“You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve," said Aslan. "And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content.”― C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian link
Before I begin, I want to mention two things that this post is not.
1. It is not meant to be a critique of a woman who has found comfort through her own tragedy. That is her story. However, her solution should not be expected to be appreciated or followed by others.
2. This is not meant to be a denial of the reality of sin in our life..
Two things that I want to question.
1. Is it the purpose of God to make you feel like a sinful worm as you deal with tragedy?
2. The Gospel Coalition editorial staff must believe that her method of coping is something to be emulated. Is it wise to push the sin issue in the midst of terrible pain?
Why I think that I can approach this issue with understanding.
As many know, my daughter Abby was diagnosed with a rare, extremely large malignant brain tumor when she was 3 years old. The prognosis was not good. Her tumor had developed large collateral vessels to feed the tumor. Bleeding in the brain is quite serious. For years, we wondered if the next day would be her last. For the first year, we coped with two very long brain surgeries along with a diagnosis of residual tumor after the second surgery.
By the way, as an aside and not to get into a political debate, it was during this time that I learned of Ben Carson as Abby's diagnosis was tossed around by a number of experts. I eventually got to meet him much later. My opening greeting was "So glad to meet you here amidst smiles and coffee as opposed to watching you take my little girl to the OR." (My neurosurgeon would allow Abby to fall asleep in my lap and then carry her in his arms to the operating room.)
Some opening thoughts
I get tragedy. I get the fear of daily thinking that this could be the last day of life for my sweet child. I coped with fear, anxiety and depression over the course of years, resulting in chronic IBS for me and occasional PTSD moments. I expected God to take her home and it was several years before I began to hope for a different outcome.
During this time, I never experienced condemnation or accusations of being sinful. In fact, I experience the love of Christ throughout the years. I prayed that He would help me walk through this difficult time and be a good parent to my two other children and to be the best mother I could be to Abby during her struggles. We had some wonderful church and neighborhood friends that allowed us to fear and grieve over a long period of time. We had a pastor who would come by and visit us for Abby's MRIs 4 years down the line. Not one person condemned me for being sinful. In some of my weakest moments, dear friends would grab my kids to give me some time to grieve and rest.
They taught me much about standing by people who are grieving or fighting disease over the years. It is something I now try to do for others.
Grief or a sin riddled mind?
Miscarriage and the Confusion of Sinful Grief by Jamie Carlson was posted at The Gospel Coalition website on 11/6/15. She expressed her concern for the sins she committed after her miscarriage. I stopped for a minute, confused. Instead of discussing her pain, she felt she needed to discuss her sin.
After my miscarriage, it hit me—grieving and sinning go together. Perhaps the most confusing and ongoing part of miscarriage recovery was fighting temptation and rooting out the sins laid bare by suffering. Grief came as expected, but the intensity of emotions made it so difficult to distinguish temptation and sin from grief that I was paralyzed—unable to move forward toward healing.
She claimed sin and Satan were attacking her through baby announcements from friends.
At every announcement of pregnancy, every sight of a pregnant friend or the perfect stranger with a newborn at the Target check-out, and every ultrasound photo on Facebook I felt three simultaneous reactions: genuine joy for their happiness, genuine grief for my loss, and temptation in manifold expressions. The constant need to fight temptation was exhausting.
Is the following description sin or depression from grief and hormones?
I became increasingly tired. Selfish and sometimes mean thoughts were crowding my mind. I was lost in the mire of sin and grief, unable to distinguish one from the other. My heart was wounded, angry, hard. My desire for righteousness was weak, my devotions wasted as my ability to concentrate waned.
The struggles with sins in her life
1. It was self-defense, in part, and yet even in my grief it was sinful to minimize the blessing and value of new life and to not rejoice with those who were rejoicing.
2. (ed. Feeling annoyance at each baby announcement) Although I never actually opened my mouth, I still gave into an internalized anger and bitterness that was unjust.
3. (Feelings of jealousy) Wanting a baby wasn’t even so much the point of my jealousy; I was jealous of the joyful attention other expectant parents received.
A sin riddled mind or a human grieving and working through the pain?
Giving into temptation didn’t mean I was jealous of their healthy baby; I just wanted my grief to overshadow their joy. Oh, the stench of a sin-ridden mind.
She says that this death was God's best plan!
I failed to trust in the sovereign goodness of God. In my best moments I would remember he doesn’t withhold good from his people (Ps. 84:11). I would trust that in his infinite wisdom this was the best plan for our (and our baby’s) eternal good, to bring the most glory to him.
Fight your sin in the darkest of nights: a recipe for exhaustion.
If you’re in a similar place, I want to encourage you: God’s remarkable provision of sin-fighting grace is sweet in the darkest of nights.
Death is or isn't OK?
In a fascinating example of post positioning, the following article on death was suggested at the end of Carlson's post.
Here are some quotes from Death Is Not 'Okay" by Trillia Newbell that bring a depth to this conversation.
But death is not “okay.” Death is never “okay.”
Death is not “okay” because it’s the result of life in a fallen world. Death is not the way it was meant to be.
So why is death not okay? It’s not okay because even though God made everything good, the Fall rendered the perfect accursed.
…If the Lord intended for death to be okay, then there’d be no need for him to end death. But he will. He promises to create a new heaven and new earth where there’ll no longer be an infant who lives but a few days,
…When I stare death in the face, as I did earlier this year, I can have hope and faith
Jesus gets grief and sorrow and is not trying to beat you up over your sin.
1. It appears evident from Carlson's discussion that she was deeply depressed after her miscarriage. Her exhaustion in trying to cope with death righteously appeared to wear her down. I hope that she had a good counselor who could talk with her about the very real physical effects of depression. There are hormones associated with a lost pregnancy which could cause a woman to have depression, anxiety, etc.
2. She made the point that she needed to rejoice with those who rejoice. Since she was unable to do that, she was in sin. However, I wonder how those around her grieved along with her as she grieved. Did she give herself grace to cope with the pain of a very real loss or was she supposed to jump right in and throw baby showers for her friends? Did she take the time she needed to grieve?
3. I hope readers, when coping with the pain and loss surrounding death and dying , never, ever, ever look at their struggle as exhibiting "the stench of a sin filled mind." Good grief-what a burden she bears!
4. She ends by saying that she understands that the death of her baby was the best plan for their family because God only causes good. But, it is evident that death is not OK according to Newbell in the second, TGC recommended post.
5. Like Newbell, when my daughter was so sick, the only thing that I clung to was the hope of eternity with her even if her life on earth was short. I experienced God's promise each day as I wondered if Abby would survive. But I struggled…
6. This statement also troubled me.
"God’s remarkable provision of sin-fighting grace is sweet in the darkest of nights. "
Let me encourage all of you. When you are filled with pain because you or a loved one is suffering, God is not going to require you to do an inventory of your sin. He is going to weep along with you. He did precisely that when He was confronted the grief surrounding the death of His good friend, Lazarus. (John 11:31-35 NIV Bible Gateway)
When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. "Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
Look carefully at the response of Jesus. He did not rebuke Mary for her "sin filled" mind. He didn't tell her to "Go and sin no more." He didn't ask her why she wasn't out dancing at someone's wedding.
- He was deeply moved by Mary's tears.
- He was troubled.
- He wept along with her.
We all grieve differently. There is no normal timetable for mourning. Ecclesiastes says there is a time for mourning and a time for rejoicing. It is perfectly appropriate to mourn a miscarriage and not jump up and down when you BFF gets pregnant. Those who truly care about you will understand. In fact, a real BFF would put her arms around such a friend and weep with her as she tells her of her pregnancy.
You are not a slithering, sin filled worm.
Recently, I read a comment by a woman on another blog. A long time Christian, she spoke of herself as a worm slithering through the mud. Folks, this must stop. You are beloved by the King who came to rescue His people. The Father sees you through the eyes of Jesus, forgiven and loved.
“You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve," said Aslan. "And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content.”― C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian link.
A great post. I can’t add to it. Did I just get first?
OK sorry, I couldn’t resist because I never ever have a chance to be first. This oped is so depressing. I always wonder what people like the poor woman referenced do with the verses declaring Christians as children of God and joint heirs with Jesus. Yes we are sinners but that’s not all we are.
I thought I was first! But second’s not bad.
Dee, I think I’ve told you this before, but I know one who I’m going to if/when I’m experiencing a time of grief and loss. Thanks for sharing.
I, like you, am also tired of seeing the focus on the “miserable worm” aspect of our existence. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less, and I’d add, when you do think of yourself, you give an honest assessment – as a Christian, we’re children of the King. Jesus didn’t die to bring worms into glory, He died that we might be sons of God, here, on earth. That is glorious.
I have read your site for several years and never commented, but I must this time. I worked as a hospice nurse for 7 years and I cannot begin to tell how horrible some church leadership was at just being present at a death (some were wonderful) but many would just carry on about how the family shouldn’t be sad since the loved one was in heaven. I got to the point, where I would wait for the pastors to leave then I would sit the famy down and tell them 1) I was a Christian too 2) God did not design us to be separated from our loved ones and every death is a tragedy 3) it is right and good for them to grieve 4) if they didn’t grieve after losing a spouse of 40 years then something else is wrong, but not their walk with God.
And by the way, I have some Calvinist leanings, but this stuff coming out of TGC and such is just crazy and does not line up at all with what I was taught as a child in a 5 point Calvinist home and church (no I’m not a 5 or even a 4 point Calvinist).
One big factor that pushed me away from the Christian faith was lack of support I received after my mother passed away. (I think I wrote about that on this blog and Julie Anne’s in the past.)
The lady who wrote the blog post Dee is commenting on focuses on the “rejoice with those who rejoice” part of the Bible verse, but what I found after my time of loss is that the majority of Christians are reluctant or too selfish to “weep with those who weep.”
(A few have been lovely towards me about this on the internet, but Christians I’ve known in real life, including relatives, have been the total pits.)
Especially when the grief was newer, I was just looking for a sympathetic ear to listen to me discuss what I was going through emotionally in the years after my mother die –
And at that, maybe for an hour once every few months (not every day), but my Christian family (most of whom attend church weekly) could not be bothered. They viewed it as though it was a burden or chore.
Yet other Christian church people or family have scolded me for seeking emotional support; I was encouraged by those types to either bury and repress the negative feelings, or go throw myself into “busy work,” such as volunteer work.
And other Christians get all “gum drops and rainbows” about it.
I’ve had some Christians, in an inappropriate, upbeat, sunny manner, hand me Christian-ized cliches’ when I went to them for support after the loss, about “turning it all over to Jesus!!,” or “Just trust in the Lord!!,” and “Just think about all those poor, hungry orphans in India, and you will perk right up, your situation really isn’t as bad as theirs,” and so forth – all said in a very perky tone of voice. It made me even more depressed or offended.
Those sorts of reactions piled on to the grief I had to cope with alone. I’ve had to (and still have to) battle from being angry all the time over this.
Many Christians have no idea how to support someone who is in grief, or who’s undergone a severe heartache. I’ve seen this time and again when I visited other forums and talked to Christians who had undergone grief as well.
I cannot, on top of all that garbage, imagine that experiencing sad or negative emotions is considered by some as being “sin,” or that someone out there is telling me in blog posts that I should consider my perfectly normal feelings of loss, anger, hurt, and sadness as being sinful.
I had someone in my family refer to my grief over losing my loved one as being “self pity,” which sort of suggests it’s ‘no biggie’ to lose someone you love, so I found that depiction pretty off base, rude, and insensitive.
I later saw this page and related to it:
Grief is NOT Self-Pity, Joel Osteen
Speaking of The Gospel Coalition…:-P
I wrote a post the other day in response to the flood of articles I am seeing about gay marriage. I wrote a response to John Starke of Apostles Church in NYC.
In the post I point out the following:
1. The difference between civil/state and religious marriage.
2. You can’t promote Kevin DeYoung’s material about morality and sin, when he ignored the sin of CJ Mahaney.
3. You can’t appeal to Christians worldwide and say we’re abandoning them, when TGC features articles that defines Christian as a 9 Marks “covenant member” which writes off the rest of the world, as well as the Christian suffering in N. Korea or Syria.
4. Ask why the hysteria and the fear mentality? They act as if the Christian faith is going to collapse tomorrow. How did the church survive for 2,000 years?
There was some fireworks behind the scenes in which the pastor told me that he was not in an “immediate relationship” with TGC. I pointed out in a response that he wrote 209 articles for TGC. That sounds like a relationship to me!
Oh boy… 😉
Dear ones, I am quite new to TWW, reading more than commenting. I am writing to you from an ER, where I have spent the day waiting for tests and results and admission. My condition is not serious, and for that I am thankful. I am also thankful for you, for the many voices and thoughts that have seen me through this day. I have felt your companionship.
The fact that Ms. Carlson posted her piece on The Gospel Coalition website indicates that she is most likely a New Calvinist. Reformed folks have a weird stance on suffering. An SBC New Calvinist church plant near me encourages its members to suffer – sort of a rite of passage into the Kingdom. Suffering may come during my Christian journey, but I’m not going to go looking for it. Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.
You have lightening reflexes of a Gyrfalcon.
I read that article…I was thinking of writing an article about it and comparing and contrasting how the secular world grieves vs. the Neo-Calvinist. After reading that article read this article in the Washington Post. It’s raw…it’s a bout a widow grieving her husband’s death in a mountain climbing accident in Oregon.
She talks about how difficult grieving is, for me it begs the question. Who is healthier in the end? The Neo-Calvinist or the other person?
Will they let you go home soon? I am so sorry.
If you’re in the DC area and you need a hug let me know! 🙂
You are as fast as a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport:-the second fastest car on earth clocking 268 mph. Not bad.
Probably tomorrow, if the medicine works and the body continues to heal. This turned my life upside down, but I will be fine. One reason I have waited so long for care is that more serious cases than mine keep turning up; I am happy to need less attention. Thank you.
That’s sweet! Thank you!
The grieving woman sounds way too hard on herself. I hope she wouldn’t treat a friend in the same situation that way. That said, I do think it is possible for a woman who has lost a baby to become filled with jealousy toward others…but I have to wonder if she might be mixing up an understandable lack of enthusiam for others with sinful jealousy. Not feeling excited for others while she grieves is not the same as wishing others ill.
I hope you recover soon. 🙂
I’d advise her to skip the mother’s day service. Something about her grief is sin attitude makes me think that she’s still in the process of grieving. Like she hit a pause button and isn’t ready to move forward. It’s understandable to want to pretend all that unbearable grief is over with, but it won’t really help her if she doesn’t give herself permission to be angry about it. I think there’s an underlying bad teaching and in this instance it has taken the form of grief is a lot like sin, but she might mean that emotions that aren’t happiness are a lot like sin.
I think people were really surprised at how well I handled my father’s death last year. When they ask me about it, I tell them, “Well, no, I didn’t handle it well at all.” As he got entangled more and more in Alzheimer’s, it just broke my heart to see him deteriorate like that. I got very depressed and recognized I needed to tell my psychiatrist things weren’t the way they’d been for so many years (same medication, same prescriptions for a decade). We had to make an adjustment. When dad finally died, in some ways it was a relief, because he wasn’t suffering any more. But there are days when I miss him, like today, when I was at my mom’s and my brother laughed, and I thought I was hearing my dad.
But grief, in my opinion, shouldn’t be confused with sin. The Bible’s clear, there will be times of grieving–a time to laugh and a time to weep. Not allowing for sufficient grieving time or calling grief something other than what it is–grief–is just asking for trouble.
Ecclesiastes chapter 3, verse 1:”To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
Verse 4: “A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
Grieving isn’t a sin. It is a healing process. It can also be a process that makes us stronger and brings us closer to God and a process that gives us the wisdom to help others in times of grief.
