I referred yesterday to five things regarding our perspective that I believe God intends to provide great help, encouragement and strength to any believer, particularly one who is going through a time of great loss and grieving. A quick recap (for those of you who feel you can do without the "recap," kindly feel free to skip down below to the next post, which is a great old article about one of the five things -- our present citizenship in Heaven):
1. Eyes on Eternity. We are eternal, spiritual beings; this is NOT our home. The pain we experience today is transient; temporary; our focus ought to be the amazing, ETERNAL hope the Lord has for us and making our lives now count for an ETERNITY with Him, Who will open day "wipe away every tear."
2. Still, our Lord, the Great Shepherd of our souls, IS concerned with our present, temporal sorrows and pain! He is "the Father of MERCIES, and God of all COMFORT, who comforts us in all our tribulation." We can call on Him and count on Him to do so in all our times of distress!
3. Further, the Lord has said that if we truly love HIM, we WILL LOVE HIS CHILDREN. He calls us to "love one another as I have loved you" (John 13:34). And this is a love that is not merely in "word and in tongue, but in deed and truth." In other words, part of His provision for us is the Body of Christ, who are called to share one another's burden; to "rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep." This is the supernatural evidence that the Love of God abides in us, and is truly at work in the lives of His children. May we all be resolved to LEARN this priceless attribute of our Lord, who "laid down His life," not merely for His friends (John 15:13), but for those who were His ENEMIES (Romans 5:8, 10); MAKING His enemies His friends, children, and co-heirs (Ro. 8:17)!!!
There are so many grieving, hurting people out there, I believe every Christian OUGHT to endeavor to LEARN just how we can truly encourage them. IT IS A BIBLICAL MANDATE -- Romans 15:1, 13-14; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:1-4; Heb. 10:24-25; Eph. 4:15-16, 25, 29; etc. Face it: so many of us DESPERATELY need help in this area!
A dear friend and former teacher of mine, who has gone through his own extended times of terrible loss and grief has written a book very much along these lines. It's titled, "I Didn't Know What to Say," by David Knapp. I haven't yet read the book, but I know Dave, and he can be trusted. Karen has read chunks, and has shared passages with me, which I have found very insightful and helpful. I've posted the link here on my wall, if you'd like to order yourself a copy.
4. Those IN CHRIST will be resurrected from the dead. The Lord will come to gather His saints to Himself. We will meet Him "in the air," and will forever dwell with the Lord, reunited with loved ones who have died in Christ -- John 14:1-3; I Thess. 4:13-18
5. Another crucial key for the child of God is simply to gain assurance of, count on, and ENJOY the wonderful character of our God -- His sovereign control over circumstances and ability to truly cause them "to work together for Good" (Romans 8:28-39; Eph. 1:11); His unfailing, amazing LOVE for each of us, His children (John 13:1; 17:23; I John 3:1-2), and His perfect, just dealings with all (Psalm 18:30). It is tremendously uplifting, stabilizing and reassuring to meditate on these things in the Scripture.
6. Our true, PRESENT position as "citizens of Heaven," right now, AT THIS VERY MOMENT.
This last one, I believe, is SO little understood and appreciated by believers today. I rarely hear it even referred to in Christian circles. And yet, it was a MAJOR theme among my favorite Christian writing teachers -- the early Plymouth Brethren (J. N. Darby, William Kelly, F. W. Grant, C. H. Mackintosh, J. B. Stoney, etc.).
I encourage one and all to take the time to mull over the following piece, "No Place Like Home," by William Kelly, along with passages such as Colossians 3:1-4; Eph. 2:6; Phil. 3:20. I believe it will be well worth the investment of time, even if it causes you to miss some of the Olympics to do it!
[I know: "I thought you said QUICK recap, Ernst!!]