Thursday, June 02, 2016

The Space Between Grief And Hope

God wants us to face overwhelming trials with faith as we draw near to our hope in Jesus.

John 11:23-27  Jesus told her, "Your brother will rise again."  24  "Yes," Martha said, "he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day."

25  Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying.  26  Everyone who lives in Me and believes in Me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?"

27  "Yes, Lord," she told Him. "I have always believed You are the Messiah, the Son of God, the One who has come into the world from God."

A lot of people are unhappy and confused about Jesus, the message that Lazarus was sick and needed his help had reached Jesus in plenty of time. Some of the people at the funeral were baffled by the fact that Jesus could have just spoke the words and Lazarus would be healed without Jesus coming to see him.

Four days later Lazarus' family was dealing with their loss when the word gets back to the house that Jesus has made his way into their village. How could he show up so late? When the message about Lazarus was given to him he wasn't that far away so where has he been? There isn't much that can be done now.

Jesus encourages her with the thought that she will see her brother again and that death isn't a permanent condition for God's children. Jesus asked her if she believed and she confirmed that she knew that he is the Messiah but that hope didn't get rid of her grief. Jesus didn't expect it to end her sadness, he didn't ask her if she felt better now that she had that resurrection theology straight in her head, according to Jesus it was not how she felt that was important, but what she believed.
Ephesians 2:6  For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.
We have amazing hope but still there is an empty void that will not be filled right away, if ever, so we still have grief but it is tempered with the hope that we will be reunited with that person again. This trial will test our faith, it is a lot easier to talk about our faith as a theory than it is to exercise it, it is easier to believe that all things work together for good than it is to believe that this individual trial is for good.

There are seven qualities of overcoming faith that will help us work through life’s overwhelming trials and losses:

1. Overcoming faith takes overwhelming trials to the Lord.
2. Overcoming faith trusts that God is in control of all our circumstances.
3. Overcoming faith does not limit God.
4. Overcoming faith trusts in the promises of God regarding eternity.
5. Overcoming faith personally applies God’s truth in the present.
6. Overcoming faith centers in the person of Jesus Christ.
7. Overcoming faith believes what it knows and grows from there.
From "Overcoming Faith"
As Jesus approached Mary and Martha differently he does the same for us, with Martha he talked to her about her belief but with Mary he sympathized and wept with her. Jesus told us that apart from him we cannot do anything and if we have have him we can do anything but sometimes our emotions overrule the facts.
Emotions Are Okay
John 11:33-36  When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within Him, and He was deeply troubled. "Where have you put him?" He asked them. They told Him, "Lord, come and see." Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, "See how much He loved him!"
Emotions are okay, even Jesus was emotional, our emotions can be opportunities to grow. In our grief we learn to pray, in our weakness we learn of his strength, in our sorrow we learn more fully about his grace.

All of this annoys us, none of it is fun or comfortable but God knows that we grow more like him the most when our lives are less satisfied with the things of earth. If we were fully content and satisfied with our time here on earth then we wouldn't long for heaven so much.
1 Thessalonians 4:13, 18  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. So encourage each other with these words.
You may be tempted to run the other way but you should come to Jesus. We tend to think that God doesn't love us when we suffer, we think that our circumstances are proof of the level of love that Jesus has for us and bad stuff must happen because he is angry with us. (Romans 8:35-37)

Grief doesn't stop happening but we also have hope that should never stop. That's where we are until Jesus returns, somewhere between grief and hope.