Pastoral Care, Chapter 7: Good Grief! – Part 3

Regardless of the situation or the circumstances giving cause to our grief, in God’s power it is possible to be born anew, to have a fresh start, to get on with life. It is a living hope for now, but also for the future. It is the hope of a “little bit of heaven” now, but also of a life which is eternal in the heavens.

It seems to me that people don’t talk as much about heaven as they did when I was young. It may be an overreaction to the description of heaven in The Revelation of John with its walls of precious stones and streets of gold. I confess that that image does not hold much appeal for me either.

What I believe John was trying to say to his readers, however, was not about the material conditions in heaven. He was just trying to help them and us to see beyond the grief of suffering and death to the indescribable future God has prepared for those who love Him.

Paul addressed this also. He wrote to the Corinthians, “But some will ask how are the dead raised up? With what kind of body do they come?” And he stopped them. In effect he said those are the wrong questions. It is not how, where, what, when. The question is Whom. By whom? With whom? Then Paul says that God has prepared for us there as God has blessed us here. It is when we pass through the mystery of death that we will see and we will say. “Death, where is your victory? Grave, where is your sting? Thanks be to God. We have the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“What can separate us from the love of Christ?” Paul asked the Romans. Then he answers his own question. “Shall tribulations or distress, or persecution or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers nor things present nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation (which occasions our grief) can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

So we grieve because of who we are and how God made us; but not without hope; and because of who God is, and what God has promised to those who turn to god in faith, we grieve but we do not have to be victims. We have the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. When we know and believe this, even in our grieving, we can experience the goodness of our God and see and know how God is at work for good in all things; even grief can be good.

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