August 9, 2010

God's Healing For Life's Losses Author Interview

Dr. Robert Kellemen's latest book, God's Healing for Life's Losses presents a wonderful model for dealing with loss and grieving biblically.

This interview, with the author, provides a thorough synopsis of the book.
It is quite lengthy but well worth the investment of time. If you are dealing with loss or know someone who is Doc K's interview is sure to bring fresh light to the subject of grief and healing. It certainly has been life-changing for me to read the book in it's entirety and I'd venture to say it is the best book that I've ever read on the subject. After checking out this Q & A you'll understand why.

Here's the author with answers to questions regarding his book:

1. What’s the “big idea” behind God’s Healing for Life’s Losses? What would you like readers to take away from it?

In a biblical sentence: you can grieve with hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). God’s Healing for Life’s Losses gives readers permission to grieve and offers a pathway toward hope. I want people to see their suffering from God’s perspective without denying the reality that suffering still hurts. What would I like readers to take away? The title and subtitle say it best. I’d like readers to walk away with God’s healing hope.

2. What motivated you to write God’s Healing for Life’s Losses? Why did you choose to write this book?

My ministry to real people with real hurts motivated me to write God’s Healing for Life’s Losses. People quickly grow weary of Christian books that pretend. They’re tired of Christian counselors and well-meaning friends who dispense far too much “happiness all the time, wonderful peace of mind.” They’re also gravely disappointed when the answers to their questions about suffering reflect more of the wisdom of the world than of the truth of God’s Word. The purpose of the book, as the title and sub-title suggest, is to assist people on their grief and growth journey to find God’s healing hope in their hurts and losses.

Life is filled with losses. God’s Word is filled with compassionate wisdom to help us to find God in the midst of life’s pain. That’s ultimately my purpose in writing the book: to help people to find God even when they can’t find relief. God’s Healing for Life’s Losses offers no pabulum, trite platitudes, false promises, pretending, or “easy steps.” It is real and raw as it enters into the abyss of suffering and empathizes with the gravity of grinding affliction. And, like the Apostle Paul, it deals simultaneously with grieving and hoping (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

3. With all that’s going on in the world, why this book now? What’s unique about God’s Healing for Life’s Losses?

Some grief books, even some authored by Christians, follow the world’s model of grieving—the typical denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance stage approach. They rarely seem to move beyond a “secular” way of looking at grief. Other Christian authors seem to minimize the grief and hurt, and attempt to race people quickly to healing hope. So we end up either with secular help or shallow help.

There has to be a better way. Christians long for an approach that faces suffering honestly and engages sufferers passionately—all in the context of presenting truth biblically and relevantly. We need to be able to face life’s losses in the context of God’s healing. Jesus did. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

God’s Healing for Life’s Losses deals honestly with the full range of human emotions—from a biblical perspective. We explore and journey together through four parts of the grief process: from denial to candor (honesty with self), from anger to complaint/lament (honesty with God), from bargaining/works to crying out to God, and from depression to comfort (finding God even when we can’t find relief). God’s Healing for Life’s Losses then journeys with people through four aspects of the growth process: waiting (when God says, “Not yet”), wailing (pregnant with hope), weaving (spiritual mathematics), and worshipping (finding God).

4. God’s Healing for Life’s Losses is the first book ever officially endorsed by GriefShare. Tell us about your connection with this organization.

GriefShare produces a small group video series used in thousands of churches across the world. It is a ministry of the larger group, Church Initiative, founded by Steve Grissom. Several years ago they updated their video series and asked me to participate. I connected with Steve and with their VP, Sam Hodges. When God’s Healing for Life’s Losses was in the first draft stage, Sam and Steve read it and got very excited. They both appreciated the combination of compassionate care that did not minimize the pain of suffering with the focus on Christ-centered, biblically-based hope. Sam graciously wrote a recommendation, Steve graciously penned an endorsement, and my publisher, BMH Books, and GriefShare agreed to have this book become the first book ever officially endorsed by GriefShare. It’s our joint prayer that the GriefShare video and God’s Healing for Life’s Losses could be used together to assist 1000s of churches and para-church groups as they minister to hurting people.

