In grief, it can be difficult to be optimistic at the start of a new year. We all tend to dwell and long for the past when we lose someone who was a big part of us. Through the loss of our sweet daughter Jenae, we have come to talk with many who struggle with this also. 

In the winter of 2005, my wife and I attended an out of town evangelistic meeting. As I look back we realize this was by God’s awesome grace we heard about it on K-Love. We wanted to attend because Natalie Grant was going to perform there. We were fond of her new song – Held; a song which was written by her friend who had lost a child.

We had been dwelling in that song and the message of loss for a good while. It was hard not to because that song was frequently played at every turn. Many people knowing of our loss were even giving us copies of this song on Compact Disk.

At the event, my wife and I were in the audience waiting for Natalie to come on stage. We guessed that she would be performing her new popular song. Instead, Natalie performed many Gospel songs and then her performance was over. I remember having my phone ready with Jenae’s picture loaded to be held up to the song – Held. This would not happen and we felt sad and disappointed not being able to do this. As popular as this song was, it was amazing to us that she didn’t sing it!! We were actually in disbelief.

Soon after Natalie’s performance, the preacher began his message. Still feeling disappointed we listened to what he had to say. I won’t mention all that was said, but the main theme he reflected on was this; that many there were living a life of remorse/regret and were living in the past. The next statement that really struck me was this; how can God do a new work in you now and in the future if you are living in the past! 

Grief has a tendency to have one focus inward. The preacher’s message weighed on me as I reflected on my life and the loss of Jenae, I knew this message was for us. I knew that letting go of the past would be easier said than done, and would take time. I also knew that I would need to refocus on God’s plan for my life and live it. This was the way in which God wanted to bring comfort, peace, and joy. It was in trusting in God, abiding in Him, and doing His will. This has made a great difference in our lives.

Here are some helpful verses to reflect on:

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NKJV) 18 “Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness [And] rivers in the desert.

Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV) 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

After the preaching, My wife and older son were able to meet and talk with Natalie Grant. I stayed back with my youngest son who was only three at the time. Sandra expressed to Natalie how we loved her singing and how dear the song Held had become to us because of losing our daughter. Natalie replied that she was going to sing that song but she had a sudden change of heart at the last moment. She didn’t know why exactly. I for one, know that God was getting our attention and giving us a message. This message has transformed our lives and we were not the same after experiencing this. God wanted us to not wallow in grief anymore and to move forward. It is OK to remember the past, but not at the expense of your future.

Here are some reflective questions to ask yourself:

How can I have a future if I live in the past?

How can I experience comfort and joy if I can’t trust God in His plan for me today?

What will it take for me to live in God’s will for my life?

We should know that God (not us) is truly in control of all things. Because He is, we can be comforted that He directs our paths and gives us the strength to live. We must seek Him and not temporary earthly things or concepts for comfort. Seek Him and abide in Him. Get to know Him more through His word, and pray for guidance and wisdom. Jesus showed us God’s truth living on earth, in the flesh. God is always correcting inaccurate thinking in all of us. Be open and humble to accept this, and God will teach you the truth you need to know.

So in conclusion, I pray that those of you reading this will begin to have more of an optimistic view for today and the future. Reflect on these truths and ask God for revelation. May we finish the race well and spread God’s goodness to others. 

Please leave your comments below and God bless you.

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