Where is God When it Hurts? A Husband, Wife Discussion about Struggle, Loss & Grief
December 15, 2021 - Episode #87 - Where is God When it Hurts? A Husband, Wife Discussion about Struggle, Loss & Grief
Grief, depression, loss….these things are magnified during the holidays. We are struggling and we look around and it seems like there is just so much suffering. It begs us to ask the question…..Where is God when it hurts? Today my guest is my husband, James Pickett. Join us as we have an open discussion about struggle, loss and grief and how to find comfort in the midst of suffering.
Here is a list of resources that we discussed....
- Red Sea Rules by Robert J. Morgan
- Get Your Life Back - Everyday Practices for a World Gone Mad by John Eldredge
- Worry Less, Live More by Robert J. Morgan
- Finding Quiet by JP Moreland
- The Pause App - This practice is outlined in the book, Get Your Life Back
If you need us to pray with you or for you, we would be honored to do so
Before you go...just a little final reminder that I have a gift for you! It’s simple and it’s practical. This is a guide to help you beat stress, combat cravings and stay joyful in the season. The empowering tips are great for the season but honestly, it’s good for anytime. Access that by going to https://bit.ly/2021healthyholidaysurvival
Merry Christmas! I'll see you in the New Year.
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December 15, 2021 - Episode #87 - Where is God When it Hurts? A Husband, Wife Discussion about Struggle, Loss & Grief
Grief depression loss. These things are magnified during the holidays. We're struggling and we look around and it seems like there's so much suffering in the world. It begs us to ask the question, where is God, when it hurts? Today, my guest is my husband, James Pickett. Join us as we have an open discussion about struggle, loss and grief, and how to find comfort in the midst of suffering. Welcome. This is Healthy Harmony podcast. I'm Jennifer Pickett dietitian turned functional medicine, health coach. I help spiraling moms overcome the overwhelm through functional wellness coaching for the body, mind, and soul so they can transform their health and live a deeply fulfilled life of freedom and harmony. Okay, let's get real. When it comes to your health, you know what to do. I help you make this shift from knowing to actually doing the last 25 years of experience have taught me that the absolute last thing a woman needs is a lecture about self-care and another unreal diet plan.
I recognize the importance of compassionate and intentional health practices. So you can feel good because guess what, when you feel good, you are more likely to make better decisions for your health. If you're ready to take control of your complete health, address the obstacle, standing in your way and live a life of freedom and harmony, my friend, you're in the right place. Just a final reminder that I have a gift for you. It's simple, it's practical, and this is a guide to help you beat stress, combat cravings, and stay joyful in this season. Let's be honest. These empowering tips are great for the season, but honestly, it's good for time. So I want you to be able to take advantage of that. You can access it by going to Bitly slash 2021 healthy holiday survival. Again, that's Bitly forward slash 2021 healthy holiday a day. Survival. I know, I know I have said I have a special guest and I say that a lot, but today is probably the most special because it is the man who is put up with me for 21 years. My one and only my husband James Pickett - so welcome James <laugh>
Hey baby. Glad to be here. We've had a lot of fun - time flies when you're having fun.
Such a smart, such a smart man, you know, time flies when you're having fun. And it's, it's kind of funny because today we're gonna talk about suffering <laugh> um, and I, you know, just realized that as I'm, I'm, I'm, you know, kicking this off and talking about we've been married for 21 years now, just the fact that you're on here today, I think speaks volumes because, um, we've been through a lot in our marriage and God's done a major healing restorative work, and we're gonna tackle that in, in another podcast on marriage. But today I want us to talk about where is God when it hurts. And this is a very, very tough subject, but something that we've gotta talk about, cuz so many people are struggling. So how are you feeling about this topic today? This is a big one.
