Comfort in Sorrow 5

1 Corinthians 15:54-55

With all the recent movies about super heroes that are available now we can sit and fantasize about what super powers we each might want. Do we want to be able to fly? Do we want to be able to have x-ray vision? Do we want a suit that makes bullets harmlessly bounce off of us?

It can be amusing to speculate what we would do if we had these powers. It can be fun to spend some time in wishful thinking. But what about the realities of life? What if we could cheat death?

While we may not be able to live forever as we are, we can live forever. We may not be able to retain our way of life, our homes and all of our possessions there is a way for death to have no hold on us, a way for the fear of death to be conquered.

Just as the super heroes must put on their special suits and rings and capes to become those super heroes, we too must put on what it takes to become immortal. We must put on the imperishability, the immortality that comes with our faith in Jesus Christ. When we have clothed ourselves with Jesus – that is, when we are deeply immersed in our faith in Christ and we have accepted Jesus as our Savior – we are made into immortal beings.

Death has no victory over us. Death can bring no fear to us. We know in our hearts that the experience of death – for ourselves and for others – is a transitional step from this world into the kingdom of God.

Death has been swallowed up in victory. Death has been removed, canceled out, its powers taken away through the resurrection of Jesus. And in that trust and faith we can have confidence and hope. We can face our losses and sorrows with the joy and gladness of knowing that Christ has readied a place for us all in the presence of God’s love.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you clothe yourself in immortality?

Comfort in Sorrow 4

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

“Into every life a little rain must fall.” This is an old adage you may have heard in your lifetime. Life is not completely filled with happiness and bliss. Now and then there will be rain – those moments of sadness and troubles. And sometimes that rain can take the form of a loss of a loved one.

Life is said to be a mystery. And death is considered by most to be a journey into the unknown. Many fear death because they do not know what awaits them on the other side. At the very least it can be a topic most people do not want to discuss and something almost everyone wishes to avoid.

But Paul has some confident words about the death experience. What is his purpose in what he has to say? What does he remind us about our faith? What is our hope?

While it is true that most people would rather have days of sunshine rather than rain, rain is essential to life. It gives us the ability to grow. It renews and cleanses. And so too can be the experience of a loss.

When we are faced with grief and sorrows we must remember our faith. These times of sadness can be a time when we renew our strength in what we believe. They can be times when we are reminded of the hope we should all hold. Times of loss can be turned into times of hope and optimism.

Whenever we lose a loved one, when we encounter a sudden emptiness in our lives, we can be reminded all over again of what we believe. As Paul says, we believe Jesus died and rose again. And that resurrection was meant to be a promise to all of us who believe.

While it may not be fitting to say that we should rejoice in a death, we can be glad in the confidence we have. Death is not an end of things. It is simply a transition from this life into a new and brighter life with God. And in that knowledge we can have gladness and hope.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How will you find hope in sorrows?

Comfort in Sorrow 3

John 14:1-3

I remember going to visit some friends of our family in Cleveland when I was fairly young. They were all prepared for our visit. I remember being given a tour of their house – we had never been there before – as we arrived. We could tell that they had cleaned their house from top to bottom. The place was spotless.

Besides making their house clean and tidy the two sons had given up their bedrooms so that our family could stay. My parents would be sleeping in one bedroom and my sister would stay in another. My brother and I got to share the family room with the two brothers.

It was a wonderful thing to be welcomed into that house. Our parents had known each other years ago, but my brother, sister and I barely knew the two boys from the other family. But we had a great visit. It was so nice that they worked so hard to make us feel welcome.

As Jesus is preparing his disciples for the inevitability of his crucifixion he reminds them of what he is doing for them. What comfort does he offer? What does he say about his Father’s house (heaven)? What will Jesus do?

We can find comfort in the words of Christ. He tells the disciples and he tells us not to be troubled. We simply need to trust in God and in Jesus. We need to trust that there is a great deal of room for everyone in the house of God. Heaven has room enough for all.

But we must also see that there is more than just comfort in knowing that there is a place for us. We need to see that Christ has prepared a place for us. We are anticipated. Our presence is desired and sought after.

And more than that. If Christ has prepared a pace the n he will be returning to get us. Jesus will come to gather us up in his arms and welcome us in this place he has readied for us.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can remind you of what Jesus has done for you?

Comfort in Sorrow 2

Isaiah 61:1-3

It is part of the job as a pastor to be available in times of grief and loss. As the pastor I make myself available to those who are facing end of life decisions, and I pray that God might work through me to give comfort and assurance. But there are times when I encounter those individuals with enough faith and confidence in the Lord that they actually minister more to me than I to them.

There have been times when I have been with church members who were so strong in their faith that they faced their own death with great calm and confidence. In those times I was witness to what true faith and belief is all about, and I was taught how I should act when my time comes.

Just as Jesus used the words from Psalm 22 at his crucifixion, Jesus read this passage from Isaiah when he began his ministry in Galilee (see Luke 4:16-21). What is said about the brokenhearted in verse 1? What will God do with those who mourn according to verse 2? What changes will come about to those who grieve according to verse 3?

Nowhere in these words from the prophet is it said that our lives will be free of sadness. In fact, although this passage is an expression of hope and optimism, there are many problems that are mentioned. Isaiah speaks of the poor, the brokenhearted, prisoners, mourners and those who grieve.

The hope comes in knowing that in spite of all these afflictions God is present. The Lord will be there for every person who weeps and suffers. Jesus will be with all those who grieve and mourn.

The Lord has promised to make changes for us. We will go from those who suffer and cry to those who celebrate and have joy. Our ashes of suffering will be replaced by crowns of victory. Our mourning will be replaced by gladness.

As we face the possible losses in life we must go forward in confidence knowing that our Savior is with us in all things. We must go through life with the confidence of knowing God is with us to take away our sadness and replace it with joy.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How do you know God is with you?

Comfort in Sorrow 1

Psalm 22:24

Life isn’t always pleasant for us. There will be times when we are confronted with sorrows; sometimes profound sorrows. There will be times when our faith in God is challenged because of the suffering and pain we are experiencing.

There are many people who lose a loved one to death who become very angry with God. Questions arise – why did this have to happen? Does God really love me? Many people become angry with God and yet are afraid that they should not be angry with God. I believe that God is big enough and caring enough to accept our anger and still love us.

Psalm 22, credited to King David, begins with some familiar words. The first verse of Psalm 22 is “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” These are the words that Jesus cried out while he was on the cross.

In that moment of torment and grief, that time of pain and sorrow, Jesus spoke the words of lament found in these ancient words. Clearly, when David wrote the words and when Jesus spoke them, these were moments of extreme anguish. We all may identify with these words when we are faced with the troubles of life and especially when we lose a loved one.

But the psalm does not remain in this attitude of sorrow. David moves beyond his words of suffering and comes to a realization of God’s mercy. According to verse 24, what is God’s attitude toward those who suffer? What has God NOT done? What has God done?

There is a time of affliction for every one of us. We will all experience loss and pain at some time or another. We will all feel sadness, sometimes so much that we will cry out that God has forgotten us.

But we need to remember in our grief that we are not forgotten after all. God does not turn away from our suffering and our sorrows. He does listen to our calls for help and He gives us comfort.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can remind you that God still loves you?