Devotional Thought for Today – 04/13/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part X

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Over the past 9 articles, we have looked at the basics of what a Chaplain/Ministerial duties or mission is (provide compassionate care, comfort, and counsel) and the Stages of Grief. We noted the importance of understanding what stage an individual is in so that we can better minister to their needs.

Today I would like to discuss some dos and don’ts that I have gleaned over the years. As a reminder, my primary duties as Chaplain have been with inmates (and ex-mates) and veterans, of that population however quite a few have had mental health, serious physical, terminal illness, or other issues that I hope to relate to all areas of Chaplaincy.

Some of the things I find most important when dealing with individuals in the Stages of Grief, or the DO’s (I put them in alphabetical order)

  • Affirmation – reassure them that the feelings of grief are normal and support them in the process.
  • Acknowledgment– Do not try and sugarcoat the situation. I am not suggesting we be blunt, rude, or anything of that nature. I am referring to the language that Paul mentions in Ephesians 4:29, Colossians 4:6.
  • Empathize – One of the best explanations for this I studied explained it this way; Pity: I acknowledge your suffering, Sympathy: I care about your suffering, Empathy: I feel your suffering, Compassion: I want to relieve your suffering. In short, empathy is sharing feelings of Grief with the individual, while Sympathy is feeling sorry for them. No one wants you to throw a pity party for them or feel sorry for them, they need you as a professional to provide Compassionate Empathy.
  • Listen – I do not care if you have to sit there for 15-20 minutes before they say 3 words, be willing to listen. everyone has a story and 99.9% need to tell it.
  • Listen without Judgement – Folks will not talk if they think you are going to censor their speech.
  • Truth – Always be truthful, if you don’t have an answer say so, do not “wing it” folks will see right through that.

Some of the most common MISTAKES I find when dealing with individuals in the Stages of Grief, or the DON’Ts (I put them in alphabetical order)

  • AdviceMy advice to you is…, that is not our mission, they are going to get that from the Job’s of the world. Stick to the mission and use biblical counseling.
  • Assume – Never assume you know what they need, yes they need Care, Comfort, and Counsel, but I am speaking of the application of that here.
  • CichésThey are in a better place now, It was God’s will, or At least he/she is not suffering. These may all be true but are of no help especially in the initial stages of Grief.
  • Criticism – Even unintentional, saying something seemingly as harmless as, I know but you can… tells them that you think they are doing something wrong and are criticizing or judging their actions. They are suffering enough we need not pile it on.
  • Mr. or Mrs. Fix It – Never promise what you can not do. Sometimes there are individuals beyond our help that need professional counselors.
  • Pity – See Empathize above
  • Story Time – Unless directly asked keep your war stories to yourself. They only distract from the issues at hand.

I hope these are a help, when I first became a Chaplain I was basically thrown to the wolves, with no training so I made many mistakes listed above. If you have anything to add to either list please comment below.


Prayer

Heavenly Father, I pray that no unwholesome words would proceed from my mouth, but that the words of my lips and the meditation of my heart may be gracious and good. I pray that my speech would give compassionate care, comfort and counsel to those whom I meet. All the while giving honour to Your name by speaking the truth in love. This I ask in Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Modified from Source: https://prayer.knowing-jesus.com/Ephesians/4/29


Crisis Hotlines

855-FAQ-HOSPICE (327-4677) – Hospice Hotline

1-800-662-HELP (4357) Mental Health Hotline

1-800-273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Hotline

1-800-273-8255 Veterans Crisis Hotline

1-800-985-5990 Disaster Distress Hotline

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/12/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part IX

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When we started this series back on March 31st I had initially thought I would take a Psalm a day dealing with grief and apply it to Chaplain/Ministerial care. Obviously, this has taken on a whole different look.

We have just finished looking at the 5 Stages of Grief, and I could leave well enough alone, but more and more today folks are expanding upon these stages and I think it prudent to look at these models.

Researching this I found two modern models a 7 Stage and a 12 Stage. We will only concern ourselves with the 7 as it closely relates to the material we have already covered.

