Tuesday, November 29, 2011


On Thursday in Denver, the temperature will drop forty degrees. Many laugh at this, but those with chronic illnesses will suffer exponentially on account of it. Pray for them, try to show mercy when they are angry and sorrowful, and be thankful you do not share their miserable plight. If you want to begin to understand, read Psalm 88--slowly and repeatedly. There are many Hemans among us. Look for them, if you have the courage and compassion.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Universal Lament for the Children of the Earth (corrrected; I first wrote this in a fit)

Oh God, our Creator, Designer, Law-giver, Revelator, Sustainer, Director, Judge
of all things, in heaven and earth and under the earth.

Oh Jesus, the Logos from Eternity, oh Jesus, Incarnate Logos in history,
full of grace and truth and virtue in perfection.
Light from light,
yet the darkness did not comprehend,
neither did it overcome

A singular Man, born to die
the death no one else every died or could die,
even death on a Cross,
not by accident, happenstance or impersonal historical necessity
(Hegel be damned).

A man of sorrows and permeated with grief,
crushing disappointment,
and lament upon lament for this wounded and wounding world
of his own making--and remaking.

Oh Holy Spirit, so present, yet so alien in this world of woe
and hidden.
Aching wonder, we feel it deep.
Spirit of truth...so often quenched and grieved by lies, ignorance, and

Triune God!
Triume God!
Triunie God!

Hear our prayer, whispered, screamed, signed from within our mortal frame.
Hear our prayer, when we can muster one or two, between signs, moans, and screams
and Silences too deep to express.

We lament our lot,
our loss,
our languishing between the ideal
and the real.

Between joy fulfilled
and hope deferred.

Between virtue tasted
and vice bitter and acidic.

Between restoration
and dejection.

Between beauty
and ashes.

Between the perfect notes
and the botched chords.

Between love lovingly offered
and love stomped on by self, ego, flesh.

Oh Triune God of compassion,
of patience,
of mercy,
of forgiveness through blood and body.

--and of Judgment.

We call out to you,
not in goodness, righteousness, or Christ-like faith,
but in sickness, lifelessness,
near dereliction, destitution, derangement.

We hope for a listening heaven
An open heart above
A future with more grace
more hope,
more love,
more trusting knowledge.

We lament to the bone.
We lament in the soul.
We lament in the moment.
We lament for yesterday and today and tomorrow,

but not for Tomorrow.

Yet we pray that all of our pained yearnings may find
their home in
The One True God:
more true than our lies.
More true than our fears.
More good than our evils.
More full of grace, than we are full of sin.

We lament our state
Our souls are sick and hungry and noisy and weary.

We offer this catastrophe to you,
in hope of an eventual apocalypse of

But not without the nail-driven hands,
the hole in the side
The God with wounds, resurrected, but remembered for eternity.
yet with joy set before him.

Darkness is so often our closest friend.
We bring this bitter friend before our better Friend.

Heal him, and us, of God of the scars, wounds, and resurrection.

Turn our laments into
benedictions, doxologies, and oblations---
soon, lest we die.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Let yourself lament.

Read Psalm 88, slowly.

Remember that it is a prayer.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Inner Holiday: Three Escapes

Those afflicted with chronic illness, and the ones who live with them, cannot "take vacations"--something most middle class Americans assume happens in everyone's life. I prefer the world holiday, since vacation means to vacate, while holiday means an edifying change of scene, pace, and mood. It originally meant "holy-day."

Since we cannot take two weeks away camping, skiing, clubbing or museum-visiting in New York City (my wish), or anything of that sort, we need to creatively find holidays closer to home or in the home--but without forsaking the needs of our selves or those we (attempt to) care for. One needs a nontoxic escape of some sort, since life is so terrible. Here are two such excursions:

1. Escape into understanding. This phrase is from Marshall McLuhan. We are often helpless to change our situation very much (for the better); however, through reading and reflection, we may come to fathom the way things are to a greater degree. We can know, and find comfort in knowing--specially in knowledge of the things that matter most: God, the soul, and immortality.

