visit and honor her at the gravesite. Sorrowful because all the dreams of raising her and watching her grow into a beautiful young lady are no longer possible. Sorrowful because I personally just want to hold my baby girl. With all this sorrow, grief, and anxiety, I still cling to the hope of the Lord. Psalm 94:19 says;
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
In the midst of of my sorrow, I can still find joy. Why? Even though I will be feasting with family and friends this Thanksgiving without Leah, I know she will participate in the greatest feast of all, the marriage supper of the Lamb. Revelation 19:6-10 reads as followed;
“Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
This Thanksgiving and the ones to follow, my wife and I will not be able to celebrate with Leah at the table. However, I thank God, through the blood of Jesus Christ, that one day, we will be able to participate in a feast with her, a feast that will last for the rest of eternity, giving thanks to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As I stand on the shore of the beach and the waters of the ocean cool my sunburnt feet, I stare out into the horizon and remember an audio I love called “Bring Me To The Horizon” by Chris Brady. One sentence that Chris said in that audio has always stood out to me ever since I heard it and goes like this. “There is no safety in a significant life and there is no significance in a safe life.” In the audio, Chris was encouraging the people in the audience and those listening to the audio (like myself) to get out of the shallow end of life and get into the depths of life. Lately I’ve been thinking that I have been playing this game of life too small. The reason for this? A one word answer. Fear.
I believe fear started taking over my young life when I was in 7th grade. I don’t know why, but maybe it had something to do with being surrounded by other students much older then me. I do remember though that I was afraid of a lot of things. I was afraid to make new friends. I was afraid to ask a girl classmate to the high school dance. I was afraid to dance at the high school dance. I was afraid to try new things. I was afraid of looking like a fool. I was afraid of…fill in the blank and I’m sure I was afraid of it.
I wish I could say that the grip of fear has left me since I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ, but fighting against the grip of fear is my daily battle. Even when I was on the beach and my beautiful bride is encouraging me to “get in the water”, I had the following fearful thoughts running through my mind; “I can’t go in the ocean water, I’m not a very strong swimmer. She knows that. Why does she keep telling me to come out into the water? What if I do go in and a rip current comes and take me away? What if a jelly fish is brought up by the waves, sticks to my leg and stings me? What if a shark comes close to shore and bites one of us? What if one of those planes that are flying above has a malfunction and crashes right near us in the ocean?”
While some of these thoughts are reasonable thoughts, I knew fear was holding me back from having quality time with my wife (By the way, I did end up going into the water). I was then reminded of the events of surrounding the disciples and Jesus that is found in Matthew 8.
“Then he (Jesus) got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”-Matthew 8:23-27
Imagine being one of the disciples on that boat as you ride through the furious storm. The rain is coming down. The waves are crashing over the boat and the wind is howling. You might be thinking “This is it! This is how my life is going to end!” Now imagine seeing Jesus sleeping. What’s your first response? Me personally, I chuckle at that thought. I would think to myself, just like the other disciples probably did, “How can Jesus be sleeping? Doesn’t He care that we could potentially die?!” Of course He cares, that’s not the right question to ask. The right question to ask is, “If Jesus is at peace, so much so that He could sleep through the storm, why aren’t I at peace?” The answer is probably has to do with the fact that we aren’t trusting in ourselves (or others) more then we are trusting in Jesus.
As the scriptures share, Jesus did wake up and calmed the storm, showing that He is fully sovereign and in control of ALL things. What I was reminded of is that we shouldn’t let the fear hold us back from doing or becoming the man or woman the Lord created us to be. We shouldn’t let fear of man be the controlling factor on whether or not we will live of life for Christ. We shouldn’t let fear be the controlling factor on whether or not we should try to have another child. We shouldn’t let fear be the controlling factor on whether we should speak up for what is true. We shouldn’t let fear…you fill what you are fearful of.