My mother was a Calvinist. She grew up in a conservative Reform denomination, a sister denomination to the Orthodox Presbyterian. She was always fixated on what a sinful person she was. I always thought she was a wonderful person. Never understood this gloom, but now I wonder if it is a part of Calvinism. I can tell you I informed my Mother what a wonderful parent she was a week before she passed away. She needed to hear this.
Thank you. I appreciate your kindness. @ Daisy:
Thanks for sharing that. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been. My dad is currently falling apart with Parkinson’s. Something about these diseases–Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia–just terrifies me. I also can’t imagine going through that grief and having someone at my side (or the voice in my head) telling me to get on with it.
When I’m around New Calvinists, I never sense a shout of victory in Jesus coming from their souls.
I am curious how the GC people would label King David (Psalm 77:2) or Jacob (Genesis 37:35) in their grief who refused to be comforted. Would they just label both stuck in sin? Or how about Job? Would they join Job’s friends in their rebuke of him only to get rebuked by God in the end?
One common thread I have seen in Neo-Calvinism is an over-emphasis on the intellect over the emotions. It is almost if the emotions are what fell and NOT the intellect. One individual I knew well who drank the Mars Hill Seattle/Mark Driscoll Neo-Reformed cool-aid I would describe as an emotional moron. That is what such teaching produces. It is cruel, cold, and dehumanizing to treat emotions like this article suggests (and in the way the GC clearly endorses).
Plus, it isn’t even orthodox Christian teaching. We inhabit a world broken by sin, and not just our personal sin as the framing of this article suggests. Original sin, corporate sin, and sin committed against us exist. The problem is much bigger than our daily choices. We live in a world torn apart by sin and may encounter its consequences unjustly.
The article bothers me on so many levels as a pastor, chaplain, grief care coordinator, and father. It is shameful on the GC’s part that they would encourage this author to beat herself up over her grief. And it is heart breaking.
My God is not condemning of His children but loving. He is ever near the brokenhearted…not ever present so as to point the finger at their “sin” and further attack how they feel about themselves.
I read this article a few days ago on SSB’s FB page. I had two thoughts at the time:
1. Carlson sounds like she was more likely dealing with postpartum depression than sin.
2. Her entire post was based on a fundamental misreading of It Is Well with My Soul. The verse where Spafford is talking about his sin, is him being HAPPY about the fact that he’s been forgiven even in the midst of intense grief. It’s not Spafford feeling even worse because he sinned while/by grieving. The more I thought about how badly Carlson mangled the meaning of that hymn, it just continued to boggle my mind all weekend. I don’t want to sound like I’m being overly hard on her because she’s obviously been through something terrible, but really, she misunderstands this song very, very badly, and I suspect Horatio Spafford would be sad to see it.
This is one of the saddest things I’ve read in a long time. How many young mothers and fathers who have lost little ones will feel unnecessary pain and false guilt due to the misguided post at TgC. I am so sorry that this young mother is so cast down by her supposed sins during her grieving. I don’t mean grief as if it ends. I mean grieving.
I have had to go limited contact with a few people who have a similarly warped view of God’s glory and sin and grief. If I told you what they said during my time I grief, no one would believe it. The notion that deep grief is somehow a denial of the Gospel or sinful or insulting to Christ is something that is very real in not just the Gospel Glitterati churches but also in others. Perhaps the reason that I have seen this more in calvinistic circles is that there is such a strong emphasis on God’s sovereignty and ordination of everything that happens in our fallen world.
IMO there is a deeply flawed view of the problem of evil and suffering in calvinistic theology, and to many people have been destroyed by the Romans 8:28 bomb which, as is typical, is wrenched from its context in Romans 8. Just like the clobber verses on divorce and gender dogma, Romans 8:28 is the grief clobber verse. Second place goes to the “murmuring against God” verses. I’m so happy that Dee mentioned Jesus weeping at the tomb of Lazarus because that, to me, shows the true heart of God toward his creatures instead of the cartoonish Piperesque piety that is all too common when terrible things happen and weak humans respond like weak humans.
Remember the Know-Nothings?
They were a political party and secret society of the 1850s intent on preserving the race purity of Real Americans against those subhuman Irish. (In the movie Gangs of New York, Bill the Butcher’s “Native Americans” was based on them and their affiliated street gang The Bowery Boys.) They got their name from their secrecy; when asked about their activities or affiliation (equivalent to “Are you a Calvinist?”), they would respond with “I Know Nothing”, i.e. they’d play dumb.
I understand all those 300-year-old journals from Massachusetts Puritans are full of sin-sniffing gloom and doom.
Divorce Minister wrote:
I think this kind of teaching/doctrine/attitude does more harm than good. When someone has suffered some sort of wound, he/she needs time to heal. I wonder if Carson is harming herself (and probably others) by not allowing herself to have a time of healing? She even seems to be condemning herself for needing that time.
In the ICU, one of our sons would get rid of unwanted clergy by telling them we were Buddhist (we look Asian). Worked every time.
From the post: “You are beloved by the King who came to rescue His people. The Father sees you through the eyes of Jesus, forgiven and loved.”
Jesus Heals the Man Born Blind, from John 9
As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.…
A link with a good word on this:
I was just saying on another thread on TWW that many Christians expect instant everything – instant healing and instant everything else.
Many of them don’t believe in giving each other time to heal and work through pain. I wrote about it here:
Quite the gift.
TGC/Calvinistas feel this way about anxiety and depression. A girl I knew from TVC got really POed at me when I told her her anxiety is not a sin. She got quite defensive and said “That’s what I was told in Biblical counseling TM!”. I don’t see how this teaching helps anyone get through grief, depression, anxiety, etc. A guy on staff at TVC committed suicide a few years ago. I believe he struggled with suicidal thoughts his whole life. I am sure the TVC recovery and Biblical counseling TM didn’t help. I remember Matt Chandler talking about his passing the week after it happened, and he condemned the guy even then! He talked about how sinful and selfish he was.
My father died when I was 21 years old. I recall a fellow who just asked if I wanted to go for a walk. I recall we spent much of that May evening 40 years ago just walking around town and he let me talk. The fellow was Mike Young, Mike ya did good.
@ Bill M:
My first husband died in a car accident when our daughter was 6 and I was 27. My daughter and I both had some wounds to lick, but my daughter was a daddy’s girl, so it was extremely hard on her.
When my daughter was 14, my uncle passed away. His youngest son was 18 at the time. My daughter used her experience to help my cousin. The two of them spent a lot of time together and are still more like brother and sister than cousins.
Two years later, one of my students (12 yrs. old at the time) lost her father in a farming accident. After the accident, the student was very withdrawn and depressed. So, I made arrangements for my daughter and the student to meet. I was amazed at how the student’s eyes lit up when my daughter explained why they were meeting. Just knowing that there was another child who understood was a great help to the student. My child used her experience to help others and, in so doing, unintentionally helped herself.
The thinking that grief or even depression is sin is extremely destructive and anything but Christ like. I feel.sorrow for those trapped in this evil theology. Had to break away from it years ago myself.
Osteen’s comment that parents who continue to grieve for lost children “enjoy the attention” infuriates me. I truly pray he never has to suffer that loss. I do wonder, though, what so many Christians see in him.
Is it God’s purpose to make you feel like a sinful worm, ever?
It might be some are attracted to calvinism as a reaction to churches where the word sin has been expunged from the vocabulary for all practical purposese.
It might also be that God uses the tragedies of life to deal with things that otherwise would remain buried, bringing good out of evil.
What I’m sure of is that personal tragedies are not God’s way of punishing secret sins as though he had no other way of dealing with this or letting you know what they are. In other words, it’s false to punish yourself with the thought ‘I must have done something really bad for God to let this happen’.
Ongoing refusal to repent of known sin is something different, but even here I just don’t believe in worm theology.
I had a son who was anencephalic and, of course, he died shortly after birth. I was a young man and had many questions; questions about God and wondering if perhaps his death was because of my sin. My wife and I were mainly left to deal with our grief alone, I don’t think people knew what to say to us. As I recall our pastor wasn’t much help and we didn’t have any family around. We didn’t have the money to seek professional counseling and I probably would not have considered it even if I did. Of course my view of God was deficient (and undoubtedly still is!) But thanks to God alone I did not lose my faith, it was not because of anything I had within my own self, or any individuals help. As I look back on my life those were some of the hardest times I faced. Anyway, I recently came across this short story in a devotional book and I thought it was good. Perhaps some will find it helpful too.
“Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” (Job 12: 9-10, ESV)
“My wife was stretched out on the table as the doctor passed the transducer back and forth on her stomach. We sat silently watching the screen and listening for the sound of hope, listening for that little fast-paced heartbeat. But there was nothing. No blip on the screen and no evidence of life. Just silence. For the past eight weeks or so we had been elated. Finally, after over a year of trying, there were two lines on the pregnancy test instead of one! We went to the doctor’s office, and it was confirmed— we were pregnant. Prior to that news, we had reached the point of facing the very painful reality that we may not be able to have children. It was a scary thought, but with that pregnancy test it was gone. We praised God for this answer to prayer, for this baby. It was a renewal of hope. But these moments of silence during the ultrasound that day seized our joy. The doctor told us that it was very likely that we would miscarry. So what this time? What did we do wrong? What caused this? Who has answers? Heartbroken and furious, the hardest part was that there was nothing to do. There were no answers to our questions. There was just the shadowy revelation that, like Job when faced with catastrophe, the Lord had done this when His hand was supposed to preserve the life of all things, the breath of all mankind. “He’s got the whole world in His hands.” Really?
This is enough to crush the faith in you and leave nothing left but resentment. It is a death, and there is no coping mechanism for it. When you’re faced with the shadow side of the reality that life is not yours to give or to hold onto, there is only one question left to helplessly ask, and that is, “But is God giving life? And is He trustworthy?” Nothing you’re going through tells you He is. There’s no evidence that you can point to in the physical world around you that will satisfy. There is only one thing that can stand up to your real suffering— to loss, to cancer, to miscarriages. That is His own final death for us. His suffering for ours. His pain speaking into our pain and the promise in His resurrection that death does not and will not have the final word.”
(2014-03-12). The Mockingbird Devotional: Good News for Today (and Every Day) (Kindle Locations 2159-2179). Mockingbird Ministries. Kindle Edition.
P.S. Thanks for posting this Dee. You continue to teach me many things, but please don’t tell my complementarian friends I said that!
I completely agree… And, apparently, the Book of Job does not exist to them? A wise, Old Testment scholar that I know says we all should consider Proversbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes together before we start pontificating on why G$d did this or that… The GC crowd definitely “cherry pick” parts of scripture… But, then so do most “extreme” religious groups…
Divorce Minister wrote:
These guys do know about Job.
Piper has just released a weird animated film about Job set to his wonderfully flowery, verbose poetry.
Too bad the script is not Scripture – but then that would leave Piper out and put God in.
And every single person involved in the gospel-centred project is male. Because Christianity has a MASCULINE feel. So having all men will make it so much more gospel-centred and, well, just generally more gospelly. And God will be much more pleased with it.
It is not just the church people who do not know what to do with the grief vs depression set of symptoms when they occur following a death. This issue was cussed and discussed during the process of developing the current DSM 5. The issue was the ‘bereavement exclusion’ in establishing a diagnosis of major depressive disorder. It all makes very interesting reading, and it has resulted in some strongly held opinions on both sides of the question. If course, they are not talking about sin, but they are dealing with the same issue of depression vs normal bereavement and how to know and what to do.
IMO neither bereavement nor MDD or any other emotional condition constitute sin, whether or not the symptoms are within normal limits of functioning. And, I think that these ideas of how everything is sin are abusive and ignorant.
Sorry to mention J Piper again, but it’s related to the subject of this thread. I remember 9 years ago Piper spoke at a conference near where I live. A large part of the theme was suffering. I didn’t attend the conference but listened to some of the talks afterwards. People were raving about how good he was and I was curious. (even then he was regarded as an idol).
I recall being very struck by the way he spoke of suffering. He seemed to almost glorify it. Suffering was cast as something that was noble, holy and godly. So much so that to not suffer is to be less of a Christian. Piper spoke in reverent terms of a family whose son had been killed in a car accident and he strongly implied that that was the kind of suffering we should all hope for. I knew nothing about Piper at that stage but felt very uneasy about this message. It seemed twisted to me.
I’m sure some of you have read more Piper than me (after I read ‘Don’t waste your life’ I couldn’t face any more of his repetitive, turgid prose) and can shed more light on his theology of suffering.
The more I find out about the pied Piper, the more I think he would have been quite the pious monk in the middle ages. Enough to have given the young friar Martin Luther a run for his money.
“I failed to trust in the sovereign goodness of God. In my best moments I would remember he doesn’t withhold good from his people (Ps. 84:11). I would trust that in his infinite wisdom this was the best plan for our (and our baby’s) eternal good, to bring the most glory to him.”
Could it be, I wonder, that she writes this for public consumption in an effort to “bring the most glory to Him”, as a way to find meaning in her baby’s untimely passing? Maybe I’m reading too much between the lines, but it sounds like–well, this is what *had* to happen for God to get the most glory in this situation, or else He wouldn’t have allowed it.
More proof that “He’s lost it!”
So, let’s see. This man rejoices in other people’s suffering at the death of a child (!!!aaargh!!!) because he thinks that suffering itself is a good thing, while at the same time he does not to our knowledge engage in any of the usual mortifications of the flesh–his own flesh. I like your word twisted; is that like perverted? Just asking of course.
Enough to have achieved Gnostic Pneumaticism — so Spiritual he ceases to be Human. Nothing physical left at all.
Thank you for posting this, it’s honestly something I needed to read today.
My heart went out to the woman writing the original op-ed. Having struggled with infertility, then the loss of two desperately wanted pregnancies, then developing a bleed in my 3rd pregnancy that led to my water breaking at 21 weeks and being told I’d deliver my daughter within a week and she wouldn’t survive, and much to everyone’s surprise hanging on to deliver her alive/surviving just past 28 weeks gestation (with then a nearly 10 week NICU stay), I can identify powerfully with the terrible grief that comes with such a situation. I can’t imagine how awful it would be to be told or feel that such grief was, in and of itself, sinful.
At the moment, I’m still reeling from all the stuff surrounding my daughter’s delivery earlier this year and also the recent, tragic, unexpected death of a young close family member. These lines are a balm: “When you are filled with pain because you or a loved one is suffering, God is not going to require you to do an inventory of your sin. He is going to weep along with you.”
Ever heard of the phrase “More Religious than God”?
Young women trapped in New Calvinism’s eternal female subordination are surely suffering for Jesus … you can see it on their countenance. If there is an Achilles-heel to the reformed movement, it might very well be this … when NC women wake up to the authoritarian its-all-about-men patriarchy they are suffering under and rise up en masse declaring “Wait just a darn minute here!”. They will then drag their sorry husbands/boy friends out of the mess by their ears.
You made me cry this morning and it was good. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I am so, so sorry for the pain that you went through. Jesus did weep with you and I am so glad that you know that. My prayers are with you today!
That may not be enough to do it, because helplessness in the face of the relentless and apparent lovelessness of some of the doctrines of grace is intrinsically embedded into the system. Just an uprising of the women, and that only, would only be to confirm the theology but limit its application. It may be that some of the ideas within the theology itself need dug out by the roots.
It is the cognitive dissonance required to maintain that God actively controls everything for His pleasure while you suffer tragedy. He would be wimpy if He is not in control so one has to find a way to explain that defines love.
It is such a toxic world view of our Creator that I stay away from it. I think it blasphemes God and it is incredibly cruel to His creatures.
