John 11:24-27 – Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world." (ESV)
Recently, an e-mail friend has lost her husband. She faces both the release of knowing that he is at peace and also the sorrow of his departure. This calls for a profound readjustment to accept his absence and allow other stuff, godly and mundane alike, to fill the vacuum he has left behind.
Sometime after I had e-mailed her, I realized that my few words might be of help for others in her situation. Unlike much of my thought in stressful times, this one has lingered, perhaps giving me a nudge to take the time to pass it on. So I have gained her permission to share the essence of what has been said:
- Mark 10:7-9 – Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. (ESV)
When God says that the two become one flesh, He means it. So now you are suffering with something akin to a phantom limb. Your brain says your husband should be there when you reach out, but he is not — a fate similar to that of those who have suffered the trauma of a severed limb and yet, days later, still feel the pain or a need to scratch the itch of an absent extremity. The brain and heart take time to adjust to new norms and face changed realities.
However, I believe your Christ-believing husband, now being spirit, will one day be rejoined in harmony with you in Jesus, as will all of us believers. A mystery to be sure, but this grace of God shown to us overwhelms the temporary sorrow, for those who suffer presently.
Jesus knows our sadness and is deeply moved to stay with us for the extra mile (as in today's passage from John 11) through this time of hurt, to hold us close until we are able to stand up once again, because God is with us always, and He knows the final outcome.
John 14:2 – In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? (ESV)
Prayer: Loving Father, may Your ever-present hope in times of trouble grant to all who are grieving Your perfect peace and consolation today, and set them in Your family of love. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
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