When your grief is almost more than you can handle

In the midst of loss, we sometimes wonder if God is with us. As Anne Graham Lotz reminds us, the Holy Spirit is God’s promise to us that He is always with us—no matter what. Anne has discovered this grace-filled truth in new ways through a recent cancer diagnosis and the loss of her husband and her parents. Through the mystery of God’s ways, it has been in these most difficult times that she has known more intimately the companionship of the Holy Spirit. It’s a grace to welcome Anne to the farm’s front porch today…

guest post by Anne Graham Lotz

I remember well the day my husband, Danny, gave me my engagement ring.

We were sitting on the couch beside the fireplace in my parents’ living room.

Inside a little black velvet box was the most beautiful ring I had ever seen. It was exactly what I would have selected had I done so myself. Just a single diamond in a Tiffany setting. I was thrilled!

That night when I went to bed, I couldn’t sleep. I kept gazing at the ring on my finger. It seemed to glow in the dark.

Early the next morning, I slipped down the stairs to my mother’s room so I could show it to her.

She agreed with me that it was as beautiful as any engagement ring she had ever seen.

But the ring was more than just a beautiful piece of jewelry because I knew it carried with it Danny Lotz’s pledge of marriage.

Every time I saw it, I was reminded that the day would come when his promise would be fulfilled.

I would become his wife, and we would live together until death separated us. The ring remained on my finger until the moment during my wedding ceremony when I slipped it off so Danny could place a wedding band on the same finger.

Then I placed the engagement ring next to the wedding band, where it remains to this day. It is a constant reminder of my husband’s love and commitment to me, and mine to him, even beyond his death.

The Holy Spirit within us is our “engagement ring.”

He Himself is the promise . . . the guarantee . . . the pledge . . . that Jesus loves us. That He is committed and faithful to us. And that one day He will return to take us to live with Him forever in the home that He is preparing. (John 14:2–3.)

I used to assume that the Holy Spirit was “assigned” to me.

Joy Prouty

I thought He had come into my life because He had no option. I was now His “job”—His responsibility.

My view of Him was that He was strictly professional, a perfectionistic stickler for details and Someone who would keep me in line until one day He would present me to the Father and say something like “Here she is. I’ve done My best to work with what I had.”

This harmful attitude could have led me to living a lie, as I would have tried hard to impress Him. I could have burned myself out trying hard to earn His love.

Then one day while reading my Bible, I was gripped by the following: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).

While I understand that Scripture is warning us not to intentionally, willfully sin, the word grieve caught and held my attention.

I reflected on grief in my own life and knew I had experienced that emotion only when I deeply cared about someone or something.

I grieved when my mother went to Heaven.

I grieved when my husband followed her there about eight years later.

I grieved when my father joined them both.

And I realized that grief is a love word.

I grieve because I loved my mother and my husband and my father.

This realization turned the light on in my thinking as I realized that if I can grieve the Holy Spirit, it’s because He loves me.

The Holy Spirit loves me! That was a profound, revolutionary thought. He’s not just a professional partner. He’s not just assigned to me. He doesn’t live within me because He has to—He lives within me because He wants to live within me.

He deeply cares about what I do and who I become.

When I do the right thing, He rejoices. When I do the wrong thing, He grieves.

Not only is He spiritually and practically involved in my life, but He is also emotionally caught up in who I am and who I am to become.

What a difference that simple truth has made in my perspective. I can be myself with the Holy Spirit. I don’t have to be “on.” I can relax and be transparent with Him because He is God’s promise to me.

I can trust Him completely because He truly loves me!

And the Holy Spirit loves you too!

He cares deeply about what you care about because He cares about you.

It doesn’t matter how small or how large your concern is. He cares. He understands. He wants what’s best for you. He desires for you to fulfill your God-given potential.

He wants to ease your burden, solve your problem, comfort your broken heart, bind up your wounds, bring you through the valley of the shadow, shower you with blessing upon blessing.

And yes, He wants to make you holy—because He loves you! He will work all things—all things—for your good (Romans 8:28).

So gaze at your “engagement ring,” the Holy Spirit.

If He truly loves you fully, unconditionally—if He truly desires what’s best for you, if He truly cares about everything you care about because He cares for you—what reason do you have for not trusting in His providence and pledge?

Relax. Stop trying to impress Him.

Stop working so hard to earn His love.

Be open and honest and transparent.

Live with the confidence that you are deeply, unconditionally, permanently loved by Him.

The Holy Spirit is absolutely committed to fulfilling His responsibility to take good care of you until the day you are presented as a glorious bride to your Bridegroom.

And that’s a promise.

 

Anne Graham Lotz, called “the best preacher in the family” by her father Billy Graham, is an international speaker and the bestselling and award-winning author of numerous books, including Just Give Me JesusThe New York Times named Anne one of the five most influential evangelists of her generation. Anne is the president of AnGeL Ministries in Raleigh, North Carolina and the former chairperson for the National Day of Prayer.

Anne’s latest book is a beautiful exploration of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus in Me: Experiencing the Holy Spirit as a Constant Companion, she draws on her own story and her rich biblical knowledge to help us understand that the Holy Spirit is not a magic genie, a flame of fire, or a vague feeling. He is a Person who prays for us, guides us in our relationships and decisions, comforts us in pain, and stays by our side at all times. 

[ Our humble thanks to Waterbrook for their partnership in today’s devotion ]