Revive Our Hearts Weekend Podcast

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Friendship through Weeping and Rejoicing

Dannah Gresh: Nothing prepares you for the aftermath of losing of a child or the flood of emotions and questions. After the death of her daughter, Nancy Guthrie had thoughts she never had before.

Nancy Guthrie: Grief is scary. At least it was for me because I really did wonder, Am I going to feel like this forever? What am I going to be like down the road? How is this going to change me? How am I going to come out of this on the other side?

Dannah: Learning to be a friend who mourns with those who mourn, today on Revive Our Hearts Weekend.

Welcome to Revive Our Hearts Weekend, I’m Dannah Gresh. 

Thanks for joining me here at the Gresh Farm again. I had planned to invite you to go for a walk, but God sent this rain and it seems to have settled in, so I put the kettle on. Let’s just sit and sip our tea and listen to the rain. 

You know, a rainy day is sort of appropriate for our topic today. In fact, it’s not really a topic I want to discuss, but it’s something we need to talk about. You see, a lot of people are facing great loss right now. 

The Revive Our Hearts team got a letter a few weeks ago that deeply touched my heart. It was from a newly widowed woman. This sweet lady was old enough that you’d expect she might be walking through some years alone. Only she wasn’t. You see, she moved in with her daughter and son-in-law, only to have him lose his life to COVID within a few short weeks. Two new widows under one roof—a mother, a daughter—grieving together. These aren’t just any nameless women. They’re part of our Revive Our Hearts family.

Loss is everywhere around us. If God tells us to mourn with those who mourn, just how do we do that? If ever we needed to understand this command, it needs to be now. Our grieving world craves the comfort that can only come from Jesus Christ. Maybe they’d find Him if only we’d slow down and mourn with them.

Remember Job? He lost everything—his children, his wealth. Do you remember his friends? They were a big part of his narrative. Many times they get a bad rap. But I think we could learn something from them. Listen to what they did according to Job chapter 2. Verses 12 and 13 read:

They raised their voices and wept, and tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him for they saw his suffering was very great.

These friends mourned with a friend who was mourning. They wept, ripped their clothing in grief, and sat with Job in silence. Sisters, we need to step into each other’s pain and really, truly mourn with those who mourn.

Someone who knows this well is Pastor Mark Vroegop. He and his wife, Sarah, miscarried their baby girl toward the end of her pregnancy. The loss of their child rocked their world. Mark talked with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth about the depths of their pain.

Mark Vroegop: Grief is not tame, and it’s not linear. Trying to figure out how to navigate our way through this wilderness was a complicated and, frankly, messy activity for us.

Nancy: I’ve heard you tell about a night when you had a prayer time at your church (I’m not sure I’m describing it, exactly). 

That night, it seemed like there were a number of women who were dealing with empty cribs, with empty arms, with unfulfilled hopes or dreams as it related to childbearing. And I think a lot of our listeners can relate to that.

Mark: For sure, yes! I mean, the pains of life are innumerable, but in particular the pain connected to the desire for children, the loss of children. That’s part of our story. As we began to talk about this, people from all walks of life (in terms of pain) came out of the woodwork . . . but especially those who have walked through difficult seasons related to miscarriage and infertility or failed adoptions.

In the context of a prayer gathering with our staff, I invited them to just come to a middle of a circle and to read a lament they had written to the Lord about what kind of pains they were working through. It was a remarkable moment of just candor and gut-level honesty.

For example, one person said, “How long, O Lord, will You forget me? How long will You withhold the blessing of a child from us? How long will we cry to You? How many more days, months, or years will pass with our arms remaining empty? How much longer will we struggle to rejoice with those who rejoice—while we sit, weeping? But I have trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord because He has dealt bountifully with me. Thank You, Father!” (parts are taken from Psalm 13)

Nancy: And that’s quite a progression there. We’re going to talk about the progression of lament, as found in many of the psalms. But sometimes I think we have this understanding of Christianity, of the gospel, that it means when we go through these crises, that there’s no place for that gut-wrenching, heartfelt, deep agonizing pain and grief.

