In the March 7, 2018, edition of the devotional guide, Our Daily Bread, Cindy Hess Kasper described the routine she and granddaughter Allyssa go through each time they say goodbye. They wrap their arms around each other and wail. The grandmother and granddaughter sob dramatically for 15 to 20 seconds before casually saying, “See ya.” Kasper acknowledges it is all a little silly because they expect to see one another again soon. However, it is meaningful because it has become a ritual which communicates their love for one another.
The Apostle Paul described the grief he and the Ephesian church leaders felt when they said goodbye after he informed them he would never return. (Acts 20:37-38) Paul shared how all of them wept and hugged one another. These believers knew they would ultimately see one another in heaven, but that confidence did not eliminate the pain they felt as Paul left Ephesus for the final time.
Our deepest sorrows as human beings often come from the death of a loved one. Knowing someone we love will not be with us in the future can feel incredibly overwhelming.
I am witnessing this up close and personal this week. An older lady from our church is expected to die any day. I conducted a funeral Monday, will do another one Thursday, and will also be attending a funeral Saturday for a friend.
Each of these families is feeling incredible loss. The pain we feel at being separated by death from those we love is always excruciating. Because I am a pastor I regularly witness families grieving.
Is there a difference between families who believe the Biblical promise that they have the hope of seeing their loved ones again? The Apostle Paul says there can be, he wrote, “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.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13, NLT)
I find it significant Paul did not say those who have faith would not grieve, he said they “need not grieve like people who have no hope.” I once asked an experienced funeral director if families of faith grieve differently than those without faith. He said there is an incredible difference between those with no faith and those who have the hope of seeing their loved ones again.
Whether or not you are a person of faith, grief is certainly appropriate when a loved one dies. However, if you are a person of faith you can experience a measure of comfort in knowing your separation is not permanent. As a believer have faith, you will one day see your loved one again.
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