Summary: God is in control even in our times of catastrophe. Since the fall of man, catastrophe has been a part of life…
Death is a part of life
Three critical pieces of information about grief:
1. Grieving is a part of life. v.13
“asleep”: a euphemism for death.
There is no such thing as soul sleep
2. Grieving should include hope v.13-14
Hope: a strong and confident expectation
3. Grieving can give way to joy v.15-18
Two reasons our grief can give way to joy:
1. Our great reunion with others
2. Our glorious future with Jesus
My dad was a great man (pic). When I was a kid, I was amazed at how he could walk on his hands around the house. He could do anything with his hands, including discipline my brother and me. Back seat fussing—mr. Hand. Grab me by the temple hairs….if not driving, bang our heads together. Didn’t hesitate using the belt. Whenever he’s reach for waste, automatic panic fill my heart. Most of the time he was just adjusting his shirt. He could fix anything. Build anything. He built a boat from scratch (pic). He was a hunter. He loved to hunt deer with a bow and arrow (pic). He wanted me to go with him, and I did. But I really didn’t like sitting up in a tree in freezing weather with my feet and hands getting numb—almost fell asleep and fell out of the tree many a time. He was funny. (pic) I still remember a couple of jokes he told us at the table when I was a kid. He loved his family. He was the spiritual leader in not only my immediate family, but in my extended family. Everyone on both sides of my family looked up to my dad. When Sue and I got married, he told us both, “look, if you guys get into a squabble, I’m telling you right now, Sue, I’m going to back you; I’m on your side no matter what.” It kind of made me mad at 1st, then I saw the wisdom of what he was doing. He knew that many a marriage has struggled because the daughter in law or son in law felt like a 2nd class citizen; unembraced, unaccepted, and unfavored next to the son or daughter. He knew that I would always know he loved me no matter what, but with this new daughter in law, she wouldn’t know that for a good while, so he wanted to make sure she knew it, and this was the way to let her know that she could rest securely in the relationship. 25 years later, when my kids got married, I told their spouses the same thing.
In July, 1982, Sue and I had been married a little over a year and were living in Albuquerque, brand new in the ministry. Sue was 4 months pregnant with Ben, our 1st born. It was a Tuesday morning. The day before, Dad had checked in the hospital and they had done a heart cath and discovered he had significant blockage in multiple arteries. They were going to do bypass surgery Tuesday morning, but sometime about 4 am he had a major heart attack. My mom called me and said I’d needed to get to Tulsa as quick as I could. I didn’t fully grasp what was happening. At the last minute, I told Sue I was going to pack a suit just in case, but I really didn’t think I’d need it. When your dad is Superman, you don’t think anything will take him out except being 100 yrs old. He was 58 yrs old. We caught the 1st flight out of Albuquerque for Tulsa, getting to the hospital about 10:00 that morning.
When I walked in the waiting room, I was still expecting to hear that they had done the bypass surgery and all would be well. But immediately I could tell by the faces of my cousins, aunts, uncles, mom, brother, that it was not good. The doctor wanted to know if I wanted to see him. He took me to a room where dad was laying on a padded table. He was unconscious; struggling to breathe. The nurse’s face said it all. I didn’t know what to do. Everything was crashing in around me. Fear was overcoming me. Pain was flooding my heart. I touched him for a moment on his chest. Then reached over, kissed him on the cheek, and told him I loved him. And then he was gone.
If you’ve ever lost a loved one, particularly suddenly, you know what I mean when I say, nothing really prepares you for the incredible anguish and the pain. At times you can’t breathe. The grief rolls over you like a 10’ wave. This fixture that has been a part of your life—all your life—is gone. It’s awful.