Basically in the 5 Stages of Grief; Shock/Disbelief and Denial are combined just as Bargaining and Guilt are also combined, whereas in the 7 Stages they are spelled out. Here is an example of the 7 Stages:

The 7 stages of grief

The seven stages of grief are another popular model for explaining the many complicated experiences of loss. These seven stages include:

  • Shock and denial. This is a state of disbelief and numbed feelings.
  • Pain and guilt. You may feel that the loss is unbearable and that you’re making other people’s lives harder because of your feelings and needs.
  • Anger and bargaining. You may lash out, telling God or a higher power that you’ll do anything they ask if they’ll only grant you relief from these feelings.
  • Depression. This may be a period of isolation and loneliness during which you process and reflect on the loss.
  • The upward turn. At this point, the stages of grief like anger and pain have died down, and you’re left in a more calm and relaxed state.
  • Reconstruction and working through. You can begin to put pieces of your life back together and carry forward.
  • Acceptance and hope. This is a very gradual acceptance of the new way of life and a feeling of possibility in the future.

As an example, this may be the presentation of stages from a breakup or divorce:

  • Shock and denial: “She absolutely wouldn’t do this to me. She’ll realize she’s wrong and be back here tomorrow.”
  • Pain and guilt: “How could she do this to me? How selfish is she? How did I mess this up?” How could she leave me because of my faith?
  • Anger and bargaining: “If she’ll give me another chance, I’ll be a better boyfriend/husband. I’ll dote on her and give her everything she asks.”
  • Depression: “I’ll never have another relationship. I’m doomed to fail everyone.”
  • The upward turn: “The end was hard, but there could be a place in the future where I could see myself in another relationship.” I need to pray for her soul and not be bitter.
  • Reconstruction and working through: “I need to evaluate that relationship and learn from my mistakes.”
  • Acceptance and hope: “I have a lot to offer another person. I just have to meet them.” If God wills I will He will show me, my true helpmate.

Note: the above is from https://www.healthline.com/health/stages-of-grief#7-stages and modified to have some Christian thoughts by me.

As you can see during our previous articles we covered all the key subjects under each of the 5 Stages. Again some things to remember is that this is not a cut in stone chronological order. Some folks skip stages altogether, some go back and forth between stages before reaching Acceptance and Hope.

2 Timothy 3:14-17

As Chaplains and ministerial folks, providing compassionate care, comfort and counsel is our number one priority, and having an understanding of the stages of grief, and which one the people we have been charged with serving are in will go a long way to fulfilling that mission, v.17 so that the [a]man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/10/2021

6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8

Romans 5:6-8

We can think and talk long and hard on Christ’s deed at Calvary. Yet we too must be willing to Crucify our sins to be truly a follower of Christs.


Grace Gems

Crucify your sins

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(William Dyer, “Christ’s Famous Titles”)

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24

Crucify your sins
, which have crucified your Savior.

Did the rocks rent, when Christ died for our sins?
And shall not our hearts rent, who have lived in our sins?

Oh, that the nails which pierced His hands,
  should now pierce our hearts.

Oh, that they should wound themselves with their sorrows,
  who have wounded Christ with their sins.

Oh, that they who have grieved His heart,
  should be grieved in their hearts.

Oh, that I should be such a bad a child to Him,
  who has been such a good a Father to me.

My sins have been my greatest terror, and
  my Savior has been my choicest helper.

Oh, put sin to death, for sin was the cause of Christ’s death.

If someone killed your father—would you hug him and embrace him as your friend, and let him eat at your table? Would you not rather hate and detest the very sight of him!

If a snake should sting your dearly beloved spouse to death—would you preserve it alive, warm it at the fire, and hug it in your bosom? Would you not rather stab it with a thousand wounds!

And were not our sins the cause and instrument of Christ’s death? Were not they the whips that scourged Him; the nails, the cords, the spear, the thorns that wounded Him, and fetched the heart-blood from Him? And can we love our sins, which killed our Savior? Can a wife truly love her husband, and still embrace an adulterer?

We complain of the sins of Judas, and seem to hate them, and shudder at their mention. And can we love our Judas sins, which put Christ to death? And yet how many are there—who had rather have sinful-self satisfied, than to have sinful-self crucified.

Oh, sin is that mark at which all the arrows of Divine vengeance are shot!

Were it not for sin, death would never have had a beginning.
And were it not for death, sin would never have an ending.

Man began to be sorrowful, when he began to be sinful.
The wind of our lusts, blows out the candle of our lives.
If man had nothing to do with sin, death would have nothing to do with man.

Oh, did sinbring sorrow into the world?
Oh, then—let sorrow carry sin out of the world.

Of all evils, sin is the great evil. “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23

Oh, sin is worse than punishment, banishment and imprisonment.

