Below is my 2017 Soundcloud.com interview with Pamela Q Fernandes, doctor, and author, about my book Tragedy Transformed: How Job’s Recovery Can Provide Hope For Yours (2015). The transcript of Part I follows.
Gordon: Well, first, Pamela, let me thank you for your kind invitation to join with you today on this podcast. My name is Gordon Grose, G-R-O-S-E. And I’m a pastor and counselor, and now recently an author. I pastored 3 congregations over a period of 25 years, different places in the United States. I did counseling with Western Psychological and Counseling Services in Portland, Oregon, where my home is, for about 11 years. And I’m now counseling on a volunteer basis at a place called Good Samaritan Ministries, which offers counseling without a fee, and the whole ministry is supported through donations. By the way, this is a worldwide ministry, with locations in 23 nations and 18 in Africa. Two years ago, I published my book the first one I’ve written on the subject of recovering from tragedy based on the book of Job in the Bible. I’ve been married 57 years as of next month, July 9th. We have four children, eight grandchildren, two great grandchildren, and one great coming.
Pamela: So you’ve actually had a very long career in counseling? You’ve also experienced lots of people with tragedies and things like that, right? You’ve met these people, you’ve seen this happen.
Gordon: Well, in pastoring, you certainly see it all the time. There’s constant funerals as there are weddings and births of babies. So you get an experience of ministering to people in deep grief. And as a pastor you have a great privilege of being essentially in the front lines, seeing firsthand how people respond, and working with them to bring about comfort and resolution, and trust in God in spite of the loss which they are experiencing.
Preparation for Facing Tragedy
Pamela: So do you think that there are some people who, you know, are better equipped for tragedy? I mean, is there a way that somebody can be better prepared for tragedy? Or it’s just that when it hits us, that’s the time you come up with whatever defense or coping mechanism you have?
Gordon: That’s a good question. One of the things I struggled with in the book, and I noticed that a very well-known author, Timothy Keller, struggled with it as well in his book “Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering,” and that is denial. The subject of death, or grief, or loss is something we prefer not to think about. It’s not easy to promote something to get people to face when they don’t want to. And grief is denied because it’s very painful. People, including me, have things to do in preparation for after my death, with the funeral service suggestions that I want to make and with the ways that…well, I have take care of one issue. But it’s something which I delay and it’s in my iin-box, but I never get to it, because it’s something that it’s easy to put off. There’s a French author, I think it’s Michel de la Montaigne who wrote a book called “Divertissments” and it’s the French word for diversions.
And in life we use a lot of diversions. We are heavy into sports; we are heavy into entertainment and movies and televisions, and everything helps us pass the time and diverts us from some of the real issues that face us such as health and illness, and death. We don’t even talk the word death anymore today. If you notice, we always say “passed” or “passed away.” And one of the things I’m going to instruct my pastor, is to please indicate to the congregation that Gordon has died, that he has not simply passed on, or passed away, but that he is actually dead. And I feel quite strongly about that. I’ve worked with people to help them face their suffering and face their death with God’s strength. And I find that is the best way to help people.
Job’s Most Important Lesson
I think the biggest lesson that I learned about life, that I learned from the book of Job about which I wrote. If you recall the story, Job was a magnificent success. And he had enterprises in every direction, and a large family. One day he lost it all. Well, what was it he had to learn? He had to learn, which he didn’t until the end of the book, that there are some things in life over which we have no control. And they’re truly tragic. We can think of natural disasters that come upon us: earthquakes, and tornadoes, and floods. And people have done nothing wrong, but they have to suffer and they have to go through these things; there are times when we don’t have control over our own lives. And it’s something that is very difficult to live with, but if people can get their mind and heart around the fact that I cannot control a lot.
Pamela: Cannot control, yeah.
Gordon: That’s, I think, about the best they can do. So that when it happens and they realize, “Oh, that’s right. I remember now, somewhere somebody told me that you can’t control everything.”
Next Week: Part II