5. Who should read God’s Healing for Life’s Losses?

Sometimes the second we hear words like loss and grief, our minds focus exclusively on death and dying. God’s Healing for Life’s Losses focuses on any type of loss—from the grand loss of death, to the daily casket experiences of the loss of a job, the loss of a dream, the loss of a relationship… So anyone struggling with any life loss would benefit from reading God’s Healing.

God’s Healing for Life’s Losses also equips spiritual friends, pastors, and counselors. When we’re helping hurting people, it can get messy and confusing. A few “handles,” a few “road markers” on the journey sure would help. That’s what God’s Healing for Life’s Losses offers. It provides a “map” without becoming a straight-jacket. It suggests eight “directional markers” that become something of a GPS—God’s Positioning System—for the grief and growth journey.

God’s Healing for Life’s Losses examines Scripture relationally and practically so that helpers grow in their ability to explore passages with hurting people—and do so in a natural, loving, caring, skillful way. Also, the two built-in discussion/application guides benefit small group leaders—providing an ideal forum and format for candid discussions about grief, emotions, hurt, hope, healing, God’s purposes, and much more.

6. How will the grieving person benefit from reading God’s Healing for Life’s Losses?

I weave throughout each chapter three stories: my story of facing the death of my father, a ministry couple’s story of facing an unjust ministry termination, and biblical narratives of suffering people in the Scriptures. These combine to “normalize” the grief and growth process so readers understand that while their path is unique, it is not at all abnormal.

The “eight stage model” in God’s Healing for Life’s Losses helps readers to travel down the grief and growth path. We live in a fallen world and it often falls on us. When it does, when the weight of the world crushes us, squeezes the life out of us, we need hope. New life. A resuscitated heart. A resurrected life with resurrected hope. God’s healing path is a personal journey. God’s Healing for Life’s Losses uses God’s Word as the sufferers GPS: God’s Positioning System. It traces God’s pathway through grief to growth so that readers learn how to face their suffering face-to-face with God.

Written in “gift book” format for the person facing suffering, God’s Healing for Life’s Losses includes two built-in application/discussion guides (including a journal section). This makes it perfect for individual or group use. Persons suffering any type of life loss (job loss, illness, divorce, church conflict, the empty nest, death of a loved one) will benefit from the real-life wisdom they discover in God’s Healing for Life’s Losses.

7. What words of wisdom do you have for friends, counselors, and pastors of those who are suffering? How can we help?

There’s a tendency, on the one hand, for helpers to rush in quoting Romans 8:28 and telling Christ’s story before listening to their friend’s story. So helpers need to listen, however, that’s not in some “clinical, analytical” sense. We need to listen empathetically. We need to enter the pain, hurt, and grief of our hurting friends. Of course, that’s going to elicit pain for the helper. So they will need to be taking their hurt, pain, and grief to the Divine Comforter. That’s the message of 2 Corinthians 1:3-11—the only truly effective comforter is the person who consistently turns to the Spirit for His comfort.

There’s another tendency, on the other hand, for helpers never to share scriptural insight. In our wise desire not to be trite, we end up not offering much of any biblical wisdom. Paul got it right in 1 Thessalonians 2:8 when he said that because he loved them so much, he gave them not only the Scriptures but his own soul, because they were dear to him. We must give people both our souls and God’s Scripture. Truth and love must kiss. This doesn’t mean “preaching at people.” Rather, it involves the art of the “trialogue”—the helper, the person receiving help, and the Holy Spirit through God’s Word working together. It means having “spiritual conversations” where you ask sensitive, caring, timely questions that relate God’s Word to the sufferer’s life. It means engaging in “scriptural explorations” where you explore specific passages together and ask probing questions so that the person suffering can find biblical wisdom and comfort.

8. What are some of the questions God’s Healing for Life’s Losses answers for its readers?

One of the mindsets I highlight in the book is that we can find God even when we can’t find answers. So that makes me a tad hesitant to emphasize what “answers” readers will find. Maybe another way to put it is, “What are some of the questions that God’s Healing for Life’s Losses explores?”