This poor woman is having a very natural reactions to trauma and grief and the hormonal post partem changes. The saddest part to me is that by acknowledging the grief and trauma as natural she might be able to cope better. As it is with calling it sin, it seems to be something that will be need to be repressed. Which might make it worse long term.
I pray she seeks help outside this sort of thinking.
Piper would like everyone to lose a child in an automobile accident? Interesting…I don’t think Jesus would agree with him. I believe that God enters into our suffering and walks along with us. We should not hope for suffering. However, being in the world, suffering is inevitable, in one form or another. We should be stressing the fact that Jesus enters into our suffering and weeps along with us.
Some of us grow due to suffering. However, there are some who are so destroyed-like those who have been abused all their lives- that they never fully recover.
My two examples of terrible suffering: 1. children on oncology floors crying in pain and fear 2. Little Jessica Lunsford who was kidnapped, raped, buried alive and suffocated to death. Perhaps Piper likes these options as well? Should I hope that such suffering happens to his family?
Now this was an apt description.
Yes, and I think that includes their view of God and, in this particular case, their view of evil and suffering and God. Oh, and their theology of “bringing God glory” is way beyond messed up. Stiff-upper-lip may be good practice in the face of huge problems, but it is crummy theology in the face of tragedy.
Somebody extremely close to me finally conceived after some difficulty. She not only lost that pregnancy but she also had developed a malignancy of the placenta. This was treated with chemo, and the chemo destroyed any hope of further pregnancy. If God was enjoying or orchestrating this, then every medical person who treated her is guilty of serious sin. Hogwash.
That is absurd! I wonder if the man ever saw an appropriate doctor for his depression?
Thank you for sharing this. This is a topic close to my heart.
“For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world, but through him they might be saved.” John 3:17.
May the Lord bless your daughter with a long, healthy life and a brilliant mind.
@ Florence in KY:
Piper would never make it as a monk. He wouldn’t be able to keep the code of silence.
I wonder if he throws a party every time someone a horrific tragedy?
Honestly, I think the guy has mental problems. There has to be a medical name for people like him.
All very true.
I used to have depression and still deal with anxiety, and a lot of Christians do wrongly feel having either one is sin and can be cured merely by Bible reading or prayer.
Sometimes depression and anxiety have a biological basis and can only be treated with medications and/or talk therapy, or some other type of therapy.
Don’t you know God has a penis?
Joseph Smith and the guy who did Dake’s Annotated Bible both stressed that. Dake even claimed that not only was God male, but so were all the angels; the female was created only for breeding purposes among physical mortals. (Dake himself ended up going down in a sex scandal — jail-bait, same as Polishing-the-Shaft Schaapf.)
I doubt very much Flutterhands has ever personally experienced suffering.
It’s always those who have never been there who are quick with the glib Gospelly advice for those who have. Remember Job’s Counselors?
Or leave them in their Gospelly Manosphere.
Wouldn’t work unless such suffering happens to him personally.
Otherwise… “It Wasn’t Me, PRAISE GAWD!”
Jeffrey Chalmers wrote:
I have wondered this myself before.
A big point of the book of Job is that you should just sit in quietness next to the person who is suffering, but the “friends” in that book did things like blamed Job for his suffering, tried to give him theological reasons for his tragedy, tell him he must have sinned and brought it on himself, etc, all of which just made the guy feel worse.
That book is a big commentary on how NOT to “comfort” and aid a suffering person.
The book of Job is teaching believers to just sit quietly with someone who is suffering, be empathetic, don’t give advice, blame, or theological lessons while they are hurting, but so many Christians today do the very opposite of what the book of Job is teaching.
There was a suicide years back at John MacArthur’s church. A young man had depression, and his church found out.
Rather than encouraging the young man to seek real therapy (as opposed to goofy, ineffective “biblical counseling”), they told him to pray more, read the Bible, etc. He committed suicide later. IIRC, the parents later sued the church.
Church Sued Over a Suicide Says It Will Change Training
The parents, Walter and Maria Nally, sued the Grace Community Church after their son Kenneth, 24 years old, shot himself in 1979. They said Mr. MacArthur and other members of the counseling staff had discouraged him from seeking outside help and had never told them about their son’s suicidal tendencies.
They also said Mr. MacArthur made their son’s condition worse by telling him his depression was the result of sinning.
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
Yes, yes, yes. If these posts had “Like” buttons, I would hit the “Like” button on your post there a billion times over.
Especially the part about he’s probably never experienced suffering himself, or not the type he talks about.
Conversely – on the flip side of this coin, something else I have experienced and noticed – another nasty phenomenon is that people who HAVE walked in your shoes and suffering like you did will also lack empathy after- the- fact.
I just read a study about this two or more weeks ago. I have a sister who is like this, to give an example.
I still have anxiety and anxiety attacks, something my sister used to deal with as well (which I think she is healed of now?).
Okay, anxiety still interferes in my life to this day. I’ve not totally conquered it.
You would think having been a victim of this herself, my sister would be sympathetic towards me about it, but no.
She is actually LESS sympathetic, because her attitude is, “I got through it, so you should too, so suck it up and move on.”
That was the phenomenon the study was addressing that I read a few weeks ago.
It can go either way – the person who has never had to endure what you have will lack empathy, or, they did at one time suffer like you are, but are over it now, and think you sound like a whiny cry baby if you are going through it now.
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
What I find hypocritical about that attitude of theirs, is that considering how they blather on about how suffering brings God glory and makes you a better person, blah blah blah – you would THINK guys like Piper would be chomping at the bit to experience some of this suffering for themselves. But I suspect they do not.
I suspect that Piper and guys like him do not sit around hoping and praying that God has his family knocked off in car accidents, by heart attacks, or whatever.
They preach a good preach on this stuff but probably secretly are relieved it’s happening to other people, and not to themselves.
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
roflol HUG you are wonderful
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
Matt Chandler has actually said “I preach to men” … but also says “Our girls love it.” Baloney … I doubt seriously if “our girls” would say that if they felt free to express their opinions without the threat of shunning and/or excommunication looming over them.
Todd Wilhelm wrote:
That may be the rub, I don’t recall a thing the guy said to me after my father died, only that he was there to listen.
I think the original author on TGC fails to understand the impact hormonal fluctuations can have on women, especially as it relates to female stuff and pregnancy. They can make you feel and think things that aren’t you at all.
There’s an episode of House where there’s a guy that is always positive – everything is inexplicably twisted into a positive thing. That’s what I’m reminded of here.
I imagine if Piper dropped a hammer on his toe, he’d look up and “give that pain to God”. Hey, that’s all fine and good for you, bro, but the rest of us ain’t wired that way.
There have been repeated attempts to take an axe to the root of Calvinism over the last 500 years … but it keeps resurfacing. “Old” Calvinism has been relatively harmless and kept to itself in Presbyterian ranks and other reformed groups, but this “New” Calvinism is a particularly vehement strain – on a mission with young rebels to restore the Gospel that the rest of Christendom has lost.
The men and the girls. That would be the adult males and the female children. That terminology has no business coming out of the mouth of some man. If women sometimes call each other ‘the girls’ that is different. If men sometimes call each other ‘the boys’ that is different. This juxtaposition of ‘men and girls’ however says something quite different. Shame on him.
A couple of comments in the article stuck out to me –
” I would trust that in his infinite wisdom this was the best plan for our (and our baby’s) eternal good, to bring the most glory to him.”
Does God really do these things and do them for his glory?
“God’s remarkable provision of sin-fighting grace is sweet in the darkest of nights.”
To me these statements come from a twisted understanding of God’s sovereignty.
I also wonder if the need for certainty drives this sort of thinking, the need for answers?
Many people seem uncomfortable if things are not fully answered or resolved.
There’s a TV show about zombies, with a married couple named Maggie and Glenn.
In an episode a few weeks ago, the fate of Glenn was left rather vague. The scene was shot in such a way that you cannot tell if Glenn perished, or may still be alive.
In a more recent episode, Maggie said she wants to know if Glenn made it or not, but has to learn to live with the fact she may never find out. So, the show left the fate of Glenn up in the air.
Many fans of the show are upset or angry ever since those episodes. They want a definite answer, and they want it now: is Glenn still alive or not?
This reminds me of how so many Christians are. So many are uncomfortable or angry about not knowing something definitively, one way or another.
I’ve been through, that too, but regarding some things in my own life, I’ve learned to let go.
I’ve learned to live at peace with the idea I may never know why “X” happened in my life. When I let go of obsessively needing to know why X happened, I’ve felt more at peace.
I’m still not an expert at it, not in some areas of my life. I do struggle with it a little.
But I am surprised at how so many other Christians are gripped by a total need to know why or how something happened to have an answer or a rational reason for why “thus and so happened”.
I think you can drive yourself crazy over wanting or needing to know “why,” or what you’re supposed to learn from something, or feeling that surely something good will come out of “X,” even though maybe nothing will.
The Gospel Coalition isn’t about the gospel, it is about Calvinism!
It should be called The Calvinist Coalition or The TULIP Coalition.
“Wittnissing First-Hand Exposure to ‘Worm Calvinesta Theology’ ™, –Are We Now ?”
—> Those exposed to the teachings of New Calvinism over extended periods of ‘doctrinal exposure’ are pretty messed up.
Some pastors are now sending them away empty handed when these families finally ‘wake-up’ and depart these New Calvinist churches for other non-Calvinist affilated entities…
—> Walk don’t run to the nearest calvinesta church exit?
The ‘spiritual life’ you save, may be your own…
Another ‘gospel’ (which is NOT Jesus’ good news) will do it to you every single time.
With a good grasp upon Jesus’ “words” in the New Testament four gospels, Acts, and Revelation, this bad stuff can’t happen.
(so get crack’in N’ please consult your non-Calvinista Bible today ! )
“For-Warned Is To Be for- Armed” ?
…just might save you a world of hurt, grief, and heart burn.
—> Who is ‘this’ “King of Glory”? ™
(accept no substitutes)
hum, hum, hum, I rest ‘in’ the shadow of THY wings, Lord Jesus !
(what can ‘these’ proverbial 501(c)3 religious calvinestas butt-heads do ta me?)
they can try…
hum, hum, hum, I’m saved by the “blood of Lamb (TM)”, so glad, so glad, so glad…hum, hum, hum…
“The Gospel is 4 Sale?”
Only a fool would give up the control of his or her life to a guy (they don’t know) with a couple of sheepskins and a shingle, thumping a bible for forty minutes or so every Sunday and expecting to rake in ten percent of your pre-taxed earnings. Then he gets you to sign a legally binding a 501(c)3 church membership agreement drawn up by his lawyers, verturally yelding up control of your life to a stranger who has absolutely no vested interest in your future. They then slap a sticker on your proverbial forhead that reads : ‘Sinner’, and then they park you with all the rest of those ‘gullible’ enough to fall for this kinda stuff. Your proverbial goose is cooked before you can even pass the communion plate.
You one day wake up, your old and gray, thousands greased from your pockets, only to discover you have for some thirty odd years been had.
Smooth move Exlax…
Better luck next time, huh?
There is a religious sucker born every minute?
Please don’t be one of them, ok?
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves…” -Jesus
John Piper did have prostate cancer, and he wrote that ridiculous post called “Don’t Waste Your Cancer.” I gave that article to my Mom after she survived pancreatic cancer. My Mom confronted me on it. I wrote up the story here:
Interesting Jamie Carlson works for Bethlehem Baptist and Seminary. I looked up her up and read a couple of other things. If her behavior to her miscarriage is the way to respond, then you can understand how outrageous some of this material can get. You can see why John Piper considers cancer a gift. In the end it amplifies a person’s suffering and adds to it. This is some really sick stuff. I fail to see how this is nothing but determinism…what ever happens, happens.
@ Sallie Borrink:
Its in situations like these that the rejection of psychology and psychiatry is dangerous. One of the biggest obstacles many evangelicals need to overcome is to embrace science. I don’t understand why some people need to view science as a foe.
I really like your post.
I’ve known people on either end of this spectrum,
1. super happy people who are obnoxiously upbeat about everything (I find it hard to relate to them or confide in them), or, the other extreme-
2. extremely negative, critical types who are dour, down beat, and see no hope ever.
Most people in my family fall into #2.
Neither side, the super happy or super negative, is usually good about being supportive if you are in a crisis.
I try to hang out somewhere between the two points.
Joel Osteen, the Texas preacher, is one of the perpetually chipper, sunny types.
One thing he frequently does in his sermons is to coach his church members to also be perpetually sunny and to limit contact with negative persons.
To a point, I understand what he’s saying, but as someone who used to have depression, that teaching bothers me.
Your depressed family member or friend may really need your support during their depression, so you should try to be there for them, if you can – not shun them because they are not sufficiently perky and positive enough, according to Osteen.
Agree. It’s very sad to read of hurting people, who believe God is a cold, distant being. A being who is primarily concerned about His glory and sovereignty. Disturbing theology for sure.
Okay, so he falls under the category of, “I once suffered X, and because I got thru X just fine, I now lack empathy for others who are currently going thru X.”
As I said above, my sister is like that. I think my sister is healed of anxiety now, but I still have anxiety.
My sister’s response to me is basically to tell me I should suck it up and get over it, because she survived anxiety, I should be able to get over it just peachy too. (No empathy from her at all, even though she once went through it.)
Sounds like Piper may be doing the same.
I have undergone about 50 surgeries or so in my lifetime. My next one is Dec 29th. I truly believe that because of all I have gone through, I am more compassionate to those going through similar things. I always felt I was cared about what people went thru, but my eyes were opened up when I went thru the tough times. God has blessed me so much. I have been able to help out many people when I share my story. At this point in my life, we don’t even know if I will ever be able to walk again. I have been mostly wheelchair bound for 3 1/2 years. But do I think it was because of some sin I committed. No, absolutely not. To think that all my health problems were caused by some sin I hadn’t been forgiven for is ridiculous. Or that I was sinning in how I dealt with my health. I had to grieve the loss of not being able to walk. That’s not a sin. I first had to dealt with bad knees. Not a sin at all. Yes, I too had a miscarriage. But I wasn’t or am not sinning when I think about it.
Preach it Gram3! And a hearty AMEN too!
I can see where cruel & petulant narcissists like the gods of the Greeks and the Canaanites need constant glorification, but the God of Abraham? He isn’t anything like them.
“…the rejection of psychiatry and psychology is dangerous” indeed. A fundagelical member of my former prayer group used to say, “The sins of thought are the worst sins of all.” One day I replied, “No, actually, God is happy when you walk right past those lines of cocaine on the table.” It seems to me that the sheltered, petty end of this culture encourages people, particularly women, to spend a lot of time saying, “I’m such a terrible person!” followed by some completely inconsequential example of terribleness (such as being upset about baby vomit on mother’s best outfit). Friends then reply, “Oh, no, you’re not terrible!” bla bla bla. This subculture focuses intense energy on policing the trivial, and thereby trivializes much that is real. Deflection (it’s not grief, it’s a failure to celebrate!) is a major and destructive impulse. Wish I could cite a verse, but there’s nothing biblical here.
I totally get what you are saying. I’m so sorry for your loss and there’s a time to mourn. No one gets to tell you how or how long. Christ will bring healing but its,a process and time does help and you will always have the loss. I believe God will use your loss at some point maybe to bring comfort to another. I was called a myrter by my pastor because I grieved greatly over my child being raped. I was told that I wasn’t joyful enough to move on. It angered and the weight of it was even more painful I wanted to knock heads off them. I didn’t I just grieved alone inwardly and still cry out to the Lord in moments when I’m alone grieving my sons loss. I don’t think one pain is more severe than another I believe we are to love and comfort the hurting in Christ’s name and not minimize grief. Daisy wrote:
I found the study I was referring to above:
It’s Harder to Empathize with People If You’ve Been in Their Shoes
Such a painful thing to read. Especially quoting my all time favorite song. I guess what people miss in “It Is Well With My Soul”, is that when he says “When sorrows like sea billows roll”, he means he is sad. That he is crushed. I mean, he wrote this at the place he lost his children!
