Grief: Mercy in the Abyss

Grief: Mercy in the Abyss

“For in grief nothing ‘stays put.’ One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?

But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?

How often–will it be for always?–how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, ‘I never realized my loss till this moment’? The same leg is cut off time after time.”


C.S. Lewis

The Barren Land of Grief

The presence of grief is felt thick and its roots are deep in the hidden places of our soul. It is a spiraling entity that immobilizes us and causes us to ache for what once was…or for that which never had been. Grief spirals us into a land barren and unknown.

Where it is lodged secretly, no one knows of its depths. Not even the most intimate of relationships are aware of its overwhelming presence. We find comfort in the pain. We draw strength from the agony, but our light flickers dim as the darkness overtakes every nook and cranny of our grieving being. The comfort and strength gained wanes and becomes our undoing. The grief paralyzes.

“It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him.”

Daniel 2:22

We hold tight to our comfortable uncomfortable, as grief has become part of our essence. But He who is light brings out the darkness. Nothing is hidden from His embodiment of knowledge. He sees our grief buried–our secret made known. He sees the darkness that has crept in, the grief that has taken hold. He knows what is in the darkness…and He offers us light.

For the grief-burdened soul, there is hope in the Gospel message.

When brokenness entered that once-perfect garden, it also birthed grief into a once joyful and peaceful place. We often speak of our rescue from sin, of a Savior who died bearing the weight of our iniquities. But do we not also share that the day sin and shame were hurled onto the beaten body of Perfection hanging on a cross, so also was the enormous weight of all that is broken dumped heavily and fully onto the Sacrificial Lamb. Grief, in its complete form, crushed He who was Hope and Joy.

For what?

For the sake of mercy…for the sake of hope and joy complete.

Finding Comfort in Jesus

In knowing that Christ carried our grief fully on the cross, we can now find comfort as He walks through waters dark with us. Knowing that He defeated grief through His death and resurrection, we can now find hope in a rescue from its prison. When our vulnerable bodies can fall onto bruised knee and stretch out shaky hands in surrender, He will meet us in our state of fragility and hold us close. He is the balm that heals our broken heart. His love saturates deep as it fills complete.

“When I survey the occurrences of my life, and call into account the finger of God, I can perceive nothing but an abyss and mass of mercies.”

Sir Thomas Browne

Is that, then, the hope in grief? Are the feelings of emptiness and the bone-deep aches drawing us into His place of mercy? It is then that we find all we lost is recovered that much more in His redemption. Do we dare hope to feel again, laugh again…do we dare hope to live again? Is grace so strong that it restores the soul tattered and torn by grief’s long reign? In the mass of mercies given, there is such an amazing grace.

“When I survey the occurrences of my life, and call into account the finger of God, I can perceive nothing but an abyss and mass of mercies.” - Sir Thomas Brown (3)

A New Perspective

The grace received brings on new perspective. Our grief buried can be His peace resurrected. Letting go is scary and hard. When the pain does not drench into our pores, we feel as if we might have betrayed. But to live is not to forget. Our life for His glory, our sadness for His joy, our emptiness for His fullness–this is when and how He walks in the grief with us. He beckons us close and He breathes life into our soul. We can ache for that which we grieve, because in the aching we can surrender. We surrender our grief to the One who knew the ultimate grief on the cross. So then, we do not abandon grief itself. Instead, we allow it to be made full through His mass of mercies–allow it to draw us deeper into the heart of God.

“The deepest things that I have learned in my own life have come from the deepest suffering. And out of the deepest waters and the hottest fires have come the deepest things that I know about God.”


Elisabeth Elliot

A Refuge of Hope for the Struggling Soul

A Refuge of Hope for the Struggling Soul

To understand Him is to understand hope. To understand His gift of mercy is to understand His gift of grace. To understand our continued state of rescue is to understand our place of refuge. 


Lately, nothing soothes my heart and mind more than the moments where I find myself sitting still and abiding with my Lord. There, I draw comfort and strength. I focus on Him and who He is as Father, Son, and Spirit. In the place of full abiding is where I can breathe Him in, refreshing and perfectly good.

Abide in His refuge.

