But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep,
so that you will not grieve as those who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13
A scripture that has come to us many times this season…a scripture quoted recently at a dear ministry friends’ memorial who, like a couple of other ministry friends in recent weeks, has gone too soon. These friends are gone too soon for those here on earth who will miss them dearly, and who struggle with understanding why. I guess, as you know, it is harder on those of us who are left behind. However, we are encouraged in scripture to rejoice in their home going. For we, unlike others in the world, have hope in eternal life.
In addition to these 3 ministry friends we also have known 3 close friends who each lost a parent recently. Though these parents may have lived life a little more toward its fullness, being prepared to lose someone is never easy. I, myself, have my dear grandmother on my mind each day. At 97, she is likely in her last days here, as her body is tired and responding less to earthly substance and she most likely has her eyes on her Savior.
How do we prepare for grief? How do we comfort those who grieve? Perhaps there are some around us who do not fully grasp having “hope” when losing a loved one. Thankfully, all those mentioned above knew the Lord and met their awaiting King. They all had faith that they would someday meet Jesus, and they had great hope in that knowledge. As Believers, this is something we look forward to.
Many of us often look forward to Heaven. Particularly when life is hard, times are tough, the state of the world seems in such dire straights. But we press on and know that our present duty is to tell as many around us of His grace and His free gift of Salvation that extends eternal life to every soul.
We had the opportunity to do just that at a recent Tuesday night outreach in Tijuana, when addressing the group that had gathered to receive their bread. Yet another passing in the prior week, of a dear friend and helper, just an hour or two after the outreach, gave us reason to exhort the crowd. Raquel (pictured in last update below) had been a faithful helper in distributing food with us each week. She collapsed from a heart problem due to prior drug abuse and, although her life was redeemed and her passion was serving the Lord, her frail body had run its course. Raquel loved serving her community and as we reminded them of that we encouraged them that, like Raquel, our days are numbered and life on this earth is not guaranteed. But a new eternal life in Jesus is promised if only He is made Lord of their lives.
So, just as we did at this past weekends memorial, we gather with others to remember a loved one who has passed. We rejoice in their completion of suffering for those who were sick. We remember their mark on our life and attempt to make a difference in others lives based on their influence. Though we are saddened, we are thankful for having hope and therefore able to grieve in a way that says “bye for now…until we meet again” And as I posted on my Facebook status this week, “Heaven has yet another good one up there!”