Encouragement 01-14-05



January 14, 2005
Encouragement for Today

Finding Hope in the Midst of Loss
Glynnis Whitwer, Senior Editor P31 Woman, Speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries, editor@proverbs31.org

Key Verse:

"So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you."  (John 16:22 NRSV)


The sadness of our loss was overwhelming.  On July 4, 2004, my beautiful 35-year-old niece Christa was killed in a car accident.  Although we know she is with the Lord, we miss her. The holidays were difficult as we all experienced the first time we wouldn't buy her a gift, or open one that she had picked just for us.  Now 2005 looms with more "firsts" without Christa.

It's hard to face a year of new beginnings with hearts that are heavy with grief.  How will my sister and family get through Mother's Day, Christa's birthday, Easter?  Where is the joy this New Year is supposed to bring?  It's as if everyone else is moving forward, while our sadness holds us back.

We've been told that only time will ease the pain, and so each day we watch and hope the ache lessens.  And while we wait for God's healing to take place in our hearts, we seek and receive the comfort that only God can provide.

Jesus knew His disciples would be overwhelmed with grief when He left the earth.  He knew they would be seeking answers - "Why Lord?  Why did you have to die? Why are we alone?"  In John chapter 16, Jesus tried to explain this to his 12 closest friends, but they struggled to understand.   Just as we struggle to understand why someone we love is gone.

Jesus knew.  He knew their hope would be gone, their lives would be halted with grief, and their purpose would be questioned.  Jesus knows now the grief you feel if you've lost a loved one.  He knows the questions, the remorse, the anguish, the hopelessness.  He knows and He cares.

Jesus gave His friends a nugget of truth in that moment - something they could hold on to in the coming dark days.  He said, "Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy" (John 16:22 NIV).

I know you can't imagine you will ever feel joy again.  But in the darkness of your grief, I invite you to hold onto the words of Jesus.  Now is your time of grief, but He will see you again, and you WILL rejoice and NO ONE will take away your joy!!

Beloved, trust God to restore the joy you have lost.  It may not be this week, or this month, but God is faithful.  The time is coming when your joy will be complete in Christ.  Hang on.

My prayer for today

Heavenly Father, I trust You even though I don't understand why I have to experience this grief.  You know the loneliness in my heart and I pray for your comfort.  Help me to believe that someday I will experience your joy again.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Application steps:

Choose to trust God's word in the midst of your sadness and confusion.  Select some Scripture verses that bring you comfort and write them on index cards to carry with you.  Repeat the comforting Scriptures when you feel grief threaten to overwhelm you.

Reflection points:

During your time of grief, have you learned anything new about God's character?  Describe.

Have you been consistent in praising God in the midst of your mourning?  If not, determine to purchase some worship CDs, or read the Psalms and spend time in praise.

Read Isaiah chapter 61.  In verse 3, with what does God promise to replace our despair?  What might this look like in your life?

How can God use our grief to display His splendor? 

Think of a time when you experienced great joy.  Imagine how much greater our joy will be when we are with the Lord.

Power verses:

"... provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor." Isaiah 61: 3  (NIV)

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV)

"We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.  In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name." Psalm 33:20-21 (NIV)

"... but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelation 21:3-4 (NIV)

Additional resources:

P31 Woman Magazine by Proverbs 31 Ministries

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart?  by Lysa TerKeurst

Coming Out of the Dark by Mary Southerland

Originally published Friday, 14 January 2005.