It seems that so many people think this song means “Sad things happened, but I focused on Jesus and was happy”. But that’s not what the song says. He says sometimes you are happy, and sometimes you are sad, but the state of our soul is always well. And that is a reminder to look forward. But not necessarily dismiss your present. He earnestly acknowledges his present, and then writes a song that remembers his future.
The third verse of that song is *not* about sin produced by grief. It’s about the fact that the ultimate question of life, how our sin is dealt with, has been resolved by Jesus, both when we are happy and when we are sad.
Arg- this just saddens me so much that there would be an implication that our sin should be our focus when we are struggling. This is such a human response, and not Gospel driven at all. The Gospel says “hey, whether in tough times or good times, the state of your soul is secure”. That’s the point of the song she quotes. But her response is “I’m in a time of struggle, time to route out that sin”.
Marquis, thank you so much for your words of comfort and sympathy.
I am so very sorry that your son was assaulted, and that Christians you knew in your life, rather than support you and how you dealt with it, chose to shame you instead, or hurry you and your son through the grief and other emotions.
I’m not usually a fan of folks using Jesus as an example for everything (Jesus did it, therefore I can call people names too!), but in this case I think it’s very relevant.
He’s the perfect sinless God-Man, right? Our supreme example? When we see Him in His darkest hours, what do we find? Sorrow. Weeping. Agony. Begging His Father to take the cup from Him. Crying out, asking why has His Father forsaken Him.
There’s a perfect Example for us. I’m not going to claim that our grief comes close to His, but I also can’t help but think that agony and “why God/Where are you God” are perhaps valid questions God gives grace for in grief, not things to be repented of.
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
No. Just no. No. No. No.
(One just isn’t enough for me on his topoic.) 😉
“this topic” is what I typed. Auto correct is a busy body.
Are you okay? Do you have any updates?
Perhaps it is his own knowledge of his own emotional immaturity leaking out. The only way to build himself up is to diminish others. There is an expression which captures this, but I don’t use that kind of language.
Muff Potter wrote:
Emotionally unstable gods who are looking for an excuse to annihilate or torture us rather than a loving God who is both transcendent and who desires to live among us and even to indwell us. These folks have missed the entire point of the Bible’s narrative, IMO. Dare I say they have missed the point of the Gospel every bit as much as the Pharisees did?
Yeah, he yells at them from the pulpit, like Mark Driscoll did. What great motivation! I don’t want to date one of their single guys. They think they have to be more of a man and know how to tell women how things are. No thanks. I want an equal partner, not a dictator. He also sets unreasonably high rules for how things need to be, so all the single in their 30s at that church have unrealistic expectations. You’re not going to marry Jesus.
Friend, prayers for you! I hope you’re OK. Yes, please update us when you can.
We need to keep a list about topics for ODP that would make good conversation. The pharisees would be one such topic.
When I was in school and dissecting three hours per day five days per week for one semester I was at a table with 3 jewish males. That was it-three jewish guys and me. They talked and I listened, and mostly what they talked about was being jewish because they disagreed with each other about it. I found it all fascinating. Anyhow the topic of the pharisees came up, and one of the guys got into how the christians got it all wrong about pharisees, had misunderstood and unnecessarily given them an excessively bad reputation in the process. He had some good ideas, but it would have to be bounced off some historians who had written about the subject and I am not that. And of course I have no doubt forgotten most of what was said. Anyhow, potentially interesting topic.
No doubt about it … it is indeed a coalition of New Calvinists bent on taking the new reformation to the ends of the earth. They have it “right” you know … “Gospel” to them = Calvinism.
Christina Dowers wrote:
I still never got an apology from TVC about my experience. Matt gave this whole sermon on how they will change their discipline policies and asked people who have been hurt to come forward. I have contacted them more than once about my experience and crickets. The main issue was with my roommate, but other people got involved, like my home group leader, so I consider it a TVC issue. Amazes me how these people just don’t seem to get it or even care. The whole thing was a PR move.
So horrible. Reading it, I was reminded of a quote by William Bradford, the first leader of the Mayflower Pilgrims. In describing the deaths of half their number, he said, “But it pleased God to visit us then with death daily, and with so general a disease that the living were scarce able to bury the dead.”
PLEASED GOD??? How can that please God? I immediately felt sorry for the puritans for even thinking this. I can’t imagine thinking that losing your child/spouse to cold and hunger is pleasing to God. Ugh…
Another anecdote: When my mother died from cancer, I, a good Calvinist, was convinced that 1) God orchestrated her death because he ordains everything, good and evil. and 2) this ordination was because I had something to work on spiritually. Maybe I wasn’t praying enough, I thought or enthusiastic enough in God. I also believed that I had no right to be upset or questioning about it because, of course, who am I to answer back to God? It was just awful.
I nearly lost my faith over it until I encountered a wise man who helped me out. But posts like this remind me of just how poisonous Calvinist or Hyper-Calvinist thinking can be. Tragic.
Yep, you can hear Matt Chandler refer to “our girls” in his eye-opening interview with the Pied Piper. Here’s part of that interview dealing with “Calvinism and Sexual Complementarity” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKEpVzHnUw0
You are a blessing! Don’t ever forget that.
Okay. If cancer is a gift, why fight it?
An antibody- resistant superbug?
Indeed. ( cancer fighter )
@ Divorce Minister:
LOVE this comment! So often, our discussions about sin center around our perpetration of small, usually trivial acts – but this mindset leads us to totally ignore our participation in large, systemic sin as well as our victimization by sin.
Muff Potter wrote:
I really believe these angry god’s have been read back into scripture… starting with Genesis. And I believe, starting with that narrative, one of the points was to communicate the opposite of other ancient creation narratives which had angry god’s to appease. The One True God wantedtrue relationship with his creation and created them in his own image.
The paganistic angry god is especially communicated with the PENAL substitutionary atonement interpretation of the angry God whose wrath must be appeased upon his lesser innocent son.
This is the kind of God who gives babies cancer so he can be glorified. This is a God that calls grief, sin. Belief in this God makes people easier to control. Which I think is the point.
This makes sense and brings back memories. I remember the shock of the Piper effect on our family after some members came back from a stint there. That was about 15 years ago now. but we started paying attention to this bizarre little man who has such a hold over young men and women.
That’s why I tagged him the “Pied Piper” years ago! I should have copyrighted that – I see others using it now … but the name fits as you note.
Ms. Carlson’s post made me sad in more ways than one. I am so sorry for the woman.
Here is a website on the word “brokenness” that I accidentally ran across recently. I don’t know anything about this guy’s ministry, but his analysis of the word seems worth thinking about.
The whole reformed system is based on the belief that our relationship with God is transactionally based. God has a perfect law; we cannot do it. Thus we are in trouble with God to begin with. He is righteously angry with us. We are dealing primarily with a judge or magistrate, not a loving father.
Due to this view of God, we then get the emphasis on wrath and glory. Love, mercy, seeking out the lost end up being minimized in the system. And thus our sin makes us worms (insects) in the sight of God, and even though one particular sin may not bring about the death of a child, a life changing illness, etc.; we really do deserve to have bad things happen to us. We, also, constantly need to evaluate our attitudes, thoughts, potential thoughts to see how these are sinful and do not glorify God.
This may be my favorite post you’ve done. Thank you so much for addressing this topic with such wisdom and grace, it’s so very important for people to understand this.
And thank you for being such a caring friend to our family during our recent loss.
We lost our 24-year-old son in a horrible accident a few months ago and I cannot believe that it “pleased God.” We have heard a plethora of platitudes and so-called “prophetic words.” For instance, one of the church ladies called me to say: “The accident site is no more to be a place of sadness but a place of joy because it’s where your son entered into the presence of God.” Yeah, right. It’s a place of joy because it’s where our son’s precious body was broken by an irresponsible hit-and-run driver. Right, it’s a place of joy after a TV reporter asked me, no doubt hoping for a juicy sound bite: “Did you know that both legs were broken by the impact?” (No, I didn’t know. Thanks so much for planting that vivid image in my mind, sir.) I accidentally caught a glimpse of the first page of the autopsy report that details exactly how our son died, and it keeps me awake at night. His six-foot-three body started as the tiny one that I harbored in my womb. His precious body survived a high risk pregnancy and major surgery just after birth. He grew to be a wonderful young man who brought us joy and who could have made a huge impact on the beautiful world that he loved. If God somehow approves of our son’s untimely death, that’s not the God I want to know. I only want the God who weeps with me and acknowledges that death sucks. I certainly don’t want the comfort of so-called friends who ask, “What are you looking so somber about?” after I’ve endured an hour of their happy prattling about their living, breathing sons while my son is beyond my reach. I believe that he’s at peace in God’s presence, but I have never in my life experienced so much loss and pain and so much insensitivity from the church. What is wrong with good church-going people who have no clue about what it’s like to lose a precious child? What is wrong with the church? I am done with it. Done, done, done.
I’ve never lost a child, but know many who have. I struggled with infertility when trying to get pregnant, and after a round of Clomid, I did get pregnant. Our son has autism. He’s now 16 and while he’s come a long way, the odds are that he will never marry.
I do not mean to be selfish . . . but in a ladies’ group I’m part of, everyone except for me and two others is a grandmother. The other two also have teenage children. I enjoy hearing about others’ grandchildren and like seeing pictures . . . but sometimes, it is so painful hearing that and knowing that it will probably never be for me. I will probably never be the mother of the groom or have a daughter-in-law or have anyone call me Nana. And there are just times that it plain hurts. I wonder if this is similar to the grief that the woman in the op-ed is feeling.
You’ll get a lot more “weeping with those who weep” here. This is heartbreaking.
I am so sorry to read what you’ve been through. Your heartbreak is palpable. I pray in some way you are comforted today.
Words fail me. I am so, so sorry over the loss of your son and so very sorry for the horrible treatment you’ve received. In recent months I’ve witnessed just how much some people don’t understand crushing, barely breathing grief. Please know there are many in this community who care, if we can do anything, don’t hesitate to let us know. My heart is so heavy for you.
I can’t imagine the pain and sorrow of losing a child. I’m so sorry…
This is heartbreaking. I pray you find comfort and your grief is bearable. Burrying one’s child must be horrendous.
I am weeping with you here as I write. I am so sorry for your incredible loss and anguish.
I am so very sorry for your loss.
I went through the same thing with Christians (but in regards to the death of my mother). I got platitudes and stuff like that.
Many Christians I’ve run into in real life do not know how to competently and compassionately minister to someone who is in grief.
I am so very sorry for your loss and that people who should be providing you with comfort and understanding at this time are only adding to the pain.
I am writing this under a different nick but I have been reading and posting here for sometime. I tried really hard not to bring this up because I was always taught that true Christians do not grieve, they do not “feel bad” they move on they get over it and above all they shut up. We are to be autonomous and totally anonymous. We let the dead bury their dead and we follow Christ and He has no time for pathetic whining pieces of human filth. Of course we all are human filth and we all have it coming, the holocaust victims had it coming, the victims of Jeffery Dalmer had it coming and so on. Basically we are all Jeffery Dalmer, Hitler fill in the blank wantabe’s outside of the grace of God, actually we are those things even in the grace of God.
Me and my brother are the last ones left in my family, I was present for all the deaths of my family, I was the care provider for four of my family members and dealt with the memory loss, the psychosis, the drug issues etc. As a child I almost died several times, once I almost burn to death, spent a year in the hospital with 45% third degree burns. I was six at the time, and to this day I figured I had it coming and it was my fault. That was totally supported as a Christian, I should consider being burned a grace as it gives me a good example to share about what hell is like. Yes I had the hell dreams for many decades after that, fun stuff.
Also the job I have I have lost many of my students most died horrid long drawn out deaths with extreme constant merciless pain. I do not get how God gets any glory out of that, I know that is big on their “god’s” (note small g) card. I never quite understood what I did that made folks think I am only looking for attention, which is a vile filthy God hating sin, or at least that is what I had shoved down my throat. For example one of my friends committed suicide while I was in the house with him, he died while I was in the house. It was when I was fourteen and it was right after my brother died of a drug related death. I was told “the only reason you want to go to the funeral was so you dont have to go to school.” I did not go to the funeral, that always struck me that I must really come off as some really low level scum to make people think I even think like that.
I have lost so many friends to suicide and drugs around 15 before I was 21 . To my shame I shared such things with the Christian group I was in and man did it tick them off, I was this I was that I wanted attention I talk to much I am manipulative I am bla bla bla. I have found here, on Michael’s blog and at SS board and in my students especially a view of God that is so much different and so much more grace filled. I will admit I keep picking at the sour but have found so much healing over the last say eight months. One can grow comfortable holding on to pain because it can insulate you from more pain.
What I have come to understand is that pain and being human and needing salvation is a very messy business. Jesus meets us in our mess and He walks us through it. I think that is why very doctrinal oriented folks get so black and white with grief is because it does not fit into a verse or an apologetic. Thank You for the prayer and for showing me the face of Christ.
About 30 something yrs ago, a man from the church I attended got kidney disease. This was before they were really doing kidney transplants. He was a godly man. I remember our pastor saying that this gentleman thought it might be due to some unrepented sin in his life was the reason for his illness. He was just grasping at straws. Our beloved pastor, DG, told him absolutely not. Our whole church loved this special Christian man. Yes, he did die. But no, it wasn’t from sin in his life or anything he did. It just happened. How our pastor dealt with him and his wife and with the congregation as a whole has always stuck with me as how things should be done.
Todd Wilhelm wrote:
Todd Wilhelm wrote:
I teach you things? You, the official TWW hero? Back at you,Todd! Thank you for the great quote.
I recently told Bill that during retirement, I want to spend a few winters in Arizona. Perhaps some day we can all sit around and have some real fellowship.
Thank you for the wonderful quote and the
Thank you for this comment.
Like Happymom, I have no words either, except that I am so terribly sorry.
Remember the story of Job.
And his counselors.
It is ALWAYS those who have never been there who are first with the glib advice on what YOU should be doing, what YOU should feel.
I am so, so sorry for the awful advice and encouragement that you got from the people at your former church. I will be praying that you will find the strength to go on after the death of your precious son. If i can be of help to you, please let me know. firstname.lastname@example.org
I wonder if he’s ever been “gifted” with it?
If so, it sure didn’t take.
So God whacked your mom (in a particularly-gruesome way) to teach YOU a lesson?
Christina Dowers wrote:
That invitation is just to flush the Dissidents into the open where they can be Dealt With.
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
Eagle said above that yes, Piper did have some kind of cancer at one time.
I still take issue with Piper on how he handles the topic, and I wrote about it in my reply to Eagle here:
Christina Dowers wrote:
That particular Unrealistic Expectation goes way way back.
I ran into it all the time back when I was flushing $$$$$ down the crapper on Christian Dating Services.
Specifically, PROSTATE cancer.
As someone who has a bum prostate (and two years ago had a prostate cancer scare — diagnostic limbo for six months), I got VERY familiar with the facts about prostate cancer. One of the slowest-growing and most treatable forms; with 21st Century medicine and insurance coverage, you really have to work at it to die of prostate cancer. The only cancer you’re better off having is Basal Cell Skin Cancer; just as treatable and even less dangerous.
Just wish they had a more reliable non-invasive indicator for it than PSA/Free PSA. I know because I got a false positive from PSA screening, and the only way to be sure was “The Alien Abduction Special”, i.e. twelve-core prostate biopsy up Driscoll’s second-favorite orifice.
