CHRISTIAN GRIEF

Scripture Reading: I Thessalonians 4:13-18

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others who have no hope.” (I Thessalonians 4:13)

All of us have experienced the death of someone we love. Perhaps it was a parent, a spouse, a child, a close relative, or dear friend. Death is a reality and we must be prepared when someone close to us dies. Paul gives us comforting words about the death of our loved ones who die in Christ. We will look in detail at this passage in the next several devotions.

Today I want to deal with grief. When someone we love dies, grief is the natural response. Never suppress it, for it is unhealthy to do so. In God’s providence, today I am in Jackson, Mississippi to participate in the memorial service for one of my heroes. Jim Baird was a mentor, spiritual father, and dearest friend to me. He baptized my three children, preached at Anne’s memorial service, was my pastor when I went into the ministry, and has been my spiritual hero. Much of my ministry is patterned after his.

When I received word that he had experienced a very serious stroke and was not expected to live, I wept. I still weep and hurt inside. I grieve that I will not be able to talk to him and seek his wise counsel. Other than my own father and grandfather, Jim Baird was the man who had the greatest influence on my life. I will miss him greatly and I am grieving. Grief is the appropriate response when we face the death of a loved one.

Christian grief is different from the grief unbelievers experience. We grieve, but we do not grieve as those who have no hope. Our hope is based on the resurrection of our Savior. He was raised from the dead and all those who are in Him shall be resurrected also. Remember what Jesus said to Martha at the death of her brother Lazarus — “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25)

We need to answer Jesus’ question — “Do we believe this?” If we do, we know that we will see our loved ones again. We will spend eternity with them in the glorious presence of our Savior. Our grief is temporary and it is full of hope. Our loved ones who have departed from life on earth have been taken to heaven where they are enjoying release from all their suffering, pain and sorrow. They are in the presence of Jesus; they behold His glory. Grieve but do not let the grief cripple or overwhelm you, for you will be reunited with them again in glory! Jim sees Christ face to face and he is worshipping with the saints and angels. What a glorious thought!

Heavenly Father, please comfort those of us who are grieving. Thank you that we do not have to grieve as those who have no hope. We have the sure hope of the resurrection because Your Son conquered death and so shall we.

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