A devotional of ‘comfort in heartache’
In the wake of the death of her 4-year-old son Daniel in 1997, Alice Wisler formed a grief organization to help other parents. Also an author of several fiction books, Wisler’s latest is a devotional. “Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache” (Leafwood Publishers, softcover, $13.99) is a collection of 40 devotionals for those dealing with various kinds of losses in their lives.
The idea for the devotional was formed as Wisler, who lives in Durham, went on walks, and each devotional includes ideas for contemplation while on a walk. It also includes a prayer, Bible verses and Wisler’s own personal stories of life and loss.
Daniel, who died after eight months of cancer treatments, would have been 21 now. The anniversary of his death is Feb. 2. What Wisler’s book shows, and what she experiences, is that “there is a God that sustains us through misery.”
What’s helped her be sustained is being around other believers who encourage and support her, Wisler said. A member of Blacknall Presbyterian Church, which she joined in 2002, Wisler has found that other members are willing to learn about Daniel and acknowledge his death.
“Bereaved parents want acknowledgement,” she said. They’re still grieving their child and still missing their child, always. Parents don’t want a pity party, Wisler said, just the acknowledgement that attending something like a celebratory event is hard.
Through donations, 106 copies of “Getting Out of Bed in the Morning” were sent this week to Newtown United Methodist Church in Connecticut, the community where 20 children and six adults were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December. Victims included church members.
Writing has been a form of solace, great peace and hope after her son’s death, Wisler said. She hopes people will find encouragement from her book, with a message to point to God. It helps to see what God has to say about bereavement, grief and fear, she said, and “how we can live in spite of the suffering.”
Below is an excerpt from “Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache” by Alice J. Wisler:
(Pages 44-47, devotion Seven)
. . . my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, O Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you. — Psalm 88:9
Observing a temper tantrum in a child is no easy feat. We watch a child asking for a cookie, and then when denied she continues to beg, and then the begging leads to wailing. Nine times out of ten, kicking and screaming follow. Sometimes the only way to stop the escalating behavior is to pick the child up and hold her until she, at last, is exhausted and settles in her parent’s arms.
As adults, often we’re still like a child. We vacillate between wanting to pull away, storm out, go our own way, and wanting to be rescued from ourselves. Somebody hold me, help me take my eyes off of me and my dilemma and focus on something else.
At times, like a child, we get to a place where we are totally out of sorts, unable to even see or think clearly anymore. Life seems to have swallowed us whole. We are in dire need of help. Open your eyes and look to the One who is standing beside you, His arms outstretched. He wants to pick you up and hold you until your tears and frustration cease.
When a mother came back home from a Mary Kay party with more makeup on than she usually wore, her four-year-old daughter stood at a distance for a moment before running into her arms. Then smiling into her face, the child said, “I know it’s you, Mommy! I know you’re in there.” While you might put on a new façade in the form of a different hairstyle or article of clothing, you can’t fool those who are closest to you. They still recognize you. How much more acquainted with you is God! He knows you better than you know yourself. He loves you more than anyone ever can or will.
Reflections to Ponder
Close your eyes and spread out your hands. Lift them up over your head. Stretch them out in front of you, palms up. Imagine God reaching out for you. Spend a few moments in silence. Listen for God’s stirrings in your heart. Close and then open your hands as though you are giving your concerns over to God. Read aloud Psalm 88:9: “. . . my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, O Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you.” In response to this verse, read also Psalm 18:19: “He [the Lord] brought me into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”
If you feel overwhelmed by what you feel your life is lacking or what you think is not right, jot down your concerns. Sometimes releasing your pent-up discontent helps because you are getting it out of your mind and letting the paper hold the weight of it. What troubles you? Can you put your fears on paper? Do you believe that the Lord will counsel you as you seek Him (Ps. 16:7)?
Save me for I am drowning. Save me for I worry. Save me for I fear. Save me for I am consumed with despair. Save me, O God. You have rescued me from drowning, from worry, from fear, and from despair. Thank you, O God.
When You Walk:
Find a park to walk to and a place to sit. On a note pad, list what you know about God to be true. How will you implement these truths in your daily life?
[Excerpt courtesy of author and Leafwood Publishers]
WHAT: Author reading, “Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache” by Alice J. Wisler. There will also be soup and cornbread.
WHEN: 10 a.m. to noon, Feb. 9
WHERE: Blacknall Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall
1902 Perry St., Durham