Since then I’ve been on Finasteride for enlarged prostate/BPH, which has a side effect of inhibiting low-grade prostate tumors.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the story of the Good Samaritan:
I know sometimes well-meaning people don’t know what to do, and then there are those like in the parable above that just look the other way. They may say things that make themselves feel better like “I’m sorry for you”, but what you need is real, physical help! The victim in the parable was laying there, unable to move, suffering from his wounds. No amount of words were going to do the trick.
I saw a poster recently that I could relate to which read:
When you’re in crisis and in need, traumatized by your pain and loss, unable to get up and in need of care, I know it only makes matters worse when the people who you expect will be there for you look the other way or don’t know what to do. It adds to the heartbreak and intensifies the pain. Sometimes we end up all alone in our sorrow. Or at least we can feel all alone, especially when the need for company is greatest.
I’m sometimes reminded of Christ’s experience in the Garden of Gethsemane. He needed the company and the comfort of his closest friends, but they all failed him and he felt it. I know he wishes His love to be manifest in all our lives through individuals who have the compassion to take skillful action like the Good Samaritan. The internet doesn’t allow us to be there in person so we’re extremely limited in what we can actually do to help. But, my prayer for you is that you would know assuredly that ‘nothing can ever separate you from God’s love – neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither your fears for today nor your worries about tomorrow — not even the powers of hell can separate you from God’s love’, and that the Lord becomes your refuge more and more and more everyday.
Sorry for your loss. Last year, a friend lost her only child due to a drunk driver. This kind of thing is nothing to smile about or hope about, and my friend bears no responsibility. This kind of loss is senseless and I don’t think God had anything to do with it, I am hesitant to ask my friend how she is doing sometimes because I can’t imagine the loss. All I can do is be there when my friend needs to talk.
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
That’s what I believed at the time (no longer, thank God). It’s messed up, I know. And at the time I resented God for “killing my mom” to teach me a lesson. (or to glorify himself, somehow) it, but I felt guilty for feeling angry. Being in my Calvinist echo chamber, I feared that any other explanation was somehow unorthodox or an immature response.
I think my biggest problem with Calvinism was that I kept taking it to its logical conclusions, even when others didn’t. I didn’t put up any of the mental roadblocks that most folks would need to do to keep from losing their minds over it. (like going into hyper-calvinism) For instance, I agreed with everything folks like Piper said, not because I loved it, but because I feared that if I didn’t, then I wasn’t thinking “biblically”, or “maturely”. It never made sense, and I still resented it. It muddled Christianity to the point where I couldn’t make sense of it anymore.
I kept thinking that any misfortune in my life was due to God trying to teach me a lesson that I didn’t know I needed to learn. It was truly maddening trying to figure it out. But because I believed that this was the best form of Christianity, I felt I had no alternative. It nearly wrecked my relationship with Jesus several times.
Once I rediscovered the gospel in the summer of 2014, things got a lot better.
Paula Rice wrote:
Oh gosh, after I said this I wished I had expressed this differently because I don’t want it to sound like everyone who has said I’m sorry has done so just to make themselves feel better! I should have clarified that. I think we all know the difference between those who say “I’m sorry” and truly mean it, and those who say “I’m sorry” and aren’t really sorry. I’m guessing we’ve all experienced that! Ugh. Foot to mouth disease!
Thank you to everyone who has expressed their sorrow for my sorrow. I can feel your love.
@ Todd Wilhelm:
Thanks for sharing, Todd. So sad.
It’s sad, but I remember hearing stories like this from the pulpit at CLC. One pastor said he was visiting with a woman in the hospital (can’t remember what the issue was, perhaps a stillborn baby?), and he said that, while comforting the woman, he was making sure she wasn’t sinning in her thoughts. At the time I was thinking, “Huh?!”. When you’re in a crisis situation, you can barely think, never mind worrying about whether you’re sinning in your thoughts.
Hospital released me this afternoon. Thank you for your kind concern. I’m tired but feeling fortunate to have received good care.
Throughout my stay I continued to read this discussion. It meant so much to me, as if I were sitting near friends, listening to them talk.
I can’t help but love, as sad as they are sometimes, these stories of folks who’ve slipped through the cracks of churches and have found healing here and in other places like it. It’s hopeful.
@ Christina Dowers:
Thank you so much. It took me a few hours to rally after I got home, but I’m again following the discussion.
Hospitals do all of these elaborate treatments, but sometimes the criteria for being released are strangely simple. Today I had to eat a chicken sandwich. Then they let me go home. That’s nicer than having to achieve a certain score on a lab test.
Christianity’s fear of emotion is exacerbated by our cultural preferencs that being unemotional is acceptable. The combination makes us terrible at being compassionate and worse at being comforters. We’re like Job’s three friends who show up and try to explain that he deserved it because of his sin. Job maintained that he was blameless. We have three of the worst example of comforters and far too often we walk in their footprints. I think its the result of a bad teaching carried out to its fullest extreme and acted upon, it results are usually toxic and harmful. My school would always hire a grief counselor when a student died unexpectedly. Churches should follow their example and learn how to accept emotion and help people fully grieve so they can fully heal – I’ve never heard a sermon about how to grieve or give comfort, but the ancient church was no stranger to both. You should have had more support from your church, but they didn’t know how and they froze. I pray that here on out that Job’s friends don’t try to explain, but a true counselor and comforter will help you when others do not.
Not exactly ‘as if’… you actually were sitting near friends, listening to them talk. And your friends were sending you their best wishes to you through your ordeal. All best, Friend.
I am so sorry about your son and the horrible way that people have reacted to your grief and to his death. I agree with every word that you said, and there are many here who can weep with you. So thankful that you see the God who walked among us and wept and that you shared your story with us.
I am so, so sorry for your loss! My heart is breaking for you. I will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers and hope that God can send some wonderful friends who can be there for you in person, in your time of grief. To me, this is taking God’s name in vain. Calling yourself a “Christian” but being anything but Christ like to those who are hurting.
Tonight it’s impossible for me to say how deeply this moves me. I was hospitalized because of damage that happened years ago, in an operation that saved my life. The topic of this discussion calls up countless memories. Suffering has no meaning without kindness, which flourishes here. Thanks to all of you.
Amy-Jill Levine has done some good writing on this. Rabbinic Judaism is descended from the Phsrisees – even the synagogue is their invention. Paul continued to identify himself as a Pharisee.
Yes, us gentiles tend to miss the fact yhat Jesus was talking to specific people, by no means repesentative of *all* of X group (Pharisees, Saducees, gentiles, Zealots and other political opponents of Rome, etc.).
There is, sadly, a very long history of depicting Judaism and its xtian personification, Synagoga, as blind, with bound hands, etc. in xtian religious art. You can go to some of the great medieval and Renaissance churches and cathedrals and see this, along with very ugly depictions of contemporary Jews. (As opposed to the portrayal of OT kings, prophets and the like, who are always shown as noble, heroic and the like.)
I’m glad you’re home, and glad you found this place, Friend.
Bookish, I’m so sorry for your loss and I have no doubt by the way you described your son that he was beautiful. I know loss but nothing like the loss of a son and I can’t imagine what you must be feeling . You mourn and we will mourn with you and my prayer for you is that your anguish right now may some day be filled with peace and for you to have a closeness with God that might surpass your pain. For now no one has the right to tell you not to grieve. Only you and the Lord will know when joy comes. I believe God would not minimize your pain and I believe he is there with you. @ Bookish:
I am so sorry for your loss.
Piper’s glorification of suffering sickens me. Only someone who has truly never lived through a trauma or tragedy would take this stance.
I had a beautiful daughter who died unexpectedly at only seven years old. To say I was/am shattered is an understatement. Even though it’s been seven years ago, I still have waves of grief at times.
I had an older and “supposedly” more godly woman tell me that to still feel grief several years after was a sin and an indication I wasn’t letting the Holy Spirit work his healing. And as you can guess this was a woman who never experienced the pain of burying a child. But she felt a duty to point out (what she perceived) was my sin in grief.
I informed her that God doesn’t fully heal everything in this life. He doesn’t heal amputees. When I put my daughter’s little white casket in the ground, a piece of my heart was amputated. I’ve learned to function without it, but total healing will never take place until I breathe my last breath.
To those of you who mentioned you lost little ones, I am so sorry. I share a seat on the mourning bench with you.
Catching up here today was moving. Sometimes a post will stir up my anger over the injustice, this one causes sorrow. Anyone reading through the comments today and isn’t saddened has a heart made of bricks. Too often another person’s grief was an opportunity for spiritual abuse rather than comforting. For several commenters, I am so sorry that someone wasn’t there.
So thanks Dee for striking a cord, may I never be counted among those who bring distress where comfort is needed.
@ M. Joy:
I can not imagine the loss that the two of you have suffered. Neither can I imagine “Christian” people being so crass and indifferent towards you. Children, regardless of age, are the most important people in parents lives.
My heartfelt sympathy goes out to you.
In the article, according to Calvinism (TGC) God predetermined, by his sovereignty, the miscarriage, the grief, and the sinning, for his glory.
So there is a lot of questions in this. Without getting into killing in the womb and ordaining sin…
Here is one –
According to scripture our sin grieves the Holy Spirit, so did God ultimately grieve himself?
Dee, here’s more insight into their family planning ideas:
Especially the “God is Sovereign” point.
I count myself as Reformed, but what this article is doing is – to my mind – borderline heretical.
I think the idea of ‘the sin under the sin’ has merit, sometimes. However, you have to be very careful about applying it indiscriminately and in the absence of any kind of external opinion (which an often serve as a corrective to going down an obsessive or guilt spiral). The rest of this stuff is just going where John Piper does – trying to discern the secret things of God behind the happenstance of life – and this is pure theology of glory or as Luther said “19.That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the »invisible« things of God as though they were clearly »perceptible in those things which have actually happened”
Nobody can know your pain like you know your pain, but we all know pain and feel it with you. Perhaps some of the people who have nothing to say but something they got off a laminated card are in fact trying the best they know how to do. That kind of just makes it more pitiful to listen to, but also perhaps makes it easier to endure in the long run when relationships start to mend.
I too have grown children, and they are no less my children. I just cannot imagine the loss of one. May God be with you (He is) and bless and keep you (He does) and may your heart find healing.
“God Is Sovereign. God is absolutely sovereign, having foreordained every birth. Whether a woman has one children or seven or seventeen, God has decreed the beginning and end of each pregnancy.It is the Lord who opens and closes the womb and he makes no mistakes. Every pregnancy has in some way been a part of his plan and his will.” – Tim Challies
And we also have this song: http://www.gettymusic.com/hymns.aspx?id=173
Key line: “Commands the newborn baby’s cry”
I’m beginning to hate the idea of determinism.
@ Bill M:
That is an excellent thought. Can their thinking lead to seeing God as a masochist inflicting suffering on himself? Taken to some extreme could God be angry with us because humanity in Eden learned how to sin on their own while God wanted to keep control over sin and have it all to himself? This path is blasphemous and basically insane. This is where this nonsense can lead. And this is exactly in line with the original opening comment of the serpent, hath god said…then he is lying to you.
This sort of thinking fits the designation of ‘strong delusion’ and could well deceive even the very elect if that were possible. (I have to drive kids to school and did not look up chapter and verse for that terminology.)
Yes. And also they were saying that the Pharisees were already a reform movement at the time who had not capitulated to Rome but rather had tried to make living the law a help to the nation during that difficult time. In other words, the Pharisees were the good guys in that situation.
I can see Jesus’s frustration with some of the Pharisee leadership (He was not angry with Nicodemus for example) as in part fueled by an idea that if the current good guys do not get it right what hope is there for the nation–that sort of attitude. He might well have been thinking of himself as king (however understood), at least some people wanted to make him actual political king by force, and might have noted that in the state/religion co-operation the very people who could have filled that role were dropping the ball and by all things by making religion too difficult for the masses and by ripping off the helpless among them. If so, then some of the Pharisee leadership were not only betraying the people but betraying the very one who lots of folks thought could actually be their political leader/king.
And yes, Paul was a practicing Pharisee all his life.
I will have to hunt down what Amy-Jill has said on this. But I think we have perhaps made the Pharisees scape goats and may need to rethink that.
I know, it’s crazy, isn’t it?
The way I look at it is that made in His image and given the power to love, we had to be able to make choices because love can never be forced or programmed robotically. It that were the case, then love would not be love. Therefore, made in his image we have been given freedom to choose and with that comes real, moral consequences.
Obviously, God doesn’t wish for us to live in a condition where there is no choice and we can’t help but sin and fall short, so he provided a Way for us to be forever freed from sin’s dominion. In Christ, then and only then, is our freedom of choice restored and we are able, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to love God and others and fulfill the greatest commandment.
Again, this is how I view it. And I believe the Bible teaches us that the love of God is poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whose work is to convict us of sin and cleanse us of unrighteousness.
If God, the Holy Spirit, purposely led us into sin in order that He might be glorified through his leading us out if it, that would make God a liar. And the Bible makes a clear point of telling us God cannot lie.
So, if, as you’re saying, Calvinism teaches God ordained sin for his glory, then that means God both leads us into and out of sin. But the Bible doesn’t teach us this. The Bible reveals God as the One who rescues and delivers us out of sinsin, and only out of sin. He never leads us into sin, because that would make God a tempter, which of course he is not! And any so-called gospel that fails to declare God is glorified by having delivered us from sin because he loves us, not into sin that he might be glorified, is a false gospel!
Bill M wrote:
Me too. Maybe we can take a page from the Jews whose tradition is to simply go and grieve with their friends and loved ones. Too often “comforting words” from Christians are just platitudes that are cruel. They take the Promise of Eternal Life from Jesus Christ and turn it into some sort of belief litmus test during unspeakable tragedy.
Oh my, I just had a thought. King Jesus did find for himself a Pharisee (Paul) and use him for an essential role in building His kingdom.
Yet, Jesus said of Judas, “It would have been better for him if he had never been born.”
@ Paula Rice:
Ah but it was better for God’s will that he was born. Loophole.
Even the rapist is burdened with glorious purpose.
Hey, why not say it? Own it? Stop tiptoe-ing around with scrabble game analogies.
That would be great Dee. I look forward to it. I will probably be here for another two years and then pull the plug and head home. Insha’Allah as the locals say. Lord willing as we Christians say!
P.S. So you are not following the direction of Pastor Emeritus Piper as it relates to retirement? 🙂
And irony of all ironies the educated Pharisee, Paul, ended up mostly reaching and teaching Gentiles. :o)
Tim Challies makes us out to be puppets, doesn’t he? As though everything we do is ultimately determined. I think the problem with him is not so much his understanding of God, but his understanding of man (as in mankind, for all you complementarians, who consider women to be a subset, occupying a different sphere than men), which of course causes a distortion in his overall theology!
Happy Veteran’s Day to all the men and women who have served in the United States military!! So proud of our armed forces. Thank you for protecting and defending our great nation!
I don’t see it as irony. Who else was seeing beyond the crumbling nationalism of Israel at that time and turning to religion (the law) as what held the people together. And who else but one of these who was ‘hellenized’ as apparently many jews were would see beyond the words of the law to the meanings of the law, perhaps being forced by living in a gentile culture to do just that. Was this not exactly what Jesus had criticized some of the Pharisee leadership of is day of failing to do, go with the meaning. Jesus found for himself exactly what he needed, a Pharisee of the Pharisees; a true Pharisee, not a renegade Pharisee using his position to rob widows and orphans.
