In Times of Grief

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints. – Philemon 1:7

In Times of Grief

When someone you know is grieving, you want to express your love and concern. But, how do you know what to say? Sometimes there just aren’t words. But it’s important that you spend time with your friend or family member. What’s as important as anything is just showing up.

What do you say to someone who is suffering? Some people are gifted with words of wisdom. For such, one is profoundly grateful. But not all are gifted in that way. Some blurt out things that don’t really make sense. That’s o.k. too. Your words don’t have to be wise. The heart that speaks is heard more than the words spoken. And if you can’t think of anything to say, just say, “I can’t think of anything to say. But I want you to know that we are with you in your grief.”

Or even just embrace. Not even the best of words can take away the pain. What words can do is testify that there is more than pain in our journey on earth to a new day. Of those things that are more, the greatest is love. Express your love. How appallingly grim must be the death of a child in the absence of love.

Sharing in someone’s grief is no time to worry about your own discomfort and uncertainty about what to show. Believe that God will give you the words, the touch, the hug that will comfort. And you’ll be glad you shared in the moment and gave strength to a hurting soul.

– Steve Arterburn

Tears shed for self are tears of weakness, but tears shed for others are a sign of strength. – Billy Graham

Silence

For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. – 1 Peter 2:15

Silence

Have you ever hung up the phone or left a conversation and felt like you said too much? Have you ever wished you could take back something you said? We often learn the hard way that words can cause pain and create problems.

One way to refine your use of words is by routinely practicing the discipline of silence.

Take a day to monitor your conversations. Spend some time in silence to reflect on how you’ve used and abused words. Do you use words to rationalize, lie, deceive, exaggerate, or manipulate? In silence you’ll remember the words you spoke quickly in anger and slowly in apology, arrogantly in accusation and humbly in confession. In silence you’ll begin to hear and you’ll begin to experience his renewal.

Then you can begin to make changes where necessary. People recovering from heart attacks are often counseled to bring quiet into their lives by speaking less often and more slowly when they do speak. Such discipline has been proven to reduce stress and ease tension. And most importantly it can help you use your words in ways that encourage others and please God.

– Steve Arterburn

Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact. – George Eliot

Gifts And Gratitude

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. – 1 Peter 4:10

Gifts And Gratitude

There’s a real danger in thinking your spiritual gifts are blessings God has given you for your own benefit. The problem with this selfish viewpoint is that you see your use of these as an option or luxury that you neglect or use according to your will alone. That’s a far cry from a biblical understanding, which sees your spiritual gifts as expressions of gratitude God wills for you to use in service to others.

The Bible teaches that God gives us spiritual gifts so we can give to others. We use our gifts to continue Christ’s work on earth. The apostle Paul wrote: A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church. His point: your gifts aren’t your possessions. Yes, they’ve been entrusted to you, but actually, they belong to the community of believers. The truth we need to think about is that God has woven a unique design into each of our hearts. And our spiritual gifts are part of that fabric.

So, what are your spiritual gifts? Not sure? Read the Bible’s teaching on spiritual gifts in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. Then ask yourself where you’ve felt the greatest satisfaction serving the Lord. Carefully thinking through that question will go a very long way in clarifying this issue; because when you do what you love in order to show God’s love, you’ll find spiritual fulfillment and renewal.

– Steve Arterburn

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, I used everything you gave me. – Erma Bombeck

Our Shield of Togetherness

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Facing Up to Our Wrongs

Alone we’re vulnerable to temptation. Together, however, we form a shield of protection for one another. God wants you and I to grow spiritually in a network of mutual commitment and accountability, where we help each other to think and live in new ways.

The apostle Paul wrote, “In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan” (Ephesians 6:16). The shield of faith was likened to the shields carried by Roman soldiers, which were able to cover the entire body. To advance in battle, a group of soldiers would assemble together, making a wall of shields for protection as they moved forward.

