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I thought I was a wise comforter.

I wasn’t.

I’m wiser now.

Yet I still need to be continually reminded on what helps and what hurts.

Dogs know how to bring comfort.

They simply come alongside and are silent.

Briton Riviere

But people, even Christians, often try to fix the unfixable, uttering platitudes, pointing out the silver lining, or preaching little sermonettes based on Romans 8:28. I believe Romans 8:28, but it was all I could do when people quoted it to me not to give them a swift karate kick. Solomon tells us there is a “time to speak and a time to be silent,” and high tide grief is the time to be silent.

Ironically, two women who comforted me the most were those who would not call themselves born-again Christians.

One was my childhood friend Barbara. When I wrote her with our dread news she e-mailed back with three words in gigantic bold black:


It comforted me.

She did not tell me to trust God, or to think positively…she got into my pain with me.

Likewise, when I called my sister Bonnie, all she could do was sob. She tried to talk, but she simply could not. She called me back a little later, apologetic, but I told her it was just what I needed. I don’t know why it divides the pain to have someone weep with you, but it does.

Sisters Bonnie, Dee, and Sally in younger years


Shortly after Steve died an article poured out of me which Focus on the Family published entitled “Don’t Send A Sympathy Card.” It isn’t that I’m opposed to all sympathy cards, and there actually are some good ones — but, as I said in the article, “I have an invisible knife sticking out of my heart — people who have suffered see it — but those who don’t press up against me with platitudes, pressing that knife to excruciating depths of pain.” Sympathy cards can drip with platitudes and some, when I opened and skimmed,  went directly in the trash. I knew the people meant well — they didn’t mean to push the knife in. I needed to show them the same grace Jesus has shown to me. I needed to remember how many times I had stuck my foot in my mouth!

It  meant so much to me when people would take the time to write a note, telling me what they remembered about Steve and loved. I know there are times when you don’t know the person that was lost — and a card seems your only option — but just choose very carefully so you don’t exacerbate their pain. No preaching. Just sympathy. And write a line — even just a “I’m so very sorry.”

(If you want to read that one page article, click here: Don’t Send A Sympathy Card 2 )

I understand wanting to fix someone’s pain — I’ve done it — I get so nervous, I so want to help them, that I begin to stammer and a platitude slips out, slapping a tiny band-aid on a gaping wound. But in trying to fix the unfixable I am making it worse, minimizing their pain, pressing that knife in deeper.

There is a Jewish custom called “Sitting Shiva.” When a friend had a catastrophic loss, family and friends would come and sit for seven (“shiva” means seven) days to comfort him. (Since seven is God’s number for completion — this means — stay alongside for “as long as it takes” to bring comfort.) Some of the principles of “Sitting Shiva” are:

Go and be silent.


Don’t give advice.


Mourn with those who mourn.

But even “sitting shiva” can become a religious practice devoid of heart. Job’s friends sat shiva, but all the time they must have been preparing their condemning speeches.


A. Comment on the above and/or the article from Focus.

B. If you have experienced a catastrophic loss, was there a friend who truly brought you comfort? What did he or she do or say? Why was it helpful?


1. Read Proverbs 25:20

A. What do you think it means to “sing songs to a heavy heart?” Give some examples of this.

B. To what two things does Solomon compare “singing songs to a heavy heart?”What do they have in common?

C. Get out a little baking soda and pour a little vinegar on it and watch what happens. (Don’t worry — it’s a mild reaction.) This combination can also be much more dramatic with heat or in a bottle, and has been used to make rockets and bombs by many amateur scientists. What does this illustrate about how you make a person feel when you sing songs to their heavy heart?

D. Why do we do it, even when it makes it worse?


Experimenting with vinegar and baking soda


3.  What two commands are given in Romans 12:15? Give examples from your life of someone who did each with you and how it made you feel.

4. The next time someone has a loss, how might you plan to respond? What might you say if you see them? How might you write them?

5. Read Job 2:11-13 and see how Job’s friends practiced the custom of “sitting shiva.” What did they do? Find everything you can.

It is hard to know their hearts. Verse 13 says they did see his suffering was very great. They may have empathized, but we also know, from the rest of the book, that they were judging him.  They assumed suffering is a result of sin. Their sympathy did release Job and allow him to lament honesty. However, I do think this shows how easy it is to go through the motions, to visit, to send a card — yet not get into their pain and really help them. We need to walk in line with the gospel, to be the heart and hands of Jesus to those who are suffering.

Contrast Job’s response in Job 1:21 with his response in Job 3. Job neither stuffs his feelings nor vents them, but prays them. Find phrases in this honest lament in Job 3 that stand out to you. Why?

6. How does Eliphaz now pounce on Job in Job 4.  I want you to note two portions particularly.

A. Describe the words of Eliphaz in Job 4:7-9 and describe the assumption behind it.

B. Elihu had a dream that he assumes was a word from the Lord. Describe it in Job 4:12-16. Whom do you think was the source of this dream and why?

Mike Mason writes, in The Gospel According to Job:

Eliphaz tells of being visited in the night by a spirit that filled him with terror…One even gets the feeling that, as frightening as this experience was, Eliphaz would not  have missed it for anything….He leaves no doubt that despite his terror he considered the visitation a good thing, and one that brought him a genuine spiritual insight, “a word from the Lord. (4:12)  How different is Eliphaz’s mystical fear from the sort of fear expressed by Job back in 3:25 when he said, “What I feared has come upon me, what I dreaded has happened to me.” Job’s dread, by contrast, was a feeling that he wanted nothing to do with, for in it he intuitively sensed the grip of something evil. Far from taking any secret delight in such a thing, Job recoiled from it in horror, and in his deepest instincts…he sensed the real and personal presence of the great enemy of his soul…   How tragic it is that so many religious people accustom themselves to hearing and obeying the voice of fear rather than the voice of peace. In so doing they unwittingly pay heed to the Devil, even while fooling themselves that they are trying to follow Christ.

C.  Mason said we too often obey the voice of fear rather than the voice of peace. Ponder this for your own life. What might it mean?