So the guy on the donkey (the king who comes thusly) gets done whatever he plans to get done however it gets done and whatever it takes. And only Pilate wrote it down and nailed it up for all to see; the king of the jews. As many battles as David won, his ‘son’ has outdone him. Amazing.
As I read through the original post and the comments I wept over the individual losses and then the treatment received from those who should be providing the most support.
This attitude and view of God drove me away for MANY years, because I knew this God was one that I could never love or even respect for that matter. Even as a fallen father there is no way that I would treat my children that way, even secular society dies not tolerate it.
I have come to realize that so much of American Christianity is so warped that it is 180 degrees from how it should be.
In fact I think there will be many who go before the Father who will ask “When I was hurting did you comfort me?”….. Not only did they not comfort, they heaped more burden on the downtrodden, using God’s name.
To me this is not a minor issue, or a theological difference – I will call it as I see it – this view of God is evil. It was not until I was able to get past that view, that I was able to experience the love of God.
Great job here, and while I rarely comment, I follow and read the comments and am uplifted
Yes, I think he was. And I think he also shows how zealotry for God’s Law can turn into zealotry for zealotry for God’s Law, and that is how some of them missed it. Nicodemus, IMO, shows that there were also some who were still zealous for God’s Law and the Messiah God promised who embodied it. They were prepared to abandon the fences other Pharisees had built around it and over it, effectively making it beyond reach.
The day Tim Challies can carry and bear a child is the day I will listen to anything he says on the topic. God is also sovereign over pathogenic bacteria, so no antibiotics for Challies, the Super-Christian with PerfectFaith. No air conditioning, no food grown by others, no lawnmowers, no weedkillers, none of that.
Yes that, and also some of them saw an opportunity for money and for power over people which was never the intent of the law. And here we have come full circle and back to the current glitterati as you say, who fall into the same trap. Except instead of ‘law’ they say ‘sovereignty’ and abuse people with fear while collecting tithes and offerings.
Then, would Calvinism make their determinist God responsible for abortion?! The problem with this distorted view of God’s sovereignty is that it completely tosses aside human responsibility for anything. “God made me do it” should not be a cover for sin. “Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2).
I believe the One I follow truly grieves over what is done in His name and when tragedy and evil is attributed to ‘His Will”
But he is merciful and forgiving to all, more gracious than I would be – and that is what why I love and try to follow as that is the beauty and holiness of God.
I don’t think it’s a “God made me do it” mentality as much as it’s an “Oh, well. God’s in control and nothing happens that doesn’t pass through His hands first, so I don’t have to give a second thought.” But like you said, it takes away from personal responsibility. Like, I don’t have to go out and help those who are grieving, sick, poor, etc. because God is a “just judge” and in control.
Michael Coggan wrote:
My father died when I was a baby, and my mother was counseled not to mention him to us children. Well into adulthood, I met a lovely man who understood me as no one had. After awhile I told my story. He replied that his sister had died when he was a small boy. His parents had received the same destructive advice—from a pastor—that children forget more quickly if the loved one is never mentioned. I married this lovely man, of course.
It seems that bad advice still abounds. It is different now, but it still seeks to silence those who grieve. To all here who have been abused when they needed comfort, please accept some comfort and love from me.
I cannot remember who pointed this out, it might have been NT Wright, not sure. It led me back to reading the Gospels looking exactly for who Jesus warned against the most. It wasn’t the Romans, ironically, since that was a huge contention with most Jews not just the zealots. It was the religious leaders from His own tribe He spent the most time warning against and correcting.
Christina Dowers wrote:
A “just judge” period. I can’t imagine a more meagre, insufficient description of God. And,it shows how cold a heart can become, when judging is more paramount to one’s faith then, loving.
This is what I think the book of Romans is addressing on a bigger level to converted Jews and Gentiles.
It makes it sound like God gets his jollies by torturing us and, in turn, hurting Himself. True Christians are His children. God glorifies Himself through Munchausen by Proxy? That is not the God I know! That is not love. How many of us would put our children in pain for our own glory?
Christina Dowers wrote:
I knew a mega church pastor who was fond of telling people in total crisis mode: God will take care of you. (Of course he believed God was taking care of him when in truth it was the elders making sure he never had any financial worries or real conflicts to deal with)
That was it. Those folks were honored to have 5 min of his time to be told that. This thinking is everywhere…not just in Calvinism. It is ingrained in so much of evangelicalism I sometimes wondered what is the point of God having His people here and now since He is “taking care of everything” for people.
In the Kingdom years of Israel, the Kings rode horses during times of war and mules (large extinct species of donkey) during times of peace. The King of Kings was also the Prince of Peace.
Did your father have living parents, bothers, sisters???
Hmmmmm. Jesus died. Should we forget Him?
NO! In spite of the pain and longing left in our hearts when we lose a loved one, God blesses us with wonderful memories to share.
Paula Rice wrote:
It would mean that. And it would mean that when we pray lead us not into temptation we would be asking God to subvert his own will (that we sin) and forsake his own glory in the process.
Christina Dowers wrote:
Scripture speaks much about the principle of the sovereignty of God. Scripture speaks much about human responsibility and the free-will of man. It all works together in a way that is beyond human comprehension. To put the mind of God into a systematic theological box (e.g., Calvinism) is to stand in arrogance before Him.
A side-note to this discussion. You will not find the words “sovereign” or “sovereignty” in the KJV version of the Bible, from which all other translations were formed. Those words are not in Hebrew or Greek in the manuscripts that the KJV translators used. Certainly, God’s sovereignty is implied … but Calvinists have stretched that attribute of the Creator beyond solid Biblical teaching on His role and man’s responsibility/accountability. Note: this widget of truth was provided by my dear wife this morning … I often tell her that she is one of the most godly men I know ;>)
I completely agree with the concept that we can put not just the mind, but G&d in a box is one of the most arrogant things we as humans can do… The more I study the world through science, the more I comprehend the limits of human understanding… IF I make the assumption that G&d is created it all, and is therefore greater than all of creation, which I know man will never fully understand, how much greater is G&D?? And, wants to put him into this or that “theological box”??
So the next question is why. Why would Calvin, who seems to be the central actor in this fiasco, settle on these ideas and how did these ideas help him do whatever he was doing. We have said, I think, that he was not just trying to address clerical abuses of his era but was setting up a specific theological system. So, why this, and perhaps what about his opponents theological system did this combat and why did he want to do specifically that?
I think I have some developing ideas but I am not really there yet in thinking about this. It must have had something to do with secular power by politics since he was into power, and it must have had something to do with religion (catholicism) but what exactly? How was this useful in seizing control of Geneva from the catholics, for example.
God does not guide or direct us into sin. “Lead us not” in the Lord’s prayer is not meant to convey the notion that God could lead us (lead, as to guide by showing us the way, or to introduce by going first) into temptation, but that God leads us NOT into it. He delivers us from evil.
Well, Calvin’s background in law would have supported strict black-and-white thinking, as law is a profession of exact definitions with little ambiguity. (And RL tends to NOT break down into exact black-and-white definitions.)
And Calvin suffered from kidney stones at various times in his life, which couldn’t have improved his mood.
Also, what kind of base personality did he have? The abstract intellectual analyst, who often becomes obsessed with The Perfect System? (Whose Perfect System Omelet requires smashing a lot of eggs? Just check any history of 20th Century mass movements for examples of that.)
Which is a kicker when you consider that Kynge Jaymes himself was one of the most autocratic kings in British history, very much into “sovereignty” by Divine Right. To the point his nobles had to give him an “attitude adjustment” behind closed doors.
It’s called *CELEBRITY*.
Like that Michael Jackson fanboy during the one trial (the 300+pounder who dressed like Wacko Jacko from the waist up and spandex hot pants from the waist down) gushing to all the media day after day about how “…and Germaine actually looked at ME as he went into the courthouse!”
Christina Dowers wrote:
The Passivity of Predestination.
“Inshal’lah… Eh, Kismet?”
“Que sera, sera — Whatever will be, Will Be…”
According to Calvinism God did not lead us into sin but by his “sovereignty” he predetermined it. You did not choose it he chose it for you, and only predetermined to save very few (the elect), for his glory.
Which gives God more Glory, God by his sovereignty predetermining everything and saving only a few, or God by his sovereignty giving men free will, men sinning, and him loving his creation so much humbly coming as a man and dying for them, and pleading for them (because he gave them free will) to be reconciled to him by faith?
God is submissive to the “pastor”, that way the “pastor” doesn’t have to be inconvenienced and God gets to do the dirty work of caring for people.
Then God must be the biggest abortionist ever. I don’t believe this, by the way. It’s just that the female body is far more complex than Challies understands. It’s obvious Tim Challies has not even a *clue* about the fact that many fertilized ova never implant, or the body doesn’t get the hormonal cues that there’s a fertilized egg and proceeds to move into another menstrual cycle. I’ve seen estimates of 33 to 50 percent of fertilized eggs never properly implanting. There’s been some examination of these very early miscarriages, and in some cases, the reason for the failure is clear: the genetics of the fertilized egg are really messed up (e.g., lethal trisomies) and the body rejects the fertilized ovum. How the body knows this, I don’t know…but it happens.
It’s stuff like this that makes Calvinistic determinism a joke.
I don’t think that means birth control or intentional spacing of pregnancy is wrong.
This crosses over into other subjects. I read a book by a Christian psychiatrist who was mentioning some physical malady that used to strike kids at the turn of the century – something to do with bowed legs or what not, where the kids would have to wear metal braces to walk.
He went on to say that by the time he was a kid, or some time later, medical science had found a way to straighten the legs of such kids when they were very small, so that the kids would not have to use braces as adults.
His point was that if it is medically possible to heal or do ‘X’ to repair something, Christians should not be opposed to whatever that treatment or medicine is.
Just because someone was born with deformed legs does not mean people should just accept that as God’s will and refuse to fight or change it, or should forgo the corrective surgery.
You do have some Christians who think if some thing happens, or might happen in the natural course of things, that Christians should just accept what ever it is, and don’t try to fix it or change it.
I know some Christians think it wrong for depressed Christians to take anti depressant medications or to go to talk therapy. They think relying on anything less than prayer or Bible reading only is sin or lack of faith.
That sort of thinking just creates even more unnecessary suffering, or prolongs it.
Divorce Minister wrote:
Your whole comment is spot on, and I especially appreciate your words that I have quoted.
Oh but it is love Nancy2 and here’s the standard clobber verse to “prove it from Scripture”:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
~ Isaiah 55:8 ~
Yes, many are fond of cheery-sounding platitudes.
Also, denial. I have been coached to repress the negative feelings after the grief, and the choice method seems to be, according to this variety of Christian, to go throw one’s self into volunteer work.
As I was saying about this on the IMonk site about two weeks ago, if one more Christian advises me to deal with my issues by volunteering at a soup kitchen (or tells me my deal is not so bad when compared to homeless people or whomever), I will be very tempted to punch him or her in the face. Or punch a hole in the wall.
Maybe I’m wrong, but doesn’t Challies were eye glasses? I’m pretty sure I’ve seen photos of him on his blog or where ever in glasses. Shouldn’t he for-go eye glasses, contact lenses and LASIK eye surgery too given his views on God’s sovereignty in all things, including health?
Or, if he gets a headache, he should stay away from aspirin. If a paper cut, no ointment or band-aids, either.
I wonder if one of the reasons for that is that a person is more susceptible to getting wrong or distorted views about God via warped or wrong teaching from sources one thinks one could normally trust, as in one’s own preacher, denomination, or whatever religious group one belongs to?
Some of the most hurtful or damaging stuff I’ve been taught about God that has messed up my own life has come via Christian sources, some of whom were genuinely good people who meant well.
I sometimes ponder this. There is an expression that believers are “God’s eyes and God’s hands.”
Sometimes God answers prayers not through some stupendous supernatural miraculous wonder or angels, but through people.
There is a joke about a guy on a roof, and as flood waters are rising, he keeps praying and asking God for help.
Along comes a boat, and the guy in the boat asks Roof Guy to hop in. Roof guy says no, God will save him.
Then a helicopter comes along, and a canoe… each time, Roof Guy turns them down.
Roof guy ends up drowning. In the afterlife, he tells God, “I don’t understand. I prayed and prayed for you to deliver me from the flood water. Why didn’t you intervene?”
And the punch line is, God says to him, “I sent you a guy in a boat, a helicopter, and a canoe, what more were you expecting?”
Some of my father’s kin contrived a way to blame her for his death, and hounded her. This caused a rift in his family. His kinder relatives thought it better to leave us alone and let us return to the family if and when we so chose. We knew none of this, but only blame and exclusion, and the loss of our paternal grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Decades later my sister found them. I am glad we are in touch, but closeness is impossible.
Yes indeed! Although I was a baby, and have little or no memory of my father, I am grateful that he lived long enough to show me love. When I think of him, I always feel his love.
Bill M wrote:
I have noticed since my mom’s passing even a lot of self professing Christians (ones I know or am related to) are very reluctant to get off their rear ends and actually do practical stuff for someone who is in need, even if it wouldn’t (financially) cost them a thing, only a bit of their time.
This has really messed with my head, because my mother would actually do things for people, clean their homes when they were sick, drop them off casseroles, etc.
I’ve tried to be that way (as it was my mother’s example and my understanding of Jesus’ teachings), if I can help someone with something, I’ve actually, well, done something for the person. I’m not seeing a lot of Christians in my life who are like this, though.
Wait, wait I got it. God did not ‘lead’ us because that would presuppose that we might have declined to fall into sin (leading requires following) but rather he predetermined it such that we had no choice. So If we pray to avoid temptation/sin (back to the lord’s prayer) we have sinned in praying to avoid the predetermined will of God for us.
I don’r see any way around this type of conclusion, whatever one thinks about ‘lead us not.’
It strikes me as the flip side of something else. We should not sin so that grace may abound even more, and we should not seek to suffer or avoid ameliorating suffering because suffering brings God more glory. Or something. Very messed up theology about grace, sin, suffering, and glory.
Paula Rice wrote:
I heard two things today that bring together the theme of this discussion with Veterans Day.
First is a term new to me, post-traumatic growth, which I understand to mean the wisdom and change that tragedy and horror force upon us. Having survived two life-threatening illnesses, I find this a useful term—but it must never turn into another expectation that is used to marginalize the grieving or goad them toward instant healing. Nor does post-traumatic growth show “God’s perfect plan.” Wisdom is not a fare wage for suffering. I would much rather have been healthy all along, but indeed I did learn some things through grave illness, and so did my poor frightened family.
The other is a story of St. Martin of Tours. As a soldier (and catechumen), he wore a fine warm cloak lined with lamb’s wool. On a bitterly cold day, he came upon a beggar dressed in rags. Martin brought out his military sword and cut his cloak in half, giving one portion to the beggar. (I realize that I find myself surrounded by folk who know much about people named Martin, so I will leave the story at that.)
This refers to blaming my mother for my father’s death. I later learned that when a young married person dies, the family of the deceased sometimes does blame the other spouse simply for surviving.
This is a rough cruel old world full of death, pain, heartache, and yes grief. And not just in the church which can be goofy enough with the whole of it.
After my husband died my children and I were deep in grief and physically exhausted. On the first Sunday back my youngest child’s Sunday school teacher explained to the class that young widows must marry of they will turn back to the devil. The teacher was a well known screwball but why the church let him teach a class is beyond me. Needless to say I didn’t let her go back.
I was asked “How could this have happened were you not paying your tithes?”