Similarly, we’re told to stick together. The author of Hebrews wrote, “Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other” (Hebrews 10:25). Our encouragement of one another and our shared faith in God and his Word will serve as the shield we need to persevere in tough times.

Who is standing beside you in the everyday battles of your life? Are you alone on the field or do you have trusted friends on each side? If you’re alone, how is that working out for you? Who has God called you to stand beside?

– Steve Arterburn

If I have seen farther than other men, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. – Sir Isaac Newton

Releasing Past Failures

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. – Psalm 37:5–6

Releasing Past Failures

Some people go through life excusing their shortcomings because of some disadvantage they’ve had stacked against them. Others have grown up in great families and circumstances of great advantage and privilege. They’ve had less in their lives to overcome and less occasion to stumble.

If you’re one who hasn’t had these benefits and you’ve had a disadvantage or two to overcome, you may feel angry, resentful, and even ashamed as a result. If so, I have two  important things to say to you: first, your feelings are certainly understandable. Second, despite the fact that your resentful feelings may be justified, you simply must let go of them–those feelings will slowly eat you alive.

Letting go is so simple and at the same time so hard to do. Daily, we face the same challenge . . . a challenge to surrender. Surrender your will, your power, your bitter, angry feelings of resentment to God. Empty yourself so His Holy Spirit can come and fill the void.

See if God won’t respond to your surrender.

– Steve Arterburn

The greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender. – William Booth

Expressing Grief

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27

Expressing Grief

Grief is the process that helps you release your pain and losses to God. In your grief, you come to terms with your past and you find freedom to live in the reality of the present. On the other side of grief, you’ll find hope for the future. So if you harden your heart and refuse to grieve, you’re likely to get stuck both emotionally and spiritually.

The prophet Jeremiah shared his grief and tears with God. Jeremiah lived with God’s people and pleaded with them to return to God. But his pleas fell on deaf ears, and his heart was broken. So in his grief, the prophet penned the words of the Old Testament book, Lamentations. When you read it, you’ll find that Jeremiah didn’t mince his words or hide his pain. He weeps openly and fully, releasing his emotions to God. It’s a great example for us when we grieve our own losses.

Lamentations doesn’t provide pat answers for the suffering you’ll experience. If you’ll read it, you’ll discover that it’s all right to be real, to be angry, to be disappointed with life, and to be concerned about what tomorrow holds for you. God accepted Jeremiah being angry, tired, and discouraged, and he will accept you as well. Just as God honored the tears of Jeremiah, He’ll honor yours if you share your pain and sorrow with Him. It’s likely to be the first step to bring healing for the present and hope for the future.

– Steve Arterburn

Grief  is itself a medicine. – William Cowper

I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process. – C.S. Lewis

Breaking Up the Fear and Food Addictive Relationship: Part 5

self-loathingSTEP FIVE – Admit the Self-Loathing
As fear drives people from guilt to shame, it also affects the way they see themselves. In contrast to self-respect, overeaters develop self-hate. Although they may not be aware of the fact, they have started functioning in a highly self-destructive manner. Bulimic purging is one way to get rid of the fearful aspects of their lives. One bulimic patient kept vomiting throughout her marriage; she was symbolically trying to rid herself of her emotional feelings about her controlling, abusive husband. Once she finally divorced her unfaithful, physically and sexually abusive husband, the vomiting stopped.

Binges and purging are also ways that bulimics are destroying themselves. As bizarre as this repressed logic may be, millions of people do not face the self-hate that is causing their problems.

Of course, despising themselves enlarges the emotional emptiness they have been feeling for so long. Love hunger deepens, forcing the addictive cycle forward. These sufferers are helplessly entangled in a terrible process that can destroy their lives. Even though they make promises to adjust their eating behavior, nothing changes because they have failed to see the whole cycle for what it is: a process!

– Steve Arterburn

What is the first step toward healing? Please join us at our next Lose It For Life Workshop.

