Difficult times

The last few weeks have been difficult for many of our brothers and sisters in Christ at both Berlin Center and LeValley Churches. I know I don’t even have to ask this because you all love and care for each other always, but please keep the families who are grieving in your daily prayers.

We do not heal from grief in a specific number of a days, weeks, months, or years. We may move on from our grief, but we do not get over it. So, God put it on my heart last Sunday to preach on ways to live in our grief through Jesus Christ. I am including a portion of the message for those of you who didn’t hear it or want to keep it for future reference.

Sometimes death brings people together and sometimes it drives them apart. Because death is this confusing mix of emotions and experiences, it is often hard to know exactly what to do when it has entered your door. But, here is some biblical direction:

1. Be honest about your emotions.

Being a Christian does not mean being a stoic. God doesn’t want us to hide our emotions or wear a happy face mask. He wants us to come to him with complete honesty. In the Psalms, God invites us to bring our honest grief to him. Psalm 34:15 depicts God as a loving Father, watching over his children and listening for their cries. Psalms 13, 22, 42, and 73 picture God’s people running to him in grief and confusion. When we are struggling, we should run to the one who knows us completely and loves us faithfully. As Peter says, “cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.” (1Peter 5:7)

2. Run to where comfort can be found.

When he was suffering, the Apostle Paul said an amazing thing about the Lord. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort…” (2Corinthians 1:3). Whenever anyone, anytime, anywhere experiences real comfort, it is because God, the source of all true comfort, has made it happen. It is never useless to cry out to him. He has the power to bring hope and rest to our souls in ways we could never imagine. God, in his grace, has assigned this job to himself.

3. Don’t fall into grief’s traps.

Moments of sorrow are also moments of temptation. You have an enemy who wants to use this moment to tempt you to question God’s goodness and love. He will tempt you to be envious of others and to become angry and bitter. The struggle of grief is not just a struggle of sorrow, but of temptation as well. We need to watch ourselves for signs of doubt, anger, envy, self-pity, bitterness. When we see these things in ourselves, we need to run to Jesus for his forgiveness, strength, and protection.

4. Open yourself up to God’s helpers.

God designed life to be a community project. We need the help of others in our lives to become the people God created us to be (see Ephesians 4:1-16 and 1Corinthians 13). When our hearts are breaking and our eyes are blinded by grief, we need the help of others more than ever. The Godly friends that Jesus has put in our life can help us see things you would not see by ourselves. They can help us remember God’s goodness when we are tempted to forget. When we are in despair, others can bring the comfort of Christ to us. We shouldn’t try to go through sadness alone. God has placed helpers in our lives.

5. Be thankful.

Even in the darkest of moments, we can find clear signs of God’s presence and love. The Apostle Paul says it this way. “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1Thessalonians 5:18). Notice the little preposition “in” in the middle of the verse. We are called to be thankful in every situation. This doesn’t mean that we will always be thankful for what we are going through, but it does mean that we can be thankful for what God is giving us to sustain us in our grief. In our darkness, there are always little lights of God’s grace and love to be found. We should pay attention to the good things God is doing, even in this dark moment, so our grief can be mixed with heartfelt gratitude. Page 2 Volume 6

6. Don’t neglect your spiritual habits.

When we are overwhelmed with sadness, it can seem pointless to pray. We may feel too weak and emotionally distracted to read the Bible, be with our Christian friends, and attend worship. But we need these spiritually productive habits in our life now more than ever. God has called us to do these things because they strengthen our souls. They remind us of who we are and who the Lord is. They reconnect us to our identity as his child.

7. Celebrate eternity.

Look beyond this moment of grief to an eternity with God. When we enter into God’s family, we start a journey that won’t end until we are with your Lord in eternity. The heart-breaking pains of life in a fallen world will some day end. The crushing sadness of death will end. Some day our grief will be gone and it won’t return. So, as we grieve, we need to remember what is to come and be thankful that we have a bright future that does not include sadness and death.

8. Give away the comfort you have received.

Scripture says that God comforts us, not only to bring rest to our hearts, but also so we can comfort others (2Corinthians 1:3,4). If we have experienced God’s comfort in a time of grief, we are uniquely able to understand what a fellow griever is going through. So what we do or say will give other mourners hope and rest. Remember, as we face the death of a loved one remember we are not alone. Jesus endured death for us so that even in the face of death we would be able to live with hope, strength, and courage. And because of what Jesus has done for us, good things can happen even in the darkest moments of life. We can’t let grief rob us of life. We need to choose to live and experience the grace that Jesus died to give us.

I pray for each of you who are grieving this day. I am here to listen, if you need to share. If your grief is fresh, or if it is years old, know that God is with you always. As Jesus says n Matthew 28:19-20--Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Love in Christ,

Pastor Nancy

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