7. How did Eliphaz and his friends press the knife in Job’s heart to excruciating depths of pain?

8. What does God tell Eliphaz and his friends to do in Job 42:7-9?

Friends may fail you. Yet there is One who understands, for His friends failed Him in His greatest hour of need. I remember the summer after Steve’s death my daughter Sally called me — she was getting her Masters in Counseling at Wheaton — and said, “My professor was talking today about how Jesus can “sit shiva” with us when our friends fail. That comforted me so.

9. Have you ever sensed Jesus “sitting shiva” with you? If so, share something.

Eliphaz and his friends were critical of Job’s honest lament. They also assumed that if trouble came into a life, that it was because the person was in sin. Honestly, we often believe this for ourselves. We know we fail, and even if we are walking daily in repentance, we let the accuser of the brethren get to us. This is why I truly want you to listen to this free Keller sermon and answer questions that go with it. It will look like you have to pay for this sermon, but when you click, you will see there is no cost. However, before you listen, please prepare yourself by doing this study:

10. Read Psalm 39:13

A. Most laments end with the psalmist remembering God’s character and vowing to trust Him. How is this different?

B. What is your reaction to this?

11. Read Psalm 126 and type out verses 5 and 6.



A. Why should we expect tears?

B. What happens if we assume that sorrow is always a result of sin?

C. Why does Keller think Christians will actually weep more than non-Christians?


A. God will give you grace for your laments, your tears. How does Kidner’s comment on the close of Psalm 39 demonstrate this? (Worth its weight in gold.)

B. How can we know God has not abandoned us, even when we have failed?

C. Keller comments on Psalm 126:5-6 and says look ahead to glory. This indeed, is what sustained Job. He knew His Redeemer would stand upon the earth and restore everything.  What have you lost that will be restored to you?


A. What is the tone of the last 5 psalms in the psalter?

B. Keller says if you keep in communication, keep talking, all of your prayers will eventually (though it may take a lifetime) turn to praise.  Have you experienced any of this in learning to lament?

15. What do you want to remember from this message and why?


16. Describe God’s three appearances to Job.

17. What stood out to you from the program and why?

18. What is your take-a-way for the week?


Leave a Comment

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    1. I think that we need to show love and grace toward the other person-for we too are just like them in all those reasons we try to fix-and we don’t know their motives. It is dangerous to try to assume someone’s motives in anything. If we are hurt by a ‘fixer’, we need to be real careful not to let this ‘uncontrolled reaction’ turn into resentment and have it take root in our hearts, for that is another way Satan can weed himself into our grief and turn us away from dialoguing with God and diving into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him.

      I also am pondering that perhaps being honest with them about what we need might help them as well. If they hurt we need to lovingingly point that out. Of course that might depend on the depth of the relationship we have with the person, and the freedom we have to do so, so we have to be careful with that too.

      1. this was EXCELLENT Rebecca: “It is dangerous to try to assume someone’s motives in anything. If we are hurt by a ‘fixer’, we need to be real careful not to let this ‘uncontrolled reaction’ turn into resentment and have it take root in our hearts, for that is another way Satan can weed himself into our grief…”

        I wish I could have had your wisdom years ago when dad died and I experienced the pain from words and (the absence of) actions. But as I type that, I realize how often that pain occurs in “lesser losses” and some big-but-not-death struggles I have had more recently.

        When I read Dee’s question on this, I just kept hearing in my mind “grace,grace, God’s grace…grace that will pardon and cleanse, within..grace, grace, God’s grace. Grace that is greater than all our sin.”

        1. Elizabeth, You are so kind, but I haven’t experienced vinegar to the soul yet so I say it with great trepidation. (or I might have in other ways but have forgotten.) You have experienced this and God is already at work in you in enlarging your soul now, so I think you are one step ahead of me in this area of wisdom! 🙂 I think maturity is born out of the opportunities God gives through suffering to really live out His word in our lives-as He expands our souls.

          Anyway, getting wordy and off topic, but I should have prefaced my answer to Dee’s question with- it is so easy to say, yet can be a battle to turn from our natural bend and allow the Holy Spirit to move us to really love-especially when a precious brother or sister’s vinegar hits the soul- yet even when we fail in responding the right way God can redeem us-he so loves us and understands our pain. Isn’t that freeing to know?!? 🙂

        2. Rebecca-You make such a good point about letting that hurt turn into resentment though–and how that only leads us further from God, further from healing. I know I allowed that to happen and all these years there has been a scab on that part of my heart–more easily hurt again by similar things. Whether a big thing like a death, or daily struggles, I think it’s always a temptation for me to expect others to behave the way I think they should–holding others to an unattainable perfection that I know myself I fail at every 2 minutes!

          But if I instead turn to grace, the grace I so desperately need for my every breath, He offers such a healing balm. And I think then the wound may still be there but it makes us more sensitive to OTHERS instead of self.
          I have carried bitterness about a lot of things far too long. When I have tasted and experienced grace it is so sweet, so freeing–why do I so easily forget to choose it every time?! ;0

        3. Elizabeth,

          I can see how God is working in you, sister: “holding others to an unattainable perfection that I know myself I fail at every 2 minutes!” -This really encourages me, Elizabeth.

    1. Dee, How is your speaking engagement going?

    1. Dee, oh no! Will pray,

      Lord, Thank you that you have given Dee your word and your light to pierce the hearts of those who will be listening to her today. Lord, fight for Dee today, and calm and comfort her. Give her wisdom as to how to handle this situation. Lord, may you be glorified today.

    2. Dee–just got this and we prayed as a family for you–I trust that even if you had to “wing-it” the Spirit in you would touch everyone in the room–but I am praying your manager gets there and for peace! 🙂

    3. Praying, Dee! May the Holy Spirit quicken you and give you His message (His “powerpoints”!)

  1. Will pray Dee. I listened to Keller last night and after a night of concern for my oldest son, have a thought I would like to record. I’m at work and sometimes I forget my very early morning thoughts if I don’t have a chance to record.

    When we refuse our tears, our hearts become hard. I think this is one of the things that turn our hearts to stone.

    Sorry if I am repeating the thoughts of others. I may have read it right here but it was on my mind when I got up this morning.

  2. Anne,

    This is so good: “When we refuse our tears, our hearts become hard. I think this is one of the things that turn our hearts to stone.”