I told my wife the other day that Leah’s death shook me in many ways. In one way, it made me realize that we really don’t know how much longer we have on this earth and that I’m sick and tired of playing it safe. I don’t want the grip of fear controlling my life, I want the hand of the Lord controlling my life. What does it look like for Rachel and I as the hand of the Lord guides us through this new season of our life? I really don’t know. What I do know is this, we aren’t going to allow fear to dictate our path. We are going to have the lamp of the Lord Jesus Christ light up our path, one step at a time.
“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.I’ve promised it once, and I’ll promise it again: I will obey your righteous regulations. I have suffered much, O Lord; restore my life again as you promised.Lord, accept my offering of praise, and teach me your regulations. My life constantly hangs in the balance, but I will not stop obeying your instructions. The wicked have set their traps for me, but I will not turn from your commandments. Your laws are my treasure; they are my heart’s delight. I am determined to keep your decrees to the very end.”-Psalm 119:105-112
A week ago my wife and I took a two day trip and stayed near Hershey, PA. We stayed at a nice bed and breakfast on a horse farm, and we were ten minutes away from Hershey Park. We spent a day at the park and had a lot of fun. I usually don’t like riding roller coasters, but with the help of my wife’s encouragement, she got me to ride on more roller coasters than anyone ever has! While being a way for two days was nice, the reality of what was to come hit me the night before we came home.
When we arrived home from our trip, I started feeling anxious and angry. There were stacked boxes all around our apartment with our things packed for our move. While I’m not proud of this, I gave attitude towards my wife. My tone towards her was rude, sarcastic, and straight up mean. Eventually my wife had enough and said “What is wrong with you? What is the real reason you are like this?” I walked out of the living into the kitchen trying to hide my tears and emotion. I eventually went back into the living room and shouted “I feel like a loser! I feel like I have failed you and our family! I can’t provide the family or the life we both desire!” I finally broke and I could no longer hide my true feelings. After we talked, cried, sought forgiveness, and held each other, I went outside on our front porch as the remnants of Hurricane Ida passed through.
As I watched the rain pour down and the trees bend as the gusts of wind blew, I thought of Job and how the Lord challenged him. Job 38:22-30 reads as followed;
“Have you entered the place where the snow is stored? Or have you seen the storehouses of hail, which I hold in reserve for times of trouble, for the day of warfare and battle? What road leads to the place where light is dispersed? Where is the source of the east wind that spreads across the earth? Who cuts a channel for the flooding rain or clears the way for lightning, to bring rain on an uninhabited land, on a desert with no human life, to satisfy the parched wasteland and cause the grass to sprout? Does the rain have a father? Who fathered the drops of dew? Whose womb did the ice come from? Who gave birth to the frost of heaven when water becomes as hard as stone, and the surface of the watery depths is frozen?”
Obviously Job didn’t have the answer and if we are all honest, neither do we. The point the Lord was making to Job, and to us, is that He is the One who is control of all things, since the beginning of time. Yes we make our plans, but the Lord directs our steps. There will be troubles in our life, but the Lord is sovereign through it all. It’s easy to have trust in the Lord when things are easy, but the true test of our faith comes in the midst of our storms. James 1:2-4 reads;
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
Notice how James says that during our troubles to consider those troubles as an opportunity for great joy. This doesn’t mean we go seeking troubles to happen in our life, but to look for joy in the midst of our troubles. How do we find joy? I personally believe it is by having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, hoping in His promises, and know that the love of the Lord is with us in our trials. The enemy during our times of troubles want us to feel defeated and down for the count, but hold tight to the truth of the Word of the Lord.
