Sunday, July 26, 2015

FAITH IN TIMES OF GRIEF

Excerpt from Swallowed by Life: Mysteries of the Eternal
By Ada Brownell

I don’t know if there is any pain that equals the loss of a child. I do know I met mothers who lost children decades before and their eyes still filled with tears when they talked about it. I still cry sometimes myself.
Wave after wave of grief hit me in the hours, days, weeks, months, and years after Carolyn left us. At first, the impact almost knocked me off my feet, like the waves I loved to ride at Santa Cruz beach when we visited Michael and Carolyn. When I’d walk toward shore, often I’d forget to watch
Carolyn on her wedding day holding her first niece, Melissa
the waves and a big one would catch me with my back turned, nearly causing me to lose my footing. Grief had the same impact.
The first day back at work after I arrived home following the funeral, I interviewed some ladies I knew. They asked how the family was and didn’t know Carolyn was gone. I regained my composure while I told them about her death and how the other children were doing. Yet, as I walked to my car, my breath came in short gasps, the pain of loss almost consuming me.
On the other hand, I found that the Lord’s grace overwhelmed me periodically in a similar way. I’d be going about my business when suddenly the Lord would remind me of a scripture, or someone would minister to me, giving renewed strength and peace.
I began reading the book of Hebrews and it strengthened my faith so much I kept reading.
Oh, how sweet the Word is! To this day I’m still awed by Hebrews 2:9, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”
Jesus tasted death for my Carolyn! Jesus tasted death for me! Because of Jesus, death is no longer bitter because He took the sting (the bitterness, the unpleasantness) from death (1 Corinthians 15:55). When He walked out of the tomb alive, death’s sting was left behind like the grave clothes cast aside.
I read Hebrews and continued my intense search. I was amazed to see how much of the Bible is devoted to death and eternal life.
Right in the middle of the “faith chapter” in Hebrews 11, the writer stops telling about the miraculous exploits of men and women of faith and says:
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them from afar off, and were persuaded of them and embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country [of their own]. And truly, if they had been mindful of what country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city (Hebrews 11:13–16).

Even the book of Acts, written as a history of the church, has eternal life as its theme because the apostles’ message was Jesus Christ risen from the dead. Peter’s first sermon talked about what Jesus did to the process of death as he said, “Jesus of Nazareth…whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death” (Acts 2:22–24).
I followed the paper trail left in the Bible, the writings of godly men and even the songs from generations before us, and saw God did something about death and gives peace to those who face it.
Sure, death means sorrow. Oh, such sorrow! Yes, we miss our loved ones, and at times we feel our heart is cut out.
Carolyn when in high school
Those who’ve never stared death in the face are terrorized by it. I’m sure nearly everyone who knows he is dying feels fear. But one thing I’ve discovered in interviewing many people who have come close to death, especially if they know God, is the paralyzing fear disappears when they get close to crossing over.
I remember Janelle, who received a liver transplant. Before the liver donor was found, she came close to dying more than once.
I met Janelle right after the transplant. The new liver worked marvelously, providing strength and life for her formerly dying body. She’d just been discharged from the hospital. She looked so energized and talked about how much she loved hearing snow squeak under her feet and feeling the wind blow in her face.
But she found time to add how the fear of death vanished in those times of sweet communion with God as she lay on the verge of dying.
If we believe what Jesus said to Martha, “Whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die,” (John 11:26) everything about death changes.
Suddenly, some of the old songs have new meaning. I have new zest for singing: “When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!”[1]
          My faith was returning. I now believed the exit from earth is only the entrance of our souls into our grand abode for eternity. But I wanted to know what happens between death and resurrection. I wanted to know what happens to the body. And I still wanted to look for scientific evidence that we are more than flesh. There were more things to investigate.
Interested in more? Chapter 4 is titled, "What do you See in A Raw Egg?"

Purchase Swallowed by life: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal HERE
Only $2.99.




[1]Eliza E. Hewitt, 1851-1920., Mrs. John G. Wilson, 1865-1942, Worship and Service Hymnal, Hope Publishing Co., 5707 W. Lake St., Chicago,, 1966