    You know, I think that is true and although I could be wrong, when someone does that, it could be a trained response. There has been tremendous pain in their life, usually when they were a child and the tears were so frequent, they eventually put up a wall and their hearts get hard. I am wondering, unless God heals them as children, when they are adults is it harder for them to really let go and grieve-perhaps they stuff? Not sure. The cool thing is that God even understands their stuffing and loves them and wants to heal and redeem them from it. He wants them to let go, and we have seen God break through that stone! 🙂

    1. Rebecca–I need to do my work, but when I read this–you just totally helped me clarify what I was trying to say a few days ago but I did a bad job! I agree with what all of us have said about being quiet when someone is grieving. But what is hard for me is watching someone (as in parents) who have gone through tremendous suffering, but they cannot seem to let the tears out. There is a trained response to hold it in, due to deep pain. I think sometimes this is a generational thing–a 78 year is not as likely to have grown up learning how to express pain, that it’s OK, that God wants to hear it. And so there are years of walls. And that is what breaks my heart–when you watch it and want freedom for them so badly–it’s hard to not say anything, but also hard to say the “right” thing–at least for me ;0
      Sorry if I spieled off topic–just appreciated what you said about the trained response.

    2. Yes Rebecca you are right.. this is exactly what i did i stuffed my pain and didnt really let go and grieve when i lost my best friends mother. God didnt heal me as a child.. i didnt grow up a Christian.. i hardly ever cried as a child.. i stuffed all my pain..

      1. Meg, I can relate too, and let me give testimony- God does heal, but often it is a process, but He is there with you every step of the way. Finding a godly Christian counselor really can help as well. You know, what REALLY helped me was when we went through Dee’s study, “The Stonecutter.” God used that study in my life in such a transforming way. That study, I think, is coming out next year. I have never desired to facilitate a study with women as much as I have this one.

        1. Rebecca what a great testimony.. I know that God does heal he has healed me alot since i became a christian 8 years ago. But when i lost my best friends mom this past february, it was my first real loss and i had a hard time crying and grieving the right way.. I had learned to stuff things all the time. I went to a Christian counsler and that hepled ALOT also. Love you Sis:)

    3. I have to share this story about my dad, who has gifted me so many times with his tears that flow freely – Dad is not afraid to cry.
      The night before I was scheduled to go into the hospital to deliver my firstborn, dad called me and all of a sudden, his voice sounded so choked-up and I asked him what was wrong. He was crying, and said he wished I didn’t have to go through all the pain (of labor and delivery) and he wished he could somehow take the pain for me. He still thought of me as “his baby” because I’m the youngest.
      I’m glad my boys have seen their grandpa’s tears many times, because it shows them that men cry, and it’s okay.

      1. Susan, Thanks for this story of your dad, what a precious, sensitive man and what a gift of an Earthly father God gave you! 🙂

  3. Will be praying Dee!!

    My take away from this week, is that i understand Proverbs 25;20 alot better thanks to Dee and others who helped me understand it. Also, That we should expect tears… I hate crying in front of people but tears are expected so i need to tell myself its ok to cry. Also the Fiddler on the roof clips.. Do we really love Jesus.. that has been going through my head all week. Do i really love Jesus? and one last thing, that i learned is that we will suffer, rightous people will suffer…

  4. God is good! He is taking care of you Dee, again. 🙂

    Thanks so much for the verse!! I am going to look it up. Have been saying the Matthew 6:34 verse as well.

  5. Contrast Job’s response in Job 1:21 with his response in Job 3. Job neither stuffs his feelings nor vents them but prays them. Find phrases in this honest lament in Job 3 that stand out to you. Why?

    This is the feeling I get from Job’s response in 1:21; that on the heels of all the horrific news he just received, he is in shock, maybe disbelief, yet out of his mouth comes “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
    We know Job is a righteous, praying man who walks with God. It’s as if what Job is accustomed to doing daily just kicks in and takes over; his first thoughts turn toward the Lord.
    As his suffering deepens and the awful realization of the reality of the situation come over him, he begins to honestly lament in Job 3. I noted all the references he makes to darkness:
    may that day be darkness, darkness and black gloom, let darkness seize it, let the stars be darkened….
    He laments that he should never have been born. The weight of his grief must have been crushing him to say things like he longs for death, those who dig for death more than for hidden treasure, who exult when they find the grave.

    6. How does Eliphaz now pounce on Job in Job 4. I want you to note two portions particularly.

    A. Describe the words of Eliphaz in Job 4:7-9 and describe the assumption behind it.

    Eliphaz says to Job, “who ever perished being innocent? Or (do you remember) where the upright were destroyed? According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity and those who sow trouble harvest it. By the breath of God they perish, and by the blast of His anger they come to an end.”
    Eliphaz is insinuating that perhaps Job did something wrong in the sight of God to warrant this happening to him. I’m also wondering if this is a reference to all of Job’s children dying – that Eliphaz is suggesting that they were wiped out by God for their sin?

    B. Elihu had a dream that he assumes was a word from the Lord. Describe it in Job 4:12-16. Whom do you think was the source of this dream and why?

    It seems as if the source of this dream or vision or thoughts that entered his mind may have been Satan, because he describes it as “now a word was brought to me STEALTHILY”; the thoughts were DISQUIETING; he says that DREAD came upon him and then “a spirit passed by my face and the hair of my flesh bristled up” – this was frightening and he saw a form before his eyes, and then he hears a voice.
    As I read on in verse 17-21, this voice is making accusations against God and against men, because it said:
    Can mankind be just before God?
    Can a man be pure before his Maker?
    He puts no trust even in His servants;
    and against His angels He charges error.

    C. Mason says we too often obey the voice of fear rather than the voice of peace. Ponder this for your own life. What might this mean?

    What speaks to me is Mason’s comment that in his fear, in his dread, Job senses the GRIP of something evil. It tells me that through fearful thoughts, Satan is trying to get ahold of me, to get me in his grip. I know the verse about God does not give us a spirit of fear… but I’ve never considered this; that fear is Satan trying to “grip” me and that I should react like Job – fear and dread may come upon me from a horrible tragedy, but it’s not a place I want to be; I should not entertain this feeling or ‘go with it’ but recoil from it. Like Job, I should sense the real and evil presence of my enemy.

