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December 4, 2014

Oh Death, Where Is Your Sting? The Reality of Death, The Breath of Life

“Oh death, where is your sting?  My resurrected King has rendered you defeated!”  -Forever, by Kari Jobe

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 10.22.48 PM(Written by Kari Jobe, Brian Johnson, Jenn Johnson, Gabriel Wilson, Joel Taylor, Christa Black Gifford)

 

I remember the first time I tried to sing those words at my daughter Luca’s memorial service on March 7, choking and gasping for breath as if I’d swallowed poison, yet fighting to declare truth with what little strength I had left.

Two days after she lay lifeless in my arms, I was determined to make a sound in the midst of my pain that could never be made again—a sound of powerful adoration to push back the darkness that threatened to destroy me.  A sound bright with life as the lies hovered close, longing to take ground in my heart.

As I picked up my guitar, beginning to play exactly 9 months ago in front of friends and family as we celebrated her short life, I knew the words we had crafted in the song Forever were absolutely true—except I had just suffered tragic loss where life was torn from my arms by a cruel thief.  And then, for quite a while, death kept stinging like a million knives slashing slowly at my heart, all while forcing me to continue breathing.

And though I could barely whisper the words under the weight of a mountain of pain, I kept singing, and singing, and singing lyrics I didn’t have the capacity to believe, yet knowing they would someday feel true:

Oh death, where is your sting?  My resurrected King has rendered you defeated!

 

Last night as I went to bed, I knew death might come knocking twice in my world—once with my husband’s Grandmother Sue whose deadly cocktail of pnemonia and cancer threatened to snuff out life at any moment; and then my beautiful friends Chris & Alyssa Quilala of Jesus Culture whose sweet baby boy’s heart stopped beating in her womb at 35 weeks.

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 10.23.00 PMThe sting of death.  The pain of loss.  The grief of tragedy.

In our Western Christian culture, it seems (at times) that crumbling under the landslide of death makes you weak, or indicates signs of a heart lacking in faith.  People put on smiles and declare verses to you like James 1:2 about considering the trial pure joy, or Romans 8:28 about God working it for good.  And though these verses are entirely true, in the wake of tragic loss, many times I just wanted to say…..Can you please wait a hot minute before my pain makes you so uncomfortable that you’re trying to pull me out of it?

Why would Jesus have ever sent us a Comforter if He never expected us to mourn?

So friends, as you watch those around you grieve, let me offer some advice.  Learn to grieve with them.  Learn what true grieving really looks like.  Learn to be like the Comforter.  Crawl down into the pain with those you love, simply putting your arm around them, and please take this in the nicest way possible…..keep your mouth shut as much as you can, being comfortable with silence and sobs.  Don’t try to have all the answers.  Don’t spout out verses, even though they may be true.  As someone is crying, just be a shoulder to cry on, adding the phrase, “I’m just so sorry,” as something more than sufficient for the moment.

In the moments of tragic loss, please don’t try to silver-line someone’s cloud.  Just sit with them in the rain—possibly sharing your umbrella and letting them soak your chest with tears.

mobiletutsImageAs we gear up for our first healing gathering at the Gold Monarch Healing Center next week, I’ve been compiling a list of worship songs I’ll lead for our group of 5 incredible broken hearts from all over the country.  And this year after Luca Gold died in my arms, as the Comforter has been close, family has been steady, and friends have held me up, I can’t wait to pick up my guitar and lead a declaration that I was barely able to sing just 9 months ago.  However, because I kept singing this song in faith, even as death stung like a hundred thousand spears, this song is now my anthem, its melody is now my decree, and I not only feel it in my bones—with tears of sorrow still falling down my cheeks—I believe it in the heart that Jesus is continuing to make whole.

“Oh death, where is your sting?  My resurrected King has rendered you defeated!”

xx,

CBG_SIGNATURE

21 Responses to “Oh Death, Where Is Your Sting? The Reality of Death, The Breath of Life”

  1. Oh Christa you plunder the gates of hell with your words. Your life. My heart is sick for Chris and Alyssa. And your advice is spot on, how I longed for silence but company in the days after I lost my Leilah. Praying for your family and them.