“God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.”-Psalm 23
It’s 12:45am and I was suddenly awaken from my sleep. I walked out of the bedroom to get a glass of water and started taking deep breathes. My anxiety and stress were starting to increase. I cried out to the Lord, “Please take this away from me.” My flesh is tempted to numb the pain. I cry again, “Lord, forgive me for even thinking of this. Help me, Oh, Lord.” The enemy starts whispering lies in my head and I tremble at the thought that Leah’s death is a punishment for my sins. The enemy’s whispers get louder and I start to believe that I will not see Leah in heaven, but instead that the Lord will say, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.” I brake down in tears crying out to the Lord, “Don’t send me to hell, Lord! I know I deserve it, but You have saved me! You are my Lord!” The whispers from the enemy get louder and louder and I cry out to the Lord Jesus, “I call you Lord, but do you call me friend? How about brother? You said Jesus “Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!” (Matthew 12:46-50). Again I ask, “Am I Your brother?” Finally there is silence, and I’m reminded of my name, “Michael”, which means “Whos is like God?” I proclaim with tears dripping down my face, “No one, Lord. No one is like You.” I look up at the living room wall and see our sign that says “BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD”.
The Darkest Valley
There has been a book, outside of the bible, that has been helping me as I journey through what is considered my “darkest valley.” The book is “Pilgrim’s Progress” and as someone who doesn’t read a lot of fiction books, I’m grateful for this book. There is a chapter where the main character, Christian, is walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and he needs to walk through the valley to get to the Celestial Castle. Even though it was a difficult journey, there was one thing Christian did; He fought and didn’t quit.
Fighting The Good Fight
We all have our “darkest valley”, and it is very easy to give into the temptation of quitting. I’m sure King David felt the same way. (If you don’t believe me, just go read the book of Psalms. You’ll get a great glimpse of the roller coaster of emotions he went through.) What kept David from not quitting? Psalm 23 gives us the answer.
David didn’t fear the valley because the Lord was with him. (Psalm 23:4B)
David was protected and comforted while going through the valley. (Psalm 23:4C)
There was a feast being prepared for David. (Psalm 23:5A)
Honor and blessings were being poured onto David. (Psalm 23:5B)
The goodness and unfailing love of the Lord. (Psalm 23:6A)
David knew he was going to be with the Lord, forever! (Psalm 23:6B)
I don’t know what your “darkest valley” is right now, but I want to encourage you, don’t quit. Yes, it is dark and scary, but there is light at the end of this valley, whether it is here on earth or being in heaven for the rest of eternity. If you feel like quitting, go to God’s Word and pray. The Lord Jesus Christ will sustain you and get you through to the other side.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.- 2nd Timothy 4:7-8
-Michael A. Kubus
Shirts For Haiti
This past weekend I launched our new shirts that we are selling! I mentioned in my last blog, “Shirts For Haiti”, that any profits that I would have made from now to the end of the year would go to Tia Tannis, a missionary in Haiti, to help her have the funds she needs to get the supplies to help those in need after the earthquake. Please consider purchasing one of the shirts below so we can help the people in Haiti during this difficult time.
A little over a week ago, the nation of Haiti was struck by 7.2 earthquake, which took the lives of about 2,100 people and thousands more injured. Clean-up has begun and many families are trying to pick up the pieces. A good friend of my wife and I, Tia Tannis, is a missionary for the country. Her and her family are okay, but they are heart broken with what has happened. She recently reached out to the local church I serve with sharing some details and supplies they need. This is where your help comes in.
Faith. Hope. Love.
In the midst of grieving the lost of my daughter, there have been three words that have been helping my wife and I; Faith. Hope. Love. The apostle Paul discusses the the importance of these three words as he closes out a portion of his letter to the Corinthian Church. 1st Corinthians 13 reads;
“Three things will last forever-faith, hope, and love-and the greatest of these is love.”-1st Corinthians 13:13 NLT
In this broken world, caused by the curse of sin, it is faith, hope, and love that helps us endure to the very end. Who are we putting our faith and hope in? The Lord Jesus Christ. The Son of God came to this earth, took on human flesh, lived a life in the way we should live, died a death we deserve, and rose three days later to destroy the sin and death. We hope and look forward to the day of His return, when a new heaven and earth will be created. Revelation 21 says;
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”-Revelation 21:1-4 NLT
Until this happens, we are called to love and help those who are in need, and right now, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and the entire nation of Haiti, needs help.
