If you recently went through the death of a loved one, the holidays can be a very painful time. So many things that you used to greet with joy and laughter can now become an overload of reminders that there is someone missing. One woman said “I wish I could go to sleep the day before Thanksgiving and wake up January 2.”
It’s not easy to deal with the grief and sorrow and loss that come when someone we love dies. Even Jesus wept after the death of his friend, Lazarus.
We Need Hope
Over the past two years, both my step-brother and my father have died. We still miss them and think about them often. Especially at this time of year. We wish they were still here. Our loss still hurts, even as we look back and recall the great times we shared in the past.
But we also look forward with hope. Resurrection hope. The kind that Jesus spoke of just before he brought Lazarus back to life.
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die, and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Words of Hope
Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He told everyone that Lazarus had simply “fallen asleep.” Though his body was clearly dead, from God’s perspective death isn’t actually what it looks like to us. Jesus tells us that when we die in this world, it’s like falling asleep. It’s temporary. It’s not the end.
Four days after Lazarus died, Jesus demonstrated His power over death by bringing Lazarus back to life. As far as we know, Lazarus then lived out the rest of his days and eventually died again. That time he remained in the grave, and to this day his body is still waiting for the final resurrection.
Because Jesus said that everyone who has been saved by God’s grace through Jesus before they “fall asleep” will one day awaken, and rise from the dead, and live with the Lord forever. When that day comes it will be the ultimate and final resurrection. And all those who believe will be reunited with their loved ones who have gone before them.
Do you believe this?
Hope in the Midst of Grief
It’s the kind of belief that makes it possible for us to grieve with hope. In his first letter to the church at Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul brought this hope to the attention of a community of new believers who were grieving over the loss of their own loved ones.
In his letter, he made sure they knew the truth about those who had “fallen asleep.” They would one day rise again! And on that day they would all be reunited. In the midst of their sorrow, he gave them hope.
As I’ve been teaching through 1 Thessalonians recently at our church, I’ve been so encouraged by Paul’s words about death and life and the hope we can have in the midst of our grief. I decided to share the truth he taught with others in a short Kindle book that will hopefully help those who are grieving over their own loss. The book is called “Where Death and Hope Meet: Encouragement in the Midst of Grief.”
As long as we walk through this fallen world, we will have to deal with the pain and sorrow of death as we view it from our earthly perspective. But it’s my prayer that God’s perspective on life and death will give you hope – and even joy – in the midst of your grief.
Throughout this holiday season, may God fill you with peace and hope and love and joy.
To purchase or learn more about “Where Death and Hope Meet” click here.