There have many things I’ve seen & heard about in the last week that have centered around moments brought on by grief. Friends who are mourning the loss of a family member, the extreme tragedy in Paris due to the terrorist bombings, loss of life in various middle Eastern countries, friends who have loved ones dealing with cancer, and others who have lost jobs. There are a variety of ways we experience loss and just as many ways we grieve those losses.
Like you, I’ve experienced various losses in my life and haven’t always handled the process very well. My first brother died of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) at 3 months old ~ I was 23 months old and I remember that day vividly. I realize now that the way I processed my “2 year old grief” was to become the little momma…everyone’s caretaker to make sure everyone was happy. I was blessed with several great grandparents and great aunts & uncles, and a great multitude of cousins ~ which meant by the time I was 18, I had attended about 10-12 funerals. I remember when I was about 31, I attended my first funeral service where the person was not a Christian. I almost came unglued during the service when this woman’s children looked up toward the ceiling of the church and said, “Well Mom, wherever you are, I hope you are happy and maybe I’ll see you again sometime.” I cried all the way home. Deeply saddened for this family who was not only dealing with the loss of their sweet mom, but adding to that grief was the knowledge that they didn’t have the hope and security in Christ’s salvation. I also cried with relief knowing that my daughters would never have to wonder where I was after my time here on earth is done.
This can be a very touchy subject for some, and I do not mean to offend. What I want to offer you is Hope. In Christ, through His salvation, we have a hope that is full of grace and mercy; and frankly, totally incomprehensible.
John 3:16-21 beautifully illustrates God’s promise, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”
The latter half of these verses readily bring to mind the Paris tragedies that happened this past Friday. The people who organized these heinous acts are evil. Pure and simple…they. are. evil. Because sin came into this world (Genesis 3), satan became the ruler of this world. Satan’s goal is to wreak havoc over the entire earth; to make every good thing God created into something twisted; to turn God’s Word around to make it sound legalistic and unattainable.
My friend ~ look to the truth of God’s Word here in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
In the book of John, chapter 14, the truth that is celebrated on these pages of scripture fills me with great hope and great joy. Verses 1-7, ““Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.””
In verses 15-17 of chapter 14, John writes, ““If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
But I think my favorite part of John 14 is in verse 27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Let me just say…the entire book of John is an amazing account of the life and teaching of Jesus Christ & I recommend that you take a moment and read the whole book. It holds a brilliant light up to a dark world, proving that Jesus IS who He says He is. He WILL do what He has promised to do. We do have salvation through Him and we will be with Him again someday.
But sometimes you have seasons of doubt, usually as a result of some kind of grief you experience. This is not a concept that is readily spoken about in the Christian church today, and I personally think this is part of the reason why so many Christians become disillusioned with the Word of God and His promises. No one wants to take the time to walk that dark road of doubt with someone, encouraging them to persevere and make it out back to the light of truth. God knew we would deal with this emotion of doubt.
One answer comes in Romans 3:3-4a, “What then? If some did not believe, will their unbelief cancel God’s faithfulness? Absolutely not! God must be true, even if everyone is a liar,” Just because I may at times doubt in God’s plan for my life or for this world; just because I may at times have a hard time believing that God’s goodness will overcome ~ those human feelings do not in any way nullify the purity and surety that is God.
The NIV Bible version mentions the word “grief”, 32 times in scripture; the word “grieve” or “grieved”, 30 times; and “grieving”, 3 times. Collectively, that is 65 mentions of grief. But just like God, He wants to show us His heart and remind us what is true. Guess how many times the word JOY is used in scripture? 50? 100? 150? Nope….over 240 times!!! And the word HOPE is written about 180 times! Mathematically, that’s EIGHT TIMES the amount of God calling us to focus on what is good and truthful, joyful and hopeful…..instead of focusing on the pain of grief.
Psalm 30:11-12 King David joyously declares, “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”
For this blog post, I turned to my friends on Facebook and asked them, “What does the statement, ‘grieve with hope’, mean to you?” Here are some snipits of what they had to say:
“The grief of Christians is very different from the grief of non believers because we have hope that all pain will pass away.”
“I grieve with hope everyday knowing that my mom is with Jesus and I will see her again. Our view of heaven is very different when someone we love so much is there.”
“The hope that I have in Christ, brings me joy and I know that because of Jesus being my hope.”
“My hope is in that which I do not see … Which is a future with no more tears, no more pain. It’s literally too good to be true – and yet, miraculously, it is true, and there lies my hope.”
” There are times and seasons when prayers go unanswered – and we have no idea why! When there are doors we so desperately want to have opened wide and God, in His Wisdom, keeps them closed – or slams them shut!! If we remain in Him, if we persist in prayer and stay in the Word – when our soul is anchored in the Lord, we will soon see His purpose and His reasons.”
“In life, it means to me that broken relationships grieve our hearts, but in the Lord there is hope for healing. In death, it means that when we lose another fellow believer we have hope of being reunited in heaven.”
I am so thankful for the input of these dear friends who shared their heart. My prayer is that through their words, and through the truth of God’s scripture, that you will begin a new journey of turning your uncertainty to surety, your sorrow to joy, and your grief to hope. There is HOPE!