Guest Post- Pulling Out The Chair (How Christians Should Deal With Grief)

A while back I had the privilege of meeting Henry Imler. Henry and I, share not only have some mutual interests and influences, but we share a common history in our religious upbringing. Henry is a professor of philosophy, religion, and ethics. He is a husband, and a father. And, he is someone that I have grown to respect. Henry is someone that people should really take a listening to. Enjoy!


Mike asked me a few weeks ago to write a guest post on what has been inspiring lately. I appreciate his gracious offer and humbly submit what me and mine have been experiencing.

I love the sentiment in the following tweet:

if you’re ever having a hard time or feel alone, open a bible #neverfails

— Elaine Kirkwood (@elainexograce) March 5, 2012

But to be honest, to retweet this is to lie.

For me it is a lie because there are times, often when it’s hard and when I feel alone, that the Bible doesn’t comfort me. And contrary to the retweets and the polite conversation and the half-answers in Sunday School, I’m beginning to think… no… demand that be OK.

Most of the members in our community have, in the last two years, experienced or are currently going through tough times.  Some of it has been real but temporary, such as money being tight this month because of cutbacks at work.  Others have borne heavy, but temporary burdens, such as when they were downsized for the second time in 8 months while expecting their first child. Others still are weighed down by the death of a dear friend who was fighting a war they didn’t believe in.

For people in my extended community it is dealing with the brutal beating death of a three year old.  In the face of such a senseless death all some could do was to go and lay down night after night next to your own son and weep silently inside.  Still others in my extended community  plead with the GOD-WHO-IS asking, then demanding, that He make Himself known with silence and strife as the only rewards.

For me, it is the long, quiet trudge with my newly disabled wife and the fact that we have to stop at child number one. I could go on with other stories, but you get the idea.

Some of these situations have seen their resolution; others refuse to give way.

In these moments, trite tweets wither and we crumble in. Our lives have been interrupted; we’ve stopped making it make sense.

Instead we’ve made room.

We’ve made room to listen, room to sit, room for the silence. In short, we’ve made room for the suffering and the sufferer.

And in the process we’ve made room for God.  Sometimes She dwells just out of sight.  Sometimes we feel abandoned.  Sometimes we see It in each other. And, to be honest, sometimes we tell ourselves that He’s there, if only to get to the next moment.

I wish I could shoehorn the above into a nice, happy ending, but that would just make for one more trite tweet which only really serves to “explain it away under the guise of dealing with it.

So if you are suffering, I don’t have the answers, I don’t have a measure of wisdom to share, I only have a place to sit.

Pull up your chair.

Follow Henry on Twitter, or on Google +


3 thoughts on “Guest Post- Pulling Out The Chair (How Christians Should Deal With Grief)

  1. Thank you so much for this. My experience over the last 3 years fits in here. I am learning to sit with the grief, the loss and the sense of abandonment and find a small measure of hope.

  2. tiffany says:

    thanks for sharing, henry. living in this too.

  3. […] Sometimes God doesn’t “show up” they way people say he does.1 Sometimes life sucks horribly then you’re abused and then you die.2 This is a dirty, awful truth. We live in a sin-smashed world aching for someone to turn it right-side up. Too often life sucks for too many. Prayer, as a release value for the misery of our condition, sometimes works for some, but not always. The danger of the above is that it builds with in the creator and consumer the idea that prayer does in fact always work, ignoring the actual state of affairs in the world. Any time one builds such a bubble of expectations, the inevitable popping is disastrous. […]

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