Articles and Publications

Pilgrim's Guides


  Facing the Reality of Grief
Part Two





Knowing God
Faith or Presumption?
The Shock of Severed Hopes and Shattered Dreams
Broken Relationships
When the Grief is all our Own Fault
Shrinking Horizons
Changing Roles
Shock and Guilt in the Aftermath of Loss (i)
Shock and Guilt in the Aftermath of Loss (ii)
No Pit so Deep
Eleventh Hour miracle?
Removing Trauma
Never too Late to Grieve
Yielded Hearts and Altered Perspectives
The Power of Letting Go.

A Pilgrim Restored
Angelic Assistance
The Treasures of Darkness

  By way of illustrating the power of yielding in the right way, I would like to introduce you to Leo Tolstoy’s moving story about Martin the Cobbler.  
  One freezing cold day, this ailing man is standing at his bench, forlornly plying his trade. When his hale and hearty friend Vladimir walks past and invites him to join him in gathering wood for the winter festival, Martin angrily rejects his advances. Obsessed with the loss of his cherished young wife and his only child – just as the boy was reaching the age to have been of real help and companionship – the cobbler has no time for such frivolity.

One day a pilgrim calls, asking him to rebind his Bible. Martin is despondent, but honest with him, for in truth he blames God for leaving him with so little. “I am without hope,” he declares. “All I want of God is that I may die.”

The pilgrim looks at him kindly but keenly. “You are in despair, Martin, because you live only for yourself. Read the book; perhaps it may help.” With that he leaves, promising to pick it up when he returns from his journey.

That night, Martin dreams that the Lord speaks to him, telling him that He is going to visit him, and urges him to look out the window the following day. Martin works extra hard that day, but often takes the time to peer expectantly out of the window. He sees an aged street sweeper freezing in the cold and brings him indoors to feed and care for him. Later, he sees a young mother shivering in the cold and struggling to feed her baby. He brings them into the warmth, and when he discovers that she has pawned her shawl for food he takes a garment he has long treasured, his own wife’s shawl, and tenderly drapes it around her.

Others enter and leave the cobbler’s shop that day, and he helps them all, but still he sees no sign of the Lord. The old despair rises again. Why hasn’t He come? That is when the cobbler’s weary eyes are drawn to a verse in the pilgrim’s Bible: “Whatever you do to the least of these brothers and sisters, you are doing unto Me.”

In a flash of insight, Martin recognises that Christ has come – in the form of each person he has met and helped that day: the street sweeper, the mother and child, and all the others. When his friend Vladimir passes by again, the cobbler can’t wait to go out and join him. Healed of his grumpiness and despair, Martin has moved beyond his own grief and is ready to play his full part in the life of his community.25

Reflect and Pray
Tolstoy regarded this short story as perhaps his most important because it demonstrated how God uses people with love in their heart to restore hope and life to those who have lost it.

If you find yourself in the grip of unexpected loss, may I encourage you to remember how many intimate moments you have shared with Him? He will not fail to send you help, and to heal every trauma as you call on His name.

You are my servant. I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:9-10

Serif photo dvd

Lord, You say in Your word, “Fear not.”
I speak these powerful precious words now
to each area of my life that is gripped by fear.
Anchor of my soul, enable me
to weather the waves of anxiety by trusting You.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Angelic Assistance
Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island. Acts 27:23-26

No overview of the way the Lord guides His people through difficult times would be complete without referring to the help that angels bring praying saints at crucial moments. Read More . . .
25 Tolstoy wrote a similar piece called "Papa Panov's Special Christmas."

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