Devotional Thought for Today – 04/27/2021

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

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Over the last 16 articles in this series, we have looked at a number of things dealing with Grief as they relate to Chaplains. Today I hope to summarize and close the series.

Psalm 34:18-19

Everyone will experience some form of grief at some point in their lives. From the beginning, we made it clear that we consider the primary mission of a Chaplain to be to provide Compassionate Care, Comfort, and Counsel (4 C’s) to those assigned to them.

We began by giving a few general thoughts on Chaplaincy and a list of some hotlines for crisis situations. Next, we began looking at grief itself by listing the traditional 5 Stages of Grief and spent the next 6 days looking at them and then the more modern 7 stages of grief.

The article in the series was one of the most important (in my opinion) it was a list of some dos and don’ts that I have gleaned over the years. Believe me when I say I made a lot of don’t in order to figure out the dos. Finally, we defined Chaplain’s duties and responsibilities in general and then in specific job settings over the remaining article.

We looked at many things but, we did not look at the individual, the patient, the victim, in whatever the situation the Chaplain finds themself dealing with. I remember studying or reading (I honestly can’t find the reference) a Client’s Bill of Rights, in reference to the Stages of Grief:

  1. Your grief is unique to you and you have a right to experience your way. – The grief process is different for everyone and we can not force someone into a mold or pre-designed recovery program.
  2. You can talk about your grief in your own way. – Some folks naturally open up and want to talk others tend to be more retrospective. Again we can not and should not force them. Good Chaplains are good listeners.
  3. You have a right to be very emotional. – Most folks experience a multitude of emotions when grieving and that is okay, as long as the emotions are not harmful to themselves or others. Another thing to be watchful for is emotional outbursts, crying and even anger are common. These emotions can be draining so listen to your body get the extra rest you need.
  4. You have the right to a Funeral – COVID really hurt many in more ways than one. The inability to hold traditional burial rituals denied people the ability to mourn. Even “non-religious” folks usually adhere to this ritual as a way to mourn. It is there right.
  5. Religion plays a big part in many grief situations. We mentioned this before, this is not an opportunity for Chaplains to push religion, but to practice their 4-C’s no matter the person’s beliefs.
  6. Why? – You have a right to search for answers this is common and sometimes healthy (I say sometimes because it can become an unhealthy obsession) by encouraging folks to seek answers many times we are encouraging them to open up to the simple truths.
  7. Remembrance You have a right to your memories especially of all the good times. It prepares us for moving on with the full grief process and life.
  8. Life – You have a right to move on with your life, no matter how crappy you feel initially there is hope and things can get better.

Although the above is more tailored towards the death of a loved one, it is applicable and adaptable to any situation. There is so much more that could (and maybe should) be written. There are of course limitless resources on Grief counseling available via the internet. As with any source (including this one) I encourage everyone to be a Berean (Acts 17:11) and do due diligence in verifying the truth and effectiveness of the material.

I pray that this series has somehow edified you and Glorified God.


I found the following perspective on Grief very interesting, I hope you enjoy reading or listening to it.

Trauma, Pain, and Loss: A Doctor’s Story of Faith and Healing

In this interview, Katie Butler discusses her work as a trauma surgeon working in the ICU and shares what it was like to be inundated with life and death situations day in and day out.

She explains how she coped with the stress of the job and eventually began to see God’s grace at work even in the midst of deep pain and tragedy. She also shares what she saw working in a hospital at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/23/2021

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

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As we come to the final job area of Chaplains, a reminder we started this with describing 14 specific jobs and then breaking that down into 5 job categories.

Today’s final job area for Chaplains that of Public Safety. This category encompasses:

  1. Law enforcement
  2. Fire and rescue
  3. Emergency medical services
  4. Emergency dispatch
  5. Jail/Prisons

Public Safety Chaplains like all the Chaplains we have discussed so far work for the most part, in high-stress situations. Whether they are riding along with Police, Fire, EMS, Border Patrol, Homeland Security or maybe it is the 911 dispatch of a major city things are happening at a fast pace. Of course, there are those who choose to serve behind locked gates. where the threat of violence is very real. Having served as a Police Officer (part-time) back in the 80s and more recently as a Prison Chaplain, I have some knowledge in this area.

Psalm 82:3-4

Their job/mission like all the others is to provide those 4-C’s, Compassionate Care, Comfort, and Counsel in those environments to staff and individuals (inmates, families, and friends of victims of traumatic events) In most cases Chaplains work quietly behind the scenes sometimes advising the on-scene commanders or warden of needs of the personnel. Public Safety Chaplains are dedicated to ministering to all folks no matter their religious beliefs and always respect the beliefs of those whom they serve.

Some of the things all these jobs can have in common are conducting services (worship funeral, baptism, retirements, etc.) prayer meetings, hospital visitations, family visitations, family counseling, and of course the catch-all, other duties as assigned 😀.

I could continue to ramble on, but I will instead give some examples of Chaplain Job descriptions:

Here are the duties of a Police Chaplain as listed by the International Association of Police Chaplains:

Duties of a Chaplain (Fire) from Sandoval County New Mexico

Prison Chaplaincy Careers (Duties) from Missioui Deptartment of Corrections

Why Prison Ministry?

