Monday, March 12, 2007


An Amazing Sunday Morning.

Due to illness of the service leader, I unexpectedly had to lead the service and preach this morning. It was a service filled with grief. A friend I had baptised a few years ago was inolved in a car accident on Thursday. Tragically, his 18 year old daughter passed away on friday as a result of the accident. His younger 16 year old daughter is struggling for life. His parents are dearly loved members of our congregation.
As I stood to read the Bible reading, I suddenly realised how inappropriate was the prepared message. I sat during the offering and read through some more appropriate passages. I decided to preach on Psalm 55.
As I read these scriptures aloud, the outline fell into my mind.

Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication.
2 Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise;
3 Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked: for they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they hate me.
4 My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me.
5 Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me.
6 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.
7 Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah.
8 I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.

He prays against his enemies, whose wickedness and treachery vex him

9 Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues: for I have seen violence and strife in the city.
10 Day and night they go about it upon the walls thereof: mischief also and sorrow are in the midst of it.
11 Wickedness is in the midst thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets.
12 For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him:
13 But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance.
14 We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.
15 Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.

He finds comfort in God's preserving him and confusing his enemies

16 As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me.
17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
18 He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me.
19 God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.
20 He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant.
21 The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.
22 Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
23 But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee.

How do we handle crises when they suddenly spring upon us? We are Christians. We know we should respond differently to all the world. We know we have something that no one else has. But how do we handle great crises like those crises that have so touched our church family in this last week?

In 1969 Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote On Death and Dying. Research and interviews began in 1965 and encountered problems because (1) There is no real way to study the psychological aspects of dying and (2) Patients were often willing to talk but it was hard to convince the doctors.

Stage Theory: From this research, Kubler-Ross saw a pattern emerging that she expressed in the way of stages. These stages begin when the patient is first aware of a terminal illness. While Kubler-Ross believed this to be universal, there is quite a bit of room for individual variation. Not everyone goes through each stage and the order may be different for each person.

Stages of Dying

1. Denial and Isolation: Used by almost all patients in some form. It is a usually temporary shock response to bad news. Isolation arises from people, even family members, avoiding the dying person. People can slip back into this stage when there are new developments or the person feels they can no longer cope.

2. Anger: Different ways of expression

-Anger at God: "Why me?" Feeling that others are more deserving.

-Envy of others: Other people don't seem to care, they are enjoying life while the dying person experiences pain. Others aren't dying.

-Projected on environment: Anger towards doctors, nurses, and families.

3. Bargaining: A brief stage, hard to study because it is often between patient and God.

-If God didn't respond to anger, maybe being "good" will work.

-Attempts to postpone: "If only I could live to see . . ."

4. Depression: Mourning for losses

-Reactive depression (past losses): loss of job, hobbies, mobility.

-Preparatory depression (losses yet to come): dependence on family,


5. Acceptance: This is not a "happy" stage, it is usually void of feelings. It takes a while to reach this stage and a person who fights until the end will not reach it. It consists of basically giving up and realizing that death is inevitable.

Hope is an important aspect of all stages. A person's hope can help them through difficult times.

Criticisms of Kubler-Ross

There exists no real evidence that stages are present in coping with death: Kastenbaum offers this as his first criticism of the stage theory. Using the term "stages" implies a set order of set conditions. He asserts that there is no evidence that dying people go through the exact Kubler-Ross stages in their proper order. Any patient could experience the stages in a different order, or could experience emotions not even mentioned in the Kubler-Ross stages.

More specifically, there is no evidence that people coping with their impending death move through all of stages one through five: Kastenbaum explains that in her research Kubler-Ross showed that various patients exhibited qualities from the five different stages, but no one patient demonstrated all five stages in order. Knowing this, any emotional experience during the dying process of a person could be considered a stage.

The choir sang for us beautifully just a few minutes ago the words:

I must tell Jesus all of my trials;
I cannot bear these burdens alone;
In my distress He kindly will help me;
He ever loves and cares for His own.


I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
I cannot bear my burdens alone;
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.

I must tell Jesus all of my troubles;
He is a kind, compassionate friend;
If I but ask Him, He will deliver,
Make of my troubles quickly an end.


Tempted and tried, I need a great Savior;
One Who can help my burdens to bear;
I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus;
He all my cares and sorrows will share.


O how the world to evil allures me!
O how my heart is tempted to sin!
I must tell Jesus, and He will help me
Over the world the victory to win.


The Christian does handle grief differently than others.

Is there some scripture that can guide us?

1. The Problem

David was on the run from Absilom his son who had risen suddenly (after a protracted period of preparation, winning the people's hearts). Even David's counsellor Ahithopel had gone over to the "dark side".

2. The Person

David felt entirely alone. Isolated. Shut up to God alone.

"But as for me I shall call on God."

Have you ever felt alone, isolated? "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen." .. and those words are true enough. We cannot begin to fathom the grief and despair that Peter and Narelle are experiencing right now. They don't have to be alone. They have loving family and church family that will surround them and comfort them. But there is a sense for all our love, that they will feel alone. No one has suffered as they are suffering right now. We ought not pretend we understand when we can't. but we can be there for them. We can surround them with our love and our prayers. They needs us.

"Nobody knows the trouble I've seen, Nobody knows but... ?" "Jesus!"

He knows and cares!

Well how do we gird our minds when we come to trouble?

3. The Programme


Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

"Cast your burden on the Lord and ... " "leave it there"

Don't take it back and fiddle with it.

Don't take it home and worry over it.

Cast it on the Lord.

Trust but I will trust in thee

Psa 56 says

3 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.

Better yet:

11 In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.

Will you trust the Lord with your crisis?

Will you cast your burden upon the Lord?

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