    I struggle with fear of the future. It scares me to think of the day when all my children are gone from our home, and I’m left with just me and my husband because our relationship isnt that solid. For me, loneliness is more acute when I am with someone in the same house but feel alienated from them than when I am actually by myself.
    The enemy attacks me with fears that the flaws in my children were all caused by me and the mistakes I made in being their mom, especially my one son who has turned away from God. He attacks with the fear that God really wont forgive me for my sins, that I did something too bad for Him to forgive.

    Something I could use prayer for is I am considering changing churches, because I go to a rather large church, and it’s usually just me and my daughter most Sundays, and although I have “acquaintances”, usually it’s just a sea of faces of people I don’t know and they don’t know me. I’m looking for a smaller church where I can feel like I have a church family. But I feel frozen to make the move to visit other churches, with fears such as what if the new church’s doctrine isn’t sound or I expose my daughter to false teaching? If people really get to know me, they’ll know I don’t really fit in. I don’t know what a “healthy” family is really like with good relationships between family members, alot because in my family there are dysfunctional ways of relating, and so I feel scared like maybe I’m not capable of really loving others and letting them get close to me…. it’s this pervasive fear that something is wrong with me and maybe I’d just better stay where I am and continue to be “anonymous” in a big church.
    Maybe these fears are really the enemy trying to keep me from moving into an environment where I would grow spiritually and have close friendships?

    1. Susan, I wish you had left some spaces because there is so much in your comment I relate to. First, what you said about not even entertaining fear. I have heard of handling lust this way and other uninvited thoughts so it makes sense that fear should be handled in the same way. I will do this.

      I also worry that it is because of what I have or have not done that my son turned away from the Lord. On Midday Connection Anita related a dream that she had (I think it was her dream) that encouraged me about this. If you listen you will hear it. I won’t try to relate it here.

      Finally, about the church, I too am in turmoil on that front. I have changed once and find myself in a more intolerable situation than the previous. I think God is calling me to stay where I am and it is so painful.

      Since your daughter goes with you I would look more at how the situation is for her. Is she happy there or does she want to move? Are the youth leaders strong and loving? Is the leadership serious about growing a generation that will desire God above all else or do they just give lip service to it? For yourself, are there any small groups? In my church I got a little irritated by the push to be in a group but it was the best part. It wasn’t perfect but it felt like family. I cant describe what I mean. I am always uncomfortable in social situations but never felt such peace as I do with these people. I know that God called me there (I speak in the past tense because it seems that they are breaking up). If you get in a group and let them get to know you and I know they will love you. If you are a quiet person it is just hard for people to get to know you. I know that because I am that way.

      What you shared about your father is beautiful. How blessed you are in him. I am so glad he is now a believer.

      1. Anne,
        Thank you for your thoughts and encouragement. I like what you said about not entertaining lust or uninvited thoughts, too. I need to remember that.

        About church; one thing I dearly miss is our youth pastor who pastored the 4th-6th graders. He was awesome. When my now 17 year old son was in Kid’s Church with “Pastor Herb”, he would read his Bible on his own. This man really got the kids into reading their Bibles. He has since left our church to move to another state, and has not been replaced. The new kids curriculum is alot of “high energy”, lots of skits and loud music; TV screens in the worship room…. I wonder what ever happened to just teaching kids quietly without the loud music and strobe lights? (maybe I’m being another version of a “hymn snob”) I guess I’m thinking of simplicity instead of entertainment. My daughter is not a big fan of the new curriculum or the worship hour.
        I’ve been teaching 4&5 year olds Sunday school for over 3 years but am stepping down so I can focus on my daughter and visiting other churches. We’ll just have to be brave and go visit – I just heard someone say “there are no perfect churches, in fact, if you find one and you join it it will no longer be perfect!”

  6. 7. How did Eliphaz and his friends press the knife in Job’s heart to excruciating depths of pain?

    What could be worse than having someone suggest you were responsible for the deaths of your own children – that God punished you for your sin and it caused their death?

    8. What does God tell Eliphaz and his friends to do in Job 42:7-9?

    God is angry at Job’s friends because “you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has”. They are to offer a burnt offering for themselves, and Job will pray for them, because God says He will accept Job’s prayers on their behalf and not do to them what their folly deserves.

    In all their picking apart of Job, and suggesting that he was punished for his sins, his friends spoke falsely about the character of God. I found it interesting that this is what God says, “You did not speak rightly of Me”, not you did not speak rightly of Job.

  7. Ladies, I need godly wisdom on this, so if anyone has advice I would so appreciate it.

    I have a dear friend who was my special friend growing up. He has a sensitive spirit-we both loved animals and would try to save birds, anything from the jaws of death, even roly polies. 🙂 We were a lot alike. He would get teased because of the braces on his legs, and he says I was the only friend he had who accepted him totally-who didn’t notice the braces, and I didn’t, I honestly don’t remember them. Anyway, based on what I have heard him say, I don’t think he knows the Lord, also, he is gay and is pretty steeped into that lifestyle.

    The sad thing is that he has just been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of nasal cancer and is undergoing radiation and chemo. When i found out last month my heart sank and I said, “Oh no! Not my friend!” I sent him a card and told him I was praying for him. I wanted it to be personal, but a dear friend at church suggested I send him a card with all our signatures on it and to encourage him. Most everyone signed their names and I wrote a personal note.

    I don’t know how to encourage him from here on out. I don’t want to say something that isn’t true. I have seen some say God is with you. He and his partner like to hear that, based on what I have seen on his facebook account, but I am not sure he knows the Lord and I don’t want him to have a false sense that he knows the Lord if he doesn’t. Perhaps I am seeing this wrong. Oh, to just have compassion and give this to the Lord. Perhaps that is what I am missing here.

    Any ideas on how I can comfort or encourage him from here on out?

    1. Rebecca, this is such a hard subject for me. I know that choosing a gay life style is wrong if I am a Christian. It is not Biblical as we all know from both the OT and the NT. However, what I have found is that most of the gay people I know are not Christians, so for them, they don’t answer to a higher power. I tell my children that we should love people no matter who they are because God made them, period. We don’t have to agree with their choices for their lives.

