by Ptr. Vicente Bejo Jr
One of the joys of being a Christian is to help people heal with their grief. It is a tremendous blessing to see the pain of others lifted up, assuaged and comforted. It is a wonderful privilege to share in those sacred moments when another person shares his or her loss and to help them realize that God loves them and has not abandoned them and that this loss can be a way to enlarge their souls. I lost my mom when she was 56 and I lost my dad when he was 58, all in a span of one year. My mother died of kidney failure and my father took his own life due to severe depression. From these extraordinarily painful tragedies, I learned that our heavenly Father shares our pain and is right there grieving with us unlike the view held by many Christians that God is angry and is squaring with our sins.
The Emotionally Healthy Spirituality discipleship books by Ptr. Peter Scazzero and his wife Geri are excellent materials for helping people deal with their emotional issues, including grief and losing a loved one.
I learned that one of our local church members, Josie Zantua, who works at the Quezon City Hall, was tasked by her boss to draw up their wellness program for the third quarter of this year. I asked her to volunteer this material for use in their once-a-month spirituality course, having used this before in a small group and a church retreat and found it particularly healing.
Our small group in the city hall had our second meeting last Wednesday, August 9, and there were 7 people there. Four of them had recently or just a few years back lost a loved one but were still hurting because they were unable to grieve properly. It was a beautiful thing to witness them be able to process and express their pain and be healed little by little. God does not cause us pain or death which are natural consequences of living in a flawed and fallen world. But as St. John of the Cross noted, God redeems them for our spiritual transformation. As they were processing and sharing their losses, one of them remarked,
“We need a lot of tissue paper every time Ptr. Ting is here.”
Later, they sent me a message through FB messenger saying, “Pastor Ting, thank you so much for the spiritual assistance to our office. we cannot thank you enough for the time and...”
In the accompanying daily devotional for the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Ptr. Scazzero writes:
Lament for a Son, by Nicholas Wolsterstoff, is a record of the author’s reflections and struggles following the death of his twenty-five-year-old son, Eric, in an Austrian mountain-climbing accident. Wolsterstoff doesn’t have any explanations or answers for why God would have allowed such a tragedy. Who does? At one point, however, he comes upon a profound insight:
“Through the prism of my tears I have seen a suffering God.
It is said of God that no one can behold his face and live. I always thought this meant that no one can see his splendor and live. A friend of mine said perhaps this meant that no one could see his sorrow and live. Or perhaps his sorrow is his splendor.”1
God is in our pain. Right there suffering with us as our hearts break with grief. And we give awesome praise to God our Father for he has given us a sacred privilege to participate in the healing of this world, one soul at a time.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV).
Ptr. Peter Scazzero’s book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, gives us an easy-to-use, practical guide to comfort and help bring healing to those around us who are grieving.
(Ptr. Ting Bejo is the senior pastor of Glory to the Lord Fellowship, a local congregation of Grace Communion International - Philippines in Quezon City.)
1 Peter Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day, A 40-Day Journey with the Daily Office (Michigan: Zondervan, 2014), 97-98.