And maybe some in our churches are going through that feel like they don’t have a safe place to express that because we’re, after all, supposed to “rejoice in all things.” (see 1 Thess. 5:16) And we have Christ! So, is there, maybe, this unspoken sense that we’re not supposed to grieve or lament?

We’re supposed to “bigger than that.” We’re supposed to be able to have peace in the midst of that. How do you start to reconcile these things?

Mark: Yes, I think that for sure is the experience of many people who are walking through deep pain. They struggle with two ditches: Either the despair ditch, which is, “I can’t do this, and I might not even be a Christian because of the things that I’m wrestling with.” They have a real crisis of faith or denial. And the other ditch is people who just pretend as though everything is okay.

And part of that is just because if a person who is grieving is gut-level honest about what they’re really wrestling with—and even some of their questions about God’s purposes—invariably, most people (at least in my experience) who are not grieving are either very uncomfortable with that or they send pretty clear cues that either: (a) “I don’t want you to talk this way,” or (b) “I’m not even sure it’s appropriate for you to be feeling this.” And yet, the grieving person is feeling that!

And so, there is this undercurrent assumption, I think, within many of our churches, our music, and our writing that we have to be happy. We have to be triumphant.

And, granted, we want to end in a place where we are triumphant and we are rejoicing. But that’s not the issue. The issue is, “How do you get there?” I think not a lot of people understand what that journey can look like biblically.

Nancy: Did you find as you and Sarah were walking through your valley and your loss that there were those who struggled to understand how deeply you felt this?

Mark: Oh, for sure, yes. And I don’t blame them. It’s part of the internal grief—at a different level—when either people move on (which is understandable) and you’re left with this lonely wound that you’re trying to figure out how to navigate through, or there’s this just a foreboding sense that people don’t fundamentally understand. It puts you in a pretty lonely position. But I think the Scriptures can speak into that, and there is a language for those kind of moments if we’ll embrace it.

Nancy: I would think that you and Sarah minister differently to friends, loved ones, church members since walking through this journey, or as you have been walking through this journey, than you did before you had that experience.

Mark: Yes, and in a way, frankly, that at one level I just am profoundly thankful to the Lord for. We’ve often said, “I’m glad the Lord didn’t give us a choice between a living child and all the lessons we’ve learned!” because I know I would have chosen a living child.

Nancy: Of course.

Mark: And yet, the loss of our daughter and the subsequent issues really taught us how to walk with grieving and hurting people and what it’s like just to be silent and be okay with that.

As people understood either our story or our journey, just even our presence was meaningful. The message wasn’t through what we said. It was by sitting next to them on the mourning bench and just being near and being close. I think that’s part of what this grief helped to teach us: “How do you communicate to hurting and grieving people in a way that really speaks to their soul . . . sometimes without even speaking?”

Listen to the entire episode, "Learning the Language of Biblical Lament." This came from the series, "Deep Clouds, Deep Mercy."

Dannah: Have you sat on that mourning bench Mark talked about? I sure hope you had someone like Mark and Sarah to just sit there with you, in silence. No matter what kind of grief you’ve experienced, loss is hard.

I also need to ask you this. When you aren’t the one sitting on the mourning bench, do you take time to become a safe place for a friend in mourning? Do you slow down and inconvenience yourself to make a casserole, seep a cup of tea, and sit in silence? Do you mourn with those who mourn?

Maybe you don’t know someone who has experienced loss of life, but mourning comes in different varieties. It might be your friend who’s husband can’t find a job and it’s been eight months since he was laid off. Or maybe it’s the friend whose divorce isn’t so fresh anymore, but co-parenting with her ex-husband seems to be crushing her.

Even your single friend may be struggling with empty arms and wanting to hold her own child and watching those years pass and grieving what hasn’t been; that is a pain and a mourning too. She might need someone to hold her hand and remind her that the emptiness she feels inside, God is going to fill. We don’t know how He will fill it, but we know He will. 

