09 May 2018

The Personal Nature of Grief

“Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda” — Proverbs 25:20 (ESV) Grief is miserable. Suffering and loss are perhaps the lowest points of human existence. Nothing compares to the emptiness felt inside after the death of a loved one; nothing can prepare you for the sting of loss. Yet far too often we act as if saying something

Jacob Prahlow 0
16 Feb 2018

Mourning with Those Who Mourn

In what may be his most practical stretches of writing, Paul admonished the Roman church to “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” in Romans 12:15.1 Modern Christians, as a whole, do a pretty good job with the first part of this verse. In just the past year I’ve celebrated birthdays, marriages, weddings, births, anniversaries, job promotions, home purchases, sports victories, and a whole host of other events with my Christian sisters

Jacob Prahlow 0
29 Sep 2017

Do Not be Afraid

  “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”1 —Frederick Buechner   These were the words that marked a house fire and the death of a beloved dog for some folks that I met earlier this year. They are the words I wrote under a dark sky and a full moon, a picture I painted for my friend whose dear mom died on Easter morning. They are the words embodied

Johanna Byrkett 0
24 May 2017

the end of the cigarette

the end of the cigarette i smoked a cigarette today and drank a glass of milk set on a log both i and the milk were beading sweat now and then i leaned the column of the cigarette against a flake of bark that used to generate the very life of this tree now a log i sat on indifferent to me in the yellow sunlight the cigarette was from a yellow pack with a

Daniel Hyland 0
12 Apr 2017

Holy Week

Holy Week This week there is another, one more child lost within the darkness of my womb. How I have tried to care for them, and carry them, my life’s portion, delicate burdens, slowly forming crosses to bear–or prove unable to bear. As Mary watched her womb’s fruit, ripe in its own blood, fall on the road to Golgotha– once, twice, a third time, cords lashing around His crippled form, until it was impossible to

Daniel Hyland 3
17 Feb 2017

The Telltale Heart

Do You Listen to Your Heart or Does it Listen to You? In our increasingly self-centered, self-satisfying culture we are propagandized by Hollywood happy endings and pop songs to listen to our hearts. When considering a new or an old relationship we are told to listen to our heart. When faced with personal loss we are expected to move on from it. The Roxette duo sings, “Listen to your heart / when he’s calling for

Johanna Byrkett 1
02 Feb 2017

The Lost Art of Evangelical Weeping, Part 2

As discussed in part 1, proper expressions of suffering and grief (spiritual and physical) seem to be largely discouraged in modern evangelical churches. Unfortunately, this trend may be less of a recent phenomenon than we think. Pastor Tim Keller has bemoaned that early Reformed and Lutheran churches may bear some responsibility, despite Martin Luther’s efforts to correct the medieval church’s promotion of stoic-like endurance in the face of suffering.1 Luther argued that Christians need not earn

Timon Cline 0
07 Nov 2016

The Lost Art of Evangelical Weeping, Part 1

There is a mood and practice of forced buoyancy in American evangelical churches. In near Orwellian fashion, this frenzied gaiety tries to sanitize the church of any perceived negativity, sorrow, or grief. I have been in church services where the worship leader mounts the stage, “kicking off” the service with, “How’s everybody feeling this morning?” (implying the expectation of a positive reaction), followed by, “Oh, you can do better than that!” when the enthusiasm of

Timon Cline 4
29 Jan 2016

Rise Up, O Church

A challenge to churches to rise up to their calling Often a friend of mine tells the story about when his wife became a Christian, “She started reading the Bible in Genesis and began to get bogged down. I told her to skip all that and start with Matthew.” Sometimes I wonder if his wife ever got horribly confused to begin reading the story three-quarters of the way through. It would be like reading The

Johanna Byrkett 4
21 Aug 2015

Dealing With Pain and Suffering (Part I)

Grief Observed In A New Light It doesn’t take a philosophy degree to understand that pain and suffering are two things people are naturally inclined to try and avoid. It is in our nature to run away from suffering, and to simply try and avoid discomfort at all costs. No matter how strong pain makes us, very seldom does anyone truly welcome it. Although time has opened up the windows of my world to the

Micah McMeans 5
16 Jun 2014

The Art of Grieving

Drip-drop. Drop-drip. Plink! Glorious Spring rain drips off the gutter-less eaves of my cottage this forenoon; every now and then one drop making a sharp ping off something metal below. Steady, strong notes to set the rhythm for the day, those water-drops. I draw icy water for the kettle, waiting for its warm whistle as a Southwest wind kicks up its heels. The song of the rain slows, softens, becomes silent. Whirling this way and

Johanna Byrkett 3