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Posts Tagged ‘loss’


We are surrounded by hurting hearts these days. Perhaps this is one reason there is so much acting out. We often don’t know what to do with our hurt, and we end up hurting others as a result.

I began to read A Small Book for the Hurting Heart by Paul Tautges after my mother died earlier this year. Her death was complicated by a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. I’d sort of been mourning for years. Then she had a stroke, and died shortly thereafter.

Our family doesn’t do grief well. I want to do it better. I wept with my kids, and then my wife and I went out to a dinner with other pastors and their wives. I didn’t want her to miss out on fellowship. I didn’t want to hide in my room and be alone. At least for a long time. It was a hard night.

But I felt relief more than sadness. Or at least more often than sadness. Since I stink at grief, I thought I’d read this to help walk me through the experience. Think of it as a series of unpredictable experiences, not a process described by some scientist.

This “small book” is comprised of 50 short meditations. Short is good when you are grieving. I already struggle with attention deficit at times (when I’m not hyper-focused and pushing to completion much to my wife’s dismay), but grief added a new layer of attention deficit. I needed short, and I got it.

Each meditation begins with a passage of Scripture. He then digs into how that passage connects to our grief. He regularly brought us back to Jesus instead of leaving ourselves there with our grief. It is chock full of gospel hope to bind broken hearts. He ends each meditation with a different passage to read.

I think you get the picture. Short gospel-centered messages that help you see your grief, whatever may be the source, in the context of a Savior who loves you, died for you, and now lives to intercede for you. That sense of being alone can quickly dominate your life. This is like a life vest to keep bringing you back to the surface.

Most days I found myself encouraged.

Since my mom died (we finally bury her ashes next week- 4 months later), we’ve experienced the “stay at home” shut down from Covid-19. There are plenty of hurting hearts that lost parents, siblings, jobs and more. There will be more hurting hearts on the horizon. Just as many of us were starting to return to freedom (not normalcy) we entered different kinds of protests followed by riots, loss of property and more loss of life. We got so many mixed messages which I’m still struggling to process, and know that in today’s environment can’t be expressed. That hurts one’s heart too.

There are plenty of people to recommend this book to. I just wish it was a bit more affordable so I could recommend it more freely or give it away more frequently. I bought one for our church library, and I hope people will use it as they seek to come to grips with 2020, which isn’t over yet. There is still hurricane season and an election to go yet. Yes, I join Randy Stonehill in singing Stop the World. But it doesn’t stop, and that’s the problem. This book helps us face the reality of loss in the midst of moving ahead. That’s a good thing.

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The time was ripe for Rosaria Butterfield’s recent book The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: an English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith. The time is ripe because everyone seems to be talking about homosexuality and same sex marriage. The church, or at least some of it, is struggling to be faithful to both the call to mission and a biblical morality. Some parts of the church focus on only one and lose sight of the other.

“I often wonder: God, why pick me? I didn’t ask to be a Christian convert. I didn’t ‘seek the Lord.’ Instead, I ran like the wind when I suspected someone would start peddling the gospel to me.”

While the subtitle focuses on Rosaria’s work as an English Professor, the first chapter makes clear that as an English professor she was a gay activist and lesbian who taught Queer Theory. Hers is an interesting story in many regards. It seems difficult to try and squeeze the first 36 years of a life into a chapter, albeit a long one, but that is what she does.

She was not looking to become a Christian. She felt no spiritual need. She was actually out to get Christianity or at least the Religious Right as part of her need to publish for her job. As she began to read the Bible things slowly changed. Just as important was a new friendship with one of those conservative Christians who happened to be the pastor of a local church.  It is an engaging journey as she is confronted with the truth of Christianity.

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Death is a strange thing.  We were not meant to die, but at times it is a welcome thing.  I think of my remaining grandparent who is wasting away.  Were I to stop in (after traveling thousands of miles) she would not know who I am.  In some ways she’s been dead for years- the person I know disappeared under disability and dementia.  Sometimes death can bring relief to suffering.

In one of his letters, John Newton brings up the death of friends.  He was getting on in years (I’m starting to become familiar with that myself) and many of his friends had died.  Here is his response:

“I have often thought that though I loved my friends well while living, and wished them to live as long as possible, yet if the Lord saw fit to remove them, and I had hope that they died in the faith, I could pretty well make up for my own loss, by considering to whom they were gone, and how they were employed, when I could see them no more. … I thought, now they are safe and happy; now neither sin, sorrow, nor Satan can touch them.  They are escaped from the turbulent, tempestuous sea of this work, and are entered into the haven of eternal rest.  These, and such kinds of considerations, soon and perfectly reconciled me to part with them for a time, expecting, before long, to receive them again for ever.”

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