Who He is completely captures me. Though I should want to recoil in shame, I am nonetheless drawn into His presence fully aware of the grace and mercy covering me. The very essence of my continued rescue is found in those moments when I rest in Him, and the exceptional standard of hope that is found in Him is given during these moments. Words from the Psalmist come to mind as I recall the image of refuge, a refuge found in those moments of abiding.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

Psalm 46:1-3

Abide in His Dwelling Place

The Throne Room of Heaven, the Holy of Holies. It is a place to where I move beyond seeking escape. It is a place where I can come to Him and it is intimate, beautiful, and holy. Holding fast to Jesus, I can enter His presence with reverence and with rest. This combination of feelings produces an attitude which depicts the place of His dwelling. Here grace envelops me all the more, so wherever sin has tempted and tried…sin finds full defeat.

Abide in the Rescuer

Through the God-Son, there is no manner of sin that was not defeated through His perfection, through His death, and through His resurrection. So, in all the ways fleshly desires hound us and in all the way sin’s aroma seeks to draw us in, we can hold fast to the knowledge of a Rescuer who felt the same temptations and conquered them.  His accomplishments over–not just the very nature of sin, but as well as its enticing, tempting ways–are a victory we can claim. This continued state of rescue is what heals, strengthens, humbles, and produces an immense sense of awe.

“Therefore, since we have such a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 4:14-16


Abide in Jesus

Maybe, like me, you sometimes feel the heaviness of struggle. Perhaps you empathize with Paul when he said, “For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” There is hope. For the believer, hold firmly to Him. Approach the throne of grace with the confidence you have as one who has been redeemed by, and through, Jesus Christ. He is our help and our refuge in time of need, in time of temptation and struggle. His grace binds us to Him completely. Hold on to that and find rest in Him. While on this side of heaven we are not free from temptation, but we are free from its chains–through Christ alone. Abide in Him, for in Christ our holiness is found.

 Teach my song to rise to YouWhen temptation comes my wayAnd when I cannot stand I'll fall on YouJesus, You're my hope and stay.Lord I Need You (Matt Maher)
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Praying James 2 (Part 1)

Praying James 2 (Part 1)

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
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Praying James 2

Just like the rest of the book, James holds nothing back as he writes about favoritism and mercy in James 2.

When we start to get puffed up and prideful, James causes us to step back and re-evaluate our hearts. He constantly helps us keep our focus on Jesus and reminds us that we are servants of Jesus who have received an immense amount of mercy.

James calls our hearts to show this same mercy to others. He urges Christians to not make it harder for them than it was for us. If we do, he warns us the tables will be flipped and we will be judged much more harshly.

Let’s dig into the first part of James chapter 2 together and let God’s words soak into our hearts so our actions will glorify Him and bring others to Him!

Click here to pray James 1 – Part 1 and Part 2, if you missed them.

James 2:1

Lord, you look at our hearts and not our outward appearance. We pray that we would not play favorites but instead see all people as your amazing creation! You love each person walking this earth whether they know you yet or not. You do not want to lose anyone but want everyone to come to know salvation through your son, Jesus Christ.

Give us your heart for your people so that we may feel the same. Let us be passionate about reaching out to all people and not just those who make us feel comfortable.

Oh, how you made people uncomfortable as you walked this earth! You called everyone to you. You did not play favorites. Let us openly share your love with everyone, too, no matter their age, race, socioeconomic status, etc. Let us see people through your eyes! And let them feel your love through us!


James 2:2-4

Lord, we love how you never beat around the bush with us. We don’t have to guess where we stand with you or if our hearts are in line with yours. You tell us like it is. Your word and the Holy Spirit prick our hearts when we wander from your ways and it’s up to us to listen or not.

May we keep this James passage in our hearts, so we don’t “discriminate among [ourselves] and become judges with evil thoughts.”

As we reach out to others in your name, help us to not be choosy. You do not judge people by their looks and you ask us to not fall into that trap either. You call us not to play favorites.

We pray that we will see each person as your amazing creation. Help us love them in a way that reflects your heart for them. May each person we encounter leave our presence knowing we really care for them. Let them be seen by us even if they don’t feel they are seen by anyone else. In our seeing them and loving them, let them feel your love.

In the One who died for everyone – Amen!


James 2:5

Lord, we know we can only serve one God! Help us to not worship anything other than you. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in titles, money, or ourselves that we leave you out. Wake us up!

Help us see that our truest wealth is in our faith which lasts eternally. In the One who gave us hope and forgiveness when we couldn’t achieve this for ourselves – Amen!


James 2:6-7

Oh, Lord, we often fall into determining someone’s value based on their wealth. Their wealth tells us nothing of their heart or their love for you. Help us not to insult the poor and elevate the rich.

