The Thrill of Hope: Advent and Grief

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

PSALM 30:11-12

December 11th, 2017 was the day that my grandfather passed away, and his funeral was held four days later — ten days before Christmas. Not that anyone could have controlled the timing, but it was a strange time of year to be mourning a loss in our family: though we were in a season that gets its name from a Latin phrase meaning “to come toward,” there we sat in a small church, bidding farewell.

If you’re in a season of mourning, or if the holidays are a bittersweet time due to a loss, know this: grieving can look like Advent, if we allow it. Advent looks back to when Jesus came as nothing but a baby, and it looks toward His return. In mourning, we can look back on the lives of those before us, and anticipate the day when we will see them again — and will we see our loved ones again? Heaven awaits those who know Jesus — that is a fact of our faith. Furthermore, there will come a time when Jesus returns, and when He does, the dead will be raised to life again.

It’s a weird concept, but death is dead. It does not have power over people of faith, and it met its end when Jesus rose up out of it. 1 Corinthians 15:54 says this: “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘death has been swallowed up in victory.’” At the sec- ond coming of Christ, our perishable bodies will become imper- ishable. For us as people of faith, that’s when the mortal becomes immortal, and death loses its grip on us entirely.
In a season of mourning, let’s look forward to that time when our mourning is replaced with joy, and our wailing with dancing. Also, let’s cling to the Word, which tells us that “death has been swallowed up forever” by the One who came as a Baby in a manger to the world He created and loved.

PRAYER

Father, thank You for those who have come and gone before me. Today, I remember them and their lives, and I trust that in You, death does not have the final word. Open my eyes to the hope that You bring. Amen.

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