In many of my conversations with those who are grieving or feel as if they’re losing hope, I often hear self-condemnation. I hear them place judgment on their feelings and struggle, and this grieves me because I know how contrary this is to Christ’s heart for them. I also know how much harder our journeys become when we view ourselves and our emotions so critically. I’ve heard it said that much of the anxiety we experience stems from unresolved grief, which I take to mean sorrow pushed down, suppressed, and ignored.

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Healing doesn’t come from denial or a determination of the will but rather from leaning hard into Jesus and following His lead, however He leads and at whatever pace He deems best.

Walking Through Life’s Hardships by Chaka Heinze

Ever since my son died three years ago, I’ve struggled with some fear of the future. 

The crazy thing is I’m a champion of believing and telling people about God’s goodness. I will shout from the rooftops that I serve a God who loves me more than anyone else ever could and who proved it once and for all time on the cross.  

He has blessed me more than I deserve, surrounded me with incredible people, and held me through the darkest times. 

He is God. My Rock. My Fortress. My Redeemer. 

And yet too often, I live with a palpable fear of the future God has planned for me. 

Not my ultimate future. I know heaven will be glorious. Jesus will right every wrong, and joy will reign. My son, Landen, will greet me with the hugest hug and a smile on those dimpled cheeks. 

My heavenly future is secure. 

It’s my future in the here and now that worries me. Thoughts of what comes next can cause me to recoil within myself and run to safer distractions. 

A valid question might arise in your mind, “If she believes God is who He says He is, why does she struggle with any kind of fear?” 

 The truth is that in the past our very good and gracious God allowed intense pain in my life. I followed Him, and He led me into painful places. I trusted Him, and He allowed me to endure heartrending sorrow. I praised His name, and He still asked me to experience the very worst thing a parent can endure. 

The future brings a possibility of hurt. Even as a follower of Christ, I still live in a broken world, and bad things happen here. 

Chaka Heinze

I’m not going to give you a pat answer. Some hurts are deeper than a simple prayer, a casual scripture, or a kind word can reach. There are wounds that God Himself must tend to in His divine sovereignty and in His own time. Mine have been some of those. 

I don’t have all the answers, but I want to share what I am doing. I have decided to imitate my Jesus.  

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The Bible says, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV).” 

What made Jesus leave heaven’s perfection to come down to earth and endure a brutal death He didn’t deserve for crimes He never committed? We were the joy He clung to on that cursed tree. As He hung there your face and mine were among the pictures He saw in His mind’s eye. For Him, rescuing us and getting us safely home was worth sacrificing His everything.  

Chaka Quote pulled from post.

So I have decided in this time of uncertainty—with my future unfolding without my little boy in it—like Jesus, I will fix my eyes on the joy set before me.  

Jesus is that joy. With my far-off gaze on Him, I can see Him beyond my fear, pain, and wounds. 

I could end this by saying, “Fix your eyes on him.” And that would be a good platitude—a healthy goal. But Instead of an answer right now, I want to offer an invitation. I would rather show the things God is teaching me and allow him to use my story to benefit someone else.  

I want to offer you a ringside seat and reveal the good, the bad, and the downright ugly of the last few years adjusting to this new reality without my son.  

If you are facing fear, hardship, or heartache, perhaps we can walk together on a journey toward Jesus. I would love to join you in prayer and hope for whatever God might be doing in your life right now. 

Get to Know Chaka!

Online Engagement: Live Video

Chaka is a gifted author and speaker with Wholly Loved Ministries. She is a wife and mother of five who is intimately familiar with God’s love and faithfulness during times of struggle. The loss of her eleven-year-old son in 2018 served to increase her heart for encouraging and mentoring women facing hardships in their lives. Chaka is active in her local church, serves as a MOPS mentor, and is eager to glorify God with her writing. Find her at https://www.chakaheinze.com/

Listen to her grief journey Faith Over Fear episode 78 titled the Courage to Grieve

