In the Foreword of his little book, Words of Comfort, Ross W. Dye said, “On June 13, 1961 my elder son, Stanley Ross Dye, suffered a fatal accident. One cannot experience these bitter disappointments without being changed by them. I have been made increasingly aware of a deficiency in the church’s ministry of comfort.” I suspect that there are a number of people in the Mabelvale church who can relate to this statement. You have been changed in ways that very few of us will ever be able to comprehend. And if the church that wears the name of Jesus is justly charged with being deficient in the ministry of comfort, it is long past time that we change that situation into something far more positive.
Why do we need to study grief? We need to study it for the simple reason that God made us emotional creatures. When tragedy strikes our lives our emotions are assaulted in ways that can be quite severe. Grief is not reserved for death alone. Batsell Barrett Baxter said that “Men grieve over lost causes, lost opportunities, broken friendships, broken homes, and, of course, death” (When Life Tumbles In: Conquering Life’s Problems, pg. 95). This will not be a class on psychology. It will be an effort to look into how the Word of God addresses our human needs in the area of grief and sorrow. It is interesting that Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13).
As with any class I teach I have accumulated a small library of sources that will be helpful to me in preparing these studies. The basis for my work in this class will be two books written by friends of mine, and brothers in Christ, Ron and Don Williams: Walking With Those Who Weep and Hope for Those Who Struggle: Coping With the Losses of Life. The Williams brothers have considerable experience in teaching grief support classes. I knew them, and their wives, when we were students together at Freed-Hardeman University in 1977-1978.
In view of the current situation that keeps us basically confined to our homes, I will not be supplying books for this class. I will provide a 1-page study guide that will be available to members of the class. We will try to get them to everyone in the following ways:
- A copy will be available on the table outside the offices at the church building. You may pick up a copy on Sunday mornings and take it with you to have for class on Wednesday.
- On Tuesdays Linda Minor will send out a mass email containing the study guide. (Some people have reported difficulties receiving the mass emails that Linda has sent out in the past. These emails may go into your “Spam” folder. Please check your spam folder.
- Brad Horton will also post the study guide on our website, which can be either downloaded or printed off for your use.
The study guide will be kept to a single page if possible. It will be a bare-bones outline of what I intend to cover in class. It will offer main points and short sentences as the key points that you will hear developed as I teach the class. It will be my job to put some “meat on the bones.” There will also be appropriate scriptures for your study. Feel free to dig deeply into the scriptures before I do the class, and see if perhaps the thoughts of the teacher matches yours.
The lessons I intend to cover in this class are as follows:
Lesson 1: What Happens When Your World Crashes In?
Lesson 2: What is This “Monster” Called Grief?
Lesson 3: Why Didn’t I Know This About Death?
Lesson 4: Am I Losing My Mind?
Lesson 5: Will I Ever Laugh Again?
Lesson 6: Where Are My Friends When I Need Them?
Lesson 7: The Loss of a Parent.
Lesson 8: The Loss of a Spouse.
Lesson 9: The Loss of a Sibling.
Lesson 10: The Loss of a Child.
Lesson 11: The Loss of a Friend or Loved One Who Has Committed Suicide.
Lesson 12: Does God Care When I Suffer?