Just Jesus

I Hate That Scripture…

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I remember everything about that day.

My babies stood in a line dressed in funeral clothes. They fidgeted in front of the coffin. They behaved like children at a funeral, out of place. The boys tugged at their ties. At one point I noticed that my son, Luke had clipped his clip-on to his crotch area causing his brother to snort-laugh. I snapped my fingers and shot him a glare, knowing full well their uncle Josh, the guest of honor at this funeral, would have more than approved.

Come to think of it, my brother-in-law probably told Luke to always wear clip-ons for this very reason.

I tried to listen to the final wise words of the priest, but I didn’t believe him.

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As I scanned my children in their funeral garb, I cried again for the thousandth time in 72 hours.  My youngest, Sophie’s pink tights had slipped down, her crotch was now at her knees. Her once shiny black shoes were dusty with cemetery dirt. I wanted to bolt.

 

 

I wanted to yelp, “Excuse me! Josh wouldn’t have stayed this long at any event! Please! Let’s be done now!” But the wisdoms continued to drone on.

Finally, the balarky ended and I straightened myself and the children so people could shuffle past us with their condolences.

And biblical truths…

She grabbed me; I was stunned by her strength. She was a quarter of my size and about 100 years old.  She smelled of moth balls, Bengay, and coleslaw. Her ancient voice was accompanied by the click of misfit dentures.  She semi-whispered her coffee breath acumen into my ear: “The Lord chose them for this. Galatian 1:15 He set you apart before you were born –you and your children were set apart and called out for this moment.”

My heart pounded.

My eyes burned.

Bile rose in my throat.

I jerked away from the tiny woman and reached my hand to the next well-wisher in line, lest I snap the old lady’s neck.

Again, something Josh would have found fitting.

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An hour later I found solace on the porch of the ranch house. I sat on the porch swing. Sophie’s tights were finally off of her and I twisted the pink nylon and stared jadedly at a mesquite forest.  The elderly woman’s words battled my heart and mind for consideration.

Calmer now, my Spanx and jewelry in the glove box of my van and a glass of wine in my hand, I rehashed the commiseration.  My children were chosen for this loss?  Josh was destined to die? Cut to ribbons on a highway, alone.

I felt… mad.

On that porch I surrendered to that. I hated that scripture.  What a stupid thing to say to someone who was barely able to function from the weight of this catastrophe. And I was overcome with the grief of the tragedy again and enormous guilt for the sacrilege of utterly despising the Word of my God.  I gulped wine.  I considered my punishment in the fiery pits where I’d be forced to wear Spanx for an eternity and I was certain there was no White Zinfandel or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Furthermore, if I was going to hell for my hatred of scripture, I regretted not pummeling that decrepit old lady, deliverer of the “good news.”

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Last night in worship at a writer’s conference, the memory of Josh’s funeral flooded me. I watched another wounded warrior sing praises with hands held high.  I had only met her the hour before at dinner.  The fellow blogger of truth was hilarious, spunky, and brutally honest.

 

 

As we chatted about our writing journeys, she explained hers was prompted by the death of her 18-year-old son.  We ate cheesecake and somehow ventured down the path of stuff we wished people would stop saying.

She casually stated, “I hate the scripture, ‘God makes all things work together for good.’ I get so tired of that.”

I nodded in agreement. Yeah, I would too.

As I inappropriately scrutinized her praise an hour later at opening worship, I remembered the old lady at Josh’s funeral. I recounted how much that scripture cut me. Certainly, I have come to a place of peace and surrender with Josh’s death.  But as the chorus changed, and the words came across the screen, “You make all things work together for good,” my new friend dropped her hands and opened her eyes and looked at me, and laughed. I smiled empathetically. She isn’t sacrilegious. She is perfect. Her grief is the most real; her worship the most genuine.

