I have been really thinking quite a bit lately about grief. We are taught that there are several different stages in the grieving process. First, there is denial that bad things have really happened and after that, anger, when God’s veil of protection is starting to give way to the realities of the situation. Then comes bargaining, which rarely happens when dealing with death; followed by depression and acceptance. Some models also teach forgiveness as the final stage of grieving. The point here is that it can take some time to get used to a new reality in our lives – and Janet and I are dealing with that new reality right now.
Of course, other family members are also dealing with the loss we have experienced and I have received many notes from other families that have experienced loss in their lives as well. It is amazing to me how grief resonates with so many people. And just maybe there is something good that can come from all this heartache – the ability to more closely identify with other people who are hurting.
When Janet and I returned home from Williamsburg last Thursday, we found more than 50 cards and notes expressing heartfelt condolences and sympathy for our loss. I was touched by how many people included me in the notes, especially since it was Janet’s parents who passed away. Oddly, the first card was from a co-worker of mine. He and his wife have never even met Janet but he wrote a beautiful sentiment that really touched both of us. It was almost like they were ministering to us in our time of need. The main part of the note expressed their sorrow and how eventually Christ turns grief to joy.
Intellectually, I know that it must be joyful to be in heaven, but we, as humans, are not beyond grieving the losses we experience here on earth. And while it seems impossible that grief could turn to joy, the Bible affirms that will happen.
The verse for tonight is the one that my co-worker included in his note. From John 16:20, we are told by Christ, “I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.” My encouragement this evening is that God is on the throne and He wouldn’t tell us this if it were not so. So hold fast to the words of Christ – our grief will turn to joy.” My prayer is that you will cling to the eternal hope that is in Jesus Christ – and always remember, He loves you more than you know and wants you to be joyful as a contented creature under God. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…