Sin kills both body and soul:
  it throws the body into cold earth rotting,
  and the soul into the hot Hell burning!


Devotional Thought for Today – 04/09/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part – VIII

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Today we continue our series by looking at the last stage of the 5 Stages of GriefAcceptance.

Many times as Chaplains and Ministers we never see this stage as the individuals we are dealing with have gone home or moved to another facility. That does not make it any less important to understand, mainly because it is the goal or end mark of the grief process.

If I may use an analogy (I hope it is not to bad of one) I think of this stage like getting ready to move. Being retired military and a missionary we have moved many times over the years, to many to remember. Each time it gets harder to seperate from friends and family. Yet, that is just what we must do seperate the old and prepare for the new. As in moving we pack up our old memories and prepare to make new ones. That does not mean we forget them, never, we just pack up and prepare to move on from them.

Another caution is that someone showing signs of acceptance DOES NOT always mean a wholesale transformation out of Grief. Folks can slip back into “lower” stages easily, especially those prone to depression and other mental health issues. Restrained encouragement, can go a long way here when someone reaches out and shows the beginning signs of acceptance.

Acceptance doesn’t mean someone is okay with the loss, illness, injury, situation, etc. it just means they have or are beginning to accept it as reality. The pain, anger, depression all seem to lessen and they can move on with life, albeit in a new way. One of the greatest tools in someones tool box is PST, Positive Self Talk. If they say it they can start to believe it. Here are some examples of this:

  • Death of a FriendI was so blessed to have many years with them and will always cherish those memories.
  • Job or Financial LossI will recover from this and find an even better job.
  • Terminal IllnessI will have an opportunity to get my affairs in order and spend time with friends and family
  • InjuryOkay, so I can’t climb ladders and work construction anymore but I still can ride my trike

Once again I think it prudent to state the mission of Chaplain/Ministerial personal is to provide Care, Comfort and Counsel for the Grieving. In this the Acceptance Stage, we need to be that encourager, God’s cheerleader if you will, reminding them of all He promises and the hope for tomorrow, The Lord God is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army];

Habakkuk 3:17–19 (ESV) - Habakkuk 3:17–19 ESV - Though the fig tree… |  Biblia

Habakkuk 3:17-19


Additional Information/Resources:

Acceptance: Case Study

Kübler-Ross and Kessler use the story of Keith to illustrate the acceptance stage of grief.

Keith’s son was randomly shot by a gang member while walking home from a sports arena. In the months that followed his son’s death, Keith and his wife were consumed with anger as they spent their days and nights investigating their son’s murder.

A well-meaning friend tried to tell Keith that he needed to “move on” and “accept” his son’s death, which only further angered Keith. While Keith could acknowledge the reality of his loss, it was unrealistic for his friend to think that Keith should have found some peace with it so soon after his son’s death.

After the killer was caught, Keith became consumed with the trial. After the trial was over and the killer was convicted, Keith had to contend with his grief and emptiness. There was no longer a trial to distract his attention.

In the 5 years that followed, Keith found acceptance, or so he thought. He felt the acceptance drain out of him when he heard that his son’s killer was up for parole. By the time the parole hearing rolled around, Keith was once again filled with anger. He attended the parole hearing and was struck by how quickly it was over. He saw the tears of the killer’s father when parole was denied. For the first time since his son’s death, Keith realized that there were other victims of this crime.

And for the first time, his anger was replaced by curiosity. Keith approached the killer’s father. He wanted to learn about the killer and what had led him to this place. Over the next few years, the two fathers formed an alliance to help gang members stop the violence. They visited many inner city schools to share their story.On Grief and Grieving, pgs. 27 & 28, Kübler-Ross and Kessler write: “Keith’s acceptance was a journey that was deeper than he ever expected.

“And it happened over many year, not many months or days. “Not everyone will or can fully embrace those who have hurt us, as Keith did, but there is always a struggle that leads us to our own personal and unique acceptance.”

