Recently, I had the heartbreaking experience of attending a funeral. All funerals hang heavy with sadness, yes, but this was a this should never happen kind of funeral.
A dear friend’s husband, barely past the age of 40, passed away after a brutal and brave battle with cancer. Seeing a precious friend and her three young children face a future without “husband” and “dad” is enough to make you clench your teeth and cry, Lord, please just come back and bring an end to all this suffering!
During the service, the beautiful and reassuring words of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 pierced the thick veil of grief, bringing life and truth:
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.” (NIV) (emphasis added)
If you’re a believer, you’ve likely heard these words a time or two. Perhaps you’ve even taken great comfort in them after losing a loved one of your own. Our Savior conquered the grave, and now death no longer has the final word. Amen and amen!
But as I sat and listened, I couldn’t help but think of all the other areas where death comes creeping in. The dreams that die. The careers that wither. The marriages that crash and burn. The friendships that fade.
The truth is, we face death in all sorts of ways on this earth, long before our bodies reach their final resting place. Are we simply to grit our teeth and tough it out, waiting for the perfection of eternity?
According to Jesus, no. The words of John 10:10 make clear His desire in our lives:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (ESV)
Because of Jesus, we will be victorious in death, yes—but the same applies on this side of eternity! Jesus didn’t limit abundant life to our eternal souls. Instead, He graciously offers it to our earthly, mortal lives too.
No matter the type of death we’re currently facing, we do not have to grieve without hope.
We have hope in the full restoration that’s coming one day, and hope in the abundance of grace and strength He gives us this day. The Apostle Peter said it well:
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises.” 2 Peter 1:3-4a (NIV)
Our Father gives us everything we need, and a laundry list of incredible promises from His Word! And while we’re faithfully walking in trust in Him, He’s busy bottling our tears and working out redemption in the mess.
Dear one, I don’t know what valley you’re walking through today. I know that all of us find ourselves on edge and anxious due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19. For many of us, this just piles on top of the pain or discomfort we’re already experiencing in an area (or two!) of life.
Grieving plays a key role in healing, yes—but please, oh please, take heart! You are not without hope. You and I share the promise of an eternal hope and a hope for the here and now–no matter how chaotic and broken our here and now happens to be.
Will you cling to this truth with me today, sweet reader? And as we cling, I pray we’ll see flickers of abundant life begin to pierce through the grief.