“Now we do not want you to be uninformed, believers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you will not grieve for them as others do who have no hope beyond this present life.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13 AMPC
It’s amazing how heavenly minded you become when someone you love dearly is there.
God has turned my heart and mind more and more towards heaven and away from this earthly life these past two years. Grief is an unavoidable journey. If you haven’t experienced it yet, you most likely will. Few of us get through this life without being touched in some way by grief.
No one can know what it’s like unless you have walked the path and even then, every experience is different. I have offered apologies to friends for not being as supportive as I could have been in their time of mourning.
Grief isn’t a season that passes. It’s a new way of life. I would imagine it’s a bit like having a limb amputated. You have to adjust to an entirely different way of living every day knowing your old life is gone and can’t return. It’s not about wanting sympathy or pity, but simply acknowledgment that life won’t ever be the same for those of us who’ve undergone this life passage.
A year ago I wrote in a paper for a class I took in which I shared, “I am not suicidal. However, if God calls me home, I am ready to go.” Our world is lost and hurting and so divided. Why wouldn’t any believer long to be in heaven?
But God has left me here in this world to help accomplish His kingdom work. I know He has a purpose for me. His good news isn’t received by all yet. So I mentor and study His word and pray for friends and family. God offers me and all believers strength and hope for our time on earth.
As believers in Christ, we are called, as Paul says, to grieve “not as those who have no hope beyond this present life.” The hope of eternity through Jesus isn’t the same as the definition this world and our culture gives hope. It’s not “I sure hope my team wins this weekend” or “I sure hope I get that new job.” Hope in Jesus is complete assurance that heaven is waiting for us if we have accepted His gift of grace and salvation.
I know this to be true in my heart and soul. If I would have had to depend on my own strength these past two years, I would have curled up in a sobbing heap long ago. I never would have imagined I could live without Tom. But God restored Tom’s faith in Jesus and brought him to His heaven. God continues to strengthen me and grow my faith and draw me closer to himself as well.
The past two years I’ve also seen how words and scriptures take on new meaning in this phase of life. The phrase in the Apostle’s Creed “I believe in the communion of saints” means so much more when you know one of those saints. I also take strength and comfort knowing Tom is among the “great cloud of witnesses” surrounding me and cheering me on from heaven. (Hebrews 12:1)
This isn’t to say I don’t have hard moments or don’t miss Tom. I certainly do, and once in a while I will have a good old pity party. Then I am reminded of the words to the Easter anthem, “Now All the Vault of Heaven Resounds”, that say, “grant grace sufficient for each day, that by our lives we truly say, Christ has triumphed. He is living!”
Jesus is alive! God has a plan and a purpose for all of us. I don’t know how many more days the Lord has for me here on this earth. However long that is, I trust Him. I will continue to live out of His strength and grace and anticipate the day I am home with Jesus and reunited with Tom for eternity.
Heavenly Father–thank you that through the sacrifice and resurrection of your son Jesus, we have complete and total hope and assurance of eternal life. Help us to live each day by your sufficient grace so that our lives say “Christ is alive!” Give us strength to not mourn as those who have no hope beyond this life. Give us boldness to proclaim your love and the Good News to every heart that hasn’t accepted your gift. We ask this all for your glory and in Jesus name. Amen.