Tuesday, December 2, 2014

When Grief Strikes Suddenly

     Yesterday, I was saddened to learn that another couple we love dearly in our fellowship has joined the club of grandparents who have lost a grandchild.  No one wants to be in that club, but life in this fallen world brings sudden loss into our lives.  Certainly most parents expect to die before their children.  However, it is an even greater shock when grandparents outlive their grandchild.  We know that feeling all too well.
     In the case of our friends, their grandson was only 26.  He went for a bike ride, but his life was cut short as a result of an accident.  It was sudden and shocking.  How do you wrap your thoughts around something like that?  In human ability it is impossible, but with Christ, all things are possible.  He alone is the anchor and foundation of our faith.
Jesus is the light in the midst of
     What we often forget during times of trials and heartache is that the Lord weeps with us.  Perhaps the most comforting verse in all scripture is found in John 11:35:  "Jesus wept".  Our Savior who was fully human and fully divine, "God in the flesh" expressed sorrow at the loss of his friend Lazarus.  He knows how we hurt when tragedy strikes.  Another passage that demonstrates the Lord's understanding of our plight comes from Isaiah 53:3-4:  "3He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted."  Because the Lord fully identifies with us, He, more than anyone else, can understand the sorrows that come from living in this world.  Not only does He understand us, but He also came to carry our grief and sorrow if we allow Him to.  He is the Redeemer that brings joy out of sorrow and beauty out of ashes.
     Next month, it will be a year since we said our good-byes to our beloved Branson who was only six when he entered the presence of the Lord.  I wish I could say I understood the Lord's purpose in taking him when He did but I do not.  I may never comprehend it until I am in the Lord's presence myself.  I just know that I serve a God who is loving, faithful and will never leave nor forsake me or our family.  Without the assurance of salvation and knowing I will see our grandson again, I would be a hopeless person indeed.
     Perhaps nothing comforts the heart more than the hymn, "It is Well With my Soul" written by Horatio Spafford in 1873.  His story behind the hymn is dramatic.  He lost his first son to Scarlet Fever in 1870.  Then, in 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed his business holdings.  He planned a trip to Europe for the family but at the last minute, he was delayed by business and sent his four daughters on ahead.  Sadly, as the ship was crossing the ocean, a collision with another ship occurred and the four girls were lost at sea.  When Spafford traveled to comfort his grieving wife,  he penned the words to this popular hymn.  Through his tears and heartaches, He was able to overcome by God's great grace.  Here are the words to this wonderful hymn:                                                              
"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul."
     My prayer for my dear friends is that they will be able to say along with our family:  "It is Well With my Soul"  May God comfort them and all who are grieving knowing that He will accomplish His purpose in our lives!


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