5 Tips For Dealing with the Acceptance Stage of Grief

  • Understand that acceptance is learning to live with your new norm where your loved one is no longer here. Understand that you will never be okay with the fact that your loved one died. {or that you have a terminal disease, life changing injury, etc.} Acceptance is a process that we experience, not a final stage with an endpoint.
  • Be patient with yourself and don’t expect yourself to reach the acceptance stage of grief quickly. The process could take years. You could also ebb in and out of the acceptance stage.
  • Keep a gratitude journal and write in it daily. Make a note of anything that gave you even the briefest moment of relief from your pain. As examples: a memory of your loved one that made you smile; a visit from a neighbour to see how you are doing; a beautiful sunrise or sunset. Keeping a gratitude journal will help you look for things in your day that are positive, no matter how small they may seem to others. As you read back through your gratitude journal, you may find yourself growing in your “gratitude attitude”. Remember, acceptance may simply be having more good days than bad. {Write a prayer journal, keep promises fulfilled by God, think of Glories seen and known}
  • Find ways to commemorate the life, love and legacy of the person that you miss. {memorials are one thing, just be cautious not to “enshrine” someone to the point of idolizing}
  • If a year has passed since the day your loved one died {or life changing event occured} but you still feel “stuck” in your grief—your mourning still feels intense—see a professional therapist.

The above with my adds, from: 5 Stages of Grief & How to Survive Them


How can we learn to trust God like the prophet Habakkuk (Habakkuk 3:17-19)?

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/08/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part – VII

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Today’s post will be short because Entergy is about to cut the power to my neighborhood. They announced it yesterday as routine maintenance. We will pick it back up tomorrow (hopefully) when the power is restored.

Being grateful for your Grief may seem like an illogical ideal but we have some Biblical examples. Job and Paul come to mind. Paul is sitting in jail in Rome and in Philippians 3:12-16 writes I do not dwell on the things of the past but reach toward what lies ahead.

No words can express how much the world owes to sorrow. Most of the Psalms were born in the wilderness. Most of the Epistles were written in a prison. The greatest thoughts of the greatest thinkers have all passed through fire. The greatest poets have “learned in suffering what they taught in song.” In bonds, Bunyan lived the allegory that he afterwards wrote, and we may thank Bedford Jail for the Pilgrim’s Progress. Take comfort, afflicted Christian! When God is about to make pre-eminent use of a person, He puts them in the fire.

George MacDonald

Here are two articles I found helpful in this area:

Gratitude and Grief

Grief and Grace

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/07/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part VI

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Today we continue our series by looking at the third stage of the 5 Stages of GriefDepression.

Like so many other things Christians with enough faith should never get is depressed. At least that was the story we got told about my wife’s condition from a so called well meaning “friend”. Of course, this well-meaning person also was not a doctor and did no investigative questioning before blurting out the statement. I mention this not for sympathy, but to underscore the need for Chaplains and Ministers to make all due diligence in understanding the condition and history of those they are serving. I know with HIPAA this can be daunting but being well informed can greatly help in our care, comfort and counsel process.

I have yet to meet anyone going through the grief process that does not experience Depression in some manner. The obvious signs will usually manifest themselves as feelings of intense sadness, hopelessness, lack of energy, and other very detrimental effects that may affect the individual. It is important to note that these can be sublime and hidden in some folks. Again, using my wife, for example, she suffered a stroke due to poisoning before we met. She suffers from depression that is treated with counseling and medication. Her response to loss, like the recent death of her mom, is “I’m alright” even though she clearly was not. Like most folks (estimates as high as 67% of people suffering from depression) She just tries to grin and bear it. My wife because of her medical condition processes things differently and we (chaplains/ministers) need to be on the alert for this and any out of the “ordinary” situation and know when we are in over our heads. Here is a good list of types of depression.

So, what is depression? First depression is not just being sad. I lost my wedding band a few months ago, I was sad (even a little afraid of what my wife would say 😀)) but not depressed. Depression is sad on super steroids. It is constant here is the clinical definition:

The clinical definition, based on the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5), is “a period of at least two weeks when a person experienced a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities and had a majority of specified symptoms, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, or self-worth.” This definition excludes grief after mourning.

Before we move on I think it would be helpful reminder to list some of the things that one could encounter as a Chaplain/Minister in the Grief process that could lead to depression:

  • Trauma
  • Painful past experiences (PTSD)
  • Chronic Pain
  • Incarceration
  • Job loss or cut in pay
  • Financial problems
  • Parenting concerns and raising respectful, resilient kids
  • Loss
  • Life-changing illness
  • Marriage/relationship issues

The second thing to note about depression is that is often MISDIAGNOSED. Far too often healthcare professionals and Chaplains/Ministers are quick to say someone who has experienced one of these issues is depressed. Many times they are simply melancholy, which means intense sadness but a far cry from clinically depressed.

