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Points to Ponder: Hope Beyond the Tears
Points to Ponder
Hope Beyond the Tears
I have never read C.S. Lewis' "A Grief Observed", but I can imagine why he was compelled to write it. The process of grief is profound and deep, yet different and unique to each person. Some can plow right through, deal with it, and keep going on with their lives. Others are crushed, stopped in their tracks, and must resort to medication. No matter who you are, you will encounter grief. It is a process that you must engage and interact with; and it will change you. On the menu of your daily thoughts you will think of a lost loved one perhaps more frequently after they are gone than you did when they were alive. I suppose that is one of the (perhaps several) sources of guilt we may feel after someone dies.
One interesting thing I have observed in walking with my mom through our loss is the occurrence of dreams. We both dreamt of Dad and saw him alive. I only recall one time when I dreamt of him. Since his death, I have had his '88 Grand Marquis station wagon. We called it the "Galaxy Class Starship". It was as much a part of his identity as Traveler the horse was to Robert E. Lee. Mom had also given me his gold N.S.A. watch which he had received upon retiring from the National Security Agency.
When I saw Dad in the dream, he was a little perturbed;. because everybody thought he was dead--and he really was not. It was never explained in the dream, but somehow it was all wrong, a mistake. He had not really died. I said to him, "So, I guess you want your car back, huh?" He could not find his pocket change either. At the time, we were collecting baby bottles full of change for the crisis pregnancy center; I told him I had given his change to them. And the watch...I guessed he wanted that too.
I can not recall all the details of the dream. I did not perceive any hidden messages--just the ponderings of my conscience. I wished he was still here, and that he still had his car and his watch. They do not look right without him using them. I was amused by the dream and had a good laugh with some friends over it.
Mom, on the other hand, was dreaming about him every night. They talked and she got some comfort from those dreams. But after a couple of nights of no dreams, she became quite upset. My dreams of Dad alive amused me. He and I had prepared for his death together. But Mom had had a more difficult time. In the dreams, as with mine, Dad was not really dead. It was all a misunderstanding. Mom would chuckle and tell me how she asked Dad what they were going to tell people. And what if he got sick--he did not have any health insurance now. He told her it did not matter.
People read different things into dreams. I am not attempting to do that. What I am doing here is pondering something I heard in a sermon not long after these dream discussions went on. The speaker reminded me that death was not part of God's original plan for us.
Consider the Garden of Eden. God only created life. We were meant to live, grow, and have relationships with God and each other. An ending to these things was not part of the divine plan. The endings (death) came onto the scene when we humans broke with the plan to try and do things our way. He told Adam and Eve to stay away from the knowledge of good and evil. That was God's area; to cross that line would bring death. But they had to know, so they trusted themselves more than God's word, and the rest (as they say) is history. Across the ages, humankind has feared death. The disconnection which death forces on our relationships is painful. We get mad at the person who died and left us; we get mad at God for letting it happen. Grief rocks our world. But consider this, in the "knowledge of good and evil" the greatest of all the good we can know comes from God (James 1:17); and the greatest of evil always brings us to death. It is evil's ultimate end.
The whole matter of salvation in both the Old and New Testaments is about deliverance from death. "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me" (Psalm 23:4).
In Isaiah 25:6-9, God promises His people victory over death. "He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from `all faces... And it will be said in that day: 'Behold, this is our God, we have waited for Him, and He will save us'" (Isaiah 25:8a, 9a)
God became a man in Jesus Christ in order to give us that victory. (John 1:1-5, 14; 3:16-18) The New Testament, in numerous places, affirms the promise (I Corinthians 15; Romans 6; Ephesians 2:8-9; Revelations 21:1-7, to name a few).
I have joy despite my grief because I know the promise is true. We will all attend at least one funeral in our lives; our own. Yet, the believers in Christ have a hope, The hope that does not disappoint (Romans 5:1-5). Though we each will go through death, if we believe in Christ for salvation (Romans 10:9-10), we know that death can not go through us.
"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die..." (John 11:25-26)
My dad was a believer. I will smile at the dreams and drive his Galaxy Class Starship for awhile on earth, until that day when our brief separation has ended...forever.
Do you have that hope?
This column can be found on the web at: www.fumcl.org and is downloaded for your reading pleasure. Pastor Whitmore is not affiliated with Picket News, nor does he submit any material directly to our publication. We regularly reprint interesting articles found at his public domain Web site and encourage all readers to visit this site to enjoy similar material.
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