Yeah. You know, it is a big one and it's one that, um, I think everyone asks this question. I mean, um, whether you're a small child or you're a, um, young mom or you're a, um, empty nester or you're a, um, an older person. I mean, even if you're one of the, you know, patriarchs in the Bible or um, you know, Jesus himself question, you know, where was his father while he was, uh, on the cross? Um, you know, so there's, there's um, it's okay to ask the question and um, you know, the beauty and the joy of it is that, um, he is here he's with us and no better time to talk about that than, than around this season where, um, you know, he came to be, um, with us and dwell among us.
So I love that. I love that. Thank you. Uh, and y'all can see immediately why I wanted him to, to talk, you know, hand on. I wanted to hand over this, this tough topic. So James, we're no strangers to grief. We're no strangers to loss, to struggle to depression, to anxiety. So I want you to just share a time of intense struggle in your life and what you learned.
Yeah, I would say, you know, <laugh> well, first of all, um, you know, <affirmative>, um, suffering is what I've learned I guess, is that it's, um, it is a part of life. Um, the Bible talks about, you know, not, uh, if you face suffering it, it, uh, gives us, uh, encouragement, hope that, um, and, and confidence that we will, we will face sufferings. So when, when you face suffering, um, you know, is what the Bible says. So there's no doubt that we're gonna go through it. Um, you know, there was a time in my life where I was struggling with a job and, and wondering if I could just keep going on. And, um, I was managing a, um, very large, um, uh, division of large corporation and, and I called my brother that morning and said, I just, I don't know if I can go in, I feel like this suffering is never gonna end.
And I, and, uh, and he's my older brother and, uh, just a general wise soul that I love so much. And I said, when is this suffering gonna end? And, you know, he said, James, what if that's the point? And it stopped me in my tracks. And we started talking about, you know, where Paul talks about, um, his sufferings and, um, and then we can look to our savior and, and, you know, um, he's described as a suffering servant. Um, and so why should we think any differently? And so, um, not to put a cynical view out there of what our, what our life is, but there can be real joy found in the midst of suffering. In fact, had an older man not long ago, tell me that what he's after 89 years on this earth is that the real jewels of God's knowledge and his mercy and his love and the meaning are found, um, during times of suffering, that's what he's found.
And Paul would've said the same thing and did say the same thing, um, at the end of his life. And so for me, when I was a child, um, I had a host of, of, uh, health issues that, uh, plagued me and, um, we can never figure it out. Um, I was in and out of children's hospitals in Houston, uh, in Louisiana, where I was born and raised. And, um, mainly with low grade temperature, fatigue, um, unable to really sustain any sort of, um, weight gain, um, at one point. Um, and so I had every test, uh, done to be known to man. And, um, um, it wasn't until I was, um, 20 years old that, um, uh, I had an episode, uh, while I was playing college baseball. And, um, we, um, after a long series of about, if I had guess about 60, in the 12 months, um, um, kind of testing and stuff, we determined that I had an autoimmune, uh, disease that, um, um, um, you know, that was attacking my body, and I, um, lost my scholarship.
And, um, so there's a real, real time of, I guess, suffering confusion and, um, uh, pain, uh, during, during that time, it was a critical juncture there for my faith because, um, you know, while I knew that, uh, there had always kind of been a little monster in my basement as a child, it had kind of left. And so as I was at the top of my game, you know, no pun intended, um, uh, living in an athletic and playing on a scholarship at a division one college, and then learning that I had, um, a condition that was gonna require me to stop, um, was very painful and hurt. And I was confused and I had an identity crisis really is what I went through. And so there, there was every emotion that you can imagine from just, um, my pride, um, being suffering to the point of just, you know, do I even really wanna live anymore?