A deaconess called me to inform me that since my husband had been buried for 3 days it was now time for me to get on the ball and start volunteering at the church. I had a bedroom full of medical bills, wheel chair, bedpans, clothes that needed mending, his clothes,cob webs and I had mono from a year of exhaustion. I cried to the Lord and said “you’d better have an angel put his hand over my mouth or I’ll say something really unchristian”. This thought came to my mind and I know it wasn’t mine “If she were in your shoes she wouldn’t be doing as well as you”. As well as me? I didn’t think I was doing well at all. I hung up, sat on the floor and cried. “Lord how am I going to get on with my life when I can’t even get my bedroom taken care of?”
Gradually, slowly and gently the Lord took us through it and one day I was able to laugh and feel the warmth of the sun but it took time and with the Lord’s help.
Many countries (except our own) seem to understand and allow people to grieve longer than here where it’s the day after the funeral so get on with it.
As far as medications… have you seen the disclaimers about suicide and murder on the TV ads for those. I have talked with people who were so stoned that they had no recall of events back then.
As for Psych. and counselors … well remember that those are fields that have more than there share of screwballs too. Sometimes it’s easier for someone to shuffle off a grieving soul to something rather than sit and say “I care, what can I do”
Yes, They call it predestined or determinism. It gets really illogical. By the way God has already predestined you praying…or not.
Daisy, I’ve noticed that with each new generation, this sort of right Christian behavior is passing from the scene … too much focus on self. Sometimes we just don’t know what to say to folks who are grieving, but being there and loving them goes a long way. I’m reminded of a good man years ago who ministered to a grieving family when they lost a child. He visited their house the day before the funeral and requested the shoes they would be wearing to the funeral … he quietly polished them and left.
This is a beautiful story. I wonder how many of us now feel that the man visited our homes and polished our shoes?
That could be, but it’s not just the younger generations.
The majority of Christian family and church people who pretty much refused to get off their duffs and help me were over 50 years of age of older, retired (lots of free time), and have good health. These are people who around my Mom’s age when she passed away.
Maybe it’s a family thing?. My father’s side of the family, and my father himself, think it’s disgraceful to admit to being weak and needing support from others. You’re supposed to get by on your own and suppress negative emotions.
I am sorry for your loss, and the disappointing and insensitive responses you got from Christians afterwards.
I too got a lot of the “you should go volunteer” sort of responses during the grief and after most of it passed.
None of the Christians I knew in person wanted to invest any time what-so-ever just being there with me, listening to me talk about what I was going through.
This seems pretty common. I’ve read about it happening to other grieving Christians on grief support boards, and it sounds like what happened to you.
Some of the most supportive, compassionate people I did encounter were Non-Christians (or “back slidden,” luke-warm Christians, the sorts who rarely read the Bible or go to church and who aren’t deep theological thinkers).
Most Non-Christians (or luke-warm Christians) I came across weren’t as hung up in trying to get you over the grief quickly, shaming you for admitting to being in pain, and they sure as heck didn’t try to find religious, Bible-y based reasons for the death.
And no hideous cliches from Non Christians about “God must have needed another angel in heaven!” and so on.
I’m very angry on your behalf. Reading about the things people said and did to you (or neglected to do for you and/or your children) after your loss made me feel very angry.
I am shocked sometimes at how cruel or negligent people can be, especially people who should know better (i.e., practicing Christians).
I wish I had the rest of the day to respond to individual posts. As many of you so eloquently and heartbreakingly described, grief and suffering HURTS. Jesus showed us what true compassion and grief looks like when he wept with his friends over the loss of their brother — even though Jesus knew full well he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead. Later, Paul would remind Christians to weep with those who weep, to bear each others’ burdens.
And, you know what? Doing that HURTS — not as much as the actual pain of the one grieving, but it hurts to sit with someone in their pain and totally open your heart, allowing their pain to invade your safe little bubble. It’s scary to admit that we don’t have neat, tidy answers to difficult tragedies. It’s scary to admit similarly devastating blows could strike us as well. So we blame people for their own pain in a self-righteous and desperate attempt to promise ourselves that this same sickness, this same tragedy, will never come near us. And, if it does, we will handle it better. We are made of stronger stuff and better theology, so we will never hurt as much as those other people. That’s what we tell ourselves.
I know. I was that person…until my world exploded about 6 years ago, and years of running from pain and being all “praise God, the past is in the past!” came crashing down on me. Thank God that I had left Calvinists and Calvinism behind before then.
There were no easy answers. I did not heal nicely, or neatly, or tidily. It was messy. I stumbled and fell a lot. I sinned — not by grieving or hurting or being a mess, but by actual sins. I met a ragtag group of beautiful fellow sufferers who showed me what true, loving acceptance looks like. The best thing that eventually came out of the evil that Satan intended for me — and he intends evil for all of us because he is all about killing, stealing, and destroying — is that God showed me that he is a redemptive God. Sin and evil and sickness has no silver lining, but God can redeem the worst thing. And the best way he redeemed all that ugliness in my life, all the pain that came to a head in recent years, is that he revealed himself to me as the perfect, loving Father that I’d never dreamed he could be. It was in relationship with him — and some of his representatives who shared his love — that I have been able to walk out my healing journey. (It has felt like stumbling and even being dragged more than walking at times.)
This longwinded comment is to say that I think when we begin to comprehend the enormity and tenderness of God’s love — especially in the midst of life’s ickyness —when we begin to experience how deeply personal and intimate his love is for us, it makes all the difference. The Calvinist view of God is much safer. It keeps God at a comfortable distance. God up close and personal is beautiful and healing beyond all comprehension, but it’s also overwhelming. After all, this is the God of the universe we’re talking about.
My world has been rocked. My heart has been broken. I’ve lost my taste for nominal Christianity. I have no easy answers. Sometimes all I can do is hug someone, pray for them, and weep. And that hurts, even though compassion is a good hurt, a good heartbreak.
That’s what I was running from when I was a Calvinist. I needed a small, safe, understandable, predictable God who provided security and a safe haven from pain and messiness. What I’ve found now is this huge, wild, mysterious, incomprehensible God who has captured my heart, melted and broken it, healed and tenderized it — and turned my world upside down.
I wish everybody could know that wonderful, amazing, magnificent God.
Rebecca, thank you. So much to affirm with inadequate words to do so. I worked for 14 years in critical care medicine (not as a physician) and life and death is beyond mystery. The experience with grief is so individual, so beyond classification and by all rights, the judgment of others.
Fair is the f-word for me; I don’t want life to be fair, I want–and need grace–and Jesus has abundantly supplied. I feel like I know less than ever–but have grown in understanding that God is good, in fact, He is better than we think He is. I say less to those struggling and grieving than ever–but am more willing to hang silently with them. I have no explainations that are adequate except I run to the last chapters of Job–and thank God His love encompasses me–and those who rejoice and suffer, beyond measure.
Again, thanks. We speak best, I think to those who suffer, when we speak less.
@ Rebecca Prewett:
May I add that I never assign blame, never–blame is beyond my understanding and calling. I am committed to love those no matter what the circumstances of their suffering–always affirming that God loves them with an everlasting love, not to punish, but to comfort and save and deliver. What that looks like, in my experience, is always unique to that person–there is no formula.
I’m not sure what would be the wrong thing to say, Jesus referred to such as white washed tombs.
Agreed – American Christians have been drifting from righteousness for decades. Apathy and apostasy have settled into the pew. In that atmosphere, folks of all ages only do what’s right in their own eyes. Self reigns in pulpit and pew in far too many places.
Like Dee, my family is dealing with the failing health of my parents. My dad fell last week and broke his thumb. Drs say he can’t drive for about 6 to 8 weeks. He shouldn’t be driving at all. My sister is bearing the brunt of taking care of their needs as I live about 1,000 miles from them. My mom is blaming him for doing this, getting mad, etc. It has been hard. Earlier this week, I was praying and listening to a gospel cd, when out of no where a brilliant light flashed over my head about 6 feet above me. I immediately knew what it was. It was the presence of the Lord. I was literally shaken from this encounter. I too always heard that things were God’s will and we should never question God. But in this instance I think it was his will. We all are struggling with it, but it is a blessing in disguise. We all have to go through different phases in our lives. Some of us easier than others. Some go kicking and screaming. As my parents go thru this tough transition time I pray they draw closer to God. I just don’t know though. One thing I do know, like most of you, I serve a risen God who can work miracles in lives. Because of the things that have happened in my life it is easier to understand what my parents are going thru. I don’t think they understand that. Dee, my prayers are with you and all the others on this blog who are dealing with difficult things in their personal lives right now. God has brought us here to lift each other up in prayer and to understand what others are going thru.
@ Cousin of Eutychus:
I love this comment.
I haven’t read through the comments yet, because I had to read this post slowly, a little at a time. It’s so good, but also hard to think about.
We spent three hard years in a hugely hard-core Calvinist church. Just as an aside, that church imploded a year or so after we left, and created fallout all over, fallout that still is hurting people four years later.
Anyway, the pastor was a big Mark Driscoll fan, and would often drive up to Mars Hill to observe (and bring back what he saw). So there were two main themes in the preaching: sex, and you’re a miserable, nasty, undeserving worm.
At one level, I never bought it. I had been struggling with the nature of salvation since becoming a Christian when my oldest child was born. It was very, very damaging, even to the point of needing good mental health assistance (but not getting it). So even though I’d come to a point of feeling fairly settled about God being loving instead of a mean puppet master, the constant harping on the theme of worthlessness loosened my foundations. As a result, I now have some PTSD issues surrounding whether or not God is loving, or hateful. The circumstances of my life over the last two years (divorce, abuse recovery, poverty, health issues, kids’ struggles) have only exacerbated the struggle.
I grieve at the extent to which Calvinism has infiltrated the church. They can only claim God is loving if they redefine the term “love” to mean “arbitrarily picks a few not to receive the unending torment they so richly deserve.” Who does that bring to Christ? Isn’t it supposed to be the love of God that brings people to repentance? Does God define love as lack of torment based on a whim?
I’m sorry Persephone.
Calvinism also has to change all to “the elect”.
God loves all men and wants all men to be saved and by all he means everyone.
I feel very sad for all those who struggle with such pain about a cruel God. I did it too, for a while and it was terrible. I hope the woman in the OP, as well as the commenters who have courageously posted, will again find the immense kindness and gentleness of our God.
IMO, Calvinistas can’t fathom a God who is bigger than their small conceptions of sovereignty and glory. God has no need for absolute control. What would He want with a bunch of guilt-ridden-yet-smug robots? He wants creatures with whom He can share His immense creation. He meets us creatures with love and clarity, with an invitation to participate in our own re-creation with Him.
The Calvinistas’ sovereignty, defined as absolute power-over, merely exposes their inadequate views of greatness. What kind of God would glory in the boredom of complete predictability? Not even me, a tiny God-image-holder, would find that a worthwhile paradise.
This is what I’ve believed for about 15 years now. It stands in sharp contrast to what is taught not only in the ‘Calvinista’ regimes, but also in many of the Arminian leaning outfits. I am so glad to be free of the stultifying ‘control’ they claim is taught by he Bible.
Sean, this is a lot like what I experienced, too. I’ve got some difficult anxiety and PTSD issues that have left me no -functional a few times, struggling with this. I never really bought into it, but I did experience nearly psychotic breaks when pregnancy hormones were added to the mix, believing that it probably was true, but since I couldn’t accept it, I was clearly not one of the Elect – and there was nothing I could do about that. It’s deeply crazy-making.
I’ve never understood the cognitive dissonance that these folks are content to live with in order to maintain their philosophy.
Muff Potter wrote:
Ever noticed that’s only recited to justify God doing you dirt or otherwise acting like a psychopath? Or to justify stupidity as Godly(TM)?
Bill M wrote:
Isn’t the supernatural force/being being submissive to the mortal sorcerer the definition of Magick?
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
Yup ….. Cherry-picked and completely out of context.
I wonder if the real clobber verse quoters (not you, Muff) think we are illiterate, or just to lazy to open a Bible?
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
That puts a whole new perspective to it, deluded sorcerers.
Oh boy, Daisy, I know exactly what you mean. I actually asked publicly (within my Facebook friends) for help last week, after my car died. I was pretty open about my status: no resources, unable to work but still looking for anything I can do, health issues myself and with my kids, etc.
Almost no one responded, even to an open plea for help. I couldn’t believe it! Not even “I’m so sorry what you’re going through,” aside from a few close friends. I fell off the end of my rope over it. A Christian couple did step up and offer to help me figure out what’s going on with my car, and another couple brought us some wood for our wood stove, and that’s what gave me enough hope to keep going.
I just don’t understand. I’ve always done whatever I can to help people, even if I don’t know them very well. I’m no spiritual giant, so it’s not that I’m so godly; it just feels like basic human kindness to me.
Daisy and Persephone, I think you have illustrated exactly why the western “local” church culture is a fat, bloated, irrelevant taking machine. Those tithes and offerings? They were meant for you, not for leadership salaries and benefits, not to pay the church landscaper, not for better audio equipment for “worship.” Part of worship is coming together and making sure you have safe transportation so that you can live and, guess what?, continue to serve the body. That investment of love for you would have paid huge dividends in the little kingdom no local church I’ve seen seems interested in finding. And before anyone tells me about their great and generous church, those public acts of generosity don’t really count…do some ground level detective work among the untouchables (especially those who have “moved on”) in your church and then decide just how authentic your church is. And if you’ve ever heard a plea like Persephone’s and turned a blind eye, or turfed it to upper management, then as your sister in Christ, I implore you to examine your own spiritual DNA.
They worship and pray to the God of Munchausen by Proxy.
You have nailed it, nailed it, NAILED IT. I was raised by a mother who took “Let no man think more highly of himself than he ought” to mean one should never think highly of oneself at all. As I pondered this later in life, the last 3 words of the quote jumped out at me, jumped up and down and waved their arms in front of my face (figuratively speaking, although words jumping up and down and waving their arms is an interesting mental image). THAN HE OUGHT. Meaning, a person DOES have room to think highly of him- or herself in a certain context, i.e. I am a daughter of the king of the universe, and thus I am a princess, and he DIED to make me a princess, thus I am more special than my fallen human mind can comprehend. Of course I did nothing to earn this, it’s a gift, etc etc, but last time I looked, a princess is never a worm, even in the Grimmest of fairy tales….
On the subject of platitudes… a few years ago one of the young women at my church came to me (why me, I’m not sure) and just wanted to talk. She had recently married a young man who was very nice and an all-around “good guy” but, let’s just say, he wasn’t quite up to her intellectual weight, and she was having trouble respecting him. Turns out I was probably exactly the right person for her to talk to because I’d been there and done exactly that when I was around her age. My fleshly instinct was to give her lots and lots of “good” advice–but she wasn’t asking for advice, and God in his grace put his hand over my mouth. We just sat down in a coffee shop and I listened to her pour out her story, and her frustrations. My response was along the lines of, first, I GET IT, I totally get it, I can’t (and won’t) try to tell what to do, but I can listen to you, pray with you and cry with you. And that was all she really wanted or needed at the time.
Also, a few years back, I lost one of my closest and dearest friends, quite suddenly. Another friend who had lost his wife to a long illness (and thus understood bereavement from the inside very well) wrote me the nicest card. He said, among other things, that he wouldn’t offer any of the usual platitudes because they are worse than useless at such a time, the most productive one can expect oneself to be is to sit and watch the paint dry and the metal rust, for as long as need be, and if I wanted to come sit in his house and watch his paint dry for a while, the door was open. And if it took me 4 hours to muster up the oomph to go to the grocery store to buy milk, I was probably doing better than most people at that point.
For all those who are suffering bereavement, no matter how new or how old, I offer my deepest condolences, and if you’re in my neighborhood, you can come over, relax on my couch with a pillow and a blankie and watch my dust bunnies get bigger. I’ll make you a cup of tea and I’ll pray with you and cry with you if that’s what you need.