      I am getting from your posting that your friend does go to church? Or at least believes in God? You weren’t “shy” about telling him your church was praying for him, right? Do you think he was receptive to you? The only issue I have with that is we, as Christians are supposed to stand up and speak up to those in our churches who are not “behaving” correctly, right? Eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, homosexuality, etc. are all areas where if we know they are occurring in the church body, we are just as guilty as the person who is living that life style if we don’t speak up. However, the scripture says to speak up “gently.” “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.” Galatians 6:1

      What a great friend you are! I think that is all you can do for now……sit “shiva” and let him know you care. If you are far away, send him articles to read, suggest a podcast (maybe Tim Keller’s sermons? Nancy Leigh Demoss is a HUGE encourager to me), and catch him up on your life and family. When you are ill it is nice to “dwell” on others lives instead of your plight. If he lives close then visit him to sit shiva. It sounds like you are a dear friend to him. That is what God wants us to be no matter what choices people are making for their lives. Whatever you decide, remember that it is not our job to judge.

      1. Laura, you are a great mom! I am forever grateful for my mom as she taught us to look at people from the inside out, so I didn’t pick my friends based on their outward appearance or status and the kids in high school couldn’t figure me out. 🙂

        You really encouraged me with this and gave me some great things to think about as I move forward-especially just catching him up with our life instead of asking him about every detail of what he is going through right now. I am not sure if he is receptive to me spiritually though. I have only shared my testimony as we re-connected via Facebook. He doesn’t live close, but close enough where I could drive out there if need be. Right now, I gather he is kind of joking about it on and off-is on morphine for the pain from time to time. I don’t think they will take his nose, as that is what they said they were going to do at first. I hear he is doing well with the chemo and radiation though.

        Oh, he has read “The Shack” and loved it. He recommended I read it. 🙂 I think that is a great step forward for him though.

  8. MIdday. Like that theory satan says people do not love God just for God.

    ohhh…analogy..think is were married just for what that person could get from you.

    LOVE Fiddler on the Roof. :)So cute his vulnerability. I think that is why love is described as phileo love in Titus 2 in loving husbands and children. We as women lay our lives down and serve that is natural. But we need to be taught to have fun in love with those. We agape well but not phileo.

    Loved too that God knew Job well enough…Righteous people suffer and it is not random. Good stuff. Need to let that sink in.

    awww baby girl just ran in here and told me she loved what I am listening too about God. 🙂

    God is interested in making us like Jesus. Good.

    Loves Jobs faith in just knowing God and knowing He would not leave Him at nothing. It is important to know that some people will suffer for life.

    Great program as usual. I am encouraged.

  9. 5. Read Job 2:11-13 and see how Job’s friends practiced the custom of “sitting shiva.” What did they do?

    They met up and left together to go to Job as soon as they heard the news—they actively responded. They saw him and wept, hardly recognizing him. They tore their clothes, and sprinkled their heads with dust in sorrow. I believe they really felt sad for him. And for 7 days they were quiet, and we are told this is because they realized how much he was suffering—so they do seem to show some sensitivity.

    I know Job’s friends were way off–but in a way, this helps me have grace towards those who say/do hurtful things in times of grieving…maybe they really are trying but just honestly are not “skilled” at it. They get frustrated in their attempt to help, and that quickly leads to a judgmental/fix-it tone. But the original motive/intent may have been good, just mixed with impatience and an ignorance of what it means to grieve. I have experienced this on smaller issues too. There are some who have not allowed themselves to drop the stone wall–to come out of the bunker as my counselor had said to me. And so they are really trying to help, but they aren’t very patient with another’s grieving–and when they determine it’s been “enough time”–they become frustrated! It’s baffling for me when I’m in it, and there is a person in my life where we live in this state–she likes to candy coat/gloss over, I want to bring everything to light, but I do think it comes from a place in her of fear, ignorance, and personal pain that has never been healed. I think that is the heaviest part for me in all this study–is personally knowing some who do not experience what we have here–the freedom to let the guard down, the let the wall fall. I don’t judge them for that, I am saddened by it. And even more thankful for the ministry Dee has–going out to the hurting world and offering a road to healing. Thank you Dee.

    Contrast Job’s response in Job 1:21 with his response in Job 3. Job neither stuffs his feelings nor vents them, but prays them. Find phrases in this honest lament in Job 3 that stand out to you. Why?
    In Job 1:21-Satan’s first attack—Job responds with emotion, but recognizes God’s sovereignty. In Job 3-Satan’s 2nd attack-Job is in greater distress, and still does not curse God, but wishes he had not been born.
    Job 3:13 stands out to me—in the MSG it says “I could be resting in peace right now, asleep forever, feeling no pain”. I can relate to this feeling—when things have been really hard, wanting to just be in Heaven, with Him, in His presence.

    6. How does Eliphaz now pounce on Job in Job 4. I want you to note two portions particularly.
    A. Describe the words of Eliphaz in Job 4:7-9 and describe the assumption behind it.
    What you get is what you deserve. If you are good/innocent you won’t suffer. If you’re suffering, you must deserve it somehow.

    B. Elihu had a dream that he assumes was a word from the Lord. Describe it in Job 4:12-16. Whom do you think was the source of this dream and why?

    I think the source was Satan because it caused such fear in him, and because in 42:7 God says he has not spoken truth about God.

    C. Mason said we too often obey the voice of fear rather than the voice of peace. Ponder this for your own life. What might it mean?

    I can see how when I have listened to my fears, I begin to act as though they are reality. Years ago I had several health issues come up at once. They were real, but my fears took them to extremes, and before long I was living as if my fears had manifested. It was affecting my mood, my decisions, actions. It sounds contradictory, but at the time it felt risky to listen to the Voice that offered peace.

    7. How did Eliphaz and his friends press the knife in Job’s heart to excruciating depths of pain?

    They said it was his fault. I honestly can’t think of much worse to say to a person grieving than that.

  10. 12.

    A. Why should we expect tears? Because God shed the ultimate tears, why are we better than that?

    B. What happens if we assume that sorrow is always a result of sin? We will end up crying for two reasons instead of one! We will cry over the thing that upsets us AND that God is allowing us to hurt. We will end up in worse shape than if we just acknowledge pain will happen in our lives in the first place regardless of what we do or don’t do.

    C. Why does Keller think Christians will actually weep more than non-Christians? Because we (Christians) now have a heart for everyone. It is softer and more touchable. You can feel now.

