This morning my grandmother died.
We are hurting. But God’s words wash over our hearts and comfort us.
God is near.
God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in times of trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
He has not left us or forsaken us. God’s own presence comforts us in our grief. We are not alone.
Jesus is our hope.
When Jesus encountered Martha, whose brother Lazarus had died, he asked her a crucial question.
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
We do believe this.
Doris Wickman believed this. She held Christ in her heart, and now he holds her.
That doesn’t mean this doesn’t hurt. And it doesn’t mean we don’t weep. However, there is a limitation to our grief. It is not stifled, yet it is not total. God’s promises hem it in. We grieve, but not forever.
Hope Limits Grief.
Paul put it this way:
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)
Death does not get the final word with believers in Jesus Christ.
We believe that the spiritual rebirth we experience in Christ is just a foretaste of the bodily resurrection we will someday experience. It is in death that the realities of the resurrection are made real. The deposit of faith that my Grandmother made has now been redeemed. She is now in Heaven, where her Savior has been waiting for her.
We are confident in this.
My Grandfather, Richard, upon hearing of his dear wife’s departure, uttered these words first:
“away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8)
He knows where his wife is. For over 64 years, they were one. Now He continues to place His faith in the One who has made him new inside. Someday my Grandpa will also be made new forever. The body that is now frail and failing will be replaced, just as his Spirit has been made new in Christ.
I am blessed to be the grandson of such a man of faith.
When Jesus’ disciples were troubled about His pending bodily departure from this world, He looked ahead. He comforted them by pointing to the new home that they would someday inhabit with Him.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)
Someday I will go home.
I will take up residence in the eternal place my Lord is preparing for me. But for now I have the promises of God.
The Lord revealed a glimpse of our someday-home to the Apostle John. This is how he described what is to come:
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)
I do not have that comfort yet. I have the promise of that comfort. But the promise is enough for now.
Now there are tears. Now there is pain. Now I hold onto my family as we weep.
But someday our Savior will end this suffering. The promises made real in Christ’s death and resurrection will be fully completed upon His return. He will gather those who have fled to Him for comfort, and we will make our eternal home with Him.
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)
Someday He will.
I also wrote about my Grandparents this past June. I hope my writing can, in some small way, honor their lives and the immeasurable impact they have had on mine.