Holidays can be really tough, since they naturally draw attention to our losses, both recent and in the distant past. Comparison doesn’t help, as we look at other people’s lives, families, and social gatherings and feel the hole in our heart grow even larger. We just went through another December, which is always a really hard month for our family. Late this past year, we buried my dad. Two Decembers ago, we said goodbye to a precious granddaughter. Eleven years earlier, we unexpectedly lost Mom. So we approached the end of 2020 knowing it would be difficult, and began a new year tired and emotionally weary. Maybe the same is true for you.
Now that the holidays are over, the energy and fortitude you exerted in order to “plow through” difficult gatherings without falling apart has left you depleted. Your physical, mental, and emotional resources aren’t what they used to be and, perhaps, the grey cloud of grief is looking darker than ever. Are you wondering how you are supposed to keep fighting for joy and hope in your valley of sorrow?
The apostle Paul provides help to us by reminding us of two important truths that serve to refuel our hope and joy.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13 ESV)
TWO Truths to Help you fight for joy
As you continue to walk through your valley of sorrow there are two hope-producing truths to remember.
1. Joy will triumph over grief in heaven
All people grieve, because we all experience loss and difficulty or suffering as part of living in a world broken by sin. Every one of us is cut out of the same cloth, which includes having God-given emotions like sorrow and joy. What keeps these emotions simultaneous for the Christian, however, is the promise of an eternity without one of them—without sorrow. There will be no sorrow in heaven, but only sheer joy in the presence of our God and Savior. There will be so much joy in his presence that all sadness will be driven away! For this reason, we can experience peaceful joy alongside unsettling grief. We can grieve with hope, because we know the future.
2. Jesus Is Coming Again
After the second coming, when time is no more, the Lord “will wipe away every tear from [our] 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 21:4). This is why the apostle Paul counsels the believers in Thessalonica to “not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). The basis of this admonishment is the coming of the Lord to complete the redemption of his people. When Jesus returns, he will judge all the unpardoned wicked (2 Thessalonians 1:8), and gather the saved from all millennia to meet him, and we will “always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Be encouraged!
In the presence of our Savior there will be no sorrow. Death, grief, and loss will no longer be able to hurt you. Sin, the originator of death and every form of loss, will be no more. Through resurrection, the sting of death will finally be removed (1 Corinthians 15:55).
GO AHEAD AND GRIEVE
Knowing these truths creates tension in our hearts. We grieve our losses here, but we also long for the joy of eternity, as “we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). Instead of grieving like those who have no hope, you can anticipate Jesus saying, “Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:23).
So, go ahead and grieve. But do not grieve like those who have no hope! Ask God to increase your sense of the hope that you share with all believers. First Corinthians 15:35–49 is a good passage to read in order to address your questions about the resurrection of the body and to help build your faith. Let it encourage you that your grief is not the end of the story.
A SMALL BOOK FOR THE HURTING HEART
This small but transformative devotional cultivates anchors of hope, redirecting men and women to the trustworthiness of God who is always for us in Christ.