We explore the age-old question of how a good God can allow evil and suffering. We examine the contrast between the world’s way of processing suffering and Christ’s way. We probe various purposes for suffering. We consider what suffering says about the character of God. We discuss what hope and healing really mean and look like. We ponder what is involved in truly grieving our losses and what is involved in grieving, but not as those who have no hope.

While there are no easy answers, a consistent point made by God’s Healing for Life’s Losses is that in suffering, God is not getting back at you; He is getting you back to Himself. Suffering opens our hands to God. It was Augustine who declared, “God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full—there is nowhere for Him to put it.” God loves us too much to allow us to forget our neediness. God makes therapeutic use of our suffering. Luther taught that suffering creates in the child of God a delicious despair. Suffering is God’s putrid tasting medicine of choice resulting in delicious healing. Healing medicine for what? For our ultimate sickness—the arrogance that we do not need God. Suffering causes us to groan for home and to live in hope. God refuses to allow us to get too comfy here. Instead, He allows suffering—daily casket processionals—to blacken our sun so we cry out to His Son. Suffering reminds us that we’re not home yet.

9. What’s the best way to help someone who doesn’t want to talk about his or her grief?

Of course, every person is unique and every situation is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this practical question. If it’s early on in the grief process, then often the “power of presence” is very helpful—being there like’s Job’s counselors who did their best work when they were quiet.

If it’s later in the grief process and you sense that the person is in ongoing denial, then one of the most helpful things you can do is to share your own grief story. You begin to give them permission to grieve because they see that you gave yourself permission to do so. In a similar way, your own expressions of grief over their loss can also free the person to face their situation candidly.

Because people are unique, we also need to realize that not everyone faces their grief by talking a great deal about it—at least not to us. So we can invite the person to do what David did in Psalm 42:1-5 and “talk to themselves about their grief”—that’s the process of candor. And we can encourage them to talk to God about their grief—that’s the process of complaint/lament.

10. How does the Gospel inform the way that we care for people who are grieving?

I like to think of God’s Healing for Life’s Losses as a Christ-centered, comprehensive, compassionate, and culturally-informed approach to grief and growth. “Christ-centered” or “Gospel-centered” must take priority. There is no hope apart from Christ. There is no healing apart from Christ. And there’s no way to look at life with faith eyes, especially in the midst of painful, confusing circumstances, if we can’t look to the Cross. The Cross of Christ and the Christ of the Cross are the final proofs of God’s good heart for us. The Gospel declares the affectionate sovereignty of God. God is a Rewarder.

The Gospel takes us not only to the past work of Christ, but also to the future. We must read the end of the story where we discover that God wins! Good triumphs over evil. Hope over hurt. Healing over pain. The Gospel allows us to experience creative suffering and it is the Cross that empowers us to transform suffering. One of the consistent messages of God’s Healing for Life’s Losses is that sanctification—our increasingly likeness to Christ—is a primary reason God allows suffering. Suffering is our opportunity to know God better and to reflect Christ better. That’s creative suffering, that’s Gospel-centered grief and growth.

11. In God’s Healing, you contrast the world’s typical stages of grieving with God’s way. Review the typical five stages of grieving and share why you believe they are incomplete.

Students of human grief have developed various models that track typical grief responses. Swiss-born psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, in her book On Death and Dying, popularized a five-stage model of grieving based upon her research into how terminally ill persons respond to the news of their terminal illness. Her five stages have since been used worldwide to describe all grief responses: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.

These proposed stages in the grief process seek to track typical grief responses. However, they do not attempt to assess if this is what is best to occur. Nor could they assess, simply through scientific research, whether these responses correspond to God’s process for hurting (grieving) and hoping (growing). We must understand something about research in a fallen world. At best, it describes what typically occurs. It cannot, with assurance and authority, prescribe what should occur.

12. In a big picture way, contrast the world’s five stages with the biblical approach.

The first four stages in biblical grieving compare and contrast with the first four stages in the typical response to suffering. Stage One: Candor—Honesty with Myself: We move from denial and isolation to candor: honesty with ourselves. Stage Two: Complaint—Honesty with God: We move from anger and resentment to complaint: honesty with God. Stage Three: Cry—Asking for God’s Help: We move from bargaining and works to crying out to God: asking God for help. Stage Four: Comfort—Receiving God’s Help: We move from depression and alienation to comfort: receiving God’s help.

The fifth and final phase in the world’s grieving process: acceptance. The goal is to face calmly the finality of loss. If it is one’s own impending death, then it’s a time of quiet resignation. If it is the loss of a loved one, or a relationship, or a job, then it’s a time of regrouping. In Christ, loss is never final. Christ’s resurrection is the first-fruit of every resurrection. Acceptance can’t halt retreat because it has no hope for advancement, no foundation for growth. I refuse to accept the hopeless remedy of acceptance. So God’s Healing for Life’s Losses then journeys with people through four aspects of the growth process: moving from regrouping to waiting (when God says, “Not yet”), from deadening to wailing (pregnant with hope), from despairing to weaving (spiritual mathematics), and from digging cisterns to worshipping (finding God).

13. In your eight biblical stages of grief and growth you emphasize that they are a relational process, not sequential steps. What do you mean by that and why is it so important?
Grieving and growing is not a neat, nice package. It isn’t a tidy procedure. Grieving and growing is messy because life is messy. Moving through hurt to hope is a two-steps-forward, one-step-backwards endeavor. We don’t “conquer a stage” and never return to it. Rather than picturing a linear, step-by-step route, imagine a three dimensional maze with many possible paths, frequent detours, backtracking, and even the ability to reside in more than one “stage” at the same time. However, positive movement is possible. In fact, it is promised. You can find God’s healing for your losses. You can find hope in your hurt.

14. In the four stages of grieving, you use your own grief experience as an example. Tell our listeners about your grief story.

On my 21st birthday, I entered official adulthood not only because I turned 21, but also because my father passed away on my birthday. And for a year, I lived basically in denial—not really facing deeply the loss of my father. Then on my 22nd birthday, I began to move from denial to candor. I remember like it was yesterday—walking around the outskirts of the campus of Grace Seminary—telling myself the truth about how I felt, how I grieved the loss of my Dad. Over the course of that entire next year, I continued to move through the grief process. Again, walking the seminary campus, I had some long conversations with God. I lamented—I shared my heart about my hurt. During those times I cried out to God, acknowledging not only how much I missed my earthly father, but how much I longed for God as my heavenly Father. During those spiritual conversations I began to find God’s comfort—His hope in my hurt. I tell it now like it was a nice neat process, but at the time it was anything but. God and I had some messy, real, and raw conversations. I prayed my feelings to God. I wept. I surrendered. I asked God for comfort and He came.

15. In your first stage, you walk with your readers on a journey from denial to candor. What is candor, why is it so important, and how can Christians practice it?

Research informs us that people’s typical first response to loss is denial. When suffering first hits; when we first hear the news of the unexpected death of a loved one; when we’re told that we’ve been fired; we respond with shock. We can’t believe it. Life seems unreal. Denial is a common initial grief response. I believe that this initial response can be a grace of God allowing our bodies and physical brains to catch up, to adjust. However, after a necessary period of time, long-term denial is counter-productive. More than that, it is counter to faith, because true faith faces all of life.

God’s Word offers us profound practical wisdom for moving from denial to candor. Candor is courageous truth telling to myself about life in which I come face-to-face with the reality of my external and internal suffering. In candor, I admit what is happening to me and I feel what is going on inside me.

God invites His children to be brutally honest about life. David practices candor in Psalm 42:3-5. “My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’ These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?” The Apostle Paul does not tell us not to grieve; he tells us not to grieve without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). He chooses a Greek word meaning to feel sorrow, distress, and grief, and to experience pain, heaviness, and inner affliction. Paul is teaching that grief is the grace of recovery because mourning slows us down to face life. No grieving; no healing. Know grieving; know healing.

16. In your second stage, you move with your readers from anger to complaint. Christians aren’t comfortable with a word like “complaint.” What do you mean by that and why is it biblical and necessary?