  11. My take away? The Fiddler on the roof song….made me cry a few days ago and also as I write this. The singer is so passionate and persistent with his wife….beautiful 🙂 For Jesus to ask us this question…Do you love me? implying how much, and no matter what happens.

    I used to say to my my kids “I love you, no matter what,” then the hard teenage years happened to us. I suppose I should still say that, right? It’s harder with them being older and not needed me so much.

    Dee, you will be perfect in Mississippi; you have God with you 🙂

    1. Yay!! Oh, thank you Lord for your grace in Dee’s life today!

  12. Oh Dee I had to share this with you..I looked up Psalm 87 and then read Spurgeon’s Exposition on it.

    All of it is wonderful, but here is where God spoke to me:

    Verse 7: “How truly does all our experience lead us to look to the Lord by faith, and say “all my fresh springs are in thee.” The springs of my faith and all my graces; the springs of my life and all my pleasures; the springs of my activity and all its right doings; the springs of my hope, and all its heavenly anticipations, all lie in thee, my Lord. Without thy Spirit I should be as a dry well, a mocking cistern, destitute of power to bless myself or others. O Lord, I am assured that I belong to the regenerate whose life is in thee, for I feel that I cannot live without thee; therefore, with all thy joyful people will I sing thy praises.”-what sweet truth to battle Satan with!

    This melted my heart yet at the same time I said, Yes, Lord I will sing your praises!- I want to remember this on Sunday-well every time I sing!

    Another point he made was that the writer of the Psalm started abruptly so he started out in adoration-which basically is a bubbling up of what God had done in His heart-he is bubbling up inside with praise and adoration so hence this Psalm. 🙂

  13. 9. Have you ever sensed Jesus “sitting shiva” with you? If so, share something.

    Many times I’m sure He has, yet it has taken time and looking back to see that He was there. Dee wrote above of “He spoke in my spirit and I knew it was not me”. That happened to me twice, both times I will never forget. The first was when I was praying to be saved, and confessing my sins to Jesus, and then “going to the Cross”, and wondering what Jesus would say to me, because He died for my awful, shameful sins. “Now do you see how much I love you?” was what I heard in my spirit that day.
    The second was during a period that I now believe was a time of chastening to get my attention to sin in my life, and I was lamenting to God as to why couldn’t I just be happy like I was just a year ago? And this question, “And what were you so happy about?” came into my mind, and now, as we’ve been through a study on idolatry, I can look back and see I had a huge and dangerous idol in my life.
    I think, too, this would be a wonderful prayer – to ask the Lord Jesus to come and sit shiva with me.

    10. Read Psalm 39:13.

    A. Most laments end with the psalmist remembering God’s character and vowing to trust him. How is this different?

    David asks God to look away from him. “Turn Thy gaze away from me, that I may smile again.” For some reason, God’s presence is not comforting to David.

    B. What is your reaction to this?

    This is sad; there’s no relief, no comfort in God, no hope.

    11. Read Psalm 126 and type out verses 5 and 6.

    Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.
    He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed,
    shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his
    sheaves with him.

    1. After listening to Keller’s message, I see Jesus in this passage of Psalm 126:5-6, as He was the Man of Sorrows (going to and fro weeping), carrying His bag of seed (always sowing for the harvest), and He shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bring His sheaves with Him. (all of us who are the harvest!)

  14. 12. EXPECT TEARS

    A. Why should we expect tears?

    Keller says that even if you are walking with God, He is in your life – expect tears. Reject the Christian myth of if I’m really really good, God’s not going to let anything happen to me! This is wrong thinking.

    B. What happens if we assume that sorrow is always a result of sin?

    We see that we are “bad” and God is a punisher. We’re believing that myth and therefore, we haven’t been good enough. You’ll cry about the thing that grieves you and you will cry about the fact that you are grieving and wonder why is this happening? I shouldn’t be weeping!

    C. Why does Keller think Christians will actually weep more than non-Christians?

    When the gospel changes your heart, your heart of stone is replaced with a real heart that is softer, touchable. You feel the evil and pain around you and the pain of those suffering; you even lose your disdain for the ones committing the evil.
    As you become more like Jesus, you take on more of his character, and He was “a Man of Sorrows and well acquainted with grief.”
    Keller makes the point that it is illogical to say “I want to be like Jesus and I believe that as long as I’m good… He wont let bad things happen to me”.


    A. God will give you grace for your laments, your tears. How does Kidner’s comment on the close of Psalm 39 demonstrate this? (Worth its weight in gold)

    Reflecting on how Psalm 39 closes, asking “Why is David talking like this?” It is because God knows how we speak when we are desperate. God puts this example in Scripture to say to us that it’s safe to pray like this with Me.

    B. How can we know God has not abandoned us, even when we have failed?

    By planting our tears in a vision of the Cross. When we look at Jesus on the Cross, we can know that it was Jesus who was truly abandoned by God for us; it was Jesus who was punished for our sins.

    C. Keller comments on Psalm 126:5-6 and says look ahead to glory. This indeed, is what sustained Job. He knew his Redeemer would stand upon the earth and restore everything. What have you lost that will be restored to you?

    Everything sad will be made untrue. I will see my nephew, free from sadness and depression and addiction, radiant from being in the presence of his Savior. I will be restored and perfected from every sin and entanglement and free from what the Fall and sin
    have stolen. My relationship with God, which is so often hindered here by my failings and sin and attacks of the enemy, will finally be restored to what is was designed to be. I know my relationship is already “positionally” perfect, but I can’t wait to literally feel His arms around me!


    A. What is the tone of the last five psalms in the Psalter?

    They are all praise.

    B. Keller says if you keep in communication, keep talking, all of your prayers will eventually turn to praise. Have you experienced any of this in learning to lament?

    Yes. The first time we went through The God of All Comfort, and were in Psalm 30, which in verse 11 says my mourning will turn into dancing. I tried several days to get something out of this psalm, but my grief was so fresh, I was frustrated and could not see how this could ever happen. One night I made a choice to read through it and praise God, even though I didn’t feel like it at all. When I came to the end, I felt a turning. I had been honest with God, lamenting that I was too sad, I couldn’t get it, it’s just no use. I felt like my mourning couldn’t be dancing because I felt all alone, and then God met me in that He showed me I wasnt dancing alone, He was dancing with me.
    It’s kind of hard to explain, but the sense of aloneness was replaced by knowing He was dancing with me, holding me.

