Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Father (as in paternal parent, not God) (04/10/08)
TITLE: In Loving Memory
By Daphne Delay
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My 91-year-old grandmother passed away this week, so I have been meditating on this scripture for several days now. When the Bible speaks of someone who has "fallen asleep" it is referring to someone who has physically died. When it uses the word "dead" or "death" it is typically referring to spiritual death, or a state of being separated from God. And in this sense, a person could be physically alive and quite healthy, but dead; separated from God. But Paul stated that he did not want us to be IGNORANT. We've looked at this word before. Ignorance is simply a lack of knowledge. Paul was saying that he did not want us to have a lack of knowledge (or understanding) concerning those who have fallen asleep (or passed on from this life) like those who have no hope.
I am thankful to say that my "Grandma" (as we all called her) was a believer. A few nights before she passed, I asked her if she would have ever thought I'd grow up to be a "preacher"! She couldn't talk but she smiled as we laughed at the thought. Because the thing is, life is not about where you start but where you finish. My Grandma had been a widow for 37 years (as long as I am old). My Grandpa passed away two weeks before I was born. Grandma was steadfast and strong. Besides her husband, she had