Anger is the typical “second stage” in the world’s grieving journey. Forsaking denial, the truth sinks in. Something bad, horrific has occurred. We’ve lost something or someone dear to us. Our loss frustrates our desires and blocks our goals. It ticks us off. We’re mad. We want to lash out. At life. At the world. At . . . God. This is where grief gets very confusing for the committed Christian. We love God; we know He loves us. We know God is good; we know life has now turned bad. So we want to know, sometimes we want to scream it, “How could a good God allow such evil and suffering!?” But dare we ask? Do we dare verbalize our complaint, our lament to God? The Scriptures are clear—God invites lament, complaint. The Bible repeatedly illustrates believers responding to God’s invitation with honest words that would make many a modern Christian shudder.

I know what you’re thinking. “Didn’t God judge the Israelites for complaining?” There are different words and a distinct context between the sinful complaint of the Israelites in Numbers and the godly complaint/lament of Job, the Psalmists, Jeremiah, and many others. Biblical complaint complains to God about the fallen world. Ungodly complaint complains about God and accuses Him of lacking goodness, holiness, and wisdom.

In candor we’re honest with ourselves; in complaint we’re honest to God. Complaint is vulnerable frankness about life to God in which I express my pain and confusion over how a good God allows evil and suffering. We needlessly react against the word “complaint.” “Christians can’t complain!” we insist. Yet numerically, there are more Psalms of complaint and lament than Psalms of praise and thanksgiving. Complaints are faith-based acts of persistent trust. They are one of the many moods of faith. Psalm 91’s exuberant trust is one faith mood while Psalm 88’s dark despair is another faith mood. A mood of faith trusts God enough to bring everything about us to Him. In complaint we hide nothing from God because we trust His good heart and because we know He knows our hearts. The biblical genre of complaint expresses frankness about the reality of life that seems inconsistent with the character of God. Complaint is an act of truth-telling faith, not unfaith. Complaint is a rehearsal of the bad allowed by the Good. When we complain, we live in the real world honestly, refusing to ignore what is occurring. Complaint is our expression of our radical trust in God’s reliability in the midst of real life.

17. In your third stage, you trace a process from bargaining to crying out to God. What does that look like in the grieving process?

The typical third stage of the grief journey moves from denial, to anger, and then to bargaining and works. The dying people that Elizabeth Kubler-Ross interviewed entered into spoken and unspoken bargains with God. They believed that God would reward them for their good behavior and grant them special favors. Bargaining attempts to control and manipulate God. That’s why it’s so vital to move from bargaining and works to cry—crying out to God for help.

Cry is a faith-based plea for mobilization in which I humbly ask God for help based upon my admission that I can’t survive without Him. Crying is reaching up with open palms and pleading eyes in the midst of darkness and doubt. Psalm 56:8 teaches that we pray our tears and God collects them in His bottle. Psalm 72:12 assures us, “For he will deliver the needy who cry out” (KJV—when he crieth). Psalm 34 reminds us, “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:17-18). Crying empties us so there is more room in us for God. David wept until he had no strength left, but then he found strength in the LORD (1 Samuel 30:6). His cry, his confession of neediness, summoned God into action—supportive action.

Suffering is God’s primary way of uprooting our self-reliance and complacency. He uses suffering to gain our attention. Suffering is a slap in the face, the shock of icy water, a bloodied nose; meant to snatch our attention. Crying out to God is our admission that God has our attention, that God has us.

18. In your fourth stage, you discuss moving from depression to comfort. What is comfort and what is God’s role in that process and what is our role?

In stage four, our journey leads us either to depression due to alienation and separation from God and others, or to finding comfort through communion with God and connection with God’s people. For those who do not turn to Christ, the grief process moves from denial, to anger, to bargaining/works, and then to depression. For those who cling to Christ, for those who grieve with hope, the journey moves from candor, to complaint/lament, to crying out to God, and then to comfort. Comfort experiences the presence of God in the presence of suffering—a presence that empowers me to survive scars and plants the seed of hope that I will yet thrive. At the end of sustaining, I’m not necessarily thriving. More likely, I’m limping, but at least I’m no longer retreating.

