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Please visit me at REDEEMED...RESTORED...RELEASED: One Woman's Story of Living Free to read more about what God is doing in my life and how He is working those things to set me free. Thanks so much for following, visiting, reading all about it and supporting me as you have done so many times these last few years. If you follow my other blogs, the posts from all three of my blogs are going to be transferred to the new digs for one big blog about our journey to restoration and freedom in Christ.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday's In Other Words: His Comfort For Us

“To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own. ”
~Abraham Lincoln~

What does this look like in your life?
Has someone been there for you? Stepped up and stood up in your hour of need. I have been on the receiving and the giving end of this noble pursuit. Today, one occasion stands out more clearly for me than any other.
It was during our church's annual "First" Conference. A series of messages offered over the first four days of the first week of the new year. In 2008, I attended the conference with great expectation. Gospel Bill was closing out the services on Wednesday night. Though I had never heard him speak before, my friend, Mary, said he is a precious man of God with a heart to reach children with the Gospel of Christ.
The message was wonderful. A time of prayer and ministry for healing was offered. I received on many levels. As I walked out into the hall with the handful of friends I had been sitting with, the women began to talk about a two year old girl who had fallen into her family's pool that afternoon. The family was among the members of Gateway Church. The story just grabbed hold of my heart.
Here, I must confess that I often do not watch the news and miss many stories just like this one because I become overwhelmed and consumed by it. Perhaps that is why I overheard this information that evening.
Over the next couple of days reports of the accident as well as the precious last hours of this little girl's life began to filter out. The memorial service plans were announced. I decided to attend. I did not want to be noticed or necessarily even to speak a word to this couple. All I wanted was to find a place in the back of the room to sit and pray through the service. My friend in grief, Mary, went with me to the service and shared a Scripture at the end when they asked for words of encouragement and prayer.
I, as Mary later said, was uncharacteristically silent. Praying.
During the service this precious couple worshipped before their beautiful daughter's casket and praised the Lord with arms lifted high. They stood and spoke, and for the first time I understood what that day in my own life must have looked like to those who attended my son's funeral.
The mother, who had been home at the time of the drowning and pulled her child's lifeless body from the pool shared these words: "We believe to whom much is given, much is required. So it is with this. With great suffering comes a greater responsibility to minister to others." They also acknowledged that the day of the service was not a Funeral or a Memorial. The service was being held on the child's second birthday. It was a celebratioin of her life. So beautifully expressed in the hearts of this family.
Over the next few months I sent a few cards to this family. I prayed for them often. We attended the same service at church. When I would catch sight of them I would always pray. As spring rolled in I realized that God really wanted me to lead a group for grief recovery specifically for grieving moms. I prayed ardently for the group. Met with leaders and opened His Word beginning to prepare a curriculum that would bring final healing and recovery to my own aching heart before ministering to others who hurt in similar ways. But, more assuredly, I began to pray for God to bring women who were hurting and desiring healing to the class.
All of this preparation could not have given me a clue what God would do in the lives of the women who attended or my own life that fateful year. But, here is what I know has happened. On August 23, 2008, I received Isaiah 60:20 and God sealed the healing of my grief in my heart on the third anniversary of my son's death.
The first to commit her attendance to the class has seen improvement in her grief, recovery and hope have been given to her immeasurably in her journey both through my class and before we got there. She has also begun to pursue starting a similar class in her own church. Healing and Equipping.
The woman who spoke at her own daughter's funeral a little more than a year ago also came. I spoke to her shortly after the first of the year and she shared that she received confirmation of her own grief recovery the week of the anniversary of her child's death. She gave birth to her sixth child in February, and that little baby is such redemption. HOPE for the future.
The third woman who came to our class saw her relationship with her husband being restored and left equipped to walk through her grief journey toward healing. I spoke to her this past week by phone and she shared she has been manning the prayer lines at a local Christian television station where many times she has prayed with couples who report they have recently experienced the loss of a child. She said on our last occasion to meet for the class that her greatest desire was to help those who are hurting after the loss of a child. Restoration and comfort.
It has been an amazing journey of mercy, grace, beauty and healing. It blesses me so...
I look forward to more semesters and future opportunities to walk with those who are traveling the road that I've been on for a little better than three years now. To speak hope to their pain, to cry with them in their agony and to hold fast to God in prayer when I know the suffering is more than they can bear. God is so faithful and He brings forth such beauty from such tragedy.
Yesterday, my family and I learned of yet another family who is missing their beloved child. This post is dedicated to the memory of Michael Wayne Hogan II of Newark, TX who died in an automobile accident earlier this month. My eldest daughter was great friends with his sister during her middle and early high school years. This family has been special to us and their burden is now great. I pray the Lord will give us opportunity to share the journey with them as we have done with many others since Justin went home. Today, he has another friend in heaven and they are cheering for us from their places there. Glory, fall on us today.

