Hope for the Grieving (Rob's words at Mom's Funeral)

Please pray for me, my sister Krystal, and my Dad. We are hurting. I wanted to share my fellow pastor Rob Gaskin's words he shared yesterday:

Grief is a seemingly empty emotion.

When there is fear, we can...turn on the lights

When there is joy, we can... celebrate with friends.

When there is hate, we can reconcile.

When there is love, we can embrace with a hug.

But what are we to do with grief?

There is seemingly no corresponding action to accompany our grief.

When we lose a child before birth or a friend to disease, what are we to do? If loss of life came at the hands of another, we might be able to avoid grief and move to anger. Anger is an emotion a little more familiar to us. We can do something with anger. When the loss of life could have been prevented, we’re inspired by our anger to join clubs, sign petitions, and persuade judges.

But what about losing a friend, a grandmother, a mother, a wife, to a cancer?

When loss comes at the hands of no one but the hands of our broken world, we’re left with nothing but grief.

During the process of grieving, we are undoubtedly met with three lies, lies meant to heal but do little for us.  First, the lie of time. Perhaps in the last few days, you’ve heard a version of the adage, “time heals all wounds”. If you’ve loved and lost before, you know no time passed heals fully the feelings of grief. The passing of time may reduce, but it never heals.  

Second, the lie of space. “You just need to get away”, a well meaning friend encourages. But running away does little for the grief that remains inside us. Like time, it may reduce the suffering for a little while, but it never heals.

Third, the lie of stuff. Now’s the time to splurge, you think to yourself. Maybe it’s a new car, boat, house, or new equipment for the hobby. We become momentarily occupied by stuff, and so it minimizes the experience of grief for a little while, but it never heals.

So what are we to do with such the inconsolable feeling of grief?

We revisit our story.

Up until now, the story is death is the end and grief is all that’s left.

Friends and family, hear me now, death is not the end and grief is not all that’s left.

The hole grief creates cannot be filled with time, space, or stuff, but it can be filled with something else. Hope.

Revelation 21:1-5a

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. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 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. 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.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

Time doesn’t make it grief go away, God does.

For those who believe the stories of the first coming of Christ... His death on the cross... the means for conquering death for all that believe...this Christ, the Son of God, our Lord and King,..worthy of our worship ...if we believe in the first coming of Christ, we have much to hope in, when he returns again someday. The very tears in our eyes today will be removed forever and ever when the Lord returns and takes away our grief for those whom we have lost and the Lord replaces our grief with utter gladness and deep joy.

Linda grew up hearing stories of this great hope. In her final days, she clung to these truths. Let us join her in holding to such a hope.

Friends and family, let your grief not be empty, let it not be filled with the false hopes of time, space, and stuff. Let it be full of the hope of the Gospel and the return of Christ someday.

Let’s Pray.

Lord, we pray our friends and families gathered today - that they would fine great comfort and hope in Jesus, as we eagerly await His return. Lord, help us grieve well, putting away false hopes. We pray specifically for Linda’s family, that they would be a source of encouragement to one another. Lord, give us rest from this broken world. Come quickly.