    15. What do you want to remember from this message and why?

    I took so many notes, it was all so good. One thing was to really watch for self-pity. That’s a big trap for me, and Keller said it will kill you, tears and self-pity. It will make you a small, little person, unforgiving, touchy. Ouch.

    I really liked how he brings the Gospel, the Cross, into the heart of this message. It is the key to overcoming my emotions of feeling rejected, ashamed, abandoned, sorry for myself.
    Also, that “all true prayer, when pursued far enough, will become praise”. It may take a long time, but we can have that assurance.

    That tears just don’t give way to joy, the Gospel promise is they will produce joy (if you plant them). This is the kind of joy we really need. Jesus’ tears produced the joy of our being welcomed by the Father.

    It is safe to pour out my heart to God. Where do my deepest feelings, anger, and tears belong? “They belong in prereflective outbursts from the very depth of your being in the presence of God”.

  15. Dee

    Just finished reading God of all comfort today 🙂 Great book.. it blessed me remendously.. I just need to remember everything that stuck out to me!!

  16. Galatians 6:6 One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.
    In keeping with this verse I want to share with you all but especially Dee as our teacher, this note I posted on facebook:

    To Daniels precious friends, I know you miss him and the “whys” can feel so overwhelming and make some of you terribly angry. I KNOW.
    I have gone back on Daniels facebook reading things he wrote many times over, there is in excruciating sort of comfort in it. He had such a great sense of humor. I loved it when his water pump blew & he said Mollies water broke & his complaining about the music in Walgreens I loved the pictures from senior trip of Sam eating an ice cream cone off of one of Daniels mohawk spikes & the ones of him completely wrapped in toilet paper. The videos of him dressed as the Chick Fil-A cow and the one of him breathing fire at camp, of which I had been blissfully unaware. I loved his answers to formspring questions like this one.
    If you were asexual, what kind of asexual would you be? The kind that doesn’t like any gender, or the kind that can spontaneously reproduce?
    id like to be able to do it like a flatworm, so if i were cut in half, then each half would regenerate to a whole dan. id make a army of me.

    I miss him laughing, hugging me and saying “Hello Mother”, I miss him messing with Cosmo, appreciating my food, being excited about planning to go to Disneyworld and a thousand other little wonderful Daniel things. He was such a blessing to me.

    I know you guys miss him too.
    I want to share with you something else I found on his facebook, on March 20 2010 , formspring asked;

    Q: Are you afraid of dying?
    Daniels answer was;

    A: Not really, i’ll go when my times up.


    No one expects their time to be so short as his was. The tearing away hurts so much, it will always hurt in this lifetime. It is hard to understand why such a good person was taken so soon and in such a way. We must not assume that because we can’t understand it, that God is wrong or that he does not have a plan.

    On this day one year ago Shaun Easton, who had served the youth pastor at Crossroads and was Daniels friend, on his way to the hospital to be with us when we took Daniel off of the respirator. He saw a flock of birds in flight. They came to a tree and all but one of them flew to the same side, one bird flew alone on the other side of the tree and rejoined the flock on the other side. He said he felt that God had given him a message that that was how we were to think of Daniel, he has separated from the rest of us, but the separation is temporary, we will soon be reunited.

    Daniel didn’t know his life would be so short, he did though know that he would die, we have not shied away from this topic as a family. He had also acknowledged that he was a sinner, and accepted to work of Christ on the cross as his savior. What a blessed comfort this is to us now, what a hope we have. Daniel is restored, he is perfect now. I know that he doesn’t want any of you to be bitter or angry at God.

    Some of you, his friends are also Christ followers, some of you are not, some are even really angry at God for allowing this to have happened. I want to say to you on Dan’s behalf, that he wants you to be part of the flock joining together on the other side, our lives here on the earth even if they reach 100 years are but a mist that vanishes in an instant when measured against eternity.

    God created you, he wants you to have a relationship with Him, heaven is going to so incredibly awesome, so worth it all. Daniel would want each of you to know it, & to BE THERE so he can welcome you with the best hug you ever got!

    1. Oh Chris, this is so beautiful. I am touched by so many aspects of what you have shared. I can only imagine how deep your pain is, yet you have allowed it and by so doing allowed the Holy Spirit to use it for good. You have an ability to see way beyond the vapor which is this life. Love you and praying for you.

    2. Chris, that was heartwrenching. I can’t imagine losng one of my children. I loved how you wrote to his friends about God and the flock of birds. That was wonderful for you to do that.

    3. Chris,
      How brave of you to write this, and thank you for sharing it with us. I like this –

      Daniel would want each of you to know it, and to BE THERE so he can welcome you with
      the best hug you ever got!

  17. I want to acknowledge this study in bringing me the place where I could write the note. It seems to have resonated; some of his friends are messaging me.

    I slumped after posting it though, I have had a rough week.

    1. Chris, as I was just praying for you a song came to my mind. http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_7707859 This is how emptiness sings. I’ve shared it before but I think now it is so appropriate for us and you have demonstrated it perfectly in what you have shared here.

      1. Thank you Anne, I love the song, the sounds she makes in betwwen the lyrics sound like the unbidden moans that come out of me during the hardest moments.

  18. I think I have done the very thing I am learning not to do. Talking when I should be quiet. I’m sorry Chris.

    1. Anne.
      No, no, please no, don’t think that. I loved the song, and appreciated your responses, everyones reponses. I can begin to feel like an outsider or some kind of pariah when everyone avoids me for fear of hurting me more.

    1. Praise God all went well, Dee. I’ve been reading along and praying for everyone, but having a hard time. I fell at the wellness pool and hurt my bad knee, ribs and shoulder and been in alot of pain, but am starting to feel better now. If I should miss it, Happy Birthday, monday, Dee! You are the very best sister, friend, mentor, leader, anyone could ever ask for. We are so blessed to have you help us:) Thank you and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!

        1. Dee, it was my own fault, I took my swim shoes off too soon as I was going in the shower and slipped. I love the pool, but make a dumb mistake!

