Midweek Push: Believest Thou Are Comforted

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


For the Month of March, we’re embarking on a Midweek Push Interview Series and we’re taking a look at comfort in God during our seasons of grief and loss. Today, we’re discussing comfort on the couch with Melanie Johnson.

Melanie is a woman after God’s own heart. She has been a follower of Christ for many years and although not void of mistakes, she strives daily to mature her relationship with God and lead others to him. She is co-founder of S.W.A.P. Ministries and devotes her time to bringing hope, healing, and purpose to the lives of women.  

Melanie enjoys writing poetry, singing, laughing, traveling, smooth jazz, living a minimalist lifestyle, deep, intimate worship, and sharing the hope and promises of God with those who cross her path. She enjoys being an advocate for women who have been affected by spiritual and domestic abuse.

Melanie hopes that her life will help others draw closer to the Lord. She hopes to give back to others in a way that they know she is a servant of God above all else. She hopes she can continue to teach women how to live a life of worth in Him. She hopes that she’s living a life that pleases her Father in heaven!

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SWAP: How have you experienced loss or grief? 

Melanie: I lost my grandmother, Martha Roberson, the rock of our family, Friday, February 22, 2013. Even though it's been a little over a year, her passing is still so fresh for me. This was a total “I was not expecting this” moment. I received a call in January of 2013 that my grandmother was sick. For many years she has battled chronic bronchitis. However after getting several opinions from different doctors my grandmother found out that she actually had lung cancer. What, CANCER, oh no! I felt like I was calm, but deep in my heart, I was distressed and knew something weird was going on. She opted for surgery versus chemo and the cancer was removed. Thank the Lord! I traveled home to Jackson, TN to visit with her and returned back to Charlotte, NC on February 18th.

An interesting thing happened the night before she passed. We have a hope chest in our home with encouraging scriptures, quotes, and phrases and on Thursday night the 21st, I grabbed a card out of the box that read “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) I honestly said amen and didn’t think of anything because the last word on my grandmother was that her condition was getting better. Then I got a call 6:00 am Friday morning from my brother telling me that my grandmother had died. I just cried. I was in shock. I didn't really know how to feel. I was crushed that in such a short amount of time that I had my grandmother (30 years) and in a month’s time she was sick and then gone. This has been the most devastating loss I have ever experienced, because the woman I would call for spiritual advice is gone. The woman that I would call while walking my dog just to hear her laugh and joke was gone. The woman that taught me the gospel was gone. There’s nothing like losing a grandmother.

SWAP: C.S. Lewis stated “No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.” ― Can you relate? 

Melanie: I have a great fear more than anything wondering how my family, particularly my mother and brother’s are handling her passing. I don't know how it feels to lose a mother, or in my brother's case, to lose a best friend as they called my grandmother. In this moment of grief, I fear not hearing her voice. I fear not being able to share various milestones with her. But one thing about my grandmother, she supported my spiritual walk. When we published our devotional book, she was the main supporter of me in Jackson, taking orders and sharing with everyone that she knew! I fear not sharing more accomplishments like that with her. When others around me were fearful that I would be going to do mission work in Honduras in July 2013, she said go for it! I fear not being able to share more journeys like that with her.

SWAP: What inspires you to show up even when you are fearful and/or uncertain?

Melanie: My faith in God knowing He doesn’t make mistakes. There was a reason I picked that specific scripture the night before my grandmother passed; it was God’s reminder to me that she lived her life for Christ and any and everything after her earthly passing is GAIN. I celebrate that more than I mourn. Don’t get me wrong, I do mourn though, I cry many times in secret or openly and wonder why my grandma had to go; but I’m trying my best to celebrate her life more than anything. My grandma would not want to see me cry or feel defeated; she enjoyed hearing the joys in my life, so why not celebrate how she was the joy of my life. When I’m uncertain, I have to go to the rock that is higher than I and seek His answers and direction and comfort. He alone can help me.

SWAP: Your spirituality is clearly an important part of your journey. In what ways, have your spiritual beliefs helped you cope with loss?

Melanie: If it was not for my support network and my closest friend, I would probably not be as sane about the loss I’ve experienced. Even though I’ve been a Christian for 18 years, the significance of this loss broke me down emotionally. But GOD's word is clear: He will never leave nor forsake me, He left me a Comforter, and I don't have to fear, but trust. My support network have reminded me in so many ways to count on God, to lift my spirit through song, to write out things about my grandma that make me smile, to write my feelings out and not hold them in. To honor her now like I honored her before! Trusting in God’s Spirit is a major comfort to me in my season of loss. I feel confident and certain that my grandma needed to pass so that I could stand stronger and carry on the spiritual legacy that she placed in me. To bring our family closer. But also, so that I could show that I am human with emotions that hurt; emotions that sometimes leave me weeping at night!

SWAP: How would you describe comfort?

Melanie: I would describe comfort as being enveloped by God and resting in His sweet promises. I see comfort as possessing the knowledge that everything will be okay and leaning into God and those whom He’s placed in my corner to help me. I describe comfort as knowing my grandmother is resting from her troubles here on earth, not worried about bronchitis, doctor bills, drama, or evils of this world...she's resting from her labor! I also describe comfort as crying it out, laughing it out, serving it out, and trusting Him through it.

SWAP: What Bible verses are helpful for you as you seek God's comfort? 

Melanie: These verses keep coming to me:
Psalm 73:26 "My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever."
Psalm 116:15 - "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."
Philippians 1:21 "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
Philippians 4:6,7 "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

SWAP: Any closing statements of advice that you want to offer to those who have/are experiencing loss or grieving?

Melanie: Don’t let anyone tell you how long to grieve. You know the degree to which the loss has affected you, so if you need to cry every year, on that date, or on their birthday, then cry. If you need your moments alone, be alone. But don’t forget to celebrate any precious memories that you had with them. Practice a healthy habit that reminds you of your lost loved one. Lean on someone who honestly loves you and wants to be there with you during your process. Believe that you are not alone and that someone somewhere has experienced a loss as well.

Talk to God, a lot, about anything that you’re feeling, or not feeling (sometimes loss makes us numb). He’ll give you peace and comfort. He’ll provide a refuge. He won’t bring what or whom you’ve lost back, but He can move you forward with a grateful heart. You may weep, but joy does come. You may not understand, but the Spirit will bring clarity. You may want to blame, cuss, fuss, throw a fit; just know that according to the Word, sadness is okay, grieving is normal, anger is even okay (Ephesians 4:26), but don't hurt nobody! Vengeance belongs to God.

Remember, that with every loss, something is gained.  

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Melanie, we’ve really appreciated this interview! We feel like you’ve gone beyond the superficial and answered some really helpful questions for our readers. Thank you for yielding your time for our Believest Thou Are Comforted series!


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