  2. michelle Alderson

    the gift you have to describe with words the pain you feel inside your heart is healing. …thank you Christa. my heart aches today as I prayed believing for baby Jet, just as I prayed believing for my marriage, and this grief at times seems unbearable. but I too look forward to worship with you, believing in a God who brings deep joy into our gnawing hurts and Holy Spiriit to comfort us in this turbulent storm. I am so grateful for friends and for this opportunity to come to the healing center. … thank you

  3. Michelle

    Christa, Its crazy as was reading this I was listening to the song Forever. It was not intentional either. My heart hurts to hear of these two lives gone. Grief has been a friend of mine ever since I can remember…. from family members to a friend’s suicide death had built a black cloud around me. It even almost led me to my own but God showed up that night. Without Him I would not be here. Healing is a lifetime process but there is nothing that fills in the hole that you feel when you loose someone you love. I have never lost a child. I cannot even imagine the pain. You have taught me something about loss that has helped me immensely that God is still GOOD no matter how I feel or how much it hurts. He is still good and Jesus reminds us that He is still good. As a nurse, you can get numb to death but it hurts every time I lose a patient and I cry for that life lost. Thank you for reminding me of the truth of who God is….. a GOOD God. I am praying for you and your family. Thank you for being so authentic about pain. You are releasing many who have bottled it up and not taken it to the healer. Thank you.

  4. Wow christa that was awesome! There has been a lot of death in a friend’s family the past 6 months and my heart goes out to them so much! I have a bad feeling as well that my grandparents aren’t going to be w us much longer as well. Just bc as they reach their old age they r slowly fading as most older ppl do as they reach high numbers. I have a problem when it comes to grieving. I don’t cry in front of ppl so I’m usually the “strong”. One of the family as everyone else has tears streaming down their face. I guess the question I have for u is I don’t understand how u r still so strong in your faith even tho the awefulest thing has happened to u!? It amazes me how much u look to God for strength! I dk if its bc I’m weak in my faith or not but the simplest thing cud happen in my life and God is not the first person I turn to. And I hate to admit that bc I feel like this horrible person and not being a Christian like I tell ppl. I turn to people who r close with me when something happens. Its like I want to feel that hug that someone cares. And I know God does its just sometimes its so hard to feel comforted with just the spirit of God. I I honestly feel like I just spit out every curse word I know and ashamed 🙁 I can’t grasp the pain u have went through girl and I can’t grasp how much at peace u r with God. It’s like in a way it seems impossible

  5. Part 2…. I guess I don’t have a special person in my life to be there to make me feel loves. To put their arms around me when I have a bad day. Or that person that makes u feel beautiful even if your just in sweatpants and a tee shirt. I’ve never had that and I crave so much to feel loves to feel wanted by someone on this earth. I don’t get in relationships tho bc I have been hurt so many times that there is now a wall up and i refuse to let myself get close to someone when it comes to that kind of relationship. So Mayne that’s why I have a hard time going to God when the slightest thing foes wrong. I don’t get mad at him I just don’t go to him. I usually try to handle it myself and long for a hug from someone and feel them hug me and feel the care they have towards me. Idk if this is selfish of me or not? I’m sry if it is plz tell ne and ill try to change my emotions to not be that way. Anywho love ya christa Ty for writting this blog and sry for the book I just wrote lol

  6. Tsjitske Dotinga-Tubbs

    Thank you for sharing Christa! I too have found it hard to sing that song and would often just skip this track on the cd 🙂 but now, months after my daughter Tessa died, I can sing along. Thanks be to Jesus who gives us joy for mourning! But it’s a process which I don’t intend to rush. Thanks again for your wonderful words, xx

  7. THank you so much for being real in grief! Often I feel like we feel we have to put on a front and pretend we are ok, when deep inside we are struggling to get up in the morning. Thank you for sharing your heart in such a real way. Grief is something that everybody deals with differently and should be allowed to grieve in their own way.

  8. Javi Reyes

    You inspire me. Ever since i read your book my life’s never been the same. Getting you to autograph it was a highlight in my life especially at a crucial point in my life were i almost walked away from my faith. That day at JCLA2014 my heart filled with hope. I see your fight sis and you make me wanna fight harder. If she can sing to death that its lost its sting and the mortal will put on the immortal after such a devastating loss i can keep pushing through. I truly love you. Ive met many famous people in my life….but truly you were the first star……

  9. Paola Urbina

    I have to say your words are so encouraging to me. I am 19 years. I lost my my mother when I was 15 years old. I have never felt it to be okay to feel the sting of pain because I was told there was a purpose and I held on to that. I ignored the pain for so long but when I read your blog about your precious goldie it made me realize that it okay to feel broken hearted and hurt but you also showed how God holds all the pieces in his hand and comforts us in our pain for that I thank you. Your story has inspired me to share my pain with those who hurt too. Thank you so much♡♡

  10. Christa, I saw your Mother’s Day message preached at Sioux Falls. I want to open my heart and the pain to Jesus, but I’m so tired of scheduled quiet times and pre-determined devotions. I want something real. My mom just got remarried and I’m just now going through grief over the divorce (it happened when I was 5, but I didn’t really have time to mourn). How do I possibly open my heart to Jesus? I’m a Christian and have been for a while.