Shirts For Haiti
I recently had a new logo designed and came up with new shirt designs. Those shirts are now officially on sale! From now until the end of 2021, any profit made from the shirts (after the middle man gets his cut) will all go towards helping Tia purchase the supplies she needs. Here are some items the money will help them purchase;
Tents, Tarps, Blankets, Sheets, Sleeping Bags
MEDICAL SUPPLIES/WOUND CARE SUPPLIES:
Ace Wraps, Gloves, Gauze-Gauze rolls-Medical Tape, Bandaids-Large Bandages, Casting Material (plaster and casting supplies), Slings, Walkers- Crutches, Ointments – Peroxide, over the counter pain meds (Tylenol/Ibuprofen/Aleve), Arm braces -Ankle braces, Medical boot, Splints
There are three things I need your help with. First, I encourage you to buy a shirt. Below are designs and links to the shirts. Both shirts are unisex. Again, I will make NO profit from this shirts for the rest of this year. Remember, you aren’t just buying another shirt, you are helping people who are need. Second, after you purchase a shirt, please share this blog all over social media to get the word out on helping the people of Haiti. Finally, prayer for Tia, her family, and everyone in Haiti. While this is a tragic time, this is a great opportunity for the gospel of Jesus Christ to be spread. It may seem dark right now, but as John chapter 1 says;
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”-John 1:5 NLT
When people ask me “How are you doing?“, it’s really hard to describe how I’m feeling with a one word emotion. I’ve started to come accustomed to sharing this analogy. Imagine you are a writer and you give the editor you are working with a draft of your book. Now imagine that editor reading over the book, ripping a chapter you wrote, and putting that chapter somewhere else. Then the editor gives you the book back with no explanation why he moved the chapter. That in it’s most simplest terms is how I am feeling.
I Don’t Know
My wife and I, with the help of my sister-in-law, started packing up our apartment as we prepare to move in with my in-laws for the next eight months. As I see the packed bins of baby clothes, baby books, diapers, toiletries, etc. I just think to myself, “When will Rachel and I actually start the chapter of raising kids and in the meantime, what is this current chapter all about?” While I have called this chapter of our lives “The Unknown Chapter,” there is one Being who does know: God.
As a planner and goal setter, this unexpected season has taken me for a loop, and to be frank, is quite frustrating at times. Rachel and I recently started watching the show “The Chosen”, a T.V. series regarding the life of Jesus Christ; the third episode resonated with me. The episode was regarding the Wedding at Cana, and Thomas, one of Jesus’ soon-to-be disciples, was portrayed as one of the helpers in prepping the wedding and making sure the wine was served. (Note, I personally do not know whether or not if this is true of what Thomas did in real life. Whether the producers took creative liberty or actually looked into the history of who Thomas was, the bible doesn’t share with us any details about Thomas’ life. Whether you agree or disagree with the show, that’s your personal opinion, and the point of me sharing this is not to debate about the show.)
Thomas was a planner and saw things in a logical sense. To Thomas, 2+2 always equaled 4. As the wedding goes on, Thomas is, for a lack of a better words, freaking out! The wine has run out and there is still a lot of time left in the party. Jesus is asked to help and there is a conversation that Jesus and Thomas have.
Jesus: Fill these jars with water.
Thomas: (Rubbing his face and looking anxious) From the directions you have provided, I see no logical solution to the problem.
Jesus: It’s going to be like that sometimes, Thomas.
I could relate well with Thomas, especially in the season my wife and I are currently in. I have heard and read all the scripture verses regarding how the Lord will restore, redeem, and be glorified in all of this, but the question I keep asking myself from time to time is “when and how?!” Here’s the peace that I can rest in, I don’t know, but God knows. The Scriptures share the following;
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.”-Isaiah 55:8-13
Maybe you are going through a season where you want God to give you the answers of why He is doing what He is doing. Maybe you are a logical person and you don’t see how it all adds up. Maybe the silence from heaven is frustrating you and you just want to hear God say something. He has said some things. It is all found in His Word. Yes, maybe He isn’t giving you the answers you want, but rest assured that if God said it, He will be faithful and trust worthy to follow through.
