By Gloria Wessner.
I’ve noticed recently in social media that many people are grieving and/or missing their dad (in some cases mom). With this being Father’s Day and having gone through this life event, too, I thought I would share a piece I wrote some time ago and trust it will be encouraging and helpful to someone.
Last February when I drove away from my father’s home in southern US where he had chosen to retire (he really wanted to get away from those cold Canadian winters), I knew that maybe I had seen him for the last time. Having suffered a severe heart attack that we went through with him that he wasn’t supposed to live through the October before; we were told he would live only a certain amount of time, but of course we didn’t know exactly how long.
Just after this Thanksgiving weekend, we were phoned and told that he had passed away peacefully. Since receiving that phone call and going through a lot of pictures and memorabilia of him in preparation for a memorial service; a lot of reflection, grieving and rejoicing has gone on in my heart.
It is a very human thing to grieve, an emotion put there by God to help us deal with real life when a loved one dies. I am thankful for that tool as a means to express my deep sadness at losing someone dear to me. Jesus grieved the loss of a dear friend, too. It’s the story of Jesus’ friend Lazarus, who had become so ill that he died.
“When Jesus saw her (Lazarus’ sister) 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!” (John 11:33 – 36 NLT, parenthesis mine)
Even though Jesus was God and the Author and Creator of life; he was human, too, and by coming to earth and living with us he experienced all the emotions that human beings do, including grief. This made him extremely qualified to identify with us and consequently made his sacrifice and death on the cross even more meaningful to us because of what he suffered on our behalf.
The ending of this true story is phenomenal, however, with Jesus actually waiting in another place until Lazarus died, and then went to see him and his family. Even though he could have gone sooner and healed him and made him well before he died, Jesus knew there was a greater purpose at stake by going after the death of Lazarus (even though no one else knew that purpose). He suffered many criticisms by the public for this choice he made. However, this was the end result:
“Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.
But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”
Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”
Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen.” (John 11:38 – 45 NLT. The full story can be read in the book of John, chapter 11: verses 1 – 44).
Because Jesus waited until Lazarus died, he was able to show his power of life over death, and therefore show the people the power of God and help them realize that he had personal interest in them in this life and in their final destiny. As a result, many people believed in Jesus, and we have that same opportunity, too.
The flip side of Jesus’ death was his resurrection – his coming back to life. In doing this, Jesus conquered sin’s (or wrongdoings) death hold on humankind and provided a way for us to live with him forever – to those who believe in Him and have handed over the control of their lives to Him. This is what he told Lazarus’s sister Martha, both for her sake because her brother had died, and for the rest of us as well:
“Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die…” (John 11:25, 26a NLT)
“It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever.” (1 Corinthians 15:42 NLT)
There is no question as to the sadness in my heart that my dad is gone from this life, I totally miss him. But in my heart is another emotion – deep peace. Since I know he loved Jesus with his whole heart and lived the way God wanted him to, I know I will see him again. That assurance gives death a whole different meaning – it’s actually the start for him, of a new forever beginning in the presence of a loving God and in the company of those who have gone before who also believed in a personal God and asked him to live in their hearts.
Even if you don’t know of anyone in your family before you that has made this kind of decision – it can start with you. The chain of faith in each family needs to have a beginning somewhere, why not you? Take courage, and realize that the tugging in your heart is the Holy Spirit of Jesus saying, “Come, and put your hand in mine, and we will walk this life of faith together.”
If you would like to discuss any of these thoughts or find out how to make such a decision, feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will be happy to get back to you.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.