february 12th - Comfort
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NKJV)
When someone dies, I often find myself at a loss for words. In those moments, I have two threads of emotion that are swirling around in my thought process. Firstly, I am extremely sad. I’m sad for the people that are close to the individual, knowing that there will be a gap (a loss of conversation, a loss of presence, a loss of personality, a loss of being loved) created by their absence. I am also filled with hope and take comfort from the fact that there is existence beyond this life.
My search for the “right” words continues… Do I express hope, and in the eyes of the grieving person, somehow trivialize the pain that they are feeling? Do I express my sorrow and make them feel as if there is no hope? The answer is that I need to briefly express both sorrow and hope, accompanied by a heartfelt, longer than usual hug. In times of great loss, people need to feel the love and support of their friends and family.
We know that Jesus felt grief at the death of a friend. As He experienced the death of His friend Lazarus, the Bible tells us simply that “Jesus wept.” So, we grieve, we cry, we sorrow;
but, not as those who have no hope. We know that there is a blessed hope that remains to be realized at a future date. It is as sure as Lazarus emerging from the tomb when Jesus spoke these words, “Lazarus, come forth.” Indeed, the dead will live again.
I am reminded of the blessed hope every time I have another friend or a relative that dies. They reached the appointed time, took their last breath and passed on from this life. This has always been the way of life, but as I have aged and approach that time myself, I have more of my own peers who have passed on from this life. What does this tell me? That death is inevitable and cannot be escaped. It also tells me that the blessed hope of a resurrection in Christ is as inevitable and sure as death and cannot be avoided. The dead in Christ will live again! Until that time--I am going to work in the Kingdom that will never pass away; and I will cherish and celebrate the lives of those that have moved on from this earth.
Author's Note: A friend of mine passed away today. She was a special lady and saint of God. As a young pastor she worked at making Jody and me feel loved, cherished and valued. She will have a fond place in my heart and my gratitude. I do know this for certain--we will meet again and it will be glorious! RJD