Another thing that might surprise some is that stage 2 (ANGER) can rear its ugly head here again. Let me explain, folks can socially withdraw a clear sign of depression setting in, if you try and force them out of that they can become hostile. Other symptoms of Grief/Depression include:

  • Can’t concentrate or think straight
  • Restless and anxious
  • Poor appetite/ Weight loss
  • Sad demeanor
  • Dreams of the deceased or even talks to them
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling weak and tired
  • Can think of nothing but the loss, illness, or event…
  • Makes up reasons for the loss, many don’t make sense
  • Dwells on mistakes, real or imagined, that he or she made with the deceased

The last thing I have learned about this stage of Grief counseling is in this stage of Depression, where folks begin to address feelings that have been put off (consciously or unconsciously) such as abandonment, helplessness, loneliness, fear, despair, agony, etc. These are things that they did not look at during the stages of denial, anger, and bargaining.

I am not a professional Licensed Christian Counselor/Clinical Psychologist or Psychiatrist, if dealing with my wife’s condition has taught me anything, it is I need to be involved and I need to leave much of that stuff to the professionals.

The Tree Planted By Streams of Living Water (Psalm 1) - YouTube

Psalm 1:1-3

As the Psalm says, we can be that care comfort, and wise counsel of the Lord’s Law to those who are in need. I am convinced it is here that Chaplains/Ministers can have the greatest impact. Again offering the care, comfort, and (compassionate) counsel that God has called us to do.

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/06/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part V

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Today we continue our series by looking at the third stage of the 5 Stages of GriefBargaining.

Everytime I think of someone trying to bargain with someone, (I am speaking under duress of some sort) two things come to mind (neither advantageous), first is the legend of Robert Johnson the famous blues artist of the 1920-30’s. The story goes he made a bargain with the devil at the Crossroads of Hwy 49 and 61 here in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He fame and fortune were short live however as he died young in 1938. The second is folks who want to play let’s make a deal with God. Jewish talk show host Dennis Prager addresses the issue of deal-making in his book Think a Second Time:

I have come to realize that many religious people, of all faiths, believe that they should be able to avoid the calamities that afflict the less pious. They believe, in effect, that they can make a deal with God — ‘I’ll do what You want so that You do what I want.’

It should be apparent that both of these example do not have a “happy or expected ending.” This problem in both is selfishness. The person is asking for a self centered goal, I want because I want, or I am entitled to it and you shouldn;t withhold it from me.

In our study we need to remember a couple things. First Not everyone goes through all stages, or in the exact order. Yet Bargaining really does naturally follow Anger. Once the anger has begun to subsided we tend to try and work out solutions, anything to alleviate the pain we are in or anticipating, even if they may not be the most rational at the moment. It begins with trying to figure out how one could have and should have done things better and usually ends up with statements like:

  • ‘heal this person God and I will change my life around’
  • ‘I promise to be be good if you just let ____ live’
  • ‘I will get the counseling I need if you can stop him/her from dying or leaving me’

It is important to note that folks are feeling helpless both emotionally and physically and we can cause more harm than good if we approach this wrong.

Biblically the question has always been can we bargain with God? My answer is, Yes and No, which is probably not what you expected or wanted to hear. So let me give you some examples that seem to indicate we can bargain with God:

  • Abraham, in Gen. 18:16-33, when he pleads with the Lord over the fate of Sodom
  • Jacob, in Gen. 28:20-22, Jacob make a vow to God concerning finding a wife
  • Jephthah, in Judges 11:30-32, The Amorites have said no to peace so Jephthah made a vow to the LORD: ‘If you give the Ammonites into my hands…
  • Hannah, in 1 Samuel 1:11, Hannah is barren and made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will…

If we look at each of the above scripture it would appear that these individuals struck a bargain with God, for God fulfilled their requests. All these folks had one thing in common they were desperate and seemingly had nowhere else to turn. Yet to imply they “Bargained” with God is to say they held a Low View of God. Which their stories reveal to be false.

For He has not despised nor detested the suffering of the afflicted;

Nor has He hidden His face from him;

But when he cried to Him for help, He listened.

PS 22:24

So how does this apply to Chaplains and Ministers dealing with grieving folks? First we need to encourage them to pray. We need to encourage them to pray in the right manner. Encouraging them to pray in a manner that Bargains or Negotiates with God is wrong. Praying to God for comfort, clarity, healing, etc. assumes He is sovereign over all things. It is not about making a trade it is about putting God’s will first. Now, caution here I am in no way suggesting shoving doctrine or theology down some grieving souls throat. I am encouraging Chaplains/Ministers to guide them (provide that care, comfort and COUNCEL) in praying correctly.

