Today was the funeral service of a beloved friend and church family member; a sincere celebration of life which was touching and encouraging. My dear friend and mentor, Dr. Mike Day delivered a well said, kindly spoken word of truth and inspiration; I have elaborated on his construct with his permission.
Whether you are currently grieving the death of a loved one or the swells of grief are brewing on the horizon, my prayer is this acronym (H.O.P.E.) will bring peace and assurance when you need it most.
H • Heaven 2 Corinthians 5:1-5
There is no guaranteed way to relieve or bring an end to grief. However, it is like medicine to the heart to understand that when our earthly bodies do perish, those who have a relationship with Jesus have a home in heaven with Him. Earth is not the final destination nor is the grave the eternal resting place of those who know and love the Lord. We who have not yet died do not have to worry about the location or the experience of our loved one. For him or her, their faith has become sight and they are seeing Jesus face to face.
O • Opportunity Romans 10:3
Residency in heaven, however, does not come without a prerequisite. The Bible teaches whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Jesus would explain it to Nicodemus like, “being born again.” This new birth provides no death. Yes, there will be physical death – it is appointed once for all men to die. But God provides the opportunity for eternal life in the gracious, merciful gift of His Son, Jesus. Jesus lived a life we could not live. He died an unearned, undeserved death so we could have the opportunity for unearned, undeserved eternal life.
P • Promises John 14
Many things are said during a season of grief. Some words are comforting. Some words are confusing. Sadly yet, some words are out of place and do more harm than good. Jesus, however, always knew just what to say. He would say, “Let your hearts not be troubled.” He promises heaven is not a concept, but it is place that He personally has prepared for your loved one. If it weren’t true, He wouldn’t say it – because His promises can be trusted. He continues with a new promise – He will come back. We will not be left to struggle, doubt, or wonder what is happening to our loved one or what will happen to us when we die. At the moment of death, we are standing on holy ground as The Good Shepherd has come to bring home His sheep.
E • Eternal Life Revelation 3 & 21
Death is a reminder that everything here on earth must end. Men are born and men die. Seeds are planted and crops spoil. Animals are birthed and one day perish. The sun rises and the sun sets. Yet the truth of a life in Jesus includes a door that will never be shut. An experience with Jesus that will never end. As Jesus makes all things news, He makes them better, perfect. No pain. No sickness. He makes them without end. Some endings are good. The tears your cry, the grief you feel, the hole in your heart – all this will come to an end in due time. “Behold, I am making all things new,” Jesus says. “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”
This H.O.P.E. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Even though a loved one may have died before we die, we have the ability to grieve unlike those who have no hope. We grieve knowing that if they had a relationship with Jesus and we too have surrendered our lives to Him, then we will be reunited again. As painful as grief may be, we can be assured we will see our loved once more.