“And the Lord said, “That’s right, and it means that I am watching, and I will certainly carry out all my plans.”-Jeremiah 1:12
-Michael A. Kubus
(Below is the clip with Jesus and Thomas from the show “The Chosen”)
“Hi! Thanks for shopping with us today! How are you doing?” “Hey neighbor! Haven’t seen you around for a bit. Everything okay?” “Wasn’t your wife pregnant? How is she and the baby doing?” The hardest thing about being in the general public is that many just don’t know. When asked “how are you doing?”, I don’t know how to respond. I don’t want to be the gray cloud coming into every place, but at the same time it’s hard to pretend everything is okay. Sometimes it’s just easier staying in bed with the shades darkened and being left alone.
Being Logically Emotional
God created us individually unique. Me personally, I want logical answers and I don’t hide my emotions well. It’s been two weeks since Leah passed and I’m already trying to find a logical reason behind all of this. In what was going to be Leah’s room, there is a plaque hanging on the wall that says “God is Good”. My logical side wants to know how this situation is “good”, so I do what I know best, I started reading the bible. I decided to read about the events surrounding Joseph because after his father’s death he had a conversation with his brothers and said,
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”-Genesis 50:20
After all the things that happened to Joseph, I wanted to know how he arrived to that statement. I started reading, and I started to see how God worked in and around Joseph’s life, even in the midst of Joseph’s pain and suffering. I’ll be honest, the more I was reading, the more frustrated I was getting. I was frustrated because I wasn’t finding the real answer I was looking for. Sure, I said I wanted to know how Joseph was able to say what he said in Genesis 50, but, what I was really looking for was an answer to why this tragic event has happened to me and my wife. In short, I was demanding an answer from God.
Since I wasn’t getting what I wanted, I started to becoming angry. When my wife started talking to me, I expressed that I felt like these last nine months have been a waste of time. All the prep work, all the shopping, all the medical visits, everything that happened in theses last nine months seemed like a waste of time and a sick cruel joke. Why did we endure all of this if at the end we don’t have our daughter?! My emotional side started kicking in, and tears and anger in my heart started to build. My wife started to pray, but I left the prayer because in my heart I was so angry with God, I couldn’t sincerely be in that prayer.
In the living room I curled myself into a ball, with tears and snots falling on the couch. I repented, and asked the Lord for forgiveness regarding my anger and asked Him to help me with my unbelief in this situation. With my wife comforting me, she reached out to one of my friends, and he immediately came over. I shared with him my frustrations and feelings as he comforts and listens to me. He encouraged me, prayed for me and my wife, and as he was leaving, he reminded me of part of a bible verse that is hanging in our apartment;
“Be still, and know that I am God.”-Psalm 46:10a
It is easy to be still and trust in the Lord when everything is good and comfortable, but in the midst of a storm, our eyes, like Peter’s, can tend to be focused on the storm rather than the Lord. Even in the midst of the strongest storms, God is still God. He didn’t leave us or forsaken us, He is here with us in the middle of the storm.
They Don’t Know, But They Will Know!
Romans 8:28 says; “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” I still don’t know how God is going to use this situation, and my wife and I probably never will know on this side of eternity. What I do know, is that we still have the opportunity to preach Christ.
After telling people what has happened, a common response Rachel and I have heard a lot is “Wow, you two are so strong. I don’t know if I could be as strong as you guys are.” Our response, is always the same, “We aren’t strong. We are weak. It is Jesus Christ who makes us strong.” Yes many in the public view don’t know what has happened to us, but many also don’t know about the Lord Jesus Christ. Sure, many will get to hear the story about our daughter, but more importantly, they will have an opportunity to hear about the hope that is found in Jesus Christ.
“..but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;”-1st Peter 3:15a