Steve Patterson: A time for grieving, a time for rejoicing, and thankful for both times!

NEMiss.News Mount up with wings as eagles
November 3rd, 2021     Featured News Guest Authors

 

 

“…A time to weep, a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”   

        Ecclesiastes 3:4   King James Bible

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow,” is the opening refrain of a hymn sung in Christian worship all over the world. It’s known as the Doxology, and while several versions are sung and chanted, the message is precisely true and always the same: All blessings come from God. This is a fact easily affirmed by faithful Christians everywhere, but do we also affirm that in the grand designs of a sovereign God, blessings can be found in all things?

NEMiss.news Steve Patterson and

Steve Patterson

 

In my experience, blessings indeed can be found in all things. Only faith, patience, and a discerning eye are required to affirm this truth. Sometimes, a sovereign God allows us to go through trying times, personal crises, and seemingly unbearable loss. Don’t we always learn from our sufferings, even if we don’t want to? Can’t those lessons be blessings in and of themselves? Don’t these hard-learned life lessons prepare and empower us to live in a world of sin and sorrow? They certainly have for me.

Life’s failures, crises, and losses can lead us to a growing awareness that no matter how hard we try, our striving to make life work sometimes makes it worse instead of better. It forces us into a recognition of the need for God’s unfailing grace and intervention in our lives. Therein, lies the glorious blessings to be found in all things.

Earlier this month, it became official. I have now spent 70 tumultuous years in this world of pleasure and pain, of soaring successes and disappointing failures, of unbounded joy and overwhelming grief. So far, I have survived it all.

“No one ever told me grief felt so much like fear.”

–C. S. Lewis

I was never content to ride life’s merry-go-round, oh no! Instead, I eagerly climbed on the biggest, most thrilling roller coaster available, completely satisfied with its slow ascent to the summit and gripping the rails during its sudden, frightening falls to life’s lowest places. Seemingly devastating consequences awaited me at every turn, yet I kept buying another ticket to ride again and again. Why? Some would say I was a glutton for punishment, but I suppose it’s because I was generally able to discern a blessing in all things. Every time, I thankfully embraced and understood the sure grace of my Creator and Heavenly Father. I loved him, but he patiently loved me far more.

Furthermore, I have wandered through life’s 70 year journey knowing that, despite my best efforts, I was not in control, God was. I knew he could be trusted. He told me to trust him, and most of the time I did. Through all the grief, all the sorrows, all the regrets, faith and patience always led me to God’s waiting blessings!

Even without our help, life is often hard. It is filled with difficulty, unpleasantness, and grief. Sadness and sorrow visit us all eventually. One of my favorite writers is the British lay theologian C. S. Lewis. In one splendidly profound sentence, Lewis wrote, “No one ever told me grief felt so much like fear.” For me at least, that distills the essence of grief like nothing else I’ve ever read.

Last week, I was faced with the formidable and grief-evoking task of enrolling my 92 year old mother in Hospice care. Grief immediately consumed me. The End was drawing near for the woman who had one lone overriding goal in her entire life: loving and protecting me, her only child. This stunningly beautiful woman devoted her entire adult life to my happiness and well-being. She saw to it that I was well behaved, well mannered, well clothed, well educated, well fed, and well loved. My well-being was her life’s goal, and she gladly overcame any burden to reach that life goal.

Finally, I came to realize my grief was really, firmly rooted in fear. Mother’s dementia had taken over her reasoning abilities over a year ago, her bones are brittle, and her body is weak. Soon she will no doubt dwell in the restorative presence of her loving Heavenly Father. Selfishly, I still often think, but what about me? What will I do without her love, her advice, her helping hand? Where will I flee for solace in the really bad times? I fear her loss in my life. Suddenly reality sets in. My mother has been my greatest blessing, and guess what? She always will be. Not even death can separate me from her many blessings and unconditional love. It will be alright; in all things, blessings abound. I must overcome the selfish fear and embrace the blessings.

Indeed, there is much deserving our grief and fear in this troubled world. There is also much to rejoice and celebrate.

“When the grief becomes overwhelming, it navigates us toward the Cross…”

— Steve Patterson

I grieve for all that has been lost and ruined as we all bear witness to the anger, the division, and fear that seems to wash over today’s society.  Yet I celebrate the healers, the unifiers, the remnant of God’s children among us who will point us towards God’s love and unfailing grace.

I grieve for my own repetitive sins and stubbornness of heart. Yet, I celebrate feelings of guilt and the freedom to seek forgiveness and change!

I grieve and fear the lies that are bombarding us and the frailty of truth. But I celebrate in the knowledge that, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

I grieve for the hopelessness that instructs us to lay our foundations on the unreliable sands of emotion, that nourish our fears and anger towards one another, yet I celebrate the times when we come together, count our blessings, and follow the great command “to love one another.”

I grieve for the weak public leaders among us who refuse to lead, and for power that perpetuates itself through divisive rhetoric. Yet I celebrate the certainty of free and fair elections that remedy that problem.

I grieve over the spoken words that encourage us to place tribe over justice, might over mercy, and self-interest over love of our neighbors. Yet I celebrate and I rejoice in the fact that I am a follower of a brown-skinned, Palestinian Jew, and he’s not having any part of it!

Grief is necessary. It forces us to bear witness to truth and lies, to justice and injustice, to kindness and meanness, to sin and grace. When the grief becomes overwhelming, it navigates us toward the Cross, and there we lay all burdens.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow and know there are blessings in all things. For as the prophet of old teaches, “But they that wait upon the lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings of Eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 KJV

Wait upon the Lord. Have patience. There is a blessing in all things. Just look, you’ll find it.

 

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For more by Steve Patterson, see: America’s Dilemma or click his name below this post’s feature photo above and select whatever piques your interest.

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From the Community

Joanne Lesley says:

A time for weeping / A time for rejoicing. This is such a really good article. The part regarding your dear sweet Mother touches my heart since we are dealing with the same. Thank you for sharing this with us!

Patsy kimball says:

Thank you , Steve , for an elegantly written , moving message ! Blessings are sometimes hard to find but they are near .

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