“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord…’plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Romans 5: 3b-5: “…knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

Will Rogers had a saying about judgement that translates well into a saying about Character: Good [character] comes from experience – and a lot of that comes from bad [character].

I am grieving. Finally. For my brother, and my cat, and my dog. And all the other dogs and cats I’ve loved and lost. And some of the people. I recall when my friend Eddy died: he had been my refuge during my marriage: he was the one who welcomed me in his tiny New York apartment, when I needed to get away. My uncle Bobby died the same weekend. I found that out, calling my family on Mother’s day: and my brother’s wife in Michigan told me about Bobby. And then none of my other family were home. So I called Eddy. And his sister got on the phone and said that he’d died. And I kept it together while I talked to her and after I hung up, I cried to the depths of my soul.

Ever done that? Cried from the pit of your being? The reverse of laughing so hard your stomach hurts? Cried so deeply you think those cries belong to someone else? Cried so hard you just can’t stop? And when you finally do, you’re cleaned out; open, lit up inside, clean like a sparkling stream, no wounds anywhere, just alive and okay…sad, sore, kind of, but okay. I remember seeing the sunrise with its colors for the first time in California the next morning; thinking Bobby and Eddie were singing in heaven together and that made the sky full of color, light, possibilities, hope…

So, while I work at this grief thing, getting angry, blaming myself, feeling lethargic and useless somewhat, knowing that at some point I will acknowledge that this is the Way It Is: it may not be Right, but it is the Way It Is, I know that I am who I am, thanks be to God, because of the losses in my life; the sufferings in my life. I know that through suffering the loss of the pets and people and loves, I am who I am, and that if any of it were different, I’d be different. My life would be different. And my character would be different. And I might not have hope. Or if I had hope, it, too, would be different.

Like “It’s a Wonderful Life,” or “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” if one person or event changes, our world, and thereby, The World, changes. So, even when friends die, even when S#*@ happens, even when we don’t understand, even when we Know something is ‘Not Right, but it IS’…we must remember that we are not alone. The Holy Spirit waits upon us to groan, when we have no words for the pain of our hearts, and through Her, our prayers go to God (Romans 8: 26-27), and as God always does, they will be answered, in God’s way, in God’s time, for our and the Kin_dom’s highest good.

So, go ahead and cry, Bethany, and any of you who are grieving for any lost thing: loves, friends, pets, health, family, country, heart, strength, joy, home, freedom, choice…and know that your suffering is producing endurance and endurance is producing character, and character is producing hope, and hope connects us to God’s love, in the realm of God which is in our world, through the Holy Spirit.

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord…’plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11)… The Holy Spirit is with you; you have cause to hope. Even in your suffering. “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks [no matter what], for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-17)

Thank God for YOU. Yes, YOU. You special, unique one, with your sufferings, and with His hope.

Blessings, Pastor Bethany

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