December 15, 2016

4 Years Later - Grief Counseling at The Home Depot

Early this morning at around 8:25 a.m., I received a phone call from one of the managers at The Home Depot in Danbury where I work, asking if I would be able to come in and assist with providing counseling, for anyone who wished to meet with me.

A psychologist was there from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. I arrived around 10:15 a.m., and stayed until 1:30 p.m.

I'm not a psychologist, so there is no way that I could have assisted under that capacity.  I think just about everyone whom I work with knows that I'm a pastor and this is why I was called.  To help answer any questions about the horrific incident at the Sandy Hook Elementary School the day before. 

When I arrived, I got myself situated in the employee locker room, positioning the chairs where I could sit and listen to anyone who wanted to sit down and talk about what they were grieving about.  None of the people I spoke to, or work with were directly affected by the tragedy, but they were all affected by the loss of such innocent children, which reminded many of them of their own children, or grandchildren in some cases.

One of the questions that was asked, but not really looking for an answer was this one, "How dark does someone's soul have to get to do something like this, to a defenseless little child?"

Many people don't like to admit this, but everyone's soul is quite dark when it lives apart from Christ and no one has to be labeled with a mental disease or disorder in order to be more likely to act in such an evil way. 

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah tells us quite plainly that "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?"  (Jeremiah 17:9, ESV) 

The problem of sin begins at the very center of our lives - our heart.  Not physically, but spiritually.  We are supposed to love God with ALL of our heart, soul, mind and strength, but when this isn't the case, yesterday's tragedy is a tremendous example of a heart that doesn't love God, nor His creation of humanity. 

The heart issue is a spiritual one, not a medical one and only the Gospel of Jesus Christ, through repentance and faith in Him alone can cure both and in order to receive Christ, a person must humble themselves before Him and acknowledge His death for their sin, in order to receive the forgiveness of sin for which He atoned for. 

From the New Testament letter of James, he writes, "Let no one say when he is tempted,  I am being tempted by God,  for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire  when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and  sin when it is fully grown brings forth death." (James 1:13-15 ESV) 

So the temptation to sin, is a trap that is set by the Devil, not by God and when such a temptation aims to give us some degree of pleasure, where in this case, harms the lives of other people, it brings forth not just a physical death, but a spiritual one too. 

The darkness of one's soul can grow quite dark when the trap is set by the Devil and we succumb to the bait that is waiting to catch us in the snare of sin and death. 

One of the statements that was made today was, "It's kind of hard to believe in God in all of this."  That's one statement that will always come up when a tragedy like this occurs. 

But just like I've heard others pastors mention in news interviews, we can't blame God for such things like this when there is no desire to want Him in our lives to begin with. 

The murder of every single person is an egregious sin against God, but so is our refusal to accept His gift of forgiveness and salvation, through faith alone in His Son, Jesus Christ. 

On Friday afternoon, one of my co-workers, somewhat said jokingly to me, "Can't you, like, help change a quarter or half of the people in this world?"  And my answer is that I can speak to many, but lives are changed one at a time, by the Spirit of God. 

I firmly believe that lives are truly affected and changed when the Gospel penetrates a person's life, to realize that God sent His only Son, to die for their sins and that through faith alone in His death, repenting from sin and trusting in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation will result in a changed life that will also affect others, until Christ returns or calls them home. 

At the end of my few hours spent today at the store, one person suggested that there should be a pastor readily available at every Home Depot store across the country. 

Maybe The Home Depot could begin considering how the company can add to the care of their associates, by offering them the opportunity to have access to a Chaplain, not just for the instances where deaths have occurred in their families (which recently has happened in our store), for births of children, for weddings on the horizon, but more importantly, for the care of each associate in times of a tragedy such as what happened in Newtown, CT.  

People are needing someone more than just a medical counselor, they are looking for spiritual comfort from those who know God and who can help answers to some of the most challenging questions at a very difficult emotional time in their lives. 

Before I left today, I was advised that some of our contractors who live in the Newtown, CT area were informed that I'd be available for them if they needed to speak to me when they come to the store next week. 

Please pray for me and those whom I'll meet with, to help provide some degree of spiritual comfort that may hopefully be shared with each of their families at home too. 

As I walked out of the store this afternoon, I met with a few others who said they wanted to see me, but just can't right now, for fear of beginning to cry again.  I let them know that I'll be in on Monday, but I just may stop by tomorrow afternoon to check in with some of them. 

Today's ministry of presence to people grieving over this tragedy is still remarkable how God continues to use my life, for His glory through where I work. 

Please continue to pray for the families of Newtown, CT and for the many pastors in the local area who will be ministering to these families and the funerals that will be conducted for those who were killed. 

O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge ~ Psalm 7:1


Faithfully in Christ, 

Pastor Kurt

Originally posted on December 15, 2012

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