Here is a tool I hope will be helpful, back when I was Sr. Chaplain at the County Jail I used this as a training aid for potential new volunteers. I figured if they could sit through a 6-hour block of instruction plus the slamming (and locking) of the prison doors (some never made it past that point) they might be candidates for the Sherrif to interview also:

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/21/2021

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

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Today we will look at the fourth job area for Chaplains that of the Military. Most Chaplains depending on their denomination are appointed, commissioned, or ordained. All military Chaplains are officers so they are Commissioned, some also ordained by their governing denominations. In addition, most commands above the company level (Amry, Air Force, and Marines, I assume the Navy and Coast Guard are much the same) have enlisted Chaplain assistants.

In the Army, the driving leadership motto was always “My Mission, My Men, Myself.” Meaning the success of the mission was paramount taking care of your men came a close second then worry about yourself. I mention this to note that along with Beans, Bullets and the like the Spiritual needs of the men was always a concern.

During my enlistment ’74-’94 I held many MOS’s (job specialties) but never Chaplain assistant. However, as a First Sergeant and Operations Sergeant, I worked closely with the Chaplains staff to ensure the spiritual needs of the men were being met.

Military Chaplains have big responsibilities and big shoulders. Not only do they have to be that person who can carry out the 4-C’s (compassionate Care, Comfort, and Counsel) for the service member, command, and families, they must also be ready to don the combat gear and go into harm’s way.

The U.S. Army recruiting Command in their literature says the following:

A chaplain’s mission is to bring Soldiers to God and God to Soldiers. America calls on our Army to fight and win our nation’s wars and Army chaplains are there every step of the way. Whether in training or operations, Army chaplains represent hundreds of American denominations and faith traditions and fulfill a sacred calling of service captured in our motto, “Pro Deo et Patria” (for God and country)

https://recruiting.army.mil/MRB_ReligiousServices/
A Soldier's Psalm 91 Prayer.

Instead of me rambling on any further about these brave service members let me share an article from one fellow soldier:

The Responsibilities of an Army Chaplain

Jonathan C. Gibbs III


Soldier’s Prayer Blog Post with downloadable links

One final note, maybe you would like to “serve” as a military Chaplain but you think the opportunity is gone due to age, or some other issue, consider checking with your local state militia.

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/19/2021

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

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I apologize for the delay in continuing this series. Between doctors and other appointments Thursday and Friday last week I just never got caught up. I know I have often said the maximum effective range of an excuse is zero meters 🤨 but please forgive me.

So last time we began looking at specific Chaplain jobs and we began with the business or corporate field of which I honestly have no experience. Today however I want to look at Chaplains in the area of Crisis and Disasters of which I have considerable experience.

https://scontent.fmem1-2.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t31.18172-8/24173022_307826759717564_9070340403907634681_o.jpg?_nc_cat=104&ccb=1-3&_nc_sid=cdbe9c&_nc_ohc=EFus2UTe0xkAX9OmIL6&_nc_ht=scontent.fmem1-2.fna&oh=15d6a87c4965754c11e0cabbf7f0c6c5&oe=60A2A797
Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico Nov 2017
Near Mt. Juliet, TN Tornado, March 2020

First, let us say that anyone going through any traumatic situation is experiencing a personal crisis, however, that is not necessarily what we are addressing here. A crisis for this devotional implies a personal disaster, ie. a single home burning down. The term disaster implies a natural disaster as in a flood, hurricane, tornado, etc.

Depending on where you are called to work in a disaster situation you can be in for some pretty stressful scenes. I have been working on Earthquakes, Flood, Hurricanes, Wildfires, and the like since the ’70s and have seen some very ugly sights. One of the hardest things to see and deal with is the desperation on folks’ faces as they deal with the TOTAL loss of everything they own.

I can not stress enough the mission of Crisis/Disaster Chaplains is to provide Spiritual First Aid and Emotional Support. It is that same 4-C’s; Compassionate Care, Comfort, and Counsel just in a very difficult environment.

Another “Disaster” that has become more prevalent in recent years is the man-made kind. Think of mass shootings, riots, and the like these can not be classified as “personal” because they rarely affect just one individual or family. Most often they affect an entire community.

Chaplain MUST identify the victims of any disasters. I say this because It has been my experience that some people are not victims and will try and milk the system and con you for all they can get.

The Southern Baptist Convention Handbook for Disaster Chaplains list three types of victims:

  1. Direct victims—those in the immediate area of the destruction who have suffered losses
  2. Indirect victims—those who are not directly impacted by the disaster, but are somewhat affected by the resulting annoyances and inconveniences or have close relationships with direct victims
  3. Hidden victims—those who respond to the disaster as first responders and relief workers, including law enforcement, emergency medical services, disaster relief chaplaincy, and disaster services
Luke 6:36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.  | New Living Translation (NLT) | Download The Bible App Now

Luke 6:36

Once Identified it is incumbent upon the assigned Chaplain to be ready to apply not only the 4-C’s but also to identify the needs of the community. I am not much on Phycho-Bable but I do remember studying Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs back in college years ago and have used it many times since.

As a Crisis/Disaster Chaplain Maslow’s bottom, two needs Psychological (food, water, warmth, rest) and Safety (security and safety) are the two I most commonly dealt with. I can tell you how many cases of water we handed out in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, but just walking down the streets with bottles of water got people talking. In major large-scale disasters/disruptions Chaplains would also get involved with helping find or direct folks to finding loved ones (3rd need).

One last thing, this is not an opportunity to proselytize or try and force religion on someone. It is an opportunity to provide those 4-C’s in a non-judgmental manner offering the hope that faith in Christ brings.