And that other single friend who’s mourning a break up,of the one she thought was the one. Maybe pick her up and go with her to roommate's wedding so she doesn’t have to face that hard day alone. Friend, it’s what we do. It's what we do as sisters in Christ, we mourn with those who mourn.

Remember Job’s friends, they sat with him for seven days and didn’t say a word—not one word. That might be something we need to remember as we sit on that mourning bench with our friend.

I have a friend named Janet who is great at this. She drops everything when a friend faces a crisis, and she runs into the grief. In fact, I remember once as I was mourning, she came over to my house. She found me curled up in my bed, weeping. She didn't say anything. She just laid down next to me until my tears quieted. And then we sat in silence until I was ready to talk. And when I was, she took me down stairs, made me a cup of tea, and we ended up sitting some more. I want to be like that!

Don’t be afraid of the silence. I don’t know about you but I want to say something—anything—to make things better. But sometimes words just make things worse, especially if my friend is facing a trial that I myself have not yet known. Don’t be afraid to just hold your friend’s emptiness by being silent.

After a loss, any loss, we sure do feel a lot of empty, don’t we? 

Nancy Guthrie experienced that emptiness when she lost her daughter, Hope, and her son Gabe to a rare congenital disorder. Each of them lived just a few short months. Nancy is a Bible study teacher, an author. She and her husband, David have walked many couples through the dark shadows of grief. They long to show people that there is hope in the mourning. Here’s Nancy Guthrie.

Nancy Guthrie: It’s going to take God Himself filling up the empty places in your life. We try to fill up the emptiness in the midst of loss with so many things. Ladies, I know that there’s a big empty place.

For some of you, there’s an empty bedroom in your house. Some of you are sleeping in an empty bed. There’s an empty place at the table. Maybe there’s an empty bank account, or an empty schedule, or an empty future. What are you going to do with this gaping emptiness?

Well, as Jenny spoke to us tonight, she gave us the answer to this deep, incredible emptiness we feel. It’s Jesus’ words to the apostle Paul when he had the thorn in his flesh. His words were, “My grace is sufficient.” In other words, “I will be enough for you. I will be enough to fill up the emptiness.”

Perhaps you stayed up late tonight because you see the emptiness in your life as your greatest problem. I want you to know tonight that God does not see your emptiness as a problem. God sees your emptiness as an opportunity, an open place that can be filled up with Himself.

That is what we see in the Bible over and over again. What is the first verse in the first book of the Bible? Anybody remember? "And God created the heavens and the earth." It was formless and what? It was empty. What happened? The Spirit hovered over the waters, and the Word of God went out. The chaotic emptiness of the world was filled with light and life and fruitfulness and purpose.

You see, God does His best work with empty when, by His Spirit, He begins to fill it with Himself.

Think of a few chapters later in Genesis. God is calling a people to Himself. He begins with one man, Abraham. At the end of Genesis chapter 10 we read what I think is one of the saddest verses in the Bible. It says that he had a wife Sarah. And what does it say about her? “She was barren.” Almost as if that’s not enough for us, it’s almost repeated, “She had no children.”

Now this is a profound emptiness, isn’t it? A lifetime of an empty womb, and some of you know exactly what that feels like month after month.

But Sarah’s emptiness was not a problem to God. He came, and He said, “Next year at this time, you’re going to have a baby.” Her womb was filled with a baby they called Laughter. And their lives were filled with laughter and joy because God does His best work with empty.

Then later there’s another woman, and it’s also impossible for her to be pregnant. Not because she’s old, but because she’s never been with a man. And the angel comes to Mary, and he says that she’s going to have a Son. She says, “How can this be?” Well, how is it going to be? “The Spirit will come; the Spirit will overshadow you; the Spirit will hover, and the womb was filled with life”—the very Life of God.

So this is my close to you, ladies. I know some of you really are wondering, What’s it going to take to get through this? This is perhaps the most significant answer, and that is you invite God to fill up the emptiness in your life and in your home with Himself, with His very life. All of your emptiness He will fill it up. He is enough.

Listen to the entire episode, "Is There Life after Loss?" This came from the series, "Grieving a Loss."