Jacob’s wrestling match with God certainly illustrates comfort. Recall the context. Jacob is terrified that his brother Esau will kill him. In self-sufficiency, Jacob plans and plots ways to manipulate Esau into forgiving him. Then, at night Jacob encounters God. He wrestles God throughout the night until God overpowers Jacob by dislocating his hip. In response, “Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘It is because I saw God face-to-face, and yet my life was spared’” (Genesis 32:30).

Jacob shows us that tenacious wrestling with God results in painful yet profitable comfort through communion. As the sun rose, Jacob was limping. He looks up and there’s Esau. Jacob limps up to Esau and, with the pain of his dislocated hip, bows down to the ground seven times. Imagine the excruciating pain. Each time he bows down pain shoots through his crippled body. Then Jacob receives from Esau an embrace instead of a dagger. He faced his fear, still wounded and scarred, but surviving. God humbled Jacob, weakened him, and in the process strengthened him.

19. In your fifth stage, you talk about waiting on God. That can be excruciating. What is that process like and how can it lead to growth while grieving?

Think about the fifth and final phase in the world’s grieving process: acceptance. The goal is to face calmly the finality of loss. If it is one’s own impending death, then it’s a time of quiet resignation. If it is the loss of a loved one, or a relationship, or a job, then it’s a time of regrouping. “Life has to go on, somehow. How? What’s next?” You’re in a casket. Finally, you’ve come face-to-face with death and with utter human hopelessness. Do you want to stay there? No! Frantic to escape? Yes! You cry out to God for help. What’s He say? “Wait.” Now you’re at a faith-point. “I trust Him; I trust Him not. I’ll wait; I’ll not wait.” Which will it be? Will you wait or regroup? Will you wait on God or will you self-sufficiently depend upon yourself?

Hope waits. Hope is the refusal to demand heaven now. Waiting is trusting God’s future provision without working to provide for myself. Waiting is refusing to take over while refusing to give up. Waiting refuses self-rescue. In waiting, we cling to God’s rope of hope, even when we can’t see it. In biblical waiting, we neither numb our longings nor illegitimately fulfill them.

Faith looks back to the past recalling God’s mighty works saying, “He did it that time; He can do it now.” Hope looks ahead remembering God’s coming reward saying, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed” (Romans 8:18-19, emphasis added). In the context of grief, waiting through delayed gratification says, “I want to feel better. I wish things were the way they once were. But I trust God’s good heart. I know one day He will wipe away all tears. I know today He has good plans for my life ahead.” Instead of viewing God as our Genie in a bottle or as our Butler at our beck and call, we yield to, trust in, and wait upon God as our Father of holy love.

20. In your sixth stage, you contrast deadening pain with what you call “wailing.” That doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. What does it involve and how does it help us to find hope when we’re hurting?
When we cry out to God, He promises His comfort. However, He does not promise “quick answers.” He is a “time God.” He does not come before time. He does not come after time. He comes at just the right time. And . . . He comes in His way for His glory and our good. So, when His timing and our timing are light years apart; we wait. We resist the temptation to regroup and to fix things on our own. But let’s be honest, that brings more pain. We’re then tempted to deaden the pain we feel as we wait for God’s healing hope. That’s why in “stage” six of the grieving and growth process we must move from deadening our pain to wailing: groaning with hope.

It is through wailing that we stay alive to life even when it tries to crush us to death. By wailing, I don’t mean weeping as in the candor, complaint, or cry of sustaining, though weeping often accompanies wailing. Wailing is longing fervently for heaven and living passionately for God and others while still on earth. Paul personifies wailing in Philippians 1:23-25. “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of your for your progress and joy in the faith.” Paul neither deadens his longing for heaven nor minimizes his calling on earth. Wailing is longing, hungering, thirsting, and wanting what is legitimate, what is promised, but what we do not have. It is grieving the “not yet” without giving up on the “now.”

