Sorrow and Grief; Joy and Hope

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!

O Lord, hear my voice!

Let your ears be attentive

To the voice of my pleas for mercy!

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,

And in his word I hope;

O Israel, hope in the Lord!

For with the Lord there is steadfast love

And with him is plentiful redemption. (Ps. 130:1-2, 5, 7)

When tragedy strikes a community as it has ours, it’s often difficult to put to words what exactly we’re all feeling. Sorrow, grief, anger, confusion, sadness, pain. The psalmist puts it well: out of the depths I cry… We cry out to God as though we’re in a deep dark hole. We don’t know the words to say, it’s just a deep, deep cry. And God, in His mercy, promises to hear our cries, and He reminds us that there is with Him an overabundance of love and redemption, for us, and for those we mourn.

The funerals and visitations are over now. But the sorrow and grief linger on. There’s no escaping this reality of death. We look around and our friends, relatives and neighbors are no longer with us as they once were. And as we approach the holidays, we will be reminded again that they’re no longer walking this earth with us.

Amidst all of this, there’s the great temptation to try not to mourn. To attempt not to be sorrowful and feel grief. But this is not what our Lord would have us do. He would have us grieve. We know that those who have died in the faith are now at peace, their souls before the altar of God in heaven. Therefore, we do not grieve on behalf of them. Instead, we grieve because they are no longer with us, and because death, all death, is wrong. We grieve for ourselves and our neighbors. As Jesus said upon His own death “Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves.”

Our Lord Jesus teaches us this when He goes to the tomb of Lazarus. He goes, knowing full well that He will be raising Lazarus from the dead. But still, He weeps and grieves outside the tomb. Jesus experiences sorrow and grief over the death of Lazarus because He missed him, because Mary and Martha missed him, and because He knows better than any that death, all death, is wrong. He knows that death is not natural, that it’s a product of the fall into sin, and that He has come to put an end to death, to conquer the grave, and to atone for sin.

We should grieve, and we should be sorrowful. But we should also have hope and joy. As St. Paul teaches us, we do not grieve “as other do who have no hope.”

Not that we don’t grieve, but that for the Christian, grief and hope are always together. And we have this hope and joy in the midst of our grief and sorrow because Jesus has shed His blood to redeem our loved ones (and us), and He has been raised from the dead, to conquer death on their (and our) behalf.

We have hope and joy because of the promise given to us by Jesus, that just as He has been raised from the dead, so too He will raise our loved ones’ bodies (and ours also) from the dead on the last day. And at that time we will be reunited with those who have gone on before us in the faith. At that time, we will receive back Steve, Carmen and Marlee.

Our Lord teaches us in the Psalms that weeping may continue on through the night, that is, we will experience grief and sorrow for a time when evil happens (and death is evil), but after that comes joy in the morning, when Jesus through His word reminds us that our loved ones are not lost for us, they are simply a step closer to the resurrection than we are, and we will receive our loved ones back in the resurrection.

There, there will be no more crying, no more sorrow, no more death, no more grief. There will only be joy, gladness and eternal life.

This life is full of disaster and catastrophe, as Jesus reminds us. We live in a veil of tears, in the valley of the shadow of death, and appropriately enough, here we weep. And here, Jesus reminds us “in this world you will have trouble, but fear not, I have overcome the world.”

In all of this, all of our struggles and tragedies, all of our sorrow and tears, all of our catastrophes and disasters and in the midst of suffering and death — in all of this, we are learning to hope for heaven.

This life is the schoolhouse of hope; we learn from this life to long for the life to come, to long for heaven where “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” In all of our suffering and pain, we look to heaven and the hope that the Lord has for us there, and we cling even tighter to the sure promises that He has given us of eternal life.

Thou art gone to the grave, but we will not deplore thee,

Though sorrows and darkness encompass the tomb;

The Savior has passed through its portal before thee,

And the lamp of His love is thy guide through the gloom.

Thou art gone to the grave, we no longer behold thee,

Nor tread the rough paths of the world by thy side;

But the wide arms of mercy are spread to enfold thee,

And sinners may hope, since the Sinless has died.

Thou art gone to the grave, but we will not deplore thee,

Since God was thy ransom, thy guardian, thy guide;

He gave thee, and took thee, and he will restore thee,

And death has no sting, since the Savior hath died.

(Reginald Heber)

May God continue to grant us His Holy Spirit, that we live evermore in faith toward Him and fervent love for one another, and in the midst of all of this world’s disasters and catastrophes cling to the sure hope of eternal life in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Sabetha Herald1859 Posts

The Sabetha Herald has been serving Sabetha since 1876.

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