Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A GRIEF OBTAINED



Years ago, the great Christian thinker, C.S. Lewis, wrote a book entitled, “A Grief Observed.”  In this brief, but poignant volume, he describes his struggle after his wife dies.  The pious platitudes and Christian clichés so often employed in the midst of sorrow were found to be hollow.  Lewis wavered in maintaining a faith that had seemed so rock-solid.  Once he spoke with such conviction about the things of God, as if he had all the answers.  Suddenly, he was thrust into an abyss where answers could not be found.
The reality of a loved one’s death was brutal…and it still is.  Have you ever watched a seven-year old granddaughter who had been so full of life a year ago be consumed with cancer?  Have you ever sat down with your son-in-law and your daughter to plan a funeral service that you will conduct?  I hope not—and pray you never do!  The pain is excruciating. I know that many of you who read this have been in similar times—a spouse, a sibling, a son—someone so dear and near and now all that remains are tombstones and memories.
I recall as a young pastor, visiting the hospital, seeking to minister by encouragement, Scripture, and prayer—and maybe somewhat effectively.  Nothing helped me be more helpful than when I was hospitalized for a week with a major operation, requiring a month to recuperate.  My sympathy factor increased exponentially and I believe my ministry was enhanced.  It was no longer theory, but experience that gave me a platform of compassion.
I believe that is what Paul was saying in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7,

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.   If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.  Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. (ESV)
I have no idea how many hundreds of funerals I have officiated, and can truly say I have sought to weep with those that wept and bring them comfort.  People have told me that they have been helped by my ministry.  Yet, I know now what I have never known before.  In the space of a week I have spoken at my father and granddaughter’s funerals, and felt a heartache from which I will never recover until the great Resurrection Day.  That hope seems more precious than ever to me!  I can testify that God’s grace is enough—that His comfort is real—and He will do the same for you, no matter what trial may come.  “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21 ESV)

14 comments:

Killer and Mary said...

May God comfort and give you his perfect peace during this hard, hard time. We have been praying for you and your family as you go through this time of sorrow and grief, but you well know that "crying lasts a night, but joy comes in the morning." Of course it does not say how long you will cry before the joy comes, but I know that Jesus will lead all of you back to His joy when the time is right. Grieving is hard, but God is great and good as He walks alongside us during these times. May you know that His loving arms are there to catch you when you need to be held and just cry. May His peace overshadow you during the next days, weeks and months. We, your fellow Christians are lifting you up, and I hope that our prayers will help carry this load, that our love will help just a little. Soon we will all be reunited together never to be parted again. "What a day, glorious day that will be." Much love in Christ, Rev. Dr. Kim and Mary Milner

Karen Land Walker said...

As I drove home from my office off of Charlotte St. today, I took 1-240, something I never do as I don't like traffic. As suspected, traffic came to a screeching halt. What I couldn't see, was the horror unfolding before me.. A motorcycle under a car. I immediately began gut wrenching prayers, tears flowing for a person that I didn't know. We Are ALL GOD'S CHILDREN. May you ALL find peace, courage & hope through this time of grief. So many of us have mourned with you for a CHILD OF GOD, that we didn't know. We knew you, or perhaps Mya's Mom, Dad or The Phillips. WE united as one for a precious child of GOD. I feel honored to have 'known' Mya vicariously through you, Preacherman. We will not stop praying for ALL OF YOU. Or a random stranger on a motorcycle...We Are GOD'S CHILDREN. Thank you for helping this tiny girl give US HOPE again...I believe MYA GRACE WAS THE MIRACLE...

Anonymous said...

So sorry for both of your losses. Thank you for your words.

Angela Broadhead said...

wow...tough to read...but moving...Gods Grace be with you.
Amen

mamad said...

God spared my son less than one week ago when he hydroplaned and wrapped his truck around a power pole. The realization that I could have lost him on a Wednesday, just like any other Wednesday, has profoundly changed me. I have not lost a child, parent, or sibling (I don't have grandchildren). I cannot imagine the pain of such a loss because I was able to sit up all night and watch over my son through his concussion rather than mourn his loss.
I do know that through the trials of my life (sexual abuse, being held at gunpoint, living with an alcoholic, losing everything in a house fire, starting my life over and being a single mom) I have gained deep compassion for others. I have become an encourager of others who are suffering and, I hope, an inspiration because I never gave up. The only reason that I have any strength, any comfort, any peace, or any blessing is because God loves me. He cares about my every need and when I am smart enough to go to him rather than "do it myself", He makes everything work and I can keep going.
May the comfort of the Holy Spirit which we are promised permeate you and your family. I pray that he will give you peace and strength to continue to minister and use your grief to help others. My heart hurts for your loss, but at least you know that Jesus died for you and your grandchild. He made a way for you to spend eternity together and although that will not ease your longing for her now, it is a reason for hope.

Douglas Brown said...

A very eye opening letter here. As we experience life we become too accustomed to others painful situations. We watch others die but its like reading a newspaper. I've seen several people die and I've told several people a loved one die and I was hardened by it. But when I lost my brother, grandmother and mother in just weeks AND when I held my fathers hand at home as he left too, it made me realize the hurt and pain that for years I had just gotten used to. But not anymore. It opened my eyes.

Carmelia Montes said...

God has and will use you and your family and the deepest grief to reach more hearts than you'll probably ever know this side of Glory.

Dennis Thurman said...

Thank you!

Dennis Thurman said...

I agree!

Dennis Thurman said...

Thanks!

Dennis Thurman said...

Appreciate it!

Dennis Thurman said...

Thankful your son was spared!

Dennis Thurman said...

True

Dennis Thurman said...

We pray so!