"Are we there, yet???"
Every parent who has ever packed the kids and all the luggage into the SUV and headed off on a long vacation knows well (and dreads) these four little words that, amazingly, kids never grow tired of repeating, over and over again, but which have the power to drive parents to utter distraction.
And most of us are equally familiar with those other words, as well; spoken by the smooth, comfortable voice of our GPS, as we finally arrive at the end of our journey: "You have reached your destination."
Obviously, there is a really BIG difference between being "on our way" somewhere, and actually BEING THERE, isn't there?
During our grieving for the indescribable loss of our dearly beloved son, Levi, some friends have confessed they "didn't know what to say," and so have not said anything. Instead, some have simply avoided contact with us for fear of "saying the wrong thing." I'm going to be very honest, folks, although we truly DO understand that feeling, and, sadly, have probably been guilty of the very same thing, ourselves, still, this has been one of the most hurtful things we have experienced throughout this whole awful time.
And the amazing, astonishing, and encouraging reality is, many, MANY folks (no doubt in many cases the very same ones who are even now reading these words), HAVE landed on just the right words that have actually "hit the spot," and have made us feel all the love and compassion of Christ and have genuinely and profoundly encouraged our hearts in the Lord!
Thankfully, these instances of friends courageously seizing the opportunity to speak words of comfort, love and encouragement have FAR outnumbered the instances of friends who have avoided contact (at least, to OUR knowledge).
In other words, PLEASE don't despair of saying the "right" thing, as if this particular situation is SO horrible, there is just no possibility of that ever happening. Au contraire, mon frere! YES, the situation IS horrible beyond our imagination. Still, our Lord, Who can do the "impossible" without so much as breaking a sweat, certainly CAN bring the right words to the mind of a child of His in any given situation. It CAN be done. Indeed, it HAS been done, many times over!
And, at those times when our just our silent presence might bring far more consolation than any words, I believe we can rely on Him to show us that, too.
As I've said before, it may come as a surprise to hear there really is no set formula for these magical words of comfort; rather, there are clearly MANY possible variations in terms of the precise words chosen, the length, the depth, and even the content!
Here is just one example, received in an email this morning, of MANY I could furnish:
"My dear brother . . . You are much loved."
Short. Simple. Yet POWERFUL.
Here's another, also from today's emails:
"May the Lord give you grace and healing from this terrible life tragedy. Remember, dear friend, there is a day coming when the Lord WILL wipe away every tear, and these things will be forgotten forever."
I found both of these truly soothing, heartwarming and encouraging. It so happens that the second one even touches on our theme for this post.
I personally believe our wonderful FUTURE hope of eternity in Heaven is always an appropriate theme for encouraging fellow believers in times of bereavement. Paul says so -- I Thessalonians 4:17-18. We who have trusted in Christ eagerly await the certainty of a wonderful, blissful eternity in the very Presence of our infinitely Precious Saviour in Heaven; finally and forever removed from the woes, the pains and the heartbreak of this sin-sick world (John 14:1-3; Romans 5:2; 8:18-25;13:11; Hebrews 9:28; etc.). I'm convinced our Lord wants us mentally focused on that glorious FUTURE reality He holds so resolutely in store for us (I Cor. 2:9-10), as I am convinced He intends such times of loss in our lives to be golden, though excruciatingly painful, opportunities to revive, recalibrate or refine that focus.
I applaud all such expressions heartily! It is Biblical, it is highly appropriate, it is right and commendable to remind each other, fervently and frequently, of our Hope of Heaven.
And I really would not diminish or detract from that for the world. We are certainly not in any danger of overemphasizing such a focus. On the contrary; I don't believe we set our hearts and minds on our future in Heaven anywhere near "enough!"
On the other hand, kindly allow me to humbly repeat the point I made earlier: "There is a really BIG difference between being "on our way" somewhere, and actually BEING THERE." (Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 3:3-4; Hebrews 10:19-22; 12:22-24).
As I said in one of my earliest posts in this series, there are SEVERAL Biblical truths that we can and ought to reflect on to lift our spirits in such emotionally devastating times. ONE is certainly our glorious FUTURE in Heaven. ANOTHER is being gripped by the Scriptural reality of our PRESENT residence in Heaven. BOTH are perfectly valid; two Biblical truths that are to be held in tension at one and the same time.
We still have "a ways to go" in completing this series. But if you really latch on to just that one thought; the difference between being "on our way," and actually, already BEING THERE," then we've achieved something worth shouting about!
[Disclaimer: Grieving is terribly stressful, and exhausting. It can leave us emotionally threadbare, mentally disoriented and very easily overwhelmed. I want to acknowledge there are times when the last thing a grieving person may want is to be lectured, or "bombarded" with a lot of scripture. Even though we may be certain that what they need is to fill their minds with the Word of God, they may not be in the right frame of mind to even process it. It WILL call for us encouragers to be ever sensitive to the Lord, to our loved one's emotional state , and to the situation. But, whatever you say or don't say, it is never necessary to abandon your friend in their time of greatest sorrow].
More soon, Lord willing!