Dannah: God does His best work with empty. Wow. Nancy Guthrie with a timely reminder, as our nation walks through all the emptiness that this pandemic is leaving behind. God can work within that pain. He can work with your pain. And He can use you to help your friend through hers.

Imagine with me that you have friend who’s facing some new emptiness. We could think of her losses as empty buckets. One might be the loss of a job, another might be the loss of a dream, still another could be the loss of a loved one. And you see your friend sitting with her empty buckets. I want to remind you: it’s not your job to fill them—that’s God’s job, but it could be your job to sit by your friend, cry with her, be patient with her, softly remind her that God will fill those empty buckets and then gently lift her face to the One that does His best work with empty. That’s how we can mourn with those who mourn. 

If you’d like to hear more from Nancy Guthrie, we have a link at our website to her talks on grief and hope. Go to our website reviveourhearts.com and look for the transcript for today’s program.

This is Revive Our Hearts Weekend, and I’m your friend Dannah Gresh. We’re sitting here on my farm together sipping tea. And learning how to mourn with those who mourn.

The rain seems to have slowed, looks like the sun is peeking through the clouds. I think I hear the birds starting to sing again.

Baltimore orioles?

You ever notice that? After the storm how the birds sing? We’re like that too. We are ready to get out there and celebrate. Or are we? Sometimes after a storm in our lives, we can be slow to sing.

But God tells us not only to mourn with those who mourn. He also instructs us to rejoice with those who rejoice. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says this is one of the most difficult commands in the Word of God for us to obey, and one that we frequently neglect. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: Your neighbor gets a nice new car, and you’re still driving a clunker that barely runs. Do you get excited about the fact that that neighbor got a nice new car? Or is it a more natural tendency to want to criticize and put others down because we’re jealous, we’re comparing? Love and jealousy are mutually exclusive. If we have love, we will not be jealous. We will not be jealous for what others have.

Now, jealousy comes in a couple different forms. Sometimes it’s the attitude that I want what someone else has. They have something I don’t have; I wish I could have it, and so I’m jealous for it. Then sometimes it’s not that we want what they have, it’s just that we wish they didn’t have it. So I want what you have, or I wish you didn’t have what you have. Love is not possessive. God has given all of us material blessings, other kinds of blessings: time, resources of different types. True love doesn’t hold onto or jealously cling to my possessions but is willing to share, to give, to share with others.

True love, rather than being jealous, is content with having my basic needs met, having basic necessities in life, and having, of course, the most important thing that we can have, and that is a right relationship with God. If I have a right relationship with God, if Jesus Christ is my Savior and lives in my life, and I have eternal life, and I have a clear conscious toward God, what else do I need? We’re so short-sighted. We crave and covet and long for the things that others have that are temporal, but true love is delighted for others to be blessed with things that perhaps we don’t have.

We’ve been talking about the church at Corinth and how Paul wrote this love chapter to address many of the problems and needs and issues in that church. The Corinthians had a lot of different spiritual gifts. God had given them those spiritual gifts. In fact, the Scripture says that God gives a spiritual gift to every believer in Christ. If you’re in Christ, you have a spiritual gift. The problem was the Corinthians were taking their spiritual gifts, and they were holding them up to impress each other. Then they were saying certain gifts were more important than others.

Now, the ones they chose to be more important were the more flashy, the more spectacular gifts, the ones that drew more attention to themselves. Some would say, “I have this gift, don’t you?” Then others were jealous because someone else had a gift that they didn’t have and they thought they wanted.

Paul said, “What’s the key to dealing with this issue of jealousy, comparison, contention that flows out of this jealousy?” The key is to live a life of love, to put on love, to pursue love, to learn to love in God’s way. Love is not envious. It is not jealous. When love sees another person who is more popular, more successful, more beautiful, more talented than I am, then if I have a heart of love, I will be glad for that person, never jealous or envious.