      1. Dear Joyce,
        So good to hear from you – been thinking of you and Dennis and Mary Kay.
        I’m sorry you fell, and of all places, at the “wellness” pool. Glad nothing was broken! HOpe you feel better soon!

  19. Happy Birthday Dee! Thank you for your help and encouragement along the way 🙂

  20. Is it true that there is only 2 weeks left this coming one and then one more? 🙁 doesnt seem possible!

  21. My take-away from this week is to think about how Job lamented to God, how David lamented to God in the Psalms. To think about how my tears and laments when taken to God are not wasted, and that God is safe, He understands my feelings. Sowing tears and reaping a joy produced by those tears.

  22. Dee, I am so glad that God met you and that the retreat went well.

    And Joyce, so glad to hear from you! I was about to go looking for you. I am sorry you got hurt. I hope you will be able to continue at the pool. Continuing to pray for you, Dennis and Mary Kay, that all of you will be able to pray your tears and that God will meet you in very special ways. Especially Dennis.

    1. Thank you, Anne, so much. Your prayers mean so much. Dennis and all of us are just hanging on it each breath Mary kay takes. It’s so hard. XOX

  23. 10a. I think this verse may be focused on God’s holiness. The Psalmist is aware of his sinfulness before holy God and he is terrified. How can his life be peaceful when he knows this terror? So he asks God to turn away so that he can have joy before he dies.

    This was my answer before I listened to Keller. I don’t want to change it because I do think this is the source of David’s feelings. Kidner made such an excellent point about how we can express anything to God. Keller said the prayers should be prereflected. I guess that means we should consider them before we just dump out our feelings.

    b. My reaction is to praise God for Jesus. He turned His angry eye toward Him instead (My translation says angry eye).

    12a. We should we expect tears because Jesus wept. He was a man of sorrows and our aim is to be like Him.

    b. If we assume that sorrow is always a result of sin then our grief is doubled. We weep for what grieves us and we weep because we feel punishment for sin.

    c. Keller thinks Christians will actually weep more than non-Christians because they have received hearts of flesh.

    13a. Kidner says that Psalm 39:13 is an example for us that we may know that it is safe to speak our hearts to Him.

    b. We know that God has not abandoned us because of the gospel. If God abandoned me He would be saying that Christ’s sacrifice for me was not enough. He would be denying Himself.

    c. I fear losing my children for eternity. That is my angst and I have so much trouble leaving them in God’s hands.

    14. The last 5 Psalms are all praise and rejoicing. There is no lament.

    15. I want to remember to pray my tears so that they will become God’s glory.

    17. The program was so good. I listened several times. I loved Amy’s song and it was so wonderful to hear how it came to be. One of the things that stood out to me is the manner in which God spoke to Job. I never recognized this as God speaking because it was part of Job’s dialogue. But He spoke to Job in the same way He speaks to me, in his understanding. So while the words were God’s they came out of Job’s mouth. But Job wanted more as I do. He wanted God’s presence and in the whirlwind, He came to him. Then the words came from God’s mouth, words that command the dawn, that laid the foundations of the earth. Like Job, I can only cover my mouth. I think it was you Dee that said “Oh my”. My sentiments exactly. We are 7.

    The other thing that really stood out to me was God’s question to Steve. “Do you trust me?” I will ask this of myself every time I fear. Is He strong enough? Is He trustworthy? Does He love me? Absolutely! I will trust Him.

    18. This has been a wonderful week. I think the greatest treasure I will take away an understanding that the only way to not waste my tears is to pray them to the Lord. But first I must cry them. I think I have been stuffing them for many years. When we started the Stonecutter study I wanted a heart of flesh so much and the study did help, but I think this is now the next step in gaining a the heart like Jesus’ heart. Another big thing for me is the increasing ability to talk to my soul when I fear or when I regret. He is trustworthy and knows my whole life. Every event is woven into His tapestry.

  24. My take away is learning to pray through my tears. I have to start counseling since my medications aren’t working as well as the dr. would like. I have come to realize that my anxiety is rooted in my anger against my coworkers (I have worked at the same place since 1986). My sister (my niece’s mother) was their co-worker for almost 10 years. Long story short she was harassed until she quit 3 years ago. Out of 20 co-workers only 3 came to show their condolences. Neither my managers nor supervisors came. So besides being denied a last minute “vacation” for the 2 days following the funeral when I was too distraught to work, I was offered some very lame excuses for why no one could find time to come to the visitation or funeral. I thought that I had forgiven them but I’m beginning to realize that I have just stuffed everything. So now when I cry I pour out my heart to God, even all of the hateful things that I have been thinking. I now know He can handle it and won’t punish me for being honest.

    1. Dawn, that is a lot of loss. I’m so sorry. I will pray for you. You are doing the right thing in talking to God about all of it.

  25. Tonight I am practicing praying my tears and I felt that God met me so beautifully. I thought I should share. I have index cards with prayers for each of my boys. I started with Joey and the first thing on his card is for a strong anchor that will hold him through difficult times. As I prayed for that I remembered a day in my back yard. It was breezy and sunny and as I looked out across the yard I caught a glimpse of a spider web on the breeze. It was stretching and folding back as it responded to the wind. Mostly it was invisible unless the sun caught it just right. In an instant I knew that this is how God holds my boys. It blessed me then and again now.

    1. Anne, How is Joey doing? Is his cast off?

      1. His cast comes off the 29th. He doesn’t want to go anywhere so he is tending to be a little depressed. He has always spent too much time on the xbox and I am hoping this will be the cure for that. Thanks for asking.

    2. My oldest son as a boy used to witness to friends at school, but had been strong willed and rebelled with everything he had as a teen, when he was 18 & living in California, once when I praying for him I has a sort of picture of God having hold of him by a silver string, it was like a spider silk. I hadn’t thought of that for a long time, I had felt such relief after that reassurance.
      He is now 29 and has not yet returned to the Lord, he would I think call himself an agnostic.
      Your spider web reminded me Anne.

      1. My oldest is 27 and I have a picture of him and a friend saluting when they were 6 or 7. He later told me that they were in the Lord’s army that day. I keep that picture in the drawer beside my bed.

        I love the spider web analogy of holding them because the silk is so tenacious yet almost imperceptable. I am comforted even more because the Lord also gave it to you. I will pray for your oldest too.