"ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE BEREAVED"
One of the greatest sorrows known to God's children is the loss of a loved one from this life. Today, let us consider some of the great promises our Lord has given His children for encouragement during the times of such great loss.
In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul wrote, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as other which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him"(4:13,14). Many times, we forget the purpose of Jesus' death. It was that His people would live with Him forever in glory. He paid the price for an eternity of bliss for His people.
Our greatest encouragement stems from a knowledge of Jesus' death, "if we believe that Jesus died and rose again." If we believe in the resurrection of Jesus, that He rose bodily from the grave, we should also believe that our loved ones will too. They will come back with Jesus when He returns, "will God bring with Him". Yes, we will see them again! It could be tomorrow or even next week. What a day that will be when all the redeemed host come together with Jesus. It is always good to remember that the best is yet to come for God's children. When Mary and Martha lost their brother Lazarus, Martha said to Jesus, "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day"-John 11:24. Though her loss was great, her knowledge of the resurrection gave her great hope. Her hope was realized sooner than expected as Jesus commanded the body of Lazarus from the tomb. This was just a glimpse of the wonders of resurrection day.
Our belief that "Jesus died and rose again" is the anchor of the soul when a loved one passes from this life. The loss of a loved one would be a hopeless experience if it were not for our knowledge of Jesus who was triumphant over death, hell and the grave. Just to know that King Jesus reigns triumphant over all things, death included, instills hope that our loved ones continue to live, only in another place, far better than this. Paul said of this anchor hope, "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus…"-Hebrews 6:19-20. When the soul is tossed to and fro in a dark storm of sorrow, there is no greater anchor than hope. Paul's language is very figurative. The forerunner was the ship that escorted the heavy laden vessel into the harbor and carried its anchor into the safe haven and dropped it. Jesus is our forerunner. Our hope is within the veil(heaven), firmly attached to Jesus. His people are attached firmly to Him by His love and drawn to Him by His grace. Thankfully, the line between the anchor and the ship is His faithfulness and not our own. Though our hope may seem so little from time to time, His faithfulness is unfailing, "sure and stedfast".
Surely, God's promises give great consolation and instill hope in the heart of the believer. No, Paul did not say that we should not sorrow. Sorrow is a spiritual exercise of the soul. It is the God prescribed means of venting a loving heart exploding with sorrow. Even Solomon wrote, there is "a time to mourn". That time is best spent in communion with the Lord who made the promises; the one who safely keeps our loved ones in His beloved company. Let us go to Him with our sorrow and speak of the resurrection as Martha did. He will have compassion. "Jesus wept".
Come and worship with us at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church, at Donaldson, where God is sovereign, and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Services begin at 10:30 each Sunday morning.
By His mercy and grace, Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor.