But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as to the rest who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 (NASB)
i recently observed the seventh anniversary of my daughter Kara’s death. It happened that it was also the first anniversary of the death of the mother of a friend. She was experiencing an unexpected resurgence of grief. This triggered some painful memories of my own.
Sometimes we tend to think people should grieve to a set timetable, like they should turn off a switch and get on with life. Companies may give three days off for a family member’s death. As if someone can “get over” a loved one’s death in three days. It simply isn’t possible. Yet life does go on, even when we are irate that it does. Sometimes we need to be reminded that it’s okay to cry. There’s no time limit on tears. But in times of grief, we also need to remember that it’s also okay to laugh. Remembering the joyful times can bring perspective to the gloom.
Without balance, grief can often lead to depression, or severely compound the problems with depression someone already has. But grief itself is not a sin. Even Jesus experienced grief. Isaiah 53:3 tells us He was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Every Sunday School kid knows, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35) when His friend Lazarus died. And He already knew that He was going to raise him from the dead. So why did He weep? Maybe because He was thinking of all of us who grieve our loved ones, and know that we will never see them again this side of heaven.
But that is the key to enduring grief. We must realize that heaven is a real place. It isn’t just a myth to make people feel better. It’s a promise from God to all believers. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.”John 11:25 (NASB) This world is not the end. Something wonderful is out there on the other side of the veil. That’s why 1 Thessalonians 4:13 can tell us not to grieve as those who have no hope. I know that my daughter is safe in the arms of Jesus. I’ll see her again. And her resurrected body will no longer be emaciated and wracked with pain. It’s true. Trust Him. Grieve in hope.
And death isn’t the only thing we can grieve. Sometimes I think the grief of the death of a relationship can be even harder to endure than the grief of death. I’ll talk more about divorce next week. There’s a finality to death that gives closure that we can’t get from the death of a relationship. But God is still faithful. He will get us through.
Taboo Tuesday Question of the Day: What comforted you most in a season of grief? What would you like to tell people to say or not to say? . .