By Kenn Gulliksen
This week my mom, Sigrid, would have turned 100. She died in 1986 shortly after my dad’s fatal heart attack, so I’ve been thinking about them both recently, looking at a few old photos. I had given Dad CPR after finding him unconscious and not breathing on the floor of his bedroom. He survived two more days, then died Sunday morning. I was in the middle of teaching my Sunday message when my wife stood in the back of the auditorium, weeping and holding the hands of our two youngest children. I immediately understood Dad was with the Lord.
We all face grief. We may be intellectually prepared, especially in the case of an elderly parent, but we’re never quite emotionally prepared because emotions are spontaneous. I had no clue how much the loss of my father would rock me, but in the process, I came to see that God uses crises, including grief, to reveal more of Himself to us. When loss is great enough to cause grief, only God can come and be for us what loss took away. In the Old Testament, God revealed Himself with new names as His people had need.
A week after Dad died I found myself at the piano writing a song of worship as I saw God as my real Father in a way I never had before. I think that’s the best way, the Biblical way to process grief. Like David did so often in the Psalms, we hurt, we groan in soul and in spirit, we pour out our hearts, feelings and questions to our Father, then we choose to worship. Broken. Humbled. Tender. Deeper.
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith … may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Pet 1:6-7 NIV)
Our Father in heaven,
In this brief moment we come to thank You
that You understand and redeem grief!
We thank You that Your invitation to come boldly to the throne of grace
to find help in time of need is always open.
Lord Jesus, You were a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief on earth,
so we know You completely understand us in our grief and sorrows.
We thank You, Lord, for the Holy Spirit Who intercedes for us
with groans too deep to be uttered
and with grief so raw it screams.
How we praise You for that invitation to pour out our hearts,
our feelings and fears and questions,
to not need to edit or perform or even make sense—but to come.
Most of all we thank You that we find help at Your throne
in our time of need—we find You.
Even as our faith is tested and our ownership of faith itself is challenged,
we thank You that the end of grief isn’t only comfort,
but finding more of You.
We thank You that You fill the place of loss with more of Yourself.
And by faith we know You are working it for our good and Your glory.
Father, in all our grief enable us to lament until we’re empty and exhausted,
then fill us with Your Spirit that we might offer genuine sacrifices of praise to Your glory.
Fulfill Your greatest purpose and intent in our sorrows.
Enable us, even in mystery, to enter into the fellowship of Your sufferings.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
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Kenn Gulliksen, a soft-spoken, unassuming leader with a passion to know and walk with God, started a church in West LA in 1974, sent out by Calvary Chapel. This would be known as the first Vineyard church. Average people, as well as actors and musicians whose names would be familiar to us today (Bob Dylan, T-Bone Burnett, Keith Green), were connected with Gulliksen and the Vineyard.