Tag Archives: loss of a loved one

The Hope We Have

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.


I was recently at the viewing for a friend I’d known for over 20 years. As I went around hugging necks and catching up on where everyone was in life, I decided to stop and take a moment. I sat down on one of the pews and watched the crowd as they interacted. There were a group of young men standing near the coffin silently staring at the body. I then noticed there were huddles throughout the sanctuary around the family members left behind. They were hugging and offering condolences. Then there was everyone else affected by this person’s life. They weren’t stationary like the others. They moved around making their way up front and then around and that’s when I noticed something out of the ordinary.

There were smiles on their faces. I checked another roaming group and they were smiling as well. I gazed back to the family huddles to look at their demeanor and it was the same. The atmosphere was not one of sadness, but of joy. It was then that I was reminded of I Thessalonians 4:13. Paul wrote, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope” (NLT).   Here was living proof of this scripture. I was in a crowd of people smiling and enjoying themselves, while mourning the loss of a friend, because we have hope beyond the grave.

Yes, it hurts to lose someone who impacted our lives and there’s a big, gaping void in us that only they could fill. But we don’t have to carry on like those who have no hope. We don’t see this as the end of life, but rather that person’s birth into eternal life. Their spirit has been set free from the cocoon of the human body, and they have been released into the heavens. We know that one day we will cross from death to life as well and be reunited with them and a host of others who knew Jesus as their savior. That’s how we can smile in midst of such a great loss. It seems foreign to those who have no hope, but it’s natural to those of us who do.

I Thessalonians 4 concludes with these words, “Therefore comfort and encourage one another with these words.” We have comfort in sorrow and courage in despair because our loss is Heaven’s gain and we know that we will be reunited. Hope is a powerful force that can light up our darkness and give us strength to smile in the pain. It keeps us from the pit of despair and points us to better days. I’ll finish this post with the words from I Corinthians 13:12-13 that I think are fitting. “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (MSG)”

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Responding To Distress


If you were to take a piece of pottery and a stick of butter into the oven, you’d get two different results. While the pottery would harden, the butter would melt. Even though it’s the same fire, things react differently to it. The same goes for us. Each one of us go through the fires of tribulations and troubles here on earth. Not one of us are exempt from it, but we each respond differently. Even though we have the same physical properties, those fires produce different results in us.

For me, those fires nearly wiped me off the earth. They destroyed everything in my life and left me with nothing. My response was to shut down and check out. I thought, “If I don’t have anything left to live for, why should I live?” Other people who have been through similar fires used it as fuel to get stronger, tougher, and better. They didn’t let it get the best of them. I don’t know that there’s a right or wrong way when it comes to how you respond to distress in your life except when it comes to your spiritual life.

Fires, tribulation and distress should push us closer to God, not away. Those are really the only two options spiritually. You can run to God and become totally dependent on Him or you can turn your back on Him wondering why He let this happen to you. II Corinthians 7:10 says, “Distress that drives us to God does that (produces all gain, not loss). It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets” (MSG).

In my life, the distress pushed me toward God in the end. It wasn’t until I had nothing left that I told God, “I give up. I can’t do this without you.” That moment sparked a change. Life didn’t get better immediately and not everything was restored right then. It took years, but God has been faithful to me and I don’t regret the pain I went through because it caused me to run back to God. I started off like that butter in the fire, but ended up like the pottery. You can too. Whatever you’re going through, it’s not too late to let it push you to God instead of away.

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Comfort And Hope


Christmas time and the overall holiday season can be a difficult time for those who have ever lost a loved one. When families come together, it’s another reminder of the gapping hole that person once filled. Many times families won’t decorate or truly celebrate the season if they lost that loved one that year. It’s understandable and we have to remember that each person grieves in their own way. There are no rules or timelines on how a person is to grieve or how long. I understand their are stages of grief, but each person follows them in their own way.

As Christians, it’s ok for us to grieve as well, but we do so with the hope of seeing that person again one day. For us, it’s not goodbye. It’s see you later. The pain is still there. We still go through the stages of grief, but we have hope. We can be comforted in knowing that death is not the end because we serve a savior who holds the keys to death, hell, and the grave. As I Corinthians 15:55 put it, “Where, Death, is your victory? Where, Death, is your power to hurt?” (GNT)

For those who have accepted Jesus as their savior, death is no longer defeat. Death is not the end of life, but rather the beginning of eternal life. With that knowledge, Paul wrote this in I Thessalonians 4:13, “Our friends, we want you to know the truth about those who have died, so that you will not be sad, as are those who have no hope.” Death doesn’t make us grieve uncontrollably and hopelessly because it is not final for a believer. We can still grieve and we can still feel the loss because of their absence though. 