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And that genuine spirit is what prompted my early rise. Alone in this hotel room, I wanted to confess how much I hate Galatians 1:5. I don’t want to venture down the road of horrors where the God I adore destined my babies to bury their beloved uncle or picked mommas to bury their babies. I don’t want to hear He will make it for His good. I don’t want my new friend to listen to another “good word” that will make someone else feel wise and enlightened about the untimely death of her boy.  And more that I don’t want to hear it, I don’t ever want to be the fool who spouts a scripture that I might sound wise.

Enlightened.

There is a place, alone with my God I surrender and confess. The place where He alone transcribes an ancient scripture just for me. A place where The Word is perfected by the Lamb, and wholly true for each of His beloved, at just the right moment.  Guilt and shame are washed clean by His sacrifice. And true communion with this Friend, who laid down His life for mine, is accompanied by a candid expression of hatred for the Holiest of Words and the hope He will heal and reveal how those truths are made good.

Alone in this hotel room, where I should have embraced sleep, I came to the resolution that the most real relationship I can have with the Creator of all, is one where I can say, “I hate that scripture. Show me how it is true. Teach me things I have not known. Increase my borders. Forgive my trespasses. And help me not to ever speak your truths and break someone’s heart or lead them further from You.”

Amen.

May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Jami

How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news. Isiah 52:7

You can visit my new found friends blogs at:

Brenda McGurk

Shontell Brewer

And Elaine Fish Psy.D. 

 

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21 Comments

  1. Goodness, that’s beautiful. You have such a natural, no, supernatural gift from God. You touch so many. Keep it up.

    1. jami_amerine says:

      Thanks love

  2. Sharon says:

    Just wondering how much you would have meditated on those words in Scripture had that old lady not shared them. Sometimes our hearts are meant to hurt so we search out what God really means as opposed to just what we want Him to mean. Maybe her prompt at that hard time was a prompt by our Heavenly Father wanting us not just to think about those words but apply them to every situation in our lives. It’s a hard thing to be set apart, but it’s the only place we’ll find a real relationship with Him, whether we understand how it all fits together or not. Look how much meditation on those words have ensued. Thank you for meditating and sharing your walk.

  3. This is so very good. My dad, who is wiser than I will ever be, told me after my brother’s funeral that he just accepted everything everyone said to him because he knew their intent. He did not agree with everything he heard, but he knew the people speaking to him were trying to find something nice to say. So I have been able to practice that for me. But I certainly do hope I can encourage others to never say these types of things to others. I have decided that if I am ever going to quote a Scripture at somebody in a time of grief, it will be “Jesus wept.” Because that’s all anyone at a funeral needs to know. Thank you for writing and sharing this!

    1. jami_amerine says:

      I love that Paul. Jesus wept. Indeed.

    2. DebR says:

      I love this!!

  4. Even when Jesus knew he would raise Lazarus– he wept with his sisters. That is how much compassion he has for out grief!
    ❤️❤️❤️

  5. Brenda N says:

    Oh Jami, my brother just went through losing his 19 year old son in a car accident the middle of June 2016. The accident was caused by his son and the other two people involved were injured. I cannot wrap my head around the loss he is feeling. At first, I was “one of those people” who was trying to find scripture to comfort my brother, my family, me .. why? because God’s word should be comforting at these times. After I said a couple things I clearly shouldn’t have (not bad enough for my brother to snap my neck – haha!), I just stopped saying anything. I was just at his house, hugging him when his sobs were overwhelming, helping with any decisions he asked me to be a part of, trying to find places to put all the paper products well meaning people kept bringing to the house. By the way, I think he will have enough paper plates, napkins and plastic ware for the next 20 years! I played games and entertained his three grandchildren who are all under the age of 4 who were not understanding everyone crying and weeping and just where is Uncle Nashy; he should be here! People are going to process grief in many different ways. Yesterday, I caught myself almost asking my brother “How are you?” The one “good” thing about this whole situation is my nephew, his dad and my family are believers in Jesus Christ as our Savior. We will see Nash again and I praise God for that. Keep blogging! I love reading of your life as a wife and a mom. Blessings on your weekend!

