Summary: This message is designed for someone that the preacher knows fairly well so they can fill in details of their life in the middle section. It is a celebration of their life that ends with a turn toward eternity.

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As we’ve come to this service, we embark on that march that David describes as the “walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”

What do you do when you are hit with the hard reality of life and death? How do you continue to put one foot in front of the other when you are shadowed in the valley of lose?

I believe that God has three words for us today. They are three words that speak directly and with relevance to our situation at this moment. I would like to share those three words of encouragement with you this evening.

1) Grieve … the first word is "grieve."

Grief is a natural part of human experience. We face a minor grief almost daily in some situation or another. When we lose a loved one our grief is magnified. To say a person is deeply religious and therefore does not have to face grief is ridiculous. Not only is it totally unrealistic, but it is incompatible with the whole Christian message.

Our society would say to us, "Get over it", after all didn't Jesus say, "Don't be troubled…" These words from Jesus may seem a bit out of place and more than a little unrealistic. But his word of instruction doesn’t mean “Don’t grieve”. It doesn’t mean “buck up and put a happy face on it”.

The one Bible verse every Sunday-school child knows by heart is the two-word verse “Jesus wept.” These words describe someone, who when grief came, was able to weep, for He wanted and needed to express those feelings.

The striking thing about the verse is that it is Jesus who weeps. If he were just an ordinary person, it wouldn’t surprise us. But that’s not how the Bible presents him. This very book of the Bible begins with the powerful claim that Jesus was the very creator of the universe coming to live among men. He was the only begotten of the Heavenly Father (John 1:1-18). In the chapters of John that lead up to these two words, Jesus does many things. He teaches. He prays. He cleanses the temple. He calms a storm. He miraculously feeds a multitude with a handful of fish and loaves. He turns water into wine. He heals the sick, causes the blind to see, and the lame to walk. He does all kinds of powerful things. He does the things you would expect the Son of God to do. Here he does something totally different. Jesus wept!

The Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, see grief as normal and potentially creative. Granger E. Westberg takes another statement of Scripture and paraphrases it this way: “Grieve, not as those who have no hope” and then he adds “but for goodness sake, grieve when you have something worth grieving about!”

In your grief, don't be afraid to take your grief to God, and talk with him about your loss and loneliness.

• a prayer pouring out your heart to God

• a prayer that acknowledges your hurt and his ability to heal your heart

• a prayer that acknowledges your need to cast your care upon him

• a prayer that acknowledges your need for him to give you a peace that passes understanding.

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