The Sliker family is heading to a memorial service this morning with the rest of the IHOP-KC family. The sudden loss of David Maas while on a missions trip with his family in Chennai, India, stunned many on this side of the world. In particular, those who have connected over the years with the family in our Children’s Equipping Center were shocked by the news. Thus it’s been a learning process for my wife and I related to walking our kids through death and loss. It hasn’t seemed real to them - they’ve talked about it freely and soberly yet slightly detached, as could be expected. I’m wondering how they will respond to the memorial.
I have been stunned, however, with how amazing the spiritual family is here. I’ve never seen anything like it. The way that people mobilize to serve in difficult situations is inspiring to me. It also encourages me. I have seen this group of believers rally time and time again in ways that always seem to catch me off guard. In the early days, someone’s daughter had a series of nightmares…thus the leadership went on an extended fast. Sickness strikes our community…thus the people rally to serve and pray like nothing I have ever seen. In this case, I was in awe of what people did to care for the Maas family in their time of need.
These are godly people - but to me, the way that this community responds to crisis strikes me as a testimony to the power of corporate prayer and fasting to knit people together in ways that are beyond social or conversational. I am thankful to be a part of a community like this that moves with swift and precise tenderness and passion when needed. None of the things that the IHOP-KC spiritual family did over the past few days can help soothe a devastating, sudden, and unexpected loss. There are many things needed that only the Comforter can provide the Maas family over the next few years. The worst part about loss is what strikes you weeks and months after the event - everyone that rallied around you in the first few weeks has moved on. You struggle with feelings of frustration and isolation, which in part comes from the awkwardness of how people feel around you - uncertain and unsure about whether or not you are okay to talk about things that you yourself are uncertain and unsure about how to talk about.
Those factors and a dozen others combine into a complicated mosaic that forms a long timeline to recover from a loss such as this. It’s why it is important to continue to remember to pray - and why prayer is the most critical component of a time like this. Many who have watched people endure loss are often shocked in the early phases by the resolve and bravery of the ones who are walking through it. Often, however, we are just witnessing shock - the God-given mechanism to cope with emotions and pain often too intense to bear immediately. The God who established our constitution and frame has a means of “spreading the pain” over time. Thus, it is important for friends to have an available ear long after the days have passed, the shock has worn off, and waves of grief wash over the wounded heart at seemingly random, unexpected times.
All of the IHOP family are learning, therefore, to deal with loss. The lessons learned will be applied again and again in the days to come. While the outpouring of affection and help in the early days is inspiring, the weeks ahead will test our ability to navigate sensitive and tender issues such as this. We don’t always do as well as we would like - and we can’t; as I said, some things can only be healed in time by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, who is an expert at dealing with loss.
2 comments January 23rd, 2008