James chapter 3 talks about the deadliness of the sin of envy or jealousy. Paul said, “[If any person] is wise and understanding, let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts”—and, by the way, those two invariably go together, envy and selfish ambition, seeking more for myself. Paul says, “if you harbor [this] envy and [this] selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such 'wisdom' does not come down from heaven [this is not of God] but it is earthly, unspiritual, and of the devil” (verses 13-15).

One translation says, “It’s devilish." It’s demonic to have this kind of selfish ambition and envy. Envy is not just a little problem. Envy is something that comes from the pit of hell.

James goes on to say in that passage: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then [it’s] peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (verse 17).

In her book, The Music of His Promises, Elisabeth Elliot has a wonderful passage about this part of the love test. Here’s what she has to say:

If I imagine that I love my neighbor, let me test my love by asking how glad I am that he has achieved what I have failed to achieve; that he has managed to acquired what I have long wished to acquire; that he is loved by someone or by many or in some way that has never been granted to me.

By the way, let me just put a little word in there, those of you who may be single, do you find yourself jealous of your friends who are getting married? They’ve got a mate; they’ve got a husband. Perhaps you’re a woman who’s married but you’ve not been able to have children. Do you find yourself jealous of the one who’s been able to have children because it’s a blessing that’s not been given to you? She goes on to say,

Do I rejoice because my neighbor has reasons to rejoice that have been denied me? Can I honestly praise God for His goodness to my neighbor? Can I praise Him wholeheartedly for His gifts to me? If I love my neighbor as myself, there will be no reason at all for the least twinge of jealousy—because I will be just as happy that he has what I wanted as I would be if I had it (p. 139-140).

So we ask this question as we take this little test:

  • Do I rejoice with those who rejoice?
  • Do you rejoice when others receive blessings and benefits that you have not received?
  • Are you genuinely glad when someone else at work gets promoted or gets a raise or is recognized, praised for their efforts, and you are overlooked?
  • How do you respond when your mate gets attention or honor or praise that you know, because you live with them, they really don’t deserve?

Do you get jealous? Do you find yourself wanting to correct the statement that was made, to set the record straight? See, when we’re jealous, we will often say critical things to put others down so that we can lift up ourselves.

  • How about when your friend’s child excels at sports, at music, at academics, at everything, and that mother loves to make sure you hear about it. Can you rejoice in the blessings of how well that child is doing?
  • How about when one of your siblings—brother, sister—their family is financially prosperous while your family is struggling to make ends meet. Do you find yourself being jealous, or do you find yourself rejoicing with those who rejoice?
Listen to the entire episode, "Envy Is Your Enemy." This comes from the series, "How's Your Love Life?"

Dannah: Nancy just gave me a perspective shift. God says rejoice with those who rejoice. And it’s more than just going to the wedding or the baby shower. If your friend gets a new house, be the first to throw her a house-warming party, if your friend retires, run to celebrate with her. Let’s rejoice with our friends when they rejoice..

Mourn with those who mourn, rejoice with those who rejoice. Here’s why it matters: The more we do that, the more we are putting God on display to a watching world.

Speaking of God on display, do you see that rainbow shining through those emptied clouds? God does His best work with empty.

Mourning with those who mourn...and rejoicing with those who rejoice is just one practical way we can demonstrate kindness to one another.. We want to help you grow in your understanding of kindness. In fact, Nancy has written a booklet titled A Deeper Kind of Kindness. And this book is yours for a gift of any amount to Revive Our Hearts.

Your gift is being multiplied over and over as women all over the world are seeing Jesus in a new light, understanding the depths of His love for them, seeing kindness modeled in how He treated others. Won’t you give your gift today? Go online to ReviveOurHearts.com to make a donation, or call us at 1–800–569–5959, and make sure to ask for A Deeper Kind of Kindness

Next week, we are going to hear from Laura Booz. Though she is a long time friend of mine, she’s new to our team at Revive Our Hearts. an eye opening look on how God rescues all of us, so join me for the next Revive Our Hearts Weekend.

Thanks for listening today. Thanks to our team: Phil, Dylan, Rebekah, Justin, and Michelle. And I’m Dannah Gresh.

Revive Our Hearts Weekend is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.

About the Host

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.

About the Guests