2. Escape into beauty. Reality contains some beauty--fugitive and rarefied though its presence may be. Thus, one may enter it and leave the rest behind (for a time). "Mood Indigo" may enter through the portal of the ears into the soul--over and over, and in different versions over many years. Luminous and liminal paintings may be summoned to mystify, massage, and manicure the wounded soul. Behold: Georgia O'Keefe, Georges Rouault, Mark Rothko.

3. Escape into service. Engage in good works outside of helping the chronically ill. Volunteer for a food bank or splurge on someone who is depressed by something other than chronic illness. You do not do this strictly for yourself, of course. But it may change one's soul for the better in the doing of it.

But one must return to the chronic, and hope for grace there, too.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self ?--Luke 9:25

Friday, November 18, 2011

What does our age of constant diversion, distraction, and dissipation lack? It lacks meaningful discipline: self-denial for a cause greater than the self. But this alone gives meaning and truth to the self, which is otherwise derelict in its own finite absorption

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ways to Further the Ministry

Christian thinkers need to get out the word about the truth, rationality, and pertinence of Christianity. You can help me do this in several ways.

1. Become a Facebook friend to keep up with my talks, essays, views, etc. Warning: you will get a heavy dose of Groothuis views on just about everything: politics, culture, jazz, philosophy, apologetics, dogs, etc.

2. Follow me on Twitter for the same reason: @DougGroothuis.

3. Check my blogs: The Constructive Curmudgeon and Christian Apologetics (dedicated to my book of the same title).

4. If you think Christian Apologetics helps further the mission of God, you can support the book in several ways.

a. Review it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or your blog, Facebook, and so on. “Like” it on Amazon.
b. If you are an aspiring author, review it for an academic publication or magazine.
c. Purchase a copy for your pastor, local library, or church library.
d. Teach from it in an adult education class or make it the book for a book discussion. Yes, this will take some time.
e. Recommend the book to opinion-shapers in the church and the larger culture.

5. Let me know how I might help you engage in apologetics and evangelism. I can speak to campus groups, churches, and in other public forums on all manner of apologetics and moral topics. I am happy to meet one-on-one or in small groups with unbelievers who have questions about Christianity.

6. I have a number of audio and video messages on line in various places, such as YouTube. Take advantage of these and let your friends know about them.

May it be done for the glory of God and the advancement of his Kingdom,

Doug Groothuis

Friday, November 4, 2011

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer

How to Help: Nine Ideas

Most of us have no idea how to help the chronically ill. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Do not constantly ask her how she feels. She feels awful all the time, and would rather not talk about it much.

2. Do not say, "Are you feeling better?" That puts pressure on her.

3. Do not treat her as a terminal patient, but as a wounded human being.

4. Do not ignore her, but think through ways to bring some faith, hope, and love into her life.

5. Pray for wisdom for all involved in her life.

6. Repent when you do the wrong thing and bring further misery into her life. How many times I have done this...

7. Do small things to help, such as giving flowers, sending cards, giving hugs (if wanted and if they do not hurt the person).

8. Don't assume you know what helps. Ask her.

9. Fast and pray for her healing. Be ready to suffer yourself in so doing.

Ponder this

Here is a verse to ponder for those of us who get weary and impatient with our chronically ill loved ones:

And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.--1 Thes. 5:14.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

From The Book of Common Prayer

For a Sick Person

O Father of mercies and God of all comfort, our only help in time of need: We humbly beseech thee to behold, visit and relieve thy sick servant N. for whom our prayers are desired. Look upon him with the eyes of thy mercy; comfort him with a sense of thy goodness; preserve him from the temptations of the enemy; and give him patience under his affliction. In thy good time, restore him to health, and enable him to lead the residue of hislife in thy fear, and to thy glory; and grant that finally he may dwell with thee in life everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Recovery from Sickness

O God, the strength of the weak and the comfort of sufferers: Mercifully accept our prayers, and grant to your servant N. the help of your power, thathis sickness may be turned into health, and our sorrow into joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

or this

O God of heavenly powers, by the might of your command you drive away from our bodies all sickness and all infirmity: Be present in your goodness with your servant N., that his weakness may be banished and his strength restored; and that, his health being renewed, he may bless your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.