Surely this year will start off better than last year ended. That was my hope as January rolled around. Sadly, things just didn’t work out the way I hoped. It seems as if my family would be walking through another season of grief. Hard, gut wrenching grief.
“…that you may not grieve as others who have no hope…” 1 Thessalonians 4:13b (ESV)
Honestly, I’d like to have a talk with the apostle Paul about this verse. We don’t grieve as unbelievers? Really?
“Excuse me, Mr. Apostle Paul, but I disagree with this scripture! Cause let me tell you, I can ugly cry with the best of those with no hope. I snot cry and wail in pain because it hurts that my loved one is no longer here. I can’t talk to them, have dinner with them, I can’t hug or touch them. Not only that, tears run from my eyes, snot pours from my nose and spit drips out of my gaping mouth. Yeah, I grieve. Really ugly grief. So, help me with this verse, please Mr. Apostle Paul!”
Physically, I DO grieve as those without hope. Spiritually, the hope I have should make my grief more bearable. After all, my hope as a believer is in a resurrected body and eternal life and heaven. My hope is that one day I will see my loved ones again. They will be part of the great cloud of witnesses that I hope will greet me when I walk through heaven’s gates. But there’s one thing:
It’s so hard to wrap my brain around eternal life when I am grieving here on earth.
My hope is in heaven. I know this earth is not my home. I know this. But I struggle to imagine the reality of heaven. I know it has streets of gold (Revelation 21:21), but I know nothing about being there with my loved ones. I cannot visualize this (and I am a visual person!).
More grief grips my heart when reality sets in. Those I’ve loved are no longer here with me. I’m left behind without them. They are home, safe and sound, like after a long trip. They can exhale and rest in eternal peace; all of us here on earth are still traveling. They are worshipping at the feet of Jesus; we are merely playing our worship music. We’re not jealous of them. Not exactly. We’re just longing to be home with them.
One commentary I read explained it this way: We have hope of spending eternity with Jesus. Instead of thinking about heaven with all my loved ones, I need to focus on life with Jesus. I need to change my perspective. Again, though, it’s hard to wrap my brain around a glorious future with Jesus. What does that even look like? My eyes are cloudy from the tears of my grief. My perspective is cloudy.
I believe, but I can’t see.
With sorrow after sorrow piled high, the thought of eternal life with Jesus doesn’t console me like it should. It doesn’t fill the hole left in my heart.
(Join me next week, as I continue pondering the hope we have.)
Grace be with you,