I mean, there were and everything in between. And so, um, what I learned through that, um, was that God, uh, had a purpose. He was never, um, he was never gone. Um, but there were things that, um, I needed to learn and that maybe baseball and a career in baseball was not what he had, but he used it as a tool to humble me and provide a opportunity for me to see, um, that he was still in the, of power of healing and that his holy spirit was alive and well, and that, uh, it was okay to cry out to him. It was okay to come alongside others who were facing, uh, health issues and to give them hope. And, and he did, he restored my body and he, um, he continues to, to, um, you know, protect me and heal me. And, and so it, something that, um, you know, was, was really a, a, a place in my life that, um, I would say where I turned from trying to live, um, to prove myself and just gave my life to him. And, um, you know, he's, he's used it in a great and mighty way.
Thank you so much for sharing that and just sharing your heart, um, and, and what God taught you through and through that and what he brought you through. I can't imagine that was just absolutely devastating, cuz that was your, that was what you were known for was your athletic abilities and you were a baseball player and I know that illness ended your baseball career. And, um, but I learned, I like to hear about how you learned from that. Um, and I hear you, James and what's been neat is to see cuz you're truly one of the most compassionate, empathetic people that I know. And it comes to you very, very natural. So I often will see you encouraging someone, you know, encouraging another guy, um, and, um, and praying with someone. So I guess my next question, it would be, um, what would you tell someone that has lost a loved one or is struggling with grief? Um, what would, would you, how would you encourage them? Cause I know you have gone through tremendous loss yourself. So tell me, um, tell me more about that.
Yeah. You know, I've lost both my parents within the last, um, I guess, you know, five years, um, the, um, the journey was long. Um, you know, dad had, um, been diagnosed with, um, dementia, um, multi infarc, uh, dementia, um, similar to Alzheimer's, um, a lot of correlations there. So it was the same kind of experience, just a different diagnosis, but the same experience. Um, and so, um, for me that was probably, you know, if we're gonna weigh, um, you know, times of suffering in life, I was probably, um, equal to what I had gone through earlier in my life with, with, you know, losing baseball in my health. And so, because, you know, my dad was my best friend. And so, you know, um, not only was I losing the father, I was losing, uh, my best friend and, um, with him having Alzheimer's and dementia, I really went through a grief process twice.
The first time was when I realized that I was gonna lose, um, the ability to really communicate with him as I always had. And, um, that he was not gonna, you know, recognize me. Um, and then the second grief was losing him, um, again, um, in a physical way as he, you know, has gone to be with the Lord. And so, um, you know, the encouragement, um, I would say, um, what brought me through both my, both my dad and my mom and, and God rested her soul. She was such a great caretaker and, and, um, she's just a beautiful, beautiful, um, mom, uh, to me. Um, and so I grieve, um, just, just as badly, but, um, what I learned through those two episodes, number one, um, you know, there's a scripture in a Bible where Jesus, um, is, uh, heading up to, um, see his, uh, friends and he as Lazarus who, uh, he's gonna raise from the dead, or he already knows that he's gonna raise Lazarus from the dead, but he's headed there.
And his friends and family and folks are upset because he hasn't gotten there, uh, quicker and Lazarus has already passed. Um, but one of the things, um, that it talks about there is that as he's approaching, um, I believe it's in John 11, you know, that he sees everyone so upset. And, um, the short, first of the Bible, it says that Jesus wept. And, um, so as I started, you know, peeling back that scripture and, and understanding that, um, while he knew that he was gonna, he, he was gonna raise Lazarus to death. He cared, he cared for his friends and family that were grieving and he chose to, to enter into that grief with him and, and, and cry with him. And, you know, if any of my friends, you know, talk to my friends or my family, I'm a crier, I just always have them, just a, uh, guy, um, in a lot of different ways.
But, uh, I would say having gone through the illnesses and having lost some of those things close to me early in my life, it allowed me to, um, um, I thank God for the gift of crying and to be able to, to, to, to weep when I need to. And so Jesus is example of that. So case I said, so I, I think part of it is just realizing that it's okay to be upset. It's okay to cry. And in fact, um, you know, I, I think, um, Jesus and got, you know, would encourage it. I mean, he enters into it with us. Um, yeah. Second thing would be, you know, just looking at, um, when Jesus was on the cross. There's, there's a scripture there in, in, uh, in John as well later on in 19 where he talks about, um, where he is looking down and he sees his mom, Mary and his best friend John, and he said, Hey, look, um, um, she, my mom, but she's gonna be yours now.