We pray that you will help us reach out to others without selfish motives like James addresses here. Help us not to disregard those in humble circumstances in order to try and elevate ourselves with those who show their disdain for you and treat others badly.

You have called us to honor you with whatever you have blessed us with, and at the same time you call us not to play favorites. Help us to have humble hearts, to follow your example of loving all and not judging a person by their economic status or what they can do for us. In the One who is the richest of all and yet humbled himself on the cross for our sake – Amen!


James 2:8

Lord, you boiled down the entirety of the law into an easy to remember statement:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.

It’s easy to remember but sometimes so difficult to put into action. However, you provide us with your Spirit so we can do this. Help us focus on trying to use your power and not our own.

In the One who is our strength – Amen!


James 2:9

There is such beauty in the diversity you’ve created. You’ve created each of us with different talents and different backgrounds which bring about different understanding and perspectives.

Then, instead of encouraging people to split up into their own groups, you created the body of Christ to be a community that brings all these different people together. We have differences but Christ brings us together. Praise you, Lord, for providing a place of unity and grace!

Oh, Lord, let us not create division where you have created unity. Let us not look down on someone just because they are different from us mentally, physically, or emotionally, because spiritually you have made us one. There is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. It is in Him we have our hope. Let the sin of favoritism be far from our hearts. In Jesus’ holy name – Amen!


James 2:10-11

Oh, Lord! We screw up all the time. If it’s not showing favoritism, it’s something else…lying to keep from hurting someone’s feelings, delighting in things you would condemn, gossiping instead of giving grace and love, etc…

Oh, Lord, we praise you for Jesus because without Him we would be lost. The law cannot save us. The law is your beautiful word that shows us your righteousness and how unrighteous we are. It shows us our complete and utter need for you.

We pray that as we confess and bring our hearts before you, you will help us see through our prideful eyes where sin still exists in our lives. Yes, with your help we have conquered certain sins but others may still be lurking.

May we never get so prideful that we stop seeing sin in our lives while gleefully pointing it out in others. May we allow the Holy Spirit to convict us so we can honor you and be used for your glory. In the One who was completely sinless and yet took on all our sins – Amen!


James 2:12-13(a)

Your amazing law gives us such freedom. Along with that freedom came mercy and saving grace! We praise you, Lord, for the mercy you’ve had on us when justice demanded our sins to be paid. Instead of making us pay, you took them all on yourself.

May we show mercy to others so that we will show our thankfulness to you for your mercy toward us. In Jesus’ holy name – Amen!


James 2:13(b)

Lord, it’s only through your mercy that we have forgiveness. Praise you and the plan you made to pour mercy out on our souls.

Satan cannot stand when your mercy is accepted and given freely. His plans are destroyed and souls are freed.

Your mercy triumphs over judgement!

In the One who took all our sins on himself so we would not be condemned – Amen!


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Does It Matter? Making a Difference

Does It Matter? Making a Difference

Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
Latest posts by Toni D (see all)

A Chance to Show Mercy

About a year ago, I wrote a post on mercy based on something that happened in my life.  How I handled the situation was so unlike me.  A young man had attempted to steal from me.  Instead of pressing charges, I prayed with him and asked that he attend church.  I hugged him, and that was the last time I saw him.  Since then, my heart has been heavy for him, and I have continued to pray for him.

I just learned that he died in a car wreck.  While I do not know the status of his relationship with God, I heard that he had received drug counseling and had cleaned up.  He was trying to get back into school and was getting his life back together.  He apparently had encountered other Christian influences that had helped him through his journey.  Hopefully, through all this, he came to know Christ.

Does It Matter?

I ask, “Does it matter?” because I often wonder if what I do matters.  Sometimes we go through our days seemingly on autopilot.  We don’t take time for others or see how our actions affect others.  We get so caught up in our own busyness.  How does what we do affect others?  We do not think about it.  We seem to just live our lives in our own little world, oblivious to others.

What if we all took the time to notice someone, pay a compliment, pray with someone, make a phone call, or even send a note by (gasp) snail mail?  These small gestures may seem insignificant to you but could change someone else’s entire outlook.  Instead of reacting in anger, say a kind word.  We do not know what others are going through.  Other people have things going on in their lives, too.

Sometimes we go through our days seemingly on autopilot. We don't take time for others or see how our actions affect others.

