Tag Archives: grief


Part of what the Bible seeks to teach us is how to cry. How to be sad. Much time is spent showing us how God’s people mourn after a tragedy.

Little time is spent explaining the existence of evil or why bad things happen to good people. More time, much more, is showing how God’s people cry and how they cry out to him.

Much lament is also a confession of sin, but that’s not true of all lament. Sometimes the speaker is crying out to God after suffering unjustly, at least from their point of view.

Glenn Pemberton, who was my dorm RA back in the day, has written a book about the Psalms of Lament. I haven’t read it, but knowing Glenn’s work, I’m sure it’s excellent. Richard Beck wrote a blog post based on some of the information in that book. He included a graphic representing a comparison the book makes, comparing the Psalms to modern hymnals. It’s interesting:

Graph taken from Experimental Theology blog

Our culture doesn’t like to cry. No wailing at funerals like in other cultures. Tears are hidden and apologized for.

The church needs to learn to cry. If Jesus, knowing that Lazarus would soon be raised, could shed a tear at his friend’s tomb, we too can cry upon seeing the pain of others. After what happened on Friday in Connecticut, tears are more than appropriate.

“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”” (Matthew 2:16–18)

Let the Bible teach us how to lament.

photo by ariadna on www.morguefile.com

Cass Archer

Last Monday evening, I spoke with my mom and found out that my dad’s already poor health was declining quickly. I threw some clothes in the car and headed over to their house. My dad left this world the morning of Wednesday, May 25.

I want to share a couple of things. First, I’ll share something I wrote to be read at his funeral, then I’ll include the obituary that my sister wrote for the newspaper.

The Oak Tree

There’s a red oak tree in my parents’ backyard. It’s grown tall and strong since Daddy planted it, much taller than what was expected. During the last few weeks of his life, when Daddy would get confused as to where he was, he could see that tree out the window and it would help him know he was still at home.

Though Daddy ended up working most of his days in a classroom, he was a man of the soil. He loved growing things. When he and Mother began to travel, it was hard for him to keep his garden up. Later years robbed him of his strength for working outside. But that tree continued to grow, far beyond what anyone had anticipated.

My father was a man who knew how to cultivate and grow. He has left behind a legacy as strong and growing as that oak tree. He led tens of thousands of young minds in understanding the intricacies of mathematics. He helped to shepherd this congregation for many years, both during the time when he was an elder, and even when he wasn’t. And, not least of all, he left behind the strong legacy of children and grandchildren who share his deep Christian faith.

Many will remember his humor. As children, we rolled our eyes when Daddy would repeat the same jokes over and over. When someone said, “Go ahead,” Daddy was sure to respond, “Don’t call me goat head.” The person hearing it for the first time would laugh. We would groan. And now I find myself torturing my children with many of the same jokes that Daddy always made.

I’ve been told that I walk like my dad. Others have said that I talk like my dad. I’ve been told that I look like him. I take each of those statements as a great compliment. My father wasn’t perfect, which doesn’t surprise anyone. But he was a man who knew how to cultivate and grow. There’s an oak tree that stands as a testimony to that. And there’s a family seated here that bears the same witness.

We’ll miss you, Daddy. But so much of you will continue on. In us.


Cass Louis Archer, faithful Christian, devoted husband and father, and dedicated college math professor, died Wednesday, May 25, at his home in San Angelo. He was 86.

Cass was born June 1, 1924, in Spearman, Texas, to Charles O. and Jessie (Karr) Archer. He had five brothers and two sisters. He married Irma Ruth Fulbright July 25, 1953, in McLean, Texas.

He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1943-46. After his service he studied at the University of Texas, earning bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in mathematics. He taught mathematics for 32 years, including serving as the head of the math department at Angelo State University from 1959-84. He also taught math in the Seminole public schools.

A long-time member of the Church of Christ, he served as a deacon and as an elder at Johnson Street Church of Christ. He was a member of Phi Delta Kappa, a professional association of educators, and a member of the Rotary Club for many years.

He was known for his dry wit and keen sense of humor. He loved traveling and gardening.

He is survived by his wife, Irma, of the home; a brother, Coleman Archer of North Richland Hills; children, Laura Wells and her husband, Cris, of Hurst; Deborah Pratt and her husband, Andrew, of Lawrenceville, N.J.; and Tim Archer and his wife, Carolina, of Abilene; seven grandchildren, Aaron Wells and his wife, Cecilia, Michael Wells, Philip Wells, Ben Pratt, Lauren Pratt, Daniel Archer, and Andrea Archer.

Visitation will be Friday, May 27, at Johnson’s Funeral Home with the family present from 5 to 7 p.m.

Services will be Saturday, May 28, at Johnson Street Church of Christ, with Tommy King, minister of the church, officiating. Burial will follow at Lawnhaven Memorial Gardens in San Angelo. Johnson’s Funeral Home is directing.

The family wishes to express its gratitude to the staff of Shannon Home Health Services and Hospice of San Angelo for the loving care given to our husband and father.

Memorial donations may be made to Herald of Truth Ministries in Abilene, Texas, or to Hospice of San Angelo.

Peace Like A River

[While we’re traveling in Argentina, I thought I’d post some of the things that I’ve written for the HopeForLife.org blog; they’ve also been posted to Heartlight. Comments are moderated until I get back; sorry about that folks. Some people don’t know how to play nice.]

“Saved alone. What shall I do?” Those were the chilling words Horatio Spafford read in the telegram from his wife. It was November, 1873. Anna Spafford had been traveling to Europe with the four Spafford children; Mr. Spafford was to join them later. The ship the family was traveling on, the Ville du Havre, was rammed by a British iron sailing ship, the Lockhearn. Mrs. Spafford was rescued by the Lockhearn, but the four children were taken by the waves.

Mr. Spafford was a prosperous lawyer and real estate developer in Chicago until his fortunes were reduced to ashes by the Great Fire of 1871. Still reeling from that financial disaster, now Spafford faced an even greater crisis. He was a man of faith, but these were times that would try even the greatest saint.

Making the Atlantic crossing to join his wife, Spafford was shown the location of the wreck that had cost him his children. Reflecting on that moment, he wrote his wife’s half-sister saying “On Thursday last we passed over the spot where she went down, in mid-ocean, the waters three miles deep. But I do not think of our dear ones there. They are safe, folded, the dear lambs.”

During the crossing, Spafford sat and wrote the words to one of the best-loved songs of all times. The first verse reads:

When peace like a river attendeth my way

When sorrows like sea billows roll

Whatever my lot

Thou hast taught me to say

“It is well with my soul.”

It’s an amazing story. Most of us would have trouble reacting in such a way. When faced with loss, when dealing with grief, the common reaction is to fall back on self-pity. What enabled Spafford to respond as he did? Faith. Spafford believed that death was not the end for his dear children. He believed that the grave was a stopping point, not a destination. To him, his children lay, not beneath the cold waters, but folded safe in the arms of Jesus.

Without God, such hope is not possible. Without God, death is the end. But God has overcome death, through the history-changing resurrection of his son. We can read in the New Testament: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

Do you have this hope? Do you share this faith? If not, let me tell you about the God that can fill you with peace in the most trying of times, that can trace a path of hope through the darkest hour.


Copyright Herald of Truth ministries