    Thank you.

  11. Christa, I saw your Mother’s Day message preached at Sioux Falls. I want to open my heart and the pain to Jesus, but I’m so tired of scheduled quiet times and pre-determined devotions. I want something real. My mom just got remarried and I’m just now going through grief over the divorce (it happened when I was 5, but I didn’t really have time to mourn). How do I possibly open my heart to Jesus? I’m a Christian and have been for a while.

    Thank you.

  12. Natania Carvalho

    I don´t know if I can explain how much I am grateful for your words… The first time I listen to you I was on the WorshipU website, and since that day you helped me to change my vision of ministry, worship, guilt and forgiveness. I want to thank you so bad (in fact I wish I could hug you, but Brazil is kinda far away hahaha) . I learned how to feel the love of god and mostly: I don´t need to try so hard, because my old man can´t do anything good, even under control, my old man is dead. You said “there is nothing that can separate us from God” – and I have no idea how many times I’ve listened to this (pastor´s daughter hahaha)- , but somehow those words just made absolutely sense… Do you know when you truly understand something and suddenly everything makes sense?! So… Thank you! You won a heart in Brazil, if you come to visit my country you have a house (and a home!) waiting for you and your family.

    <3

  13. Christa this is inspirational and has encouraged me keep going!! I admire you and Luke so much, sharing so much of your personal loss and struggles so openly to us!! I lost a baby a long time ago and this is helping me to understand and let God heal my heart in that area and any other, simple tools for me to use to be closer to our amazing KING!! Bless you guy so much

  14. Christa this is inspirational and has encouraged me keep going!! I admire you and Luke so much, sharing so much of your personal loss and struggles so openly to us!! I lost a baby a long time ago and this is helping me to understand and let God heal my heart in that area and any other, simple tools for me to use to be closer to our amazing KING!! Bless you guy so much

  15. David Nowell

    Job’s friends traveled from their own countries to be with him in his time of sorrow. Job 2:13 (NASB) “Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.” Unfortunately they opened their mouths and started spewing all kinds of horrible theology. It seems our culture is not very different . . . except that most people can’t sit for seven seconds without saying something colossally ignorant to someone in unexplainable grief no matter how well intentioned. Our culture desperately needs a few lessons in grieving well and allowing others to do the same.

  16. Dannette Delamatter

    I have friends with a two year old currently fighting for his life. During my time of prayer and worship last night I was listening to Kari Jobe’s “Forever.” For some reason I wanted to know who wrote the lyrics, I don’t usually pay any attention to those kinds of details. A quick Google search led me to your blog. This advice is so valuable to me at this exact moment in my life. I love how our God connects the dots to bring across His voice.

  17. Dannette Delamatter

    I have friends with a two year old currently fighting for his life. During my time of prayer and worship last night I was listening to Kari Jobe’s “Forever.” For some reason I wanted to know who wrote the lyrics, I don’t usually pay any attention to those kinds of details. A quick Google search led me to your blog. This advice is so valuable to me at this exact moment in my life. I love how our God connects the dots to bring across His voice.

  18. taniqua

    I just suffered a murder-suicide in my family.

    I started searching for something to give me a focus as I am floundering with my thoughts. many are the pages that help us put faith in a God that receives his own. My struggle is that these were most likely not those who had answered his call, as dearly as I love them, they had not made that decision as far as anyone could see.

    Thank you for your beautiful story for the mourner. I pray that God continues to bless your decisions to trust and he hugs your sweet baby close as he looks down on you. Thank you for putting it all out there for others to just connect and feel a tiny bit less alone.

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“I had planned to end my life, but chose to give it one last shot and signed up for the Master Heart Course. I finally found what I was looking for. My life has changed in ways I could never could put into words, being healed far beyond what I could imagine. I have a long way to go, but this course literally saved my life..”

Mayah