And I basically, I need you to take care of her. And, you know, it's just a very short little snippet, uh, but it was important enough for the author to put there. And I think it's because it shows that Jesus cares about our relationships. And in particular, he cared obviously about, you know, familial relationships, you know, he, he knows what it's like to, uh, have a parent. He knows what it's like to lose a friend. And so as he was leaving this earth, he cared deeply about, um, entrusting, you know, the care of his mom to someone. And so, um, when I lost my parents, I realized that it, you know, Jesus, he really does care and he really does understand, and it's something that I can go to him with and I still have to, I still have to go to him with it, especially during, uh, times in holidays and, and all those sorts of things. So it's a great comfort to me to know that, um, you know, as he come to dwell among us, he, um, he, he had those that loved and he grieve, uh, just like we do.
Yes, definitely. And, you know, I've, I found the same thing, um, losing my mom, um, that he, he came alongside me. He never left me. And I think that's, that's something you're gonna hear from both of us, you, um, that God does not leave you. And that it is, he is right there with you. And he understands all of those emotions. He, he knows you better than, you know, yourself, the creator knows his creation. And so it's okay to not be okay. It's okay. Grief. It is okay to say, God, why is this happening? You know? Um, and he, he comes alongside us in that grief and in that struggle and James, you and I have seen that just time and time again. Um, so what are some of the, um, what is, what is something that you've done to help you during, in during times of intense grief or intense struggle? What is some, what is something you've done to help yourself?
Well, you know, um, I'm in my fifties now. And so, um, I used to think, man, when I get to be 50, I'm gonna be really a old and I'm gonna have it all figured out and have it all together and I'm gonna be really wise and I'm gonna be able to impart all of this great wisdom, uh, to folks. And, and what you, what you find is, is that at every stage of life, um, you need people, um, to help you and you need resources to help you. And one of the things that I had always been a little bit, uh, iffy on, or a little bit apprehensive about how it was actually going and, and getting counseling. Um, but, uh, as you, you and I started, you mentioned earlier about the healing in our marriage, as we started getting, uh, help with our marriage through counseling. I realized that, that there was some benefit to me, um, you know, talking through some things with, with a counselor. And for me, I, I met a couple of men, um, counselors that I went to that, um, that really helped me kind of unpack some things and, um, gave me permission to, uh, release some things and set some boundaries and, and, um, and, you know, really kind of, um, um, unpack a lot of those things that were just, um, you know, affecting me. And then secondly, you know, um, um, someone encouraged me and I can't remember who it was. It may have been an author speaker or whatever, but that, you know, if you're looking for a mentor, you don't always have to have someone that's, uh, in, in physical form and, and, and, you know, it could be an author, it could be a speaker.
And so I started reading a few books. Um, one was, um, the Red Sea Rules by Robert J. Morgan. Who's an author that I, that I loved dearly, and he wrote a couple of books, um, that, that encouraged me. And so maybe we can talk about a couple of few of those later, but, um, you know, I really started kind of grasping on to, to, to some, some men that, um, that could, that were pouring into me. And I would say the, the second, the, the, the, you know, the last thing was just surrounding myself with some, some, um, friends that, um, I knew would, uh, give me, um, wisdom, uh, that would speak truth into my life. Um, and, and not just, um, um, not just join, not, not just, not just join me in, in, in my grief or suffering, but, but that would, um, you know, seek to actively, uh, listen and, um, and pray with me and, and just be there for me, you know, it helps and don't wanna impact things, but, uh, it's important, uh, that we do otherwise. It, it helps other unhealthy ways.
