Everyone here today has suffered a loss. The severity of that sense of loss and the grief that goes with it will vary…some are too young to comprehend that loss.
What many of us do in times of grief is to look for comfort in Scripture…and there is plenty of comfort to be found and promises of help in difficult times because the fact is God loves us and cares about the things we go through.
In Ecclesiastes 3 the writer basically sums up our lives:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
Life is full of good moments and bad moments. Positive and negative. The hope for us is that there is good with the bad. We will weep and mourn. We will also laugh and dance.
David knew this very well and lived a life filled with some of the highest highs of victory and success and some of the lowest lows of loss and grief, so it is no surprise that his Psalms are where we often go to both celebrate and mourn. Psalm 34:18 says:
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Probably best known of David’s Psalms is Psalm 23:
A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Besides the Psalms we find many other places all through scripture promising us help in difficult times, because difficult times are just a fact of this life. Lamentations 3 tells us:
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him.
For all of us who believe and trust in Jesus the greatest comfort can be found in perspective. And what is that perspective? John 3:16 is a good place to start:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
That eternal life is going to be a recurring theme here. It is our hope…our perspective comes from knowing that death is not the end, but rather the beginning of an eternity in the presence of God. In 2 Corinthians 5 Paul writes:
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
In 1 Corinthians 15 he says:
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
The church at Thessaloniki for one reason or another never considered that they might die before Jesus returned. Paul answered them this way in 1 Thessalonians 4:
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. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Jesus, being the reason for our hope, had a lot to say about this. In John 11 Jesus told Lazarus’ sister Martha:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Later, Jesus, warning his disciples of his coming death said:
So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.
Grandma had hope, and we have hope. It is why we can celebrate her life today and not be overwhelmed by our grief. We will see her again in the presence of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
As Matt and Justin join me up here, and as we move next into a short time of worship through song, it is that hope, even joy, in the midst of grief that we pray you will hear.