Our Lord makes all things new. If you are hurting in any way today, please know that right this minute you are being prayed for by someone whose heart aches in tune with sorrow specifically for you. I'm praying for you as well. May His mercy, His comfort and His peace fall on you today. In Jesus Name, Amen.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. 6 Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7 And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.
2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (NKJV)

Susan at Forever His is hosting IN OTHER WORDS this week. Stop on by and read more or what others are saying "IN OTHER WORDS" and be blessed. To learn more about this challenging and insightful writing meme click the picture link below and visit LONI and have a blessed week.


Laurie Ann said...

Michelle, the powerful ministry God has given you will bless more than you know. I'm so glad you have such a servant's heart and am praying for you. Great post! Precious dedication, too.

MiPa said...

Michelle, I always look forward to your posts because they are so honest. How you have allowed God to heal and to minister through you touches and inspires me. Thank you for sharing.

luvmy4sons said...

It is so wonderful that you reach out through your pain to minister to others. How awesome is it that God blesses those who bless and comforts those who comfort?! Blessings to you today!

Debbie said...

Michelle, what a testimony you shared so beautifully. That's what the 2 Corinthians passages are all about. You know what it's like to lose a precious child like others who have never been in that position would ever know. How faithful you've been to offer comfort and encouragement to others through your own pain and grief. Thank you for sharing. I'm glad I came to visit today and thank you for visiting Heart Choices.

Kim@Seasons of My Heart said...

Thanks for stopping by sweet friend..I'm so glad you did because it's lead me to you!

What an amazing post you've shared! I'm ALWAYS in awe....of how God turns our ashes...into BEAUTY!

I'll be praying for you as you minister to the hurting people, God brings across your path!

Blessings Michelle! :-)

Patricia said...

Thank you for sharing how God is using you to minister to the lives of those who have lost children. You have a blessed ministry.

Esthermay said...

You know . . .
There is NO pretense in you girl! You are so real and if you were part of the NewTestament Church, you would have been on of the few women named!!!
GOD works through you in ways you will never know this side of heaven.
Thank you for sharing pieces of your testimony and your life - they will surely be used of God to bless those who are burdened.

Those precious verses in the first Chapter of II Corinthians have always had special meaning to me also. God uses our pain and recycles us through it to begin the process in others . . .


Denise said...

God bless you beautiful servant of God.

Susan said...

Dear Michelle,

Do you know how precious you are? To all of us out here and to the Lord?

Thank you so much for sharing today. I was hoping you would, knowing you would bring words of hope and healing to us all.

You've walked the walk no parent would ever dream of, and your testimony to the faithfulness of our God has remained, UNSHAKEN.

Yes, God does bring beauty out of all our pain, "IF" we allow Him!

I'm so grateful you have, and because of it you are now an instrument in HIS HANDS to touch and bring healing to so many who hurt so deeply.

I'm so grateful the Lord allowed our paths to cross. I loved you from the first time I came here.

I feel like we are close friends now.

(Oh...I can't believe Gospel Bill is still around! I've seen him several times, many years ago. I used to play his videos for my children when they were young! Amazing.)


Chel said...

About 5 years ago we went to the funeral of our cousins son who drown in his little pool, their grief is still very vivid on their face. They have been blessed with another son but their joy seems so incomplete. Please add Ginger and Kevin to your prayers.
Thank you, Chel

lori said...

WOW what a testimony and what a passionate and honest heart you've shared here...again...

Peace to you on this journey and may God bless you through and through!

Thank you for sharing your heart! Your faith astounds me and inspires me!


Anonymous said...

Need I say, your post touched me greatly, and I shared tears with you . . . and your sharing brought it all together, in how God wants us to reach out. Thank you my friend for sharing. I am blessed to know you.