Yeah, definitely. And I'm so glad you brought up all of that, like, especially the counseling, because I think it has such a stigma associated with it. Well, you, you must have really a lot of stuff wrong if you go to counseling. No, it's just a wonderful place to kind of unpack and to give, uh, look at it almost as like going to the gym, you know, working out like you're giving all of that stuff, instead of shoving it down, you're giving a, a place to go, and you're also getting such practical, like wisdom on how to handle situations. So I, I just think counseling is so beneficial and you did, you referenced some amazing books and it's so cool how this has worked because James, a lot of times you'll read a book and you're like, Hey, Jennifer, you've gotta, you've gotta read this. This is so good. Or, you know, this really speaks to what you're doing every day. I think this will help you encourage others. So a lot of my best resources that I talk about almost daily, um, I have those resources because of you. So, um, I I've used that to, to help others. So, so, uh, tell us about some of those, uh, some of those resources you referenced Red Sea Rules by, uh, Robert Morgan. Absolutely. Fantastic. Uh, give us some more of those resources that have been like at the top of your list, your top favorites.
Yeah, I would say, uh, he wrote another book called Worry Less, Live More, and the focus was on Philippians, uh, um, and, and anxiety, uh, primarily, um, I found another author. His name is JP Moreland. He wrote a book called Finding Quiet, and he's done a lot of research. He's a, he's a psychiatrist, but he's, uh, he's also at theologian. And so, um, and then suffered with depression and, and anxiety and, and grief for, for a very long time. And so he did some research on, you know, um, appropriate ways to kind of start retooling or retraining your brain and your mind. Um, and so that's something, um, that I've really worked on, um, through, um, just retraining my <laugh> my brain to, to see things as, as, as how they truly are and not how the enemy wants me to see 'em. Um, and so, uh, part of that, I have learned, um, through another author that I love, his name is John Eldridge. He wrote a book called, uh, Get Your Life Back. And, uh, um, he wrote it, um, um, a few years ago, even prior to, to COVID and all that we've gone through with that, but just how helping, um, helping people detach from all of the, the media and the news and all of the craziness that we're having to deal with now from a social media standpoint as well. And so, um, I take pauses frequently during the day where I just give everything over to the Lord and, and, uh, he does it, he helps you do that through just instructive, um, um, words, um, in music and deep breathing,
Um, there's that app, right? He has that Pause app, which is amazing, cuz it, he walks you through like that little meditative time. And you said something one day, James, you said that you've done that Pause app so much that now as soon as you hear kind of that soothing music, like your body, like immediately relaxes, is that right?
Yeah, it does. And it, and it, and it kind of helps me understand it's kind it's a trigger is what it is and it, and it triggers me to know that, okay, it's time to give everything over to God and it's time to, um, cast my burdens upon him because he cares for me and this what he says and, and Peter. And so, um, that's what I do, but I don't just do it, you know, once a day. I, I really try to do it several times throughout the day. I'm about to have a tough conference call. I'm about to have, um, you know, maybe a tough conversation with, with you or one of the kids or what have you, you know, I frequently do that. And then I just do it as a practice now and it's really kind of help help my brain.
You know, I, I learned, I learned a term, uh, CA catastrophizing and it's something that, uh, <laugh> that I've done throughout my life. I'll, I'll see a situation. And then, um, in my mind, I'll, I'll go ahead and make it that it's already a catastrophe. And so, um, I've learned to that when my brain starts going down that route, I need to quickly, um, stop thinking that way and, and go down another path. And, and now it's, you know, it's, it's more oftentimes that my brain will go into that GU versus another one. And so, you know, this isn't all new age kind of thinking, this is, this is just real stuff. You know, I was reminded you did a podcast with Jeff Warren, um, sometime last year. Yeah. When, when he brought up in Matthew, where God is talking about, you know, um, why are you worrying? You know, it's not gonna add another day to your life, but he starts out a couple of verses sooner. He talks about, Hey, you know, the birds, they can't store food in the barns. They can't, but, but God still provides for them. And, but he, but he, but he starts that verse out by saying, look at the birds. And, and that's just stuck with me so much that, you know, we don't take time to go look at the birds. Yeah, we don't, we don't, we're so busy and stressed. We need to pause. We need to look at the birds. We need to look at things that are beautiful. We need to think about, you know, good times in our life. We need to be thankful. We need to be, um, in a, in a spirit of gratitude and, and God is in those places. He's, he's there when we're hurting, uh, as well. But, but you know, we, sometimes the enemy just wants to just us to fixate on those things. Um, and there's plenty of, there's plenty of good that we can focus on and invite God into it to help us heal.
