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In grief, believers also have hope

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I cannot write that I “lost” my mom in January, because I know exactly where she is. At this very minute, she is probably making heavenly biscuits and tomato gravy for Jesus and anyone else waiting at the table.

Only in my selfish nature would I long for her to be back on this earth. It does hurt deeply at times that I cannot pick up the phone and call, but I am no less than thrilled for her. Her life the last 10 years had been filled with excruciating pain. So to think of her now, there’s just no way I’d ever say, “Mom, I want you to come back home.”

She is home.

She is exactly where she was created to be, with this sin-ladened world no longer casting shadows on her health. No longer imprisoned, crippled with deformity and pain, she is leaping and dancing, singing to the top of her lungs, wrapping her arms around Papa and Grannie (her mom and dad), seeing face to face her savior, the one she lived her life on this earth determined to serve.

Yes, she is home.

“But don’t you still cry? Don’t you still mourn for her?” Yes. All of this doesn’t take away my loss. It doesn’t take away my longing for her advice and her sheer presence. However, in my grief, I have hope.

Paul talks about this type of grief in I Thessalonians 4:13-14: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.”

Paul doesn’t chide the believers and tell them that because Christ is alive, they shouldn’t grieve or shouldn’t feel heavy loss. On the contrary, he tells them to grieve, to cry, to mourn, but in their mourning to remember there is hope. There is a joy that can be found even in the midst of great sorrow, knowing that if we are in Christ, this separation is only temporary. We will be reunited. And therefore, as believers, we don’t grieve as the world grieves. Instead, we grieve as those who have something real to look forward to. We have hope.

The last part of I Thessalonians 4 says, “Therefore, comfort one another with these words.” So today, that’s what I want to do. I want to comfort your heart “with these words,” if you will allow me. I want you to know that it’s OK to grieve. It’s OK to tear up in the middle of Walmart or Food Lion when looking at the self-rising flour that mom used to make those heavenly biscuits. It’s OK to cry, sob even. But as believers, just remember: We don’t get lost in grief or stuck there. We cry, but we keep in mind hope — hope of glorious reunion on a scale larger than we could ever imagine, hope of laughter and sheer joy upon the reunion with our loved ones and our first look at Jesus, hope that this old earth is temporary but that heaven is eternal.

So, “comfort one another with these words.”

By the way, I can’t wait for you to taste my mom’s biscuits.

Prayer: Father, I pray for those of my brothers and sisters who are struggling today with grief. I pray that you will encourage their hearts through the spirit that sorrow is truly only for a night and that joy — great joy — is coming in the morning. Thank you, Lord, and I pray, Lord, that you will honor my request. I love you.”

Steve and Belinda Kirk write the “Everyday Grace” devotional for the Johnstonian News. Reach them at 919-449-5745 or sbmkax@earthlink.net.

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