I remember giving thanks to God when I heard of the decision of The Rev. Julie Nicholson to give up her office as the vicar of St, Aidan Church in Bristol for less demanding duties in the Church. I gave thanks because she relocated but she didn't quit, didn't abandon her calling completely by leaving the church.
Her daughter,Jenny, aged 24 ,an advertising sales executive, was one of the victims of the bomb blast in the London Underground on July 7th 2005.
Some people, if confronted with a tragedy of such magnitude would have given up completely! The Rev. had carried on with her duties as vicar for months , even during her mourning period. In resigning, her words on the BBC NEWS website of 6th March 2006 were:
" It is very difficult for me to stand behind the altar and celebrate the Eucharist Communion and lead people in words of peace and reconciliation and forgiveness , when I feel very far from that myself...so for the time being, for the moment , that word in me is having to heal".
Two months later, my sister died so I understood her words perfectly .
It is natural to assume that evil comes to other people and cannot come to us. We believe that " the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh, blessed be his holy name!". But we do expect him to do his giving and taking elsewhere; not with us!
Some people even believe they are too young and too gorgeous to die; or "too hot in the Lord" for the devil to touch!
But the facts of life are that Death and sorrow visit and touch millions of people , daily. Some of them were very young , very handsome , or rich ,or beautiful and many of them were "very hot in the Lord".
Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.1Corintians 10:12.
In my previous blog ,"Love is Eternal",I wrote that we react differently to grief. Some people wear their grief on their sleeves while others bottle it up and maintain a stiff upper lip as if nothing happened.
Grief does things to people.It makes one to slow down; to want to give up,to quit or even to die! Many lovers have been known to die of heartbreak after the death of their loved ones. Many investors who lost millions of dollars have jumped to their deaths.
I know animals can express pain and we can tell when their feelings are hurt but I am not sure if animals shed tears.
God has given man the ability to express grief, hurt and pain.
We know it is normal to grieve and cry when we are hurt and upset because all mankind cry in the same way. No one cries in English , French or Yoruba or in Yiddish. The Creator made it so, to underline the fact that at one point or another in life, humans, irrespective of their race or position in life; would one day , meet with upsets and hurts.
In times of mourning, we should watch out for the wiles of Satan because Satan could quickly use pain and sorrow to make men turn against God.
In hindsight,I thank God for the gifts and the fruits of the Holy Spirit; especially the fruits of Love, Joy and Faith; for the gifts of discernment and divers kinds of tongues in my prayer life which sustained me during my mourning period for my sister , Beatrice.
The point is not whether we should mourn or not, but how we manage our mourning period. If loss and pain are not seen as how God wants us to see them :a test of our faith, they could lead to distortions of destinies.
When we allow any derailment by grief to persist , then we start building altars to grief.We become engrossed by paying too much attention to our loss.
Also, when our desires for the good things of life are not properly managed , these desires become fixations and obsessions and they too can distort destinies.
People raise altars in their hearts. Some have raised up those altars intentionally while some people do not even realise they have erected altars in diverse ways. Seemingly harmless desires like eating , dieting and physical fitness , our careers ,jobs , ambitions, love of husband/wife/children , marriages, fashion and even church ministries can become altars demanding worship in our lives.
Altars that make demands our time and capture our hearts; preventing us from giving worship and burning the incense of praise to the One to whom all worship is due.
It takes the intervention of the Spirit of God to enable us discern the weapons mounted against us by the enemy of our souls. The weapons of raising unholy altars for the diversions of our worship of the Father.
We should renew our hearts, by the knowledge that if evil comes we should recognise it for what it is: a passing phase ; undeserving of any altar of worship in our lives.
The power of the Holy Spirit is ever present to assist us in pulling down all unnecessary altars in our lives and to repair and raise up the altar to God in our hearts. To give God and him alone , all our worship.