Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Take Heart, Spring Is Coming

Black Moshannon Lake at Spring Thaw 2011
If you live long enough, the Christmas holiday season will become a hard time for grieving.

Many people experience the death of a loved one during December. Today, I will conduct a funeral for a dear lady in our church who had been battling cancer for two years. Her family is happy that she will spend this Christmas with Jesus, but sad because she won't spend Christmas with them.  I'm proud of their choice to have Christmas carols played at the funeral--they are celebrating her homegoing in a Christian frame of mind.  But it's still hard. Really hard.

Another lady connected to our church died on Christmas day last year. That family will always have the anniversary of Mom's/Gram's death fall on the day they celebrate the Savior's birth. That's hard. Really hard.

Two days ago was the 2 year anniversary of my mother-in-law's homegoing. Christmastime will always be the time when Linda was taken from us.

My uncle lies in intensive care right now following a heart attack last week. Indications are that he will not be with us much longer, and Christmas will never be the same for that side of our family, either. 

Even if you don't lose a loved one in December, you will lose loved ones at other times of the year that will make Christmastime a time of grief. You will miss them at the family gatherings. They won't be there. It will hurt really badly.

Heather and I were talking about this almost crushing heaviness last night. She said, "It's appropriate, I think, to feel this grief so acutely in December because it's winter. This is the time of death. But I need to remind myself that spring is coming."

I think that's partly why Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, to remind us that spring is coming:
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.
Yes, they are gone right now, and it's right to miss them. This is winter, the time of death, and it hurts. But take heart, Christian, spring is coming. We grieve, but we grieve with hope. If we and our loved one belong to Jesus, then we will see them again in the Springtime of the world. And we will both be together with the Lord forever.

"Encourage each other with these words."