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Archive for the tag “comfort”

Death comes to us all, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

I’m numb. I don’t know what to think. I feel like I should be feeling more, but I don’t. Not yet, anyway.

At nearly 40 years old, I still don’t expect to lose people around my age. I definitely don’t expect to lose friends I’ve known my whole life. And if it does happen, I expect it to come after a long fight against cancer or some other disease process. I surely don’t expect it to happen suddenly & in a way that looks random from our point of view.

How do you process that kind of break? Especially in these days of social media when you see what’s going on in everybody’s lives so frequently? One moment a life is being lived, posts are being published about that life, & the next…you find out the account will never have another post from that person again. Time will appear to stop at that last published post.

We don’t know our days. We aren’t guaranteed even our next breath. But it’s so hard to live, to really live, in that knowledge. We expect to go to sleep & rise again the next morning. We expect to go about the mundane & not so mundane days of our lives in perpetuity. At least, that’s how I feel most of the time—not consciously, mind you, but practically anyway. Even though I know it’s not true. Even though I recognize that my next heartbeat comes only if the Lord wills.

This life is pointless & death is meaningless if the universe & life are merely random coincidences. If I state the first part of that last sentence without the qualifying clause at the end (“This life is pointless & death is meaningless”), we know on its face, in our guts, that it is a patently false statement. We can suppress that knowledge, but there is a gut reaction to a statement like that which tells us something is wrong with it. When someone we know dies, especially someone we care about, we know life & death are not meaningless. If they were, we wouldn’t ache for the loss we feel; we wouldn’t grieve over that person no longer being here. But we do. We ache because something meaningful is gone from our lives. We grieve over the loss.

There is meaning there. There is meaning in the life as a reflection of the One who created it. And there is meaning in the death because we are reminded that death is not natural, that it is not right, that there is something wrong about people dying.

When death is a drawn out process, we can see the wrongness of it; we can see how disease is unnatural. And we also, many times, get to see how God uses that time to soften hearts, to bring family & friends close, to let people serve one another out of love, to let us see people suffer well which reflects Christ.

But when death is sudden & unexpected? It may seem more unfair because we don’t get the time to say our goodbyes or to process what has happened like we do with terminal illnesses. It hurts. Maybe not more but probably more acutely much of the time.

Life goes on. Sometimes it takes awhile for those closest to the death, but it still eventually goes on. In the meantime, don’t waste the death, the ache, the grief. Use it wisely. Mourn with those who mourn. Serve them (even if it’s just being there). Take the time to think about death & life & what meaning there is in them. Ask yourself the hard questions about this life & about what happens at death. Think about the options & what explains our experience of life on this earth the best. Does it make sense that there is no real meaning to it, that we are just a cosmic accident? Does it make sense that there are a plethora of gods who compete for various aspects of this life & world? Does it make sense that there is a single god who is distant from its creation & impersonal?

Or does is make more sense that there is one God who created all & made it good, but whose creation rebelled against Him resulting in evil touching all aspects of that creation leading to death & destruction? A God who cares for what He has created & takes a personal interest in the lives of His children, who cared so much that He revealed Himself to His creation & went so far as to insert Himself into His own creation to save His chosen ones from destruction?

These are hard things to think about, but they are worthy to be considered. Especially in times like this: when death has come suddenly, unexpectedly; when it has come in a way that seems so unfair to us who are still living; when we can’t help but consider our own mortality.

Think on these things. Dwell on them even as you grieve. Even as you mourn with those who mourn. Even as you love those still living. Even as you serve them.

“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.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:3-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Why Study the Psalms if I Don’t Get Them?

I’ve been trying to work my way through the book of Psalms & spend some time on each one using a commentary because I’ve always had trouble “getting” the psalms. I understand the basic gist of the psalms (or think I do), but they are generally not the inspiration & comfort to me that they are to so many people. Part of it is the structure of them; because they are poetry, I have a hard time understanding them. Call me shallow, but I’ve always had more difficulty with poetry that doesn’t rhyme (& many times I even have difficulty with that). Add to that the fact that the psalms are translated out of a foreign language with structural compositions that I have a hard time following, & it makes me want to just breeze through them to get them over with & just hope that God will somehow bless my mere completing of the task.

The bigger reason, I think, that they don’t have the effect on me that others seem to experience is that God has chosen to spare me of significant trials & sorrows to this point in my life (&, yes, I need to spend some time considering the implications of that based on some New Testament passages). Take the first 2 verses of Psalm 18 for instance (where I’m currently at in reading through the psalms):

“I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Now, I can accede to all that in my mind, but there is no significant sense of comfort there for me because I have not experienced that overwhelming need for a refuge & stronghold from my enemies whoever or whatever they may be.

So, does this mean that I have no reason to study these Scriptures more deeply & try to get more out of them? Absolutely not! And here are a few of the benefits I can see of studying them more in depth even though I do not experience them the way others do (in no particular order):

1. I may be able to point someone else to particular ones in the time of their distress.

2. God may more readily bring them to my own mind for comfort when I do experience trials & sorrows.

3. I will gain a better understanding & appreciation of the various attributes of God especially love, mercy, & faithfulness.

4. I may better see how the Old Testament looks forward to Christ & see Him in the Psalms (because, to quote Sally Lloyd Jones, “every story whispers his name” [The Jesus Storybook Bible])

5. I may gain a better understanding of poetry in general & in particular in how it is used in the Bible.

Division & Unity in the Church, Miserable Comforters, Self-Esteem, Jesus in Hell?, & SOPA

Satan’s Great Desire | Challies Dot Com. Some wise words here from Tim Challies. “Here is what we need to see: God wants me and commands me to love the other people in my church; Satan wants me to hate them. God wants me to feel a great deal of unity with those people; Satan wants there to be an issue between us—something, anything, to drive us apart.”

How to Build Unity in Your Church | Challies Dot Com. A follow up to the post above with more wise counsel. “You need to plant yourself in a local church. Why? Because you need the gifts of the Christians there and they need your gifts.”

How to Be a Miserable Comforter | Counseling One Another. Good advice given in the negative.

In schools, self-esteem boosting is losing favor to rigor, finer-tuned praise – The Washington Post. I think most of us realized a long time ago that praising kids for everything & trying to “build self-esteem” doesn’t really work.

He Descended into… Hell? | Blogging Theologically | Jesus, Books, Culture, & Theology. Very helpful explanation of a very confusing (@ least to me) part of the Apostle’s Creed.

SOPA and John Adam’s America | sojourns with Jesus. “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

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