    1. jami_amerine says:

      I am just so sorry Brenda. So sorry. ❤️

  6. When my brother died at 26 I heard the quote “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” several times. I know it to be true but I wondered at the timing of those doing the quoting.
    If I’m going to quote a verse to a grieving person, I, too, will quote, “Jesus wept.”.

    My school lost a June graduate 2 weeks agao in an auto accident. She and her 3 fbest riends were on the way to Galveston for a vacation before college. Jesus wept and so do we now.

    1. jami_amerine says:

      Amen

  7. Regina Sullivan says:

    When my dad died person after person quoted that same scripture to me about how all things work together for good. I got to the point that I thought if another person says that scripture in my face I just might slap them into the next week. I didn’t slap them thankfully because my mom would have probably frowned upon that since we were in the funeral home LOL. Grief just hurts and sometimes it just hurts for a long time. I do understand that people want to say things to help us feel better and sometimes I think people just want to say things because they just want to hear their own voice and to just think that they somehow contributed to your peace. I think that’s a very selfish reason. I think the only time we should speak words like that to someone who is going through something so horrific is only when the Holy Spirit prompt our hearts and then again I think we need to stop and say holy spirit is it time for me to say this word? I think there is beauty and I do think that there is healing in a timely word. But I don’t think that Jesus ever meant for us to just spout out scriptures at people just because we felt like we needed something to say. I think that’s wrong and I think that that’s trying to force another person to be ok with the situation when really all they need is some time. My mom says Time Heals all wounds. I don’t know how much time is required because I still have wounds from my daddy passing. There are still days where the memories leak out my eyes. There are still times where I want to tell him something and can’t. And no amount quoting scripture from passersby in the midst of the funeral helped with that. In that moment all I felt was pain, grief, loneliness, and nothing could touch it. Now at four and a half years later I am comforted by different scriptures but they are scriptures that Jesus gave to me in my time with him. Nothing anybody said actually at the funeral I don’t even remember those words from specific people. I just think it’s a good post for us too really weigh out what we’re about to say why we are about to say it and is the holy spirit really prompting us to share it or is it just meant for us alone? I think the friends grieve too at a death and so it makes me wonder if sometimes the scriptures that they share maybe Jesus means those scriptures for them to comfort their hearts. Of course people always feel like they have to say something because they want to comfort you and I get that but sometimes it’s comforting to just not say anything and to just be that shoulder they can cry on for a minute, to be the person to bring them some water, to be the person that says you’re going to make it through this.

    1. jami_amerine says:

      Bless you.

  8. Abel Josephson says:

    It’s because these traditionally hated scriptures are quoted when we least need them…yea…when we least need them.

    They are spoken by people who say stuff to be saying religious stuff proving again and again “The letter kills”.

    Here is the beautiful truth………you are walking in truth when you say “I hate that scripture”….most wouldn’t be so truthful because their not suppose to “hate that scripture”….

  9. As someone whose 28 year old spouse was just diagnosed with metastatic cancer, I can say a hearty amen to this post. Thank you for echoeing my heart today.

    1. jami_amerine says:

      Blessings and prayers my friend.

  10. Don McKelvie says:

    Wow. You never Sease to amaze me.

    1. jami_amerine says:

      ❤️

  11. Thanks for your honesty. I, too, try to remember that people at a funeral just.don’t.know what to say. I think some people quote Scripture that has helped THEM the most through grief. It just goes to show that the Word is living, and speaks to each of us differently at different times.

    My family lost 5 members over the course of 1992-93 and by the fifth funeral, people just said, “I don’t know what else to say.” That’s what I start with now. I’m truly sorry for your loss.

    1. jami_amerine says:

      True.

  12. Cathy says:

    I love your honesty and your desire to be real with God. I think being honest with God about our anger, at Him or His Word, is one of the hardest things to do. My mother-in-law, who is very wise, said the turning point in her relationship with God was when she accepted and believed that He loved her enough to allow her to be angry at Him. I have spent most of my life being afraid that I would lose God’s love- by not being good enough- and it is freeing to know that God understands our hurt and our anger and loves us through it all. Thanks for sharing your heart ❤️

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