Making a Difference

In my situation, I received an email from a lady who was involved in the resolution of the issue at the time.  She told me that my “wonderful display of Christian forgiveness was a part of his changing his life.”  At the time of the incident, I did not know if what I did or said made a difference.  I knew he needed help and that was my prayer and hope for this young man, that he change his ways and seek God.

This situation has affected me more than I could have ever imagined.  My heart has been so burdened by this tragic event.  This young man, who had gotten clean and was turning his life around, was taken so early in his life.  I have dwelt on this and wonder about the small part I played in this young man’s life.  Did I do enough?  Did my actions matter?

At the time the original incident occurred, I did not know if my actions made a difference.  I was obedient to what God told me.  Sometimes obedience is difficult, but as God has shown me through this, it does matter.

Is there a situation you wish you could go back and handle differently?

Have you seen the difference something you have done has made to someone else?

Trust in the Lord with all your heartand lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways submit to him,and he will make your paths

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Mercy!: It’s a Decision

Mercy!: It’s a Decision

Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
Latest posts by Toni D (see all)

Let me start off by saying I am not normally a compassionate person. I see things in black and white; there are no gray areas.  I believe that criminals should pay to the fullest extent for their crimes.  I see stories on the news and don’t understand why they allow plea bargains. Throw the book at him.

I was recently the victim of a crime.  I do not want to get into the specifics and have changed some details to protect everyone’s identity.  I was some place and some young people were helping me unload.  I walked up and caught a young man going through my purse.  I was in such shock; I just stood there and watched him for about 30 seconds.  I finally asked him what he was doing.  His reply was, “I didn’t take anything.”  I then asked him why he was going through my purse.  He said, “I was going to bring it to you.”  I told him that he did not need to go through my purse to bring it to me.  He just kept telling me that he did not take anything.

Another young man that I knew came up right after and asked me what happened because he could see that I was upset.  He told me I needed to report it to a supervisor.  I asked what the perpetrator’s name was and he told me they would know.  (The perpetrator apparently had a history of issues.)  I was taken to the supervisor along with the young man.  She told me I could press charges and would give me his information to give to the police.  I was still in shock.  He admitted to going through my purse and insisted that he did not take anything.  I know nothing was taken because I was not carrying cash, but I definitely felt like my privacy was violated because I saw him going through my purse.  It is an indescribable feeling.

The supervisor asked me what I wanted toThe Supervisor asked me What IWant to do- do.  At first, I wanted to call the police and have him arrested and sent to jail.  At that moment, God spoke to me!  I looked up at her and out of my mouth came, “I don’t know. But I do know that right now I want to pray with him and for him.”  There were four of us in the room, including the young man.  I think they were all shocked as I was.  We all stood up and joined hands as I prayed for him.  I asked God to bring him out of this path he was going down.  By the time I was done, we were all crying.  I hugged him and told him that if I pressed charges that it would be for his own good and not out of spite (this is so unlike me).

I thought about it the rest of the time that I was there.  He lost his position there and came up to me to apologize and ask me not to press charges.  I do not know if he was sincere but I decided not to press charges.  I told the supervisor of my decision and asked her to contact him and let him know what I had decided but that there was a stipulation: I wanted him to go to church.

Mercy:  noun.  1.  Compassion or forgiveness toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.  Synonyms:  leniency, clemency, compassion, grace, pity, charity, forgiveness, forbearance, quarter, humanity. 

I have thought about this so much lately.  I never show mercy but as we approach Christmas, I am reminded that God showed us MERCY!  He did not have to, but because He loved us He sent His one and only Son, so that we may be saved (John 3:16).  Had God not shown mercy and grace, we would all be trying to work our way to Heaven and still come up short.  “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  Romans 3:23 (NASB).  We do not deserve His mercy, but He gives it to us through His Son Jesus Christ.

This experience has not changed my view on criminals.  I still see black and white.  But, it has me rethinking how I interact with people.  I should be trying to make a difference and be more merciful.

I do not know if this young man has made any changes to his life.  I may never know what effect that morning had on this young man.  I do not know what all was going on his life to bring him to this point.  I do know that I was obedient to God and prayed for this young man and I still continue to pray for him.  Hopefully, that prayer, that morning, in that office, will stay with him and eventually make a difference in his life. 

Please join me as I continue to pray for him.

Have you ever shown mercy in a difficult situation?

Have you ever had anyone show mercy to you?


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