How do you grieve? In the gospels we find Jesus weeping at the tomb of his friend Lazarus, and later Mary weeping at the tomb of Jesus. Grief is a deeply personal thing, often connected with particular places (tombs and graves, yes, but also home, holiday places, favourite walks, gardens, particular chairs, and so on). Also often connected with particular times (anniversaries, birthdays, Christmases, or just those special moments when you would love to pick up the phone, but no, they will not be there to answer it). Some find grief paralyzing, others cope through being busy, and others wonder why they are not more distressed. Grief is natural; we are given friends and loved ones to enrich our lives, and so that we may serve and love them and they us. Each of us lives as part of a glorious network in which we play our part. When a loved one dies, distress is natural and shows the value that we and God place on each person.
But to Christians in particular, the Bible says: ‘Brothers and sisters, we do not want you … to grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope,’ (1 Thessalonians 4:13). We are not being told not to grieve, but to grieve differently because we have hope. HOPE!!! Christian hope is a sense of total security in God’s future, based on what he has promised in his word. And there is no doubt that this utterly transforms grief for us. To us some of our friends are alive and some are dead; but ‘to God all are alive’ (Luke 20:38)!
And it is Easter which makes the difference. The verse that tells us not to grieve like the rest is followed immediately by this: ‘For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him,’ (1 Thessalonians 4:14).
You may need these verses now, or you may need them later. Store them up, remember where to find them, and plant them deeply into your mind and heart so they can turn your present thinking, and any future grieving you may need to do, into something good and godly. Grief is always painful, but for Christian believers it is also HOPEful.
I hope you have had a happy Easter, and continue to enjoy its message of God’s love and power.
With my best wishes – James.