Yes, God such beautiful, beautiful words today, James, thank you so much. I know you guys are like, oh, James must be a pastor. Like he sounds like a pastor he's so he's so well spoken and he has so many beautiful words of wisdom. He's actually not. Um, he, he would make a fantastic one. Um, but James is so good at speaking to struggle. And I think you guys can quickly see why I had him on here today. So I hope that this podcast as encouraged you, um, you know, as we unpack that question, where is God, when it hurts? The answer is that he's right there beside you. And I'm just gonna kinda open this up, cuz I know that there are a lot of people who are suffering. There's a lot of people who are struggling and um, I'm gonna do two things.
First of all, if you have a specific prayer request, um, I'm going to put my email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Um, I'm gonna put that in the show notes. So you can just send both James and I, your prayer request. We will pray over those. But if you're one of these people and you are struggling and you are in such a dark place and you need someone to come alongside you, if you're a guy, James would love to pray with you, pray over you. Um, I have seen him do this very often. If you come up to my husband, cause I know we've got some local friends that listen to our podcast. If you come up to my husband and say, Hey, I need you to pray for me. James is not gonna say, Hey, I'll pray for you and then walk off. He's probably gonna pray for you right then and there. I've seen that plenty of times. So I say that if you want James to pray for you, he will certainly do that. I will do the same ladies. If you need me to pray for you to pray with you, I would be honored to do so. We know that there's a lot of people struggling and suffering right now. And we just wanted to share with you what has helped us in the middle of our, of our suffering. So James, thank you much. You did a really, really good job expressing all of this. This is a tough subject.
Well thank you baby. And uh, thanks for all the encouragement and um, I mean all the good things you said about me, but you know what they say behind every good man, there's an even, even better woman. So <laugh>
Do y'all see how smart this man is?. We're not even, we haven't even talked about the marriage stuff yet, but you can see how smart he is. He does have to sleep with me every night. So good job. Good job. Um, y'all thank you for joining us today. Uh, James, I'm gonna put your email as well. Uh, James is, go ahead and give us your email. So if, if, if there's a guy who wants to connect with you, he can do so over email. What is that email?
Sure. It's Pickett James 44 at gmail.com and that's pickett with two Ts. P I C K E T T J A M E S 44 at gmail.com.
So if you need to connect with James, you can do that through email. Uh y'all. I will put all of this information in the show notes. So you can just easily access that on the website. Um, inspire healthy harmony.com. Uh, so I will have a listing of all of the books and resources that James referenced. So you can, uh, go back and if you wanna purchase those, you can do so very easily and just know that we're here to pray with you, to pray for you. Um, so just feel free to connect. We would be honored to do so, James, thanks again for joining me.
I enjoyed it too. Thank you, baby.
I hope that brought you some comfort today. I know that so many out there are suffering and struggling. There is no easy answer or full recipe to ease that James and I have learned and continue to learn, to put our trust in him. That as we go through dark times, his promises hold true. He never leaves us or forsakes us. He truly is our only hope. This is my last podcast of 2021, my goodness. Oh, what a year? Um, my prayer for you is to find some joy and peace in myths of the chaos until we meet again, Merry Christmas, my friend!