Today, we wrapped my mother-in-law in love and released her to the embrace of Jesus. Indeed, I am writing this blog posting from the Southwest Airlines terminal of Kansas City International airport on my return flight home following her memorial.
One element of human life that each of us shares is that we all have faced, are facing, or will face grief. Despite its ubiquity, and inevitability, the passing of a loved one is one of the most intense and overwhelming challenges any of us ever faces.
The internet is rife with feckless, secular advice on how to deal with grief, particularly grief related to the loss of a beloved friend or family member. At Long-View Living ministries, it is our conviction that the best comfort and advice for grieving hearts comes not from secular psycho-babble, but rather from the pages of scripture.
This week, in a rather simple blog posting, I want to share with you some of the most comforting passages of scripture I know.
1. Our God is interested in our comfort. He is called the God of All Comfort
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, ESV
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. – Matthew 5:4, ESV
2. Our God is intimately familiar with sorrow and grief.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. – Isaiah 53:3a, ESV
3. Our God is the great physician who will mend the broken heart.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. – Psalm 147:3, ESV
4. Our God drives out our fears – even fear of death, our own, or that of our loved ones.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10, ESV
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:10, ESV
5. Our enemy, death, has no claim on us. By this, we are encouraged.
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep [die], but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
‘Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?’
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 15:51-57, ESV
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep [dead], that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, ESV
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ – Revelation 1:1-4, ESV
And the end result…
You have turned my mourning into dancing for me;
You have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever. – Psalm 30:11-12, ESV