Breaking Up the Fear and Food Addictive Relationship: Part 4

costSTEP FOUR – Face the Pay-off
Fear forces people with eating disorders into an emotional bind. Sufferers may be forced into isolation and lose meaningful relationship with other people. They feel unworthy to be full participants in a normal life. The cost is high and humiliating.

People feel guilty about their purging and gorging behavior. They also feel guilty because they cannot control their eating. Even worse is the shame lurking underneath the fear. The shame that originated in their childhood is now a dark sense of worthlessness. And nothing is more difficult to bear than shame. This degrading emotion eats away all remaining self-respect and leaves the person feeling naked before the watching world. And as overweight people grow larger, they must carry the double shame of their extreme weight and its degrading appearance. Addiction specialists feel that nearly all addictions arise from experiences of shame or lack of connectedness, or both.

Facing and accepting our worst fears and then moving into the future is one of the ways our heavenly Father sets us free from the past.

– Steve Arterburn

What is the first step toward healing? Please join us at our next Lose It For Life Workshop.

Breaking Up the Fear and Food Addictive Relationship: Part 3

foodSTEP THREE – Recognize That Food Fuels the Wheel
The addictive process is an endlessly turning wheel until something breaks the cycle. For the alcoholic, the chemical content of alcohol keeps the wheel moving. Food addicts have to accept the fact that food can have a similar effect on them. Let’s enumerate a number of the effects food can have.

First,  food can kill pain. Often people overeat because feeling full gives them a sense of well-being, which pushes away the gnawing anxiety they felt before the meal. Unfortunately, the effects of consistently overeating pile up around the waistline and the overeaters don’t like the way they look. They are actually punishing themselves by becoming unattractive and endangering their health.

Second,  food also has a tranquilizing effect. When we eat, blood sugar levels rise and neurochemicals called endorphins are released to give us a sense of well-being. After a few minutes of trotting, runners often experience a similar pleasant sensation. Food has actually turned into a tranquilizer. The quest for this feeling of well-being turns people into food addicts.

***** The addictive process is an endlessly turning wheel until something breaks the cycle! *****

Third,  food can distance us from others. People who were sexually abused or felt the intense pain of a broken love relationship find that eating excessively can put enough fat around them to keep members of the opposite sex away from them. Consequently, they protect themselves from any further abuse or unexpected rejection.

An oral addiction can also take on many other forms. Smoking, excessive talking, using profanity, grinding teeth, all can be expressions of the same pain. In each of these activities an addictive agent is fueling the Ferris wheel of our addiction. If you are caught in this swirl of confusion, you must put food back in its proper place. You cannot allow the pleasantness of eating to distort what you actually require for your life.

– Steve Arterburn

What is the first step toward healing? Please join us at our next Lose It For Life Workshop.

Breaking Up the Fear and Food Addictive Relationship: Part 2

emotional-painSTEP TWO – Face the Emotional Pain
Being honest about the depth of our emotional pain is extremely difficult. No one wants to get in touch with the root of the pain system, since this renews the loss and deprivation that we’re trying desperately to avoid.

Generally our apprehension twists our opinion of ourselves, leaving us with low self-esteem. Even though our personal accomplishments may be of considerable scope, we tend to see ourselves in a diminished and insignificant position. The result is emotionally devastating.

***** Self-esteem is a gift only we can give ourselves! *****

We must learn that self-esteem is a gift only we can give ourselves. Rather than a product of accomplishment, enduring self-esteem rests on a sense of self-worth intrinsically ours because we are children of God. I John 3:1 says: ‘See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children, and we really are!’ We have value because the heavenly Father has placed us in this world as His special envoys. We must recognize and accept this fact as true.

***** In God’s eyes we have supreme value! *****

Whether the president of the United States or a dishwasher, we are of supreme value in God’s sight. Recognizing that fact is one of the most important steps we can take to break out of emotional pain. Experiencing unconditional love from good friends over a long period of time also reinforces our feelings of self-worth.

– Steve Arterburn

What is the first step toward healing? Please join us at our next Lose It For Life Workshop.