“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them who are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others who have no hope—for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also who sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. . . Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.”

I Thessalonians 4:13-14, 18

Weeping belongs to every person of every generation—but only the redeemed know how to “weep in hope.”

The grave.

It seems so final.  Whether the lifeless corpse is lowered into the ground, slid into an above-ground crypt or incinerated through cremation, those who live without hope always “sorrow as those who have no hope.”  It’s impossible for them to do otherwise.

Why is that?

Because “their sins are ever before them” (Ps. 51:3).  Even when they try to focus on Christ’s forgiveness and pardon, it’s not long before their minds return to their dismal estate, leaving them down and forlorn.  While they may muster up enough courage to be joyful on Sunday morning, soon a melancholy mist will set in upon them, clouding the Son from view.

That’s why we should “exhort one another daily” (Heb. 3:13a), reminding each other of our partnership with Christ (v.14) and encouraging each other to “lift up the hands which hang down and the feeble knees, making straight paths for our feet, lest those who follow us are soon turned out of the way” (Heb. 12:12-13).

Only those in whom the Risen Lord dwells via His Holy Spirit know those loved ones who have died are with the Lord.  Assuredly, there is a hole in the heart which no one but God Himself can fill.  And, it may be there’s not a day that goes by that grief does not still try to play a funeral dirge or mournful tune.

But, do not give in, weary Pilgrim.

Instead, “cast down those imaginations/surmising and anything that blocks the Risen Lord from your view by lassoing those thoughts and emotions and laying them at Jesus’ feet” (II Cor. 10:5).  Then find someone today who’s “sorrowing as those who have no hope” and ask the Holy Spirit to help you “comfort them with the comfort with which you’ve been comforted” (II Cor. 1:3-4) and remind them that the same God Who “raised Jesus from the dead will also deliver us from death and hopeless despair as we trust Him” (II Cor. 1:9-10).

So, do not look at things as they are—for such focusing will soon lead to discouragement, disillusionment, depression and despair.  Instead, “lift up your eyes, higher than the hills, to the One Who made them—knowing He slumbers not, neither does He sleep and will preserve you from all evil as you go out and come in” (Ps. 121:1-8).  In so doing, you’ll soon find your “ashes of mourning being replaced by the oil of joy and your spirit of heaviness being replaced by the garment of praise” (Is. 61:3).  He’s alive, Pilgrim.  Live in that reality today.

By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated August 8, 2009

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