And what’s the result? Weak, mournful surviving? No way! The result is thriving. In Romans 8:28-39, Paul insists that even in the midst of trouble, hardship, persecution, and suffering, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. He teaches that in all our suffering we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us so. “More than conquerors” comes from the Greek word nikao from which we gain our word “Nike”—victors, winners, Olympic champions. Wailing empowers us to long ardently for heaven and to live victoriously on earth. Wailing moves us from victims to victors in Christ.

21. In your seventh stage, you move with your readers from despair to weaving in God’s truth. How does seeing life from God’s perspective bring God’s healing to life’s losses?

If we attempt to handle our loss without Christ, then we despair. We doubt. We give up any hope of ever making life work, of ever figuring out the mystery of life, or of ever completing the puzzle. We trudge on in doubt, despair, and darkness. Despair is the negative of hope. That’s the world’s typical response. It is not God’s healing path. In God’s growth voyage we move from regrouping to waiting (stage five), from deadening to wailing (stage six), and from despairing to weaving (stage seven)—perceiving with grace.

Biblical weaving is entrusting myself to God’s larger purposes, good plans, and eternal perspective. I see life with spiritual eyes instead of eyeballs only. I look at suffering, not with rose colored glasses, but with faith eyes, with Cross-eyes, with 20/20 spiritual vision.

Weaving involves grace math that teaches us that present suffering plus God’s character equals future glory. The equation we use is the Divine perspective. From a Divine faith perspective on life, we erect a platform to respond to suffering. How we view life makes all the difference in how we respond to life’s losses. Martin Luther understood this. “The Holy Spirit knows that a thing only has such value and meaning to a man as he assigns it in his thoughts.” Luther beautifully portrays the God-perspective that prompts healing. “If only a man could see his God in such a light of love . . . how happy, how calm, how safe he would be! He would then truly have a God from whom he would know with certainty that all his fortunes—whatever they might be—had come to him and were still coming to him under the guidance of God’s most gracious will.”

As you respond to your loss, are you struggling to believe that God has a good heart? Look to the Cross. The Cross forever settles all questions about God’s heart for us. The Christ of the Cross is the only One who makes sense of life when suffering bombards us.

22. In your eighth and final stage, you move your readers to worshipping God. You make the profound point that the ultimate goal of healing is finding God even if we don’t find relief. Tell us more about that.

Now we’re ready to map God’s grieving and growth process one final time. Your path toward God during suffering also begins with the casket of loss. Finding your self in that casket, you’ve been waiting on God, wailing out to God, and weaving together His good plans from His good heart. Rather than turning to false lovers who tame your soul, you now turn to your untamed God who captures your soul. You worship God. In the midst of life’s losses, yes you can choose worship—engaging God with love, which leads to ministry—engaging others with God’s love.

“Worship” is such a common word. But what is worship really? Specifically, in the midst of grief, what does worship look like? Let’s start with some subtle contrasts. In crying, you cry out for God’s help. In worship, you cry out for God. In comfort, you receive God’s strength. In worship, you receive God. In wailing, you long for heaven because you’re tired of earth. In worship, you long for God because you miss Him. In weaving, you glimpse God’s perspective. In worship, you glimpse the face of God. So what is worship in the context of suffering? Worship is wanting God more than wanting relief. Worship is finding God even when you don’t find answers. Worship is walking with God in the dark and having Him as the light of your soul.

The Bible consistently invites us to worship God in the midst of suffering. Worship as the end result of suffering has always been the testimony of God’s people. Asaph, reflecting on his suffering, concludes, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25). Suffering’s ultimate goal is worship: exalting and enjoying God as our Spring of Living Water—our only satisfaction and our greatest joy.

23. How can people learn more about God’s Healing for Life’s Losses?

On my website people can find and download a free sample chapter of the book. Also at my website, people can order the book at 33% off. Additionally, I offer seminars around the country on God’s Healing for Life’s Losses. People can find my speaking schedule at the website. If a church or para-church group is interested in seeing if I could speak for their group, they can contact me at

To read a general overview of God's Healing for Life's Losses click here.

To read my review of God's Healing for Life's Losses click here.

To purchase a copy of God's Healing for Life's Losses visit RPM Ministries or click here.

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