We are a team of men and women from different walks of life who all share in the ministry of advancing God's Kingdom throughout the state of Utah and beyond. We desire to know our Savior deeply, and be known by Him. We seek truth, and grace its counterpart, and we long to experience the freedom that naturally accompanies those two. This is our journey. Mark 8:36 "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?"
» Learning to Respond Well to Suffering and Grief
“Blessed be the God
and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all
comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort
those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are
comforted by God. For as the
sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through
To the Church:
For the most part the American Church is really good solving
problems. It is also, however,
pretty terrible at dealing with suffering and grief. We often are confronted with the suffering of a brother or
sister in Christ and immediately jump to our rote responses “God doesn’t waste
anything”, “He is in control”, or “He will bring you peace.” While such seemingly comforting replies
are all absolutely true, I can honestly say from personal experience that these
are not what the suffering individual necessarily wants or needs to hear. At all.
In 2008 I lost my grandpa to suicide. At the time I lived only a half hour away
and was the only socially functional family member within driving
distance. I went to take care of
the situation at his house with the police. As a 19 year old I witnessed the horrific reality of
suicide’s aftermath, firsthand.
In the wake of experiencing this trauma, I received a number
of different responses from those around me over the following months. The majority offered sincere
encouragements like those listed above, some simply avoided me as though I
carried some infectious disease, and a handful were willing simply to be with
me. At the time, the first two
reactions were completely devastating.
If I’m honest, hearing the words “God doesn’t waste anything” drove me
to the brink of insanity. I had
been working on my degree in Biblical Studies, I knew full well that God is
sovereign and doesn’t waste anything in anybody’s life… but the situation
certainly felt pretty wasted. I
knew with all my mind that God is
the only source of our peace in life… and yet the last thing on earth that I felt
at that time was peace. And for an
individual that already felt like they were the carrier of some terrifying
infectious disease, to see others react accordingly only served to confirm my
Please understand I do not say any of this to point a finger
at individuals, but rather to acknowledge the fact that as a Body, the subject
of suffering and grief is one that we must learn to respond well to. Suffering and grief are unavoidable
realities of the human existence in our broken, sin-cursed world. As Christ’s ambassadors of
reconciliation we must learn to interact with the uncomfortable, the painful,
the awkward, for the sake of the Body and Not-Yet-Christians as well!
Practical thoughts for the Church:
-Don’t try to “fix” somebody that
has experienced trauma.We often
want to run in ‘Jesus-guns a blazin’ and offer our pre-packaged Sunday school
-Use your head before you open your
mouth.Discernment is such an
important practice for these types of interactions.Listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
-Don’t be afraid to admit that a
situation is terrible.Sugar-coating a clearly traumatizing event is a sure-fire way to
drop-kick a trauma victim’s heart.
say that you “know how they feel.”You don’t.
trivialize their trauma by attempting to make a comparison to something like
“when your goldfish died”
-Learn to sit with the suffering
individual in the midst of their suffering.What I mean by that is this: Don’t be afraid to just be with
them.Be willing to sit in silence
if that is what they need, listen if they need to vent, weep with them, mourn with them, help them carry their burden.
To the Suffering Individual:
Healing is a journey, a process, one that will be unique to
every individual. Don’t attempt to
force or rush the process of your healing. The rate at which you move forward from your trauma is a
matter between your soul and your Savior.
At the same time, however, be aware that stagnation is a very real and
dangerous possibility. While
trauma can be crippling and debilitating, it can also become the shield we hide
behind in order to avoid facing the healing process.
Don’t be afraid of counseling. There are certain situations and circumstances that truly
require the care of a professional therapist and are simply above the pay-grade
of most pastors. Your pastor
should be a valued voice in your healing process, but please don’t ignore the
potential need for professional counseling. It is in no way shameful. You wouldn't feel shame in going to a doctor when you are sick, don't feel shame in receiving professional counseling when you need it.
tuning forks. There are certain
things that our brains associate with traumas we have experienced. These associations are called tuning
forks. They can be any number of
things from images or smells to the tone of somebody’s voice. For me, I cant to this day smell the
scent of lemon Pine-Sol without becoming nauseous. This is just one of a number of tuning forks that my brain
associates with the death of my grandpa.
These tuning forks stick with us years after our trauma was experienced
and they have the ability to emotionally take us right back to the traumatic
experience as if it had just happened.
Over time our tuning forks decrease in their frequency and in the power
of the emotional response they elicit.
Don’t be alarmed when a tuning fork is struck; view it as an opportunity
to re-enter in to the healing process.
While often painful, such opportunities are essential for us to continue
to heal and process through our experiences over the course of our lives after
trauma. Finally, know that in the midst of
the painful, indescribable, world-shattering experience of trauma, you are
loved. Know it in the depths of your soul. You. Are. Loved. by Matt Gould