Okay, I hope you can see why I said Yes and No, while seemingly “bargaining” with God. Since God is in control of all things, He wants us to, and expects us to intercede, on behalf of others and even ourselves. This is where we can be most effective, when grief has no voice as I said yesterday, is can become malignant, our job as I see it (care, comfort and counsel) is to guide them (again for the short time they are usually with us) through the grief process. Here in the Bargaining Stage guiding them to “righteous bargaining” or properly put intercession.


How to Deal With Negative Emotions and Stress

How Do Christians Deal With Stress?

How to Overcome Negative Emotions and Feelings

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/03/2021

My daughter is getting married today and y’all know how much I love these old dead guys 😉. So instead of another post of mine, I thought I would share some wisdom of theirs.

Grace Gems

Three rules for a happy marriage

(J.C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Mark” 1857)

Of all relationships of life, none ought to be regarded with such reverence and none taken in hand so cautiously, as the relationship of husband and wife.

In no relationship is so much earthly happiness to be found, if it is entered upon discreetly, advisedly, and in the fear of God. In none is so much misery seen to follow, if it is taken in hand unadvisedly, lightly, wantonly, and without thought.

From no step in life does so much benefit come to the soul, if people marry “in the Lord.” From none does the soul take so much harm, if imagination, passion, or any mere worldly motive is the only cause which produces the union.

There is, unhappily, only too much necessity for impressing these truths upon people. It is a mournful fact, that few steps in life are generally taken with so much levity, self-will, and forgetfulness of God, as marriage. Few are the young couples who think of inviting Christ to their wedding!

It is a mournful fact that unhappy marriages are one great cause of the misery and sorrow of which there is so much in the world. People find out too late that they have made a mistake, and go in bitterness all their days.

Happy are they, who in the matter of marriage observe three rules:

The first is to marry only in the Lord, and after prayer for God’s approval and blessing.

The second is not to expect too much from their partners, and to remember that marriage is, after all, the union of two sinners, and not of two angels.

The third rule is to strive first and foremost for one another’s sanctification. The more holy married people are, the happier they are.

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/02/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part III

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Yesterday we looked at the Stages of Grief and the importance of understanding what stage a person is in BEFORE we began any attempt to provide care, comfort and counsel.

I thought I would take the time to look at those stages individually from a Biblical perspective and hopefully with some practical application.

What Does the Bible Say About Denial? Psalm 14:1, Matthew 10:32-33, Luke 9:23, 1 Timothy 5:8, 2 Peter 2:1. These verse cover what I believe to be the three major “denial” themes of the Bible, Denial of God, Denial of Self and Denial of the Truth.

Of those verses the first in particular Ps. 14:1(AMP) The [spiritually ignorant] fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”They are corrupt, they have committed repulsive and unspeakable deeds; There is no one who does good. gets to the heart of Denial of God. We will definitely run into those in the ministry who are in denial of the situation and in denial of God. **Warning** that does not mean we should go off like a bull in a china closet and attempt heavy handed proselytizing. remember our goal, job, mission call it what you want is to provide care, comfort and counsel.

If I may divert for a moment, years ago before I converted and started going to church a relative said to me so now that your a “Holy Roller” I guess you think I am going to Hell? I said yup! How dumb a response, they were so upset they didn’t speak to me for a very long time. The point is we must chose our words carefully

Proverbs 16:23-24

23 The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.

24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

King James Version

The second theme Denial of Self is best summed up in Luke 9:23 (AMP) And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple]he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross daily [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]. Even for someone who is not suffering the grief form some form of loss this can be a very hard subject to understand. What is Denial of Self and how do we/I go about it daily?

Questions like, have I not suffered enough are common and we must be ready for them. First and foremost Self-Denial is not about us, I know this sounds ridiculous but we are talking Biblical perspective, so it is all about God. We are denying our own desires, interests, and especially our understanding of things and relying solely on the Triune God. There are many times do not understand God’s ways and that is okay because my faith in His sovereignty comforts me. I can not answer the question posed above all I can share is the biblical perspective of God’s comfort, Grace, mercy, lovingkindness and most importantly sovereign control.

