The day after the day after

This past Saturday I had the unenviable task of assisting in the service to lay a 19-year old young man to rest. Austin Macemore may have lost his earthly battle to cancer but we know that he won in the end, now with Jesus in the presence of God. Still, dealing with loss is hard and grief is still very real.

Like many who had a vested interest in Austin's life, Saturday marked the end of an exhausting few days for me. Yet like me, you had the chance to gather together for worship at various churches on Sunday morning to have your spirits refreshed and to focus on God. For me, it was great to be back at a church I had served in for almost a decade and an even greater honor to deliver the message. I can tell you that my heart was full by the end of the day and there couldn't have been a better way to follow up a difficult few days.

But now it's Monday and life shifts back to normal for everyone. The emotion, while still very real, is not as raw or as powerful because, quite frankly, many of you simply don't have much left in your tanks. You are back at school, work, and sports practices and you have to gear your minds back into focusing on the tasks at hand. It's the day after the day after very emotional event. How are you supposed to deal with everything now?

I believe that after intensely emotional times many people experience what I call "emotional withdrawal." Essentially, there can be a crash-and-burn period where reality truly starts to sink in but there just isn't much emotional fuel left to burn. You feel emotionally punch drunk. Those friends that walked closed by our side through the hard times find themselves back into their normal routines just as you do and so there is no longer that constant presence of comforters right at your fingertips. And that's not necessarily a bad thing because no one can afford to wallow in past emotional traumas nor should anyone want to do so.

If you find yourself in a bit of a funk still, whether it's because of your lingering grief over the loss of Austin or from some other time of turmoil in your life, allow me to suggest a few things to you that I pray will help get you through

First, know that our God is sovereign. That means that He is absolutely and perfectly in charge of all things both in this world and beyond it. Prior to a traumatic experience, in the midst of it, and long after it has passed, God remains on His throne. Consider these truths from Scripture:
God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill? (Deuteronomy 23:19)
Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning. (James 1:17)
God is constant and true. He is not subject to fickle emotions like we are and He is never wishy-washy. The same God we worship in the good times and cry out to in tragedy is always faithful.

Second, know that God cares deeply about you and the hurt that you are going through. God cares no more for pain and suffering than you do and He is always there to walk with you through it. God never forgets about you.
What is man that You remember him, the son of man that You look after him? (Psalm 8:4)
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

Finally, know that life will go on. It may not seem as if things will get better, but they will. Healing takes time. It may not happen tomorrow or even the next day, but our God who is sovereign over all of creation is also sovereign over our hearts. He can and will bring healing if we will fully submit our hearts and our hurts to Him.
Weeping may spend the night, but there is joy in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)
So get up, get yourself ready, and move out the door. Our God works through all situations, the good and the bad. If you sit and sulk then you may miss out on how He wants to use you in the lives of others because of the difficulty He's brought you through.

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