Tag Archives: grief

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture
good father

Good Father

By Cindy Del Hierro

Chris Tomlin’s song, ‘Good Good Father’, swept through many of our churches this past year. The melody and lyrics ring true to our hearts: “You’re a good good Father, it’s who you are, and I am loved by you, it’s who I am…” Like a heavenly lullaby, it soothes the wounded soul by affirming our sense of belonging and identity. Unintentionally it became a theme song for our Living Waters group in Denver. Lyrical phrases from Tomlin’s song lingered over us as we pressed into what can be a painful redemptive process: “You call me deeper still, into love…”

“You are perfect in all Your ways”…Two women experienced His perfect way in my small group. Each one came to the group with an aching wound from the lack of an earthly father in their early lives. Still longing for his confirmation, they were stuck in their healing process and unable to comprehend a way forward. For Joey, the loss of father had occurred while she was still in the womb; her father had taken his own life before she was born so she never truly knew him. For Jamie, the loss occurred when she was 8-years-old after her father was murdered in prison.

Both of them expressed similar feelings of disconnection, confusion and lack of self-confidence. Week after week, the pain of abandonment and grief surfaced. Hearing about the significant role God intends father to play in our lives exposed the depth of their ‘father-wounds.’

While taking time to pray through family history and generational sins, a surprising connection unearthed between them. Neither woman knew each other before Living Waters nor did they live in the same part of the city or go to the same church. But while storyboarding the generations, a revelation came that shocked us all. Jamie’s father had once been married to Joey’s mother! In fact, Jamie’s father raised Joey’s older siblings from whom she had heard many stories about him. He is actually buried next to Joey’s own father and she visits the graves often!

This revelation provoked deep pain for both women. Jamie expressed the unforgiveness she held her entire life toward the woman (Joey’s mom) who “stole” her only dad. The pain of knowing he left her for another family had never been released, until that day. Bewildered, Joey became self-conscious and speechless then yielded to God’s grace in a holy moment. A flood of memories and meaning came to both of them. Together they permitted the heavenly Father to love them in the midst of stinging pain and sins committed by their fathers.

A resounding melody came bursting in: “Many searching for answers far and wide, all searching for answers only you provide, ‘cause you know just what we need before we say a word …it’s love so undeniable, peace so unexplainable! You’re a good good Father, it’s who you are, and I am loved by you, it’s who I am!”

Cindy leads Living Waters in Denver CO and is our Rocky Mtn Regional Leader

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Downward Ascent 4: Ruining Our Appetites

‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for what is right, for they shall be filled.’ (Matt. 5:6)

Jesus wrecks our appetites. Sexy idols compete in vain with the One who offers Himself to us constantly; He becomes the meal, living bread and drink endowed with power to secure our deepest desires. I spoke with a young Hungarian man the other day who proudly declared his openness to many gods and lovers in contrast to the ‘rigid’ Catholic family he left behind. ‘But don’t you miss the One who abides with You through the Eucharist?’ Caught off guard, he nodded slightly, as if remembering a hundred such meals.

Fast food beckons to us constantly. For this we are right to feel poverty and grief. Some of us feel tempted. How blessed we are to know not only the right ethic but also the proper end of all of our hungers: Jesus Himself. To the hungry He calls out constantly: ‘The other gods cannot satisfy you; they commit not to your nourishment but to your destruction. Come to Me with your hungers: eat ME!’

Jesus has unique authority to become the ground of our righteousness. The Father ‘made Him [the Son] who knew no sin to become sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.’ (2C 5:21) Marvel above all marvels: God has made the way for us to become righteous in the whole sense of the word. He assumes our poisons and becomes the antidote for our warped appetites.

We can unite with the Source as the renewed source of our desires. Founded in Him, seeking only Him as our righteousness, we begin the awesome, arduous task of aligning our emotions and affections to His will. We can say with the Psalmist: ‘All my longings lie open before You; all my fountains [desires, longings] are sourced in You!’ We dare not separate our sexual passions from His refining fire. God present to us in Eucharist, Spirit, Word and holy friendship gifts us with the freedom and restraint to love what He loves.

A good pastor friend recounted a conversation with a congregant who had recently embraced his homosexuality and new lover. ‘Do you love Jesus more as a result?’ Deceived but not a liar, the duped man could not answer ‘yes.’

God-with-us becomes our righteousness. We hunger for Him before all others. That is why we fast. On one hand He is very near; on the other, far away and ours only in faith. So we choose to give up this or that in order to declare: ‘You, only You, have won my heart.’ Fasting rids us of many ‘foods’ that dull us—calories, booze, media, virtual distractions, benign ‘fillers.’ Before the One who is our righteousness, we dare to feel our emptiness. He takes us back to our beginning—Himself. We wait and long for and welcome the One who sustains our lives and who will guide us to a glorious end–Himself.

‘Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire but You. My heart and my flesh may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.’ (PS 73: 25, 26)

‘Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you will go hungry.’ (LK 6: 25)

Prayer for Thursday, March 20th: ‘Father, we welcome the truth of our hunger and thirst. By Your grace, gather up and unite our desires with You the Source of every good thing. Show us what we can lay down in these days of Lent in order to feel the ache that only You can fill.’

Prayer for Friday, March 21st: ‘Father, show us how Your Son is in truth our Bread. Sensitize us to the Word and Your abiding Spirit. Grant us patience to wait before You and apprehend Your whispers.’

Prayer for Saturday, March 22nd: ‘Father, as we wait before You, call to mind and heart those ones we love who have yet to yield their hungers to You. Might You alert them to the vanity of life apart from living in faithful awareness of You? And in faithful obedience, might Your Spirit quicken us to love them more effectually?’

Prayer for Sunday, March 23rd: ‘Father as we come to Your Table this day, help us to savor Your real Presence in the Eucharist. Enliven this most precious gift in us. Show us once more how You Jesus have reclaimed us as Your dwelling place. Thank You for offering Yourself afresh as our Source; thank You for becoming our righteousness.’

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Downward Ascent 2: Good Grief

Downward Ascent 2: Good Grief

‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.’ (Matt. 5:4)

Happy are the sad. Real joy comes from Christ, and Christ comes for the sorrowful. Not just any kind of sorrow: I mean the grief which results from poverty of spirit. To look inside and out and to know all is lost, except for the Savior who came to seek and save the lost (LK 19:10).

He waits for us to weary of our self-justifications, the hollow of our own laughter. He intercedes for us as our ‘fun’ digresses into dehumanizing others. We are exposed in the glare of Another’s nakedness.

He waits for us to admit that the ‘gay marriage’ we have championed has no real foundation and will not stand.

The law of gravity never fails: sin’s road goes down and down.

We can go a long way on our own happiness. Yet the ache of conscience can intensify too. Happy are the sad, good is the grief associated with genuine moral loss—the loss of innocence and core values that can only be reclaimed by divine help.

God dwells with the destitute but resists the ‘house-proud,’ those secure in their own defenses. While fools roost in the ‘house of pleasure, the heart of the wise is in the house of mourning.’ (EC. 7:4) He enters the temple desecrated by sin and surrendered to Mercy. He gives real comfort to those who cry: ‘Jesus!’

Dr. Joseph Nicolosi writes of how the pursuit of sexy idols is no match for the authentic longings of the grief-stricken heart. Addictions fall away when one unites original injuries with trustworthy sources of comfort. Attachment to real love displaces counterfeits. Yet union with Love Himself necessitates real grief: I am wounded! I am alone! I need a Savior, the Advocate who will never fail me!

Divine comfort now is never complete. The promise is ‘will be comforted.’ We live between the ages: the Comforter has come and is coming again. In the meantime, we can mediate that comfort one to another, always directing our hearts to the time when we shall grieve no more. In the meantime, we agree with St. Paul who describes himself as ‘sorrowful yet always rejoicing.’ (2COR. 6:10)

Happy are the sad. Our losses welcome holy love.

‘Come near to God and He will come near to you…Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up.’ (James 4: 8, 9)

Prayer for Monday, March 10th: ‘Father, we welcome the reminder of our poverty, and the good grief that accompanies it. Teach us to make the Valley of Baca (weeping) a place of springs. (PS 84:6) ‘

Prayer for Tuesday, March 11th: ‘Father, we grieve over the unresponsive parts of our hearts: the weak and vulnerable areas that we hate and hide. Teach us to welcome Your love where we need it most.’

Prayer for Wednesday, March 12th: ‘Father, remind us of our original injuries and the ways You have shown Yourself faithful as the God of all comfort and understanding. This Lent, secure us in the Father/child bond that breaks fear and shame and frees us to rest in You.’

Prayer for Thursday, March 13th: ‘Father, we grieve over hearts unresponsive to Your mercy, especially our loved ones. We admit that we can hate those we love most due to how deeply they impact us. We are reactive creatures, poor in love: comfort us so that we might comfort those who need Your love through us.’

Prayer for Friday, March 14th: ‘Father, we grieve over the sexual immorality all around us. We cry out for repentance, beginning with ourselves, and ask that we might manifest holy comfort to sinners; hasten their turning back to You.’

Prayer for Saturday, March 15th: ‘Out of sorrow, let joy arise. Remind us of all the ways that You have comforted us in our afflictions.’

Prayer for Sunday, March 16th: ‘Help Your Church to be the site where we recognize sin and grieve over it. Let Your Church also be the juncture where we exchange our grave clothes for robes of righteousness.’

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