Those Who Mourn.
Let’s be honest. I’m highly inexperienced to be writing on grief. I’m only twenty-three and my parents and all my grandparents are still living. I’ve never lost a close friend to death. The only personal grief experiences I vividly remember are losing two great-grandmothers, a great-grandfather, and a great-aunt.
However, this week another person, precious to my heart, was added to that list. Josh’s grandfather, JM Barnett, went to be with the Lord Monday evening. Pops, as we called him, was an amazingly gentle and loving man. In the seven years I was blessed to know him I witnessed him grow in Christ-like character and maturity, even in his advanced age. He was living proof that God is always working in the hearts and lives of those who believe in him. I’m so thankful he got to hold our two girls, but how I wish he could have seen Jack.
Pops and Josh shared a special bond. Josh spent many summer days from high-school up until we left the States, helping Pops’ with his yard. During those often long work days, Josh got the privilege of sitting with Pops and learning from him. I see Pops’ gentle character alive in my sweet husband. When Josh was “sick”, probably playing hookie, home from school, Pops would bring him a loaded container from Panda Buffet. In his childhood years, Josh has many special memories of playing at Pops and Nana’s house in their spacious yard.
It has been a hard week. Not being there with our family to grieve has been hard. Knowing that our family is hurting, yet feeling helpless to take action is hard. Not knowing how to grieve well from a distance is hard. Seeing my husband grieve a death for the first time in our marriage is hard. I don’t know what to do when I don’t know what I can do.
What I’ve been clinging to for my husband, our family and myself is the promise Jesus gives us in the Beatitudes. Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Because we know the Prince of Peace who is The Comfroter we will be comforted. What an incredible gift. We take tremendous comfort in the fact that Pops is in heaven with the Lord. We know that Pops repented of his sins, believed that Jesus is our atoning sacrifice, and received Him as Lord of his life. Because of this “blessed assurance” we can claim the glorious promises of 1 Thessalonians 4.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.”1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NLT
This passage assures us that we do not grieve like the world that has no hope. We have a joyous hope, thanks to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When Jesus rose from the grave He defeated death. When we are adopted into the family of Christ we receive the promise that death has no hold on us. Dying simply means being absent from the body and present with the Lord. Pops is absent from his aged earthly body and present with the Lord. I know he is rejoicing. Josh and I can mourn with hope because we know we get to spend eternity worshiping the Lord with Pops. How incredible that will be!
Although grieving from the other side of the world is heartbreaking, we know we will be comforted and that we have hope. Hope that does not shift or waiver. Hope that is guaranteed thanks to the sacrificial death and victorious resurrection of Christ Jesus. Praise His matchless Name!
Next week, I will continue discussing the roles the Lord has called me to by discussing my most entertaining role: mother.