I don’t think it’s so much that they’re too lazy to open a Bible, I believe it has more to do with wanting to be told what it means rather that doing the hard work of researching and thinking for one’s self.
That way it takes the onus off of you, and you can always say:
This is what I was taught
Really understand your conflict of rightly identifying our standing in Christ. My mother also quoted: ” Let know man think more highly of himself then he ought”,along with, ” Pride cometh before a fall…” She would never say she was proud of our behavior or school work, but tell us we were good for doing what we should.This caused conflict for me if I accomplished something difficult or found a skill easy to master. I would feel prideful if I was pleased with what I’d accomplished. Took a long time to view myself as, a daughter of the King.
In fairness to my mother, she was raised by stern, immigrant parents of the Presbytarian Church of Northern Ireland. I think she too ( in later years ) realised how contrived and defeating a theology like that was, and found some joy, peace in the presence of King Jesus.
Right there with you, Mae…. It took me until well into middle age to understand that my parents also were badly damaged children, and the damage really does get passed down the generations. Not that children are held accountable or are blamed/punished by God for their parents’ sins; it’s that our parents passed along the flawed behaviors and coping skills (or lack thereof) that were passed down to them, and thus we live with some of the consequences of their choices, and their parents’, and their parents’. Urk.
My parents were both raised Plymouth Brethren, which it seems like nobody nowadays has even heard of anymore. Mother never missed an opportunity to (figuratively) whack one of us upside the head with her Bible. She never, EVER praised any of us to our faces–but she bragged up one side and down the other to her friends about our accomplishments, and basked in the reflected glory, which she pretty much hogged all for herself. I remember when I returned to college in my 40s to finish my degree. One of Mother’s church friends was in one of my classes, and one day she stopped me and said, “Your mother is SO proud of you!” I just smiled and said thanks, but inwardly it was more of a sword in my heart than anything else. Why couldn’t she say that to ME?? Just once?? And then, I was the only one of her children who stuck with her musical instrument–but at one of my concerts (guess I should have been glad she bothered to even come to my concerts) she just had to say she wished I played in an orchestra instead of a concert band because she liked orchestra music better. Thanks a lot. The one time she praised a concert, she praised the conductor’s choice of music for the program–not my part in the performance.
Quite interestingly… her entire attitude and demeanor changed when she became demented in her final years. One of my friends nailed it when he said, commenting on how when dementia sets in, the filters come off, apparently my mother’s pre-dementia filter was to never show weakness, and being kind and encouraging and praising your children–and even telling us she loved us–apparently fell into that category. In the last few years of her life I finally got a kind, sweet, loving mother. It was just too bad she had to lose her marbles to become that kind, sweet, loving mother.
I should add that I’ve struggled with “pride” with my musical ability in particular (but with my other talents as well). God gave me a wonderful talent, but I busted my — busting places — to do the hard work and develop my SKILL built on the God-given talent. I still go around and around with this one. To be truthful, I’m good, and I know I’m good; no false modesty here, but I try to give God all the glory. He gave me the talent, I did the hard work–but he is the one who enables us to do all things, so he enabled me to have the drive and desire and the oomph to do the hard work to develop the skill. Or something like that.
For those who mentioned “It is well with my soul,” I would encourage listening to the Todd Fields/North Point Church version of this song. There are multiple copies on Youtube. (Here’s one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTmEln60d40) This version adds a chorus not in the original song: “It is well, it is well, through the storm I am held, it is well, it is well with my soul.” On the second and final verses, there’s an additional line: “It is well, it is well, God has won, Christ prevailed.”
“Through the storm I am held.” Not “Gee, I’m glad my daughters are dead, glory to God” or some such abomination. God didn’t cause the storm, but he holds us through it.
The convenient Calvinist answer to this would be to talk about ‘asymmetrical’ causation when it comes to God’s sovereignty over everything, that is he causes things in line with his revealed will in a way that means the glory goes to him, & he causes sin in a way that humans are genuinely to blame for it. That idea is in the Westminster Confession. And the answer for those who say that seems very convenient for God, is ‘tough’ that’s how it is.
Oh my StillWigling, we are a twosome. My father emigrated from Scotland, his family were Plymouth Brethren….which I was raised in. 😉
“I should add that I’ve struggled with “pride” with my musical ability in particular (but with my other talents as well). God gave me a wonderful talent, but I busted my — busting places — to do the hard work and develop my SKILL built on the God-given talent.”
this is the way I see it: you should be dang proud of yourself. To develop a talent by way of busting one’s butt is a true accomplishment. i think you should feel good about it. i think you should feel GREAT about it. in the same way one feels good and great about doing the right thing (taking the high road). you have a talent you were born with, and you did the responsible thing and developed it. you took some risks, put in a ton of hard work, a big investment of money and time.
i think of the joy i feel when i listen to things like the Nutcracker Suite. I would hope that Tchaikovsky was able to feel the joy when he composed and heard his music. when you play your instrument you create joy & peace for people. i hope you can feel it, too. and i hope you can feel GREAT about the fact that you are able to create music! And feel proud of yourself that you have this special ability which you have developed.
God’s sweetest blessings to you and your family.
i hope for the best and the most for you, Harley.
i grieve with you, marquis. i’m sure your son is an awesome human being.
Bookish — i hope for comfort for you, in the moments when it seems comfort can’t be found. I am so very sorry.
Yes, i understand — it does hurt. i’m sure your road hasn’t been easy. i hope for good things for you and your family.
i am so sorry for the hurts and losses. glory schmory… God is living empathy — i know he embraced you, his tears mingling with your tears, many times over.
@ M. Joy:
i’m so sorry for your loss. i feel your grief, too.
i’m very sorry for your loss, however recent or far in the past. i’m encouraged by your story, of how you made it through. You DID make it through. And not without your own determination and courage.
@ Rebecca Prewett:
“I’ve lost my taste for nominal Christianity. I have no easy answers.”
good for you. nominal Christianity is like a plate of saltines with cheese whiz and thinking it’s good.
and there ARE no easy answers.
I understand, Persephone. so sorry for the circumstances you described.
i think you’re a great person, Mae. God’s co-worker and standing tall.
Cousin of Eutychus wrote:
Yes, exactly. So many of us who’ve suffered a loss have experienced a “Job’s helpers” response from the church. People spout scriptures and platitudes that do no good for the person who’s drowning in raw grief. Their motives are good; they want to help. But why the platitudes and the preaching? Maybe it’s because death challenges their core beliefs about life and death and what happens after death. If those core beliefs are shaky (because the Bible is full of contradictions and it’s just too hard to figure everything out) then people try to hold things together by slapping a neat little Band-Aid on the gaping wound of grief. I’ve done it myself, so I can’t condemn the people who are doing it to me, but I’m grateful for the few friends who just cried with me and didn’t tell me that God “had a plan” or that “all things work together for good.” They just sat with me and wept with me and hurt with me. Their tears conveyed the love of God like nothing else could.
In all honesty here? In my opinion, God has no need of ‘all the glory’, because as his kids, he’s crowned us with glory and honor too (Psalm 8).
When my kids and grandkids do great things, I have no need to bask in it, they are their own glory.
That is the ultimate problem of Calvinism…how do you know that you are one of the elect with absolute certainity?
This jarred me when I read it Bookish. Totally sorry about what happened. If you were in the DC area I’d give you a hug and sit in a room with you and just be with you. There are no easy answers in situations like this, but I wish I could undo what has happened. Again my sorrow over your loss.
Thank you, Eagle. I have been following your story for a long time, and I can tell you my son would have loved your honesty and your courage.
Yes. I agree. Tim Challies posted a link to this article by Alisdair Groves awhile back. When I first read it, I couldn’t believe the person who wrote it is the director of a Christian counseling center. This is a prime example of the scriptures and religious platitudes you speak of.
I would be interested in others’ opinions on this article because I wonder sometimes if I’m “missing something”. My first impression was holy cow – how would THAT comfort any parent? I’ve been there; words like this did not bring comfort. What brought comfort was having people sit, listen, cry and just say “I am so sorry” without trying provide a “God-sized answer”.
And while this article is directed at child loss, I think the same sort of thing is thrown at people who are suffering and grieving other tragedies:
M. Joy wrote:
I agree with you, M. Joy. That article produces a big “Huh?” in me. Flowery words don’t comfort me, especially if the writer entertains the conceit that they come from God.
I found that article incredibly unhelpful, and I’m glad I did not see it when I went through a miscarriage in 2009. In case my comment is not approved at TGC, here it is:
Melody Kay Young • in a few seconds
⏲ Hold on, this is waiting to be approved by TGC Articles.
I’m sorry for the author’s loss. Sadly, however, I could not recommend this post to anyone going through a miscarriage because as Jeff says below, the line in Spafford’s song is about anchoring the believer’s firm reality (as forgiven and free), not a reason to focus on sin when grieving.
When I lost a baby through miscarriage the most unhelpful thing I had said to me was that “everything happens for a reason”; instead, the most encouraging thought was that my child was safe in the arms of a loving God who weeps with me even when He doesn’t give me reasons or show me exactly at that moment how He is working things in my life together for good.
I hope those at TGC who endorse this article can understand that its line of thinking can actually be damaging when people are grieving deep loss. For example, it is human, not sinful, to want to stay away from people who are having babies when we grieve a baby. We are to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice, but it is very hard to live in harmony with one another when those grieving are expected to be happy for those who are not currently suffering.
Jesus wept at the death of a friend. Christians are free to deal with grief honestly, knowing God can handle our questions and all of the unknowns without giving us trite answers: He gives us Himself.
I don’t think concerns about sin on top of grief can help a grieving mother; the focus is on a God who weeps with us, who is acquainted with grief and thus able to handle our own, and who ultimately knows what it is like to be separated from a child. For this reason I find the critiques at the wartburg watch constructive.
Those who have gone through a miscarriage or are going through one do not need to focus on their sin but rather deserve as part of the Body to be loved and supported so they can focus on their Savior.
“The Heart Is Wicked and Deceitful in All Things”, remember?
And a lot of the ugliness of Calvinism comes from attempts to PROVE to themselves that THEY are Really One of The Elect. (And You’re NOT!)
But when all someone has is a Sin-Sniffing Hammer…
A documentary I saw said that an abundance of good works was understood to be confirmation of one’s elect status, even though it was not possible to be saved by works. It created a work ethic that attributed prosperity as God’s blessing and poverty meant that somebody didn’t work enough. It’s also true that there is no way to know for sure, but the emphasis on works was probably meant to keep them too busy to notice that Calvin or his followers didn’t have all the answers.
Jamie Carter wrote:
Sounds like the origin of the Protestant Work Ethic.
“SEE! I’M ONE OF THE ELECT! I’M RICH! SEE? SEE? SEE?”
Add Entropy, let ferment a century or two, and you have The Prosperity Gospel.
I experienced this from many Christians after my mother died.
I sort of think that the insensitivity I received was actually worse than the death itself.
I eventually pretty much came to terms with the death (which took a few years), but what cut to the bone (and still does on occasion) are the stupid platitudes, cheap advice, or criticism from family, friends, and church people if I have gone to them wanting some emotional support.
I’ve only met a tiny fraction of Christians who really understand it and are also appalled at how rude or heartless other Christians are about how they minister to those in grief.
I can’t remember if I already posted this link to this thread, but here it is:
Grief Is Not Self Pity Joel Osteen
The person who wrote that page is mainly addressing the topic of parents who lose a child, but I too got the same “Your Grief = Self Pity” line from a Christian family member or two of mine, over my difficulty of losing my mother.
I too have often felt that the platitudes and horrible comments I got from people (especially Christians) in my grief were like what Job’s friends did to him in the book of Job.
Someone here awhile back was talking about how some Calvinists (I can’t remember who) think it’s possible to think you are one of the Elect, only to find out in the afterlife you were never one of the Elect at all, so you go to Hades when you die.
What is the point in being a Calvinist or believing in any of this stuff, if you can never know if you’re squared away with God? You might as well live like a non-believer and live any old way you want. Their theology is depressing, devoid of hope.
M. Joy wrote:
This. A million times this.
The best care I got personally was the small number of times about two or three different people just shut their mouths, and allowed me to cry and ramble on and talk about the pain I was in and how much I missed my mom, even if it went on for an hour or more. (I unfortunately got very, very precious little of that.)
When people are grieving, many just want someone to sit there with them and empathize, and just listen.
The more you say to a griever, or try to give them reasons and explanations (especially giving “Christian” or “religious” reasons) as to why their loved one died, you are about guaranteed to hurt them more, or offend.
The best thing to do with a lot of grievers is to just sit and listen, and let them talk about whatever they want to talk about. And don’t pass judgment on what they say or how they say it, or their pain, their emotional reactions.
You can always ask the person in grief how you can help them. Some may not want to talk, but need for you to mow their lawn that week or some practical gesture like that.
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
You still see a lot of this type of thinking in Dave Ramsey books, shows, and among Word of Faith / Prosperity Gospel preachers.
I figure that’s why so many Calvinists are obsessed with Perfectly Parsed Utterly Correct Reformed Theology. Like a previous generation’s accumulating money and property to Prove They Had God’s Blessing, they are trying to Prove To Themselves that they are Really Truly One of the Elect.
Daisy and M. Joy,, you get it. So many people don’t. When I mention my son, some people quickly steer the conversation away from him and into religious platitudes. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism because they’re too afraid to face facts, or maybe they think they can help me “get over it.” I would much rather spend time with people who understand that it’s healing to talk about him, even if it makes me cry–because I’m going to cry anyway. My sincere condolences to both of you and to others here who have experienced losses.
Like I said, just add Entropy and let simmer long enough.
Thank you for your condolences, and I am sorry again for your loss as well.
If I lived near you, I’d be willing to just sit and listen in person or on the phone, if you need to talk or cry.
I may have elaborated on this more up thread, but I found that the death itself – while painful to deal with – hurts less as time goes by.
What started getting to me after the loss (and even now) are how people treated me.
So many don’t want to deal with you when you are in grief. They will find excuses to get you off the phone real quick,or some give the platitudes.
I was just saying in the Care Taker thread at Internet Monk blog about a month ago, the thing that probably annoys me the most are the Christian family who advise me to stuff down the feelings by serving others, or by distracting myself (via a hobby or whatever).
If I had a nickel for every time a Christian family or church person told me to go volunteer at a soup kitchen as a means of coping, I’d be wealthier than Bill Gates and Warren Buffet combined, I do believe.
But then, most of my family does not believe in sharing negative feelings like grief or sadness. You are supposed to stuff those feelings down and solider on in life all alone. I’m not like that.
I hope you have a far better support system to help you cope with this. Some churches host a free program called ‘Grief Care’ or something. I’ve not been able to attend those, for various reasons.
A P.S. I wanted to add, I just thought of this:
In some ways, I’ve found the most sympathetic people to be those who have lost a loved one, such as yourself, but oddly, some of them can also be some of the most insensitive, too.
About a year or more after my mother died, I was talking to an older Christian lady at a church I was going to about how much I was missing my mother.
This lady – her mother had died a few years before mine did, and I assumed that because this lady experienced a loss like mine, she would know just how to act and what to say to me, but she was among the worst.
I was amazed that someone whose own mother had died was so quick to give me platitudes, and she even got grouchy with me a few times when I was discussing what I was going through.
She sort of implied a number of times that my grief was a form of self-pity, and that I had life much better (even with my mother gone) than women in a local domestic violence / homeless shelter, so I should just pipe down and look on the sunny side.
I also had a few other Christian family / friends who had lost loved ones adopt similar insensitive attitudes towards me.
It was so puzzling. You’d think people who have also experienced loss would refrain from such clueless, heartless actions and commentary, but no. Some of them were pretty bad.