Hope Amidst Loss
Bible Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Year ago I was leading a men’s Bible study, when one of the men made an unexpected comment. He said he didn’t know why it was that Christians grieved in the loss of a believing loved one since they knew where the person was going. The comment was shallow and naïve, but it worked to lead us to a healthy and corrective discussion.
Today’s Bible reading speaks of the rapture. Christ is coming again to rapture His church! “The dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Herein lies our hope, and we are to encourage one another in this glorious truth (1 Thessalonians 4:18)!
But the fact that we have such a hope does not mean that we do not grieve, it just means we grieve in a different way. Since the day of that long ago Bible study I’ve conducted more funeral services that I can recall. For both believers and unbelievers. For younger folks who had died unexpectedly and for the elderly who had died after a long fight with some disease. I’ve witnessed the deep sorrow and many tears of those saying goodbye to the person they loved. From that day of Laura’s cancer diagnosis until today, God’s been gracious, but that doesn’t mean that there’s been no sorrow in her struggle. In this past year, working as a part time hospice chaplain, I’ve witnessed much sorrow. In recent weeks, I’ve been leading a GriefShare group. Everyone who comes has lost someone–a wife, a husband, a child, a grandchild. They are there because their hearts are deeply burdened with the sorrow that accompanies being separated from someone you love. Pray for my friends as they make their way in their journey in dealing with grief! One can only imagine the full measure of sorrow even now being experienced by those in Ukraine, dealing with the death and destruction amidst the horror of war. Pray for them too!
Indeed there is much suffering in this world! But one good reason for hope, is that in Jesus we have One who cares. The “Man of Sorrows” is well aware of all we go through. As was said of Him in Isaiah 53: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3a). Jesus wept at a funeral. He shared in the sorrow of those who were grieving, knowing full well that He was soon to raise Lazarus from the dead. On the cross He’d do even more than that, as Isaiah 53:4 puts it, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Matthew 26:38). There is grief and sorrow in this world because of sin. All that troubles us can be ultimately traced back to that root cause. In dying for our sins to save us, Jesus experienced immeasurable grief and sorrow (Matthew 26:38, 27:46). Through the blur of our tear-filled eyes, we look to the cross, and again to the empty tomb, and in Jesus find good reason for hope!
And we have reason to hope amidst our sorrows because Jesus is coming. The One who “died and rose again” (1 Thessalonians 4:14), is coming again! There’s no place on this planet to which we can go to escape the sorrow associated with suffering loss. But Jesus is coming again to take us home and “he will wipe away every tear from (our) eyes!” He’s coming to take us home, where “death shall be no more!” Home, to that perfect, sinless place in the presence of God where there’ll be no more mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21:3-4)! We still grieve now, in suffering loss, but with a sorrow that mixed with the confident expectation of the coming heavenly reunion in the presence of Jesus! It’s okay to cry now! But the day is coming when there’ll no longer be any reason to.
It’s Okay to Cry Now, But the Day is Coming When There’ll Be No Reason to
Lord Jesus. We praise You for Your saving work on the cross! In love You came on Your divine rescue mission to save us. We marvel at Your willingness to enter into our sorrows and bear the burden of our sins. We worship You as our Risen Lord and Savior who is one day returning for us! In the midst of our sorrows, help us to look to You, the One who can sympathize with us our weaknesses. And in the midst of our grief may we be reminded and encouraged by the hope-filled promise of Your rapture of us to a place where sorrow will be no more!