Healing When Tragedy Strikes - How to Help
Dealing with the Unexpected
The Life of a Chaplain
A good pastor, can lead the people around him to healing waters, that encourage, refresh, and strengthen when times of sorrow and sadness occur. Chaplains, although many people are aware that they are available, do the same in a somewhat different setting, in crisis in hospice, hospitals and on the scene of accidents, fires and community incidents.
We read the Word of God to those who are traumatized by life's events, stand with those weep, and pray for strangers as well as our dear friends and her family, God, as He promised, “sets the lonely in families”. After spending a difficult night consoling a couple and their other children after the loss of a child we gained strength from the faith in a God we have turned to again and again, and encourag others to do the same.
I am so grateful when because of his sensitivity, a pastor said the needed things that as a grief bearer, I know are essential, Words like “the details are not the focus”, because quite frankly, there is a tendency by some to gather them and use them in surreal as if they themselves minimize the pain. There are certain things we should never do in these situations and yet because of our own lack of compassion, do them without any regard for the person in the midst of their grief. I have learned a few things as I observed over the last few years,, and I would like to pass them on.
One of our own had been separated from us, by the hand of God through difficult circumstances, and now is forever in the presence of the Lord. She was a kind and gentle soul, a unique, precious, exuberant living demonstration of the “joy unspeakable, and full of glory”. In her absence, we are deeply grieving, alongside a family who is beside a mountain of pain which I imagine seems insurmountable, without God's presence and guidance.
I know the route up that steep path only too well, I have traveled it often in my lifetime, and I have begged and stopped for mercy and grace along the way. I have drank deep at the well of God's still waters, and I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death. I have survived, not because of my own ingenuity, but because Jesus went before me on the path and made the way well-lit, even in the darkest nights of my soul.
This experience has transformed yet another facet of my character and caused me to pause and think about people a little more deeply and carefully than I have in the past. I am a comforter and encourager of people and sensitive to those around me, the bigger picture of life, the frame we live in, and what it means to care for others.
I have held others as they died, as they wept, as they adjust to the providence of God in the moments of life which seem so unexplainable but for which He has a purpose far beyond our present vision. I have watched as cancer patients struggled and then surrendered to the realization that the healing is coming in a departure rather than miraculous intervention. I recently watched my friend's family be forever changed when he was taken from the loving arms of his wife and his young daughter at a younger age than I. I still weep myself for all of them, because they must go on, just like me, at times against our own will.
Leadership is not just a title we aspire to, because we think ourselves worthy or smart, or capable. It is not a personal mission because we covet what God has built in another's life that we deem ourselves worthy to own, and set out on a plan of our own, to take by force, and thus destroy the unity of His Body. It is a sacrificial placing of our own lives in the background while we honestly and authentically provide direction and hope for others, not through dependence on us, but on the God who guides us perfectly.
Leader is a gift given by God to the humble to those He calls, those who reckon themselves dead to the world and alive to Christ for His service for His kingdom, for His will to be accomplished among His people. No amount of competency, education or drive can replace the effectual calling of God in the life of an individual, and it cannot be authentically duplicated.
True leaders do not have a need to control every detail of everyone else's life, rather than be controlled by the Holy Spirit and the fruit He produces, you are in bondage, and your people will eventually want the freedom for which Christ set us free. If your standards for others are higher for others than for yourself, and your people are driven, rather than led, get some biblical perspective through counseling. At times you are weak with your own vulnerability. Over and over, you are misinterpreted, and left behind when people move on, necessarily, but since you invest your whole heart for the time you are with them, you experience heartbreak and loss.
If you are offended by the truth, resisting that which you already God has pointed out through His Holy Spirit to change, you can be a candidate for development, but you are not ready to be a leader.
If you have refused to submit to Him, and hide your character flaws, you are unfit for leadership, will hinder the cause of Christ, and impede the growth of others, until you put your cards face up on the table.