How to Have Peace When God Is Silent – Ep. 110 Faith Over Fear

Everything feels easier when we sense God is guiding us. But what do we do when it seems as if God isn’t responding to our prayers? During periods of divine silence, we might assume that we have done something to make God angry or turn away from us. If we carry shame and unhealed wounds, we might be tempted to view God’s supposed non-response as confirmation of the inner lies that tell us we’re worthless, discardable, or a failure. Our assurance grows, however, when we fill those gaps with truth and remember and reflect upon God’s heart.In this episode, Jennifer Slattery discusses some of the common assumptions people make during periods of divine silence, what these assumptions reveal, and various truths that can help us stand in the full assurance of God’s grace. Resource mentioned:Your Daily Bible Verse podcast, April 5th, 2022:https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/your-daily-bible-verse/id1477482900Find Wholly Loved Ministries at:https://www.WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook):https://www.facebook.com/groups/443325386241769Questions:1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode?2. Can you share a time when you felt God wasn’t answering your prayers? How did you feel?3. Did you learn anything through that seemingly silent period?4. Why is it important to remind ourselves of God’s character and heart toward us?5. During times of silence, why is it important to reflect on God’s grace?6. What Scripture passages do you turn to when you wait on God (for answers or intervention)?7. Is there anything you’re doing, or not doing, on your end that might drown out God’s voice?8. What are some of the ways God speaks to us? (Name as many as you can think of.)9. Why is it important that we consistently read our Bibles?10. What is one action step God is asking you to take after having listened to today’s episode?
  1. How to Have Peace When God Is Silent – Ep. 110
  2. The Power of Breath Prayer to Calm Your Anxiety (with Jennifer Tucker) – Ep. 109
  3. The Courage to Embrace Career Risk – Ep. 108
  4. The Courage to Surrender Our Hurts to Jesus – Ep. 107
  5. Trusting God’s Promise to Use Our Suffering for Good – Ep. 106

Showing Grace to Those Who Are Hard to Love (Ephesians 2:1) Your Daily Bible Verse

Want to listen without the ads? Become a BibleStudyTools.com PLUS Member today: https://www.biblestudytools.com/subscribe/Meet Our Hosts:Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who hosts the Faith Over Fear podcast. She’s addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Building a Family and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.comFollow Jennifer:https://www.lifeaudio.com/faith-over-fear/https://www.facebook.com/JenSlattehttps://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/Grace Fox has published hundreds of articles and authored 10 books including the award-winning devotional, Finding Hope in Crisis: Devotions for Calm in Chaos. She’s a member of the “First 5” writing team for Proverbs 31 Ministries and a regular contributor to Guideposts’ Mornings with Jesus. Grace lives aboard a sailboat in Vancouver, British Columbia. Married in 1982, she and her husband celebrate three grown kids and eleven grandchildren.Check out Grace’s newest book, Keeping Hope Alive: https://www.tyndale.com/p/keeping-hope-alive/9781649380517Subscribe to her weekly devotional blog and monthly update on her website: www.gracefox.comFollow Grace:Facebook: www.fb.com/gracefox.authorInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/graceloewenfox/  Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/gracefoxauthor
  1. Showing Grace to Those Who Are Hard to Love (Ephesians 2:1)
  2. Lessons Learned in the Waiting Room of Life (Genesis 8:1)
  3. Maintaining and Honoring Healthy Boundaries (Luke 10:40)
  4. A Scripture-Based Prayer for Your People (Joshua 22:5)
  5. The Attraction of Hope (1 Peter 3:15)

We’ve all been there–in a place of desperation, crying out to God, only to experience … nothing. No change. No JohnStudy1response, nothing but silence.

That diagnosis remains. We don’t get the job offer we’d hoped for. And that precious child, your child, is still in crisis.

This morning, my sweet friend Chaka Heinze shares what it feels like to fear, night after night, that she might lose her son, a very real possibility with his condition. She’s prayed. Oh, has she prayed, and yet …

And now, her thoughts.

Where’s God by Chaka Heinze

14310587_10211065852831043_6142776882429651081_oA few days ago, our ten-year-old son had surgery to implant a pacemaker/defibrillator and attach some leads to his heart (his fifth device). The night before surgery he was so frightened he threw up his dinner. Throwing up his dinner made it that much harder to give him his precious heart meds. During the night, his cries brought me back to his bed again and again to make certain his heart was still beating correctly. At 2:30am—during his second dose of night meds—I finally brought him to our bed. And there I lay across the foot of my bed, curled up around the feet of my husband and our two youngest children, and I prayed: “Where are you, God? Can’t you see that I need you? Why are you silent?”

Zechariah and Elizabeth lived in a society in which children were not merely desired to complete a family, they were a sign of God’s favor and an “inheritance from the Lord” (Ps 127:3 NIV). “Happy is the man whose quiver is full of them” (ib. verse 5); “your children will be like olive-plants around your table . . . yes this will be the blessing for the man who fears the Lord” (Ps. 128: 3, 4 NIV).

A family without sons would be without children to care for them as they aged, and would have to endure the skepticism of the pious: What sin did Zechariah and Elizabeth commit that caused the Lord to withhold his blessing?

A status symbol, financial security, and the tangible representation of the Lord’s approval.

How easy it would be for Elizabeth to feel like she had failed at her most sacred duty. Indeed, God had been silent for so long that when he finally spoke in Luke 1:18, Zechariah had a difficult time believing what he had to say: “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

In those long decades of childlessness as they yearned for God to take away their misfortune and bless them with children, there must have been moments where their hearts cried out: “Where are you, God? Why are you silent?”

And in the midst of your unemployment…

woman-1006102_1920Or after the tragedy of losing a child…

Or when your marriage is falling apart…

Or when the cancer comes back…

Or when your child raised in the church turns to drugs…

Or when you’re abused and mistreated…

Or when you’re in the grip of depression or anxiety…

Or when you’re lonely…

Or when you feel you’ve done everything God has asked of you…

And you cry out to the God who promises to never leave you or forsake you and are met with silence.

How do we weather the “dark night of the soul?” How do we persevere through those inevitable periods in life where our anguish is met with God’s silence? How do we maintain the same faith as Elizabeth when God chooses not to answer our desperate pleas for days? Months? Years? Decades?

1) Lament to the Lord. In 1 Peter 5:7, Peter says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” It is not only “okay” to lament to God, it is the Lord’s desire that you give voice to the pain, the disappointment, the hurt. No tear is wasted when offered to our God. (Psalm 56:8)

2) Trust that God is good and God is with you. His silence does not mean that he has deserted you. God may be using the silence to deepen your faith, or perhaps the time simply isn’t right for God to reveal himself. A few things are certain—even in the silent times—God is good and he is using his goodness to work on your behalf! “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

3) Wait on him patiently. “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and the mire” (Psalm 40:1-2 NIV). After offering your lamentations and determining to trust—hold on. Persevere in your faith. Our God will not always answer when we want him to, but his answers will always be right on time to accomplish his perfect will in your life.

As I write my closing, my son cries out in his sleep and my heart leaps into my throat. Lament, trust, wait. I will wait on you, O Lord.

13433264_494764977387535_5596239249582488184_oChaka Heinze lives in Nebraska with her husband, four children, and two havanese pups. She has always admired C.S. Lewis and desires to emulate his ability to glorify God without slapping people in the face with religion. Her debut novel, Under A Withering Sun, is in the process of being re-released (stay tuned for more details). Chaka also enjoys speaking to groups of women about the faithfulness of God through difficult times. She is a member of ACFW and NWG.

 

livingbygracepic-jpLet’s talk about this. What resonated most in Chaka’s story? What about her suggestions on dealing with unanswered prayers or divine silence? Have you experienced something similar? How did you handle it? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on Facebook at Living by Grace, and join the ongoing discussion in our For the Love Bible Study page–because life is hard; we need encouragement and support from one another, amen?

For those just joining us, you can read past posts in this study by clicking the links below.

Week one, we explained what we’re doing, why, and what I pray this study will accomplish for each of us. You can read about that HERE.

We opened talking about Zechariah and Elizabeth’s character and lifestyle–their obedience in the mundane, and how we can demonstrate this kind of integrity as well. Read more HERE.

This week we’ve been talking about prayer–making it a priority and making it meaningful. You can read more HERE and HERE.

Before you leave, listen to this song. It’s become one of my favorites. As I’ve faced difficulties and disappointments, it’s a reminder–He is God, and I am not. He does hear us. He is good, regardless of what our circumstances lead us to believe. He is always-always-always working on our behalf.

Come back Monday when Maria Morgan, author of the Outrageously Fruitful Bible study will encourage us to choose faith over doubt, because we are in control of our thoughts.

Then on the 22nd, my sweet friend Susan Aken will share an uplifting and God-infused post on what happens when the waiting ends.

On the 29th, we’ll transition to thoughts on parenting and how we, like Zechariah and Elizabeth (and perhaps the Essenes), can raise children who live to bring Christ glory with my guest Candee Fick.

This launches us into October–oh my!

On the 3rd, we’ll take a look at the way God instructed Zechariah and Elizabeth to raise John, what that looked like, and how we can be diligent to stay focused on God’s will, even when our actions are unpopular and deemed strange.

On the 6th my sweet friend Mikal Hermanns will take a break from her wedding dress obsession ( 😉 ) to talk about loving the weird in our kids. Because honestly, John was strange. Locust dinners and camel hair clothing–hello! But he was weird on purpose–God’s purpose.

1,324 blog post words later, I leave you with this:

Pause to connect with Christ today; to carve out some time to simply spend in His presence. To draw from His strength and comfort. And take comfort in this, whether you feel Him or not, whether you hear a word He utters, He is with you. James 4:8 promises us the moment we take one step toward Christ, He is already drawing near to us.

And bury God’s Word deep in your heart. This week’s memory verse:

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