The last Biblical them here is that of Denial of Truth and the verse I chose for this is 2 Peter 2:1 (AMP) But [in those days] false prophets arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will subtly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction on themselves. This is obviously a verse concerned with false teachers arise from the ranks of “The Church.” The underlined text is key, for they will deny the very Lord God whom they had claimed to know as true.

Whenever tragedy strikes in any form the very first stage of grief (I have always wondered why Shock is not first out i don’t write the manuals) is Denying what we know to be true. My loved one can’t really be dead, I can’t really have cancer, etc. What the individual knows to be true is so painful at that moment, no matter how logical they just can not accept it.

Many who are in this stage also deny the need for help even though it is obvious to us and others they need it. C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. How true, most folks in denial are in fear of the unknown, living without a loved one or facing that battle with the Big “C” it can be overwhelming and frightening. If we/they can deny the “reality” of the situation they can avoid the pain and suffering.

As a minister/Chaplain our mission is show sympathy while empathizing with the individual. Boiler plate statements like “they are in a better place” really do not cut it when someone is in denial of the event. Put yourself in their shoes, think how they are thinking what would you accept hearing, that?

Instead I think it prudent to remind them of a God who has promised to never forsake or leave us just as we are to let them know we will be there to help them through this grieving process. Again I can not emphasize enough in most cases we are the “Ministerial First Responders” not the long term pastoral custodians or counselors of these folks. Providing the immediate care, comfort and counsel that does not add to their (or their friends and families) pain and suffering has to be priority one.

RESOURCES:

GreifShare.ORG A six-week personal study for your journey from mourning to joy

Designed for those Grieving, I found it helpful tool to better understanding the GRIEF PROCESS.

Our Help for the Journey section provides daily reading and exercises to help you dig deeper into the grief recovery process.

The following from Ligonier Ministries I FOUND HELPFULL

Grief and the Christian

Good Grief?

Holy Grief

From Grief to Glory

Devotional Thought for Today – 03/31/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part I

Not sure why, but I woke this morning even earlier than usual and have been thinking about all the friends and family we have lost in the past few months. I thought of all I had said to try and comfort them (family and friends) and all I had written on the matter. But wait, after checking my blog I realized I had mentioned it a few times but not really written on the subject.

So over the next ____ days or weeks, I am going to attempt to write a series of posts using mainly the Psalms as text that can be used to provide comfort to those Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying.

The very first thing that MUST BE MENTIONED is that going it alone should never be an option for anyone. I could describe horror stories of folks we have found (usually elderly or disabled) living in squaller months after disasters have struck with the neighbors oblivious. If you are in any kind of crisis or on the verge of being in one, hurting (injury), grieving a loss, or maybe found out you have a serious illness; reach out (see below) never go it alone.

We are going to begin however with verses related to what is often referred to as “The Great Physician.” There is of course no actual title like that in the Bible, however, when one pulls the multitude of references (here are a few Mark 2:15–17, Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24, Matthew 4:23, Matthew 10:1, Hebrews 4:16) it is clear that Christ is a Great Physician like nonother.

I am convinced in every situation it helps to start at the beginning. Like a good triage nurse or doctor, we need to find out the (patients) individual’s “condition.” We do this by asking some simple questions about themselves and their faith. (Note if they are unable to respond ask a family member. My wife was in the hospital last fall and the Chaplain came by saw she was asleep and just left, really 🤔.) For me as a Chaplain and a Baptist, having Christ, The Great Physician, as the foundation of one’s faith is crucial to how I approach the rest of the process.

A note, when I first began working in the field of Chaplaincy I found it interesting that the direr the situation the more receptive to the Word of God folks seem to be. I always had and still have concerns that it is a false interest, based on their circumstance. However, I am not there to judge them but to minister to them.

One of the dilemmas of providing ministerial/chaplain care is whenever the lost loved one was not a person of Faith or the family is anti-religion. Our job is to bring comfort, encouragement, and in some cases solace; we can never forget that no matter the “obstacles” we might face we are called ( at least I hope it is a calling and not just a “job”) by God to serve His creation.

I will close today with an excellent post from 2017, written by Ray Rhodes Jr: Spurgeon’s advice for suffering Christians


855-FAQ-HOSPICE (327-4677) – Hospice Hotline

1-800-662-HELP (4357) Mental Health Hotline

1-800-273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Hotline

1-800-273-8255 Veterans Crisis Hotline

1-800-985-5990 Disaster Distress Hotline