Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Mystery of Suffering - A Widow's Walk... 

Shared by Natalie I. Lancaster, as Chapter Leader for Modern Widows Club – Houston  and Northwest Houston/Katy Chapters with the RCIA Class at  All Saints Catholic Church, Houston Texas on January 31, 2017 

Kelly Hawkins asked me to share my widow’s walk with you and how it intersects with the mystery of suffering. 

Adversity introduces man to himself. It is there that we meet God.  Anonymous 

The mystery of suffering comes to us as we turn to Christ in our pain and solitude reaching for Him in our total surrender and divine abandonment. 
Becoming a widow, regardless of whether it happens suddenly or after a long illness, completely redirects your life overnight. All your plans, hopes, and dreams immediately vanish in an instant and you don’t know who you are or where you are going. Your current life has ended and your new life begins. It can take your breath away. The soul mate you built your family with and shared all you hopes and dreams with will not see you until we get to heaven. What to do? Where to turn? How to we move forward…We turn to Christ. In our suffering, in our solitude, he begins to unfold the petals of our new life, our new purpose, our new being… 

I wanted to share some of the themes we use to empower our new widows to help them lean into new life: 

C – Change; You must make a Choice to take a Chance to make a Change.  

Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you respond to it.  Anonymous

In the blink of an eye, your life can be totally transformed. And suddenly, all the planning and preparation for your future has vanished and you have to find a new road to the future. You begin a new journey in a brand new life that you never imagined or dreamed of. And yet, it is where you are and you have to move forward and enjoy the life you have been given.  

Isaiah 43:19 “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” 

Romans 12:2 “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” 

H – Hope; Hope for our future; hope for our new life; hope for our family and a place to grow.  
Christ brings us hope and helps us lean into new life. He gives us grace to start again and to see things in a new way.  When my husband Kevin was dying, he kept telling us that he was going to serve Christ in a new way, in a new place…in heaven.  

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 

Psalm 73:23-24 “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.”  

R – Resilience – Christ moves us to a place of resilience and growth
Resilience is the greatest attribute I see my members gain with time after suffering great loss. I have studied resilience with a great fascination for the last few years. I have read many books, and really base our leadership on some the best principles of Dr. Brene Brown in her book Rising Strong. But, we get our “gumption” as I like to call it from Christ. He helps us find it and to rely on it and to begin to believe in resilience so we can live again.

Philippians 4:13 “I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Ephesians 6:10-14 “Finally, be strong in the Lord, relying on his mighty strength. Put on the whole armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the Devil’s strategies. For our struggle is not against human opponents, but against rulers, authorities, cosmic powers in the darkness around us, and evil spiritual forces in the heavenly realm.” 

I - Inspiration; Christ inspires us to draw closer to Him and in Him we become renewed again and begin new life with Him at the center.  

Christ inspires us to reach new levels. We must make a commitment to continue to grow and change and be all we  were born to be. He knows our lives before we are born. So that means, despite our suffering, or how we got here, it was always our intended path. We were born to be right here right now and He will give us the inspiration and direction we need to be fulfilled and continue on our journey for His glory.  

Genesis 28:15 “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done all I have promised you.” 

Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” 

S – Strength – Christ brings us strength to overcome suffering. In our solitude, we lean into Him.  
In our silence and solitude and our suffering, we turn to Him and He rescues us. We cling to Him in a way that nothing but suffering can cause. When we are happy, we are grateful. But when we suffer, truly suffer, we are silent and scared and feel so alone. In that time of divine abandonment, we turn to Him with our open hearts and open hands. We are vulnerable to Him and open to receive His love in a way we have never known 

Our trials reveal the true condition of our hearts. How we react under pressure, is how we really are. 

Charles Dickens shares that "Suffering has been stronger than any other teaching - It has taught me to understand that what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken and I hope into a better shape."

Psalm 139: 1-4 “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.”
And my personal verse… 

Isaiah 41:10 “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up in my victorious right hand.” And finally,  

T – Trust. In Him is our Trust. Without our life partner, we don’t know who we are, we don’t know where to go, we don’t know what will happen with our future, with our families. We must turn to Him in complete Trust. There is No other way…Only in turning to Christ with all our Trust will we survive the suffering and lean into the new life that only God can bring us. 

Psalm 56:3-4 “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.” 

Psalm 28:7 “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.” 

The mystery of suffering allows us to draw near to Christ in a unique way. We really get to know Him when we can be open in our suffering and share our vulnerability. The conversion that comes to us in this magical mystery is overwhelming and life changing. It is not to be avoided or feared. We are humbly and wonderfully made, and Christ comes to meet us in our deepest pain. He is always with us and He never leaves us. We are truly never alone. And His love lasts forever. 

In closing, I’d like to share the lyrics of one of my favorite songs by Danny Gokey, a widower who lost his very young wife, “Tell your heart to beat again…” 

You're shattered 
Like you've never been before 
The life you knew 
In a thousand pieces on the floor 
And words fall short in times like these 
When this world drives you to your knees 
You think you're never gonna get back 
To the you that used to be 
Tell your heart to beat again 
Close your eyes and breathe it in 
Let the shadows fall away 
Step into the light of grace 
Yesterday's a closing door 
You don't live there anymore 
Say goodbye to where you've been 
And tell your heart to beat again 
Beginning Just let that word wash over you 
It's alright now 
Love's healing hands have pulled you through 
So get back up, take step one 
Leave the darkness, feel the sun '
Cause your story's far from over 
And your journey's just begun 

No comments:

Post a Comment