“We do not want you to … grieve like the rest … who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
The dictionary defines grief as “a keen, mental suffering, or distress over loss.” Philosophy teacher Nick Wolterstorff states that suffering occurs “when something prized or loved is ripped away or never granted.” None of us escapes suffering; all will know the grief of loss. Yet there are degrees of grief. Some people experience a grief that’s intense, almost too much to endure. For others, grief is more like a nagging presence, a spoiler.
The Bible does not deny that there is much heartbreak; nor does it forbid us a sad face as though tears were a betrayal of faith. But it does warn against despair, the settled conviction that all will come to a bad end. The Scriptures dare to speak of hope even in the face of death. There are many reasons for gathering for worship on Sunday — some better than others.
As we gather today, let’s do so in the desire to honor God and renew our trust in the Lord. Only in God can we be seized by the hope mentioned in our Scripture reading for today. This is a hope that believes, despite all devastating evidence to the contrary, that Jesus will one day restore every inch of this planet to live with us and reunite us with our loved ones. When we are ignorant of this hope, grief wins.
Almighty God, we gather together to give you all praise and glory, renewing our trust in You for the hope you give us. In Jesus’s name, Amen.