And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Romans 5:5 ESV
The phone rang this week with another one of those calls. A friend deeply hurting because she had just learned one of her family members had passed away.
The following morning I was at her door as soon as possible. I entered her home armed with a cup of special tea and a listening ear, prepared to offer several heartfelt hugs. More importantly, I was armed with the Holy Spirit, having desperately prayed for God to provide the right words of comfort – His words, not mine. I have seen firsthand when words intended for comfort, miss the mark. It is easy for the wrong words to hurt instead of heal. And although I am personally far too familiar with this grief journey, I still worry about saying the wrong thing when trying to comfort someone else.
The conversation started with my friend doing most of the talking as she tried to sort through her feelings and thoughts. We began with some of the typical challenges we face when we lose a family member. The feelings of surprise and disbelief – even when we knew death was imminent. The myriad of logistical details from funeral planning to processing the estate. The complexity of dealing with the impact of grief on a family – parents worrying about their children’s grief and children worrying about their parent’s grief. Our conversation covered a wide range of issues, but I began to notice even the details were swaddled in hope. Throughout, the Holy Spirit reminded us both of His amazing love for us and the Hope we have in Him.
I am often amazed at how differently I see things now. Before, when faced with trying to comfort a friend faced with the death of a family member, I would have quickly sent an appropriate message of condolence, perhaps brought a meal and lifted them up in prayer. I would have maintained a polite distance, partially because I was uncomfortable and partially from the fear I would say or do the wrong thing.
Now, my response is very different.
I press in. In fact, I’m all in. Because I know, God is there. I pray for the words to say and I show up. I see the beauty of His grace during mourning. I see His comfort and His blessings. I see how when we are broken by our circumstances, He blesses us by increasing our faith. I see His never ceasing love for us. I see the Holy Spirit working in us when we are at our weakest.
And it has changed me forever – my Hope has become Intensified beyond what I knew before.
My dear sisters, I know that for many of you this holiday season is filled with sadness as you grieve the loss of your loved one. It has been four years since my husband passed away and this is my first Christmas without my father. I know all too well the heartache you are feeling, but I hope the words God laid on my heart today will encourage you. Yes, we will miss our loved ones until we see them again, but our hope remains in Him. We live each day in His Presence. Each day He adds to our measure of faith as we walk this journey. The grief we are experiencing is temporary. Our Hope is Eternal.
May you be blessed this season by seeing your Hope Intensified beyond what you knew before!
Sheryl Pepple is an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She lives in Texas with her yellow lab, Super Duper Cooper, and spends time with her two daughters, her son-in-law, and her grandson. She is a seasoned traveler and loves to visit great snorkeling and diving areas. Her husband was killed by a drunk driver in September 2011 and she lost her brother, the victim of an unsolved murder, years ago. Sheryl feels blessed to be able to share how evident God’s grace and faithfulness is in her life.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Want to read other articles on Hope? read The Hope we Have by Erika