Wednesday, February 6, 2013

This Night of Sorrow

She seemed happy when she came in. She said it had been a while since she had been to our coffee shop, but she was in the area and ordering some books at the main part of the store, and had decided to stop over for an iced chai as long as she was there.

She told me about her upcoming wedding. I told her about my sister’s. She went on with some of the details, and we talked of bridesmaids, and buildings, and guest lists. But it was at the guest lists that our conversation took it’s unexpected, but so needed turn.

As of February 1st, her guest list was reduced by one. One old friend. One friend from camp. One friend with whom many a fond and crazy memory was made. One friend whom the bride was anxious to see again, but who she now won’t be able to reconnect with for some time. One friend … who has left behind a husband, three children, and many other dear ones after a fatal car crash. Just one friend, but so many lives are now altered because of her absence from this world.

I didn’t know Becca personally, but I know some of her family, and was aware of her recent passing through posts I had seen on Facebook. I didn’t know this young woman who came into our coffee shop today, either, but I was able to connect with her and grieve with her because, like Becca, this lady is part of my Family. The three of us have the same Father, though Becca is the only one of us who has seen Him face to face so far.

I didn’t get the name of this sister who came my way today, but I’ll be praying for her just the same. We talked for a good while, and while the conversation didn’t stay just on the recent passing of her friend, I knew that that was why God had brought her by and why He had put me there, just waiting for her to come and open up her heart so that I, too, could open up mine.

Death is not a topic that many of us particularly want to talk or think too much about. However, today I talked about death. I thought about death. And as I spoke with my dear, hurting sister, I reminded myself of some important things about this unwelcome visitor called grief.

She had mentioned that she wasn’t sure if she should cry, or be so sad, since, after all, Becca is in Glory, and that’s something to rejoice about. I’ve thought those thoughts before, too, and wondered where the balance is for those of us who grieve with hope. But as I talked with her today, I heard myself answering some of my own questions as I tried to respond to hers. 

Yes, we can rejoice when a believer, by whatever means, is released from this body that is spoiled by the effects of the Fall. However, we can also grieve. Grieve, because something deep inside you knows that this is not how it should be. Grieve, because you know that death is a result of sin. Grieve, because this whole creation and your own soul long desperately for the day when Christ beats that final enemy, death. Grieve …. Not for Becca; for what really killed her – this Curse that was brought on by the sin of Adam, and has tainted and twisted everything ever since.

But, remember this grief is not without hope to those of us who have found our hope in Christ. Hope, because something deep inside you knows that though this world is fallen, it will be redeemed. Hope, because Christ has the power to save you and this whole world, whoever will call on His name, from the power of Hell. Hope, because you have confidence that in the flesh you shall see God, Who’s victory over death is certain. Hope, because though through this Curse we are subjected to futility and even death, God has turned even that most conquering enemy into His slave.

You see, if we never died, we would live forever in a sick, suffering, rebellious world. A world where perfection is impossible. A world where a veil separates us from the Face of God. A world that is fallen. We would be here forever, since God has created us to be eternal, living under every other aspect of the Curse for the rest of eternity, were it not for the provision of death.

And so, God, in His master plan that has spanned for eternities past and into eternities yet to come, created His own loop hole that only He had power to use. That, though dying we shall surely die, through Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, now dying we shall surely live!

O death, where is your victory?! O hades, where is your sting?!

Because God has put death to shame, we can rejoice as we rub in its face every ounce of Christ’s victory on our behalf. We have hope, and nothing, not even death, can separate us from the hope that we find in the everlasting love of God toward us!

So take courage my friends. Find hope in your sorrow. Find joy in the pain. But don’t be afraid to grieve. Don’t be ashamed to cry. And don’t hesitate to hasten the day of the Lord.

Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (1 Peter 3:11-13)

Maranatha. O Lord, come.


Brytni Jade said...

Thank you for sharing that story, it is wonderful when we are used as tools in the LORD's hands to encourage and comfort a fellow Pilgrim on the sometimes wearisome road. Your post, especially your last thoughts on grief, brought these verses to my mind:
"Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth."
Ecclesiastes 7:3,4

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