“He’s gone.”

“He’s gone.”  I was just finishing breakfast with a friend yesterday when that text message told me that another long-time friend had come to the end of his journey here on earth. The weight of death’s finality pressed down on me. Though I knew Gary’s health was fragile, it was still hard to grasp that I would not share another conversation with him, that he would not walk through the doors of the church again. Sadness filled me and stalked me through the rest of the day. It is of comfort to know that Gary lives in the Presence of God. But, still I grieve.

Grief is a powerful emotion.
Each of us experiences it differently, depending on our temperament, our training, and our culture. Some are stoic; hiding emotion. Others deflect the emotion working at keeping things light with jokes and stories about the deceased. Some are expressive letting tears flow, wrecked by their sorrow.  Christian friend, do not make the mistake of thinking that experiencing real grief demonstrates a weak or faulty faith in some way.  Paul reminds us that in times of grief, we “will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope.” (1 Thess. 4:13)  Our grief finds comfort in the promise of Christ that though we die, yet we live. But, remember this – even “Jesus wept” at the tomb of His friend, Lazarus. The separation that death brings is real cause for deep sadness.

Grief has purpose.
When we are broken-hearted, the Holy Spirit has an opportunity to change us, inside out. Psalm 147, written about the grief of the people of Judah who mourned the destruction of their nation, their culture, and their lives, tells us that God “heals the brokenhearted, binding up their wounds. He counts the stars and calls them all by name. How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!”    At first glance that may seem a strange line. What does God’s naming the stars have to do with my broken heart? Grief is healed when we focus on His majesty, throwing ourselves on His care. Grief rearranges our thinking, creating new ways to know our God! 

Yes, it is true that when grief is unrelieved, when we find no comfort, it can wreak havoc in us;  emotionally, physically, and even spiritually. If we remain suffocated in the present darkness of sorrow without friends to help us or faith to guide, we can die. But, God will, if we let Him, heal our broken heart.

It’s all right to mourn! Sorrow is part of the human experience and must not be denied.  Some of God’s plans and purposes for us cannot be accomplished without our hearts being broken. The difference in experiencing sorrow in the life of the Christian is two-fold: we have a Healer who is Mighty, and we do not grieve hopelessly!

Are you sorrowful today?  I know too well the heaviness of grief and sadness. But, I look upward and find the strength to live through the storms of emotion, to sort through my turbulent feelings. I hold onto faith. As surely as the sun will slide  over the eastern horizon each morning,  God will give a new day, a fresh beginning- “He heals the brokenhearted!”  As hope returns, God gives us a song to sing again. We learn to live joyfully – albeit differently -transformed by grief.

Take this word from the Word. Pray that God will use even grief to make you desire Him even more.  We each have a choice in our grief. It can make us bitter, or it can make us broken; leading us to a place where we find Him closer than ever before. ” Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5, NIV)

(Video of this blog at this link)

I Know Who Holds Tomorrow
(The Isaacs sing this Gospel song like no one else can)

I don’t know about tomorrow
I just live from day to day
I don’t borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to gray
I don’t worry o’er the future
For I know what Jesus said
And today I’ll walk beside Him
For He knows what is ahead

Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand

Ev’ry step is getting brighter
As the golden stairs I climb
Ev’ry burden’s getting lighter
Ev’ry cloud is silver-lined
There the sun is always shining
There no tear will dim the eye
At the ending of the rainbow
Where the mountains touch the sky

I don’t know about tomorrow
It may bring me poverty
But the One who feeds the sparrow
Is the One who stands by me
And the path that is my portion
May be through the flame or flood
But His presence goes before me
And I’m covered with His blood

Ira Stanphill

© 1950 New Spring (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)

CCLI License # 810055

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