In the final verse of that chapter, Paul wrote, “Therefore comfort and encourage one another with these words.” He knew that we would need encouragement and comfort in our time of grief. So, if you’re grieving and hurting this holiday season over your loved one, it’s ok to do it in your own way, but don’t do it as one who is hopeless. Take comfort in knowing that the same reason we celebrate Christmas is the same reason we have hope. 

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This Hope We Have



I was recently at the viewing for a friend I’d known for over 20 years. As I went around hugging necks and catching up on where everyone was in life, I decided to stop and take a moment. I sat down on one of the pews and watched the crowd as they interacted. There were a group of young men standing near the coffin silently staring at the body. I then noticed there were huddles throughout the sanctuary around the family members left behind. They were hugging and offering condolences. Then there was everyone else affected by this person’s life. They weren’t stationary like the others. They moved around making their way up front and then around and that’s when I noticed something out of the ordinary.

There were smiles on their faces. I checked another roaming group and they were smiling as well. I gazed back to the family huddles to look at their demeanor and it was the same. The atmosphere was not one of sadness, but of joy. It was then that I was reminded of I Thessalonians 4:13. Paul wrote, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.”   Here was living proof of this scripture. I was in a crowd of people smiling and enjoying themselves, while mourning the loss of a friend, because we have hope beyond the grave.

Yes, it hurts to lose someone who impacted our lives and there’s a big, gaping void in us that only they could fill. But we don’t have to carry on like those who have no hope. We don’t see this as the end of life, but rather that person’s birth into eternal life. Their spirit has been set free from the cocoon of the human body and they have been released into the heavens. We know that one day we will cross from death to life as well and be reunited with them and a host of others who knew Jesus as their savior. That’s how we can smile in midst of such a great loss. It seems foreign to those who have no hope, but it’s natural to those of us who do.

I Thessalonians 4 concludes with these words, “Therefore comfort and encourage one another with these words.” We have comfort in sorrow and courage in despair because our loss is Heaven’s gain and we know that we will be reunited. Hope is a powerful force that can light up our darkness and give us strength to smile in the pain. It keeps us from the pit of despair and points us to better days. I’ll finish this post with the words from I Corinthians 13:12-13 that I think are fitting. “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (MSG)”

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Long Term Lessons

In the summer between my Fifth and Sixth grade years of school, my parents informed me that they were taking me out of the school system I had attended all my life and we’re putting me into a Christian school. I was devastated. All I could think of were the things I was going to lose and miss out on. There was no social media so I was going to lose all the friends I had been making since kindergarten. The Christian school was small and didn’t have much of a sports program. I went from a class of 20 something students to an entire grade that had only six students.

All I could focus on we’re the things I was losing. I pled with my parents about their choice. I wasn’t happy about it and let them know it! They were focused on my bigger picture. They knew that there was a higher percent of Christians in the Christian school than where I was meaning I would more than likely make friends with good influences. They knew that a grade that had six students would mean I would get a more individualized learning situation. They knew that even though sports were a big deal to me, I wasn’t going to be a professional athlete so they focused on things that benefited my future.

Thirty years later, I can see now what I couldn’t see then. I appreciate the choices they made even though I disagreed with them. As an adult in life, I forget that ultimately I’m a child of God. Even though I call Him “Father” in my prayers, I don’t often think of us being in a father / son relationship. I think of myself as an adult and He is more like my guide. I don’t think that’s how He wants it though. The truth is, I don’t know anything about what’s best for me long term just like I didn’t as a Fifth grader.

When God makes choices to take things out of my life, I still stomp and tell Him it’s not fair. All I can see are the things I’m losing. I’m too focused on the short term comforts rather than His long term goals for my life. I feel like God speaks to me sometimes in the way he did in Job 38 to get my attention during my tantrums. In verses four and five, He asked Job, “Where were you when I made the world? If you know so much, tell me about it. Who decided how large it would be? Who stretched the measuring line over it? Do you know all the answers?”

I don’t always agree with the decisions God makes in my life, but I’m learning that He knows what’s best long term for me. He may take away people or things from my life so that He can put prepare me for what’s ahead. He may do things that look like sacrifices now only to reveal years later that it was for my good. I wasn’t there when He laid the foundations of the earth. I don’t have the answers, but I do know the One who does. In times when I feel like I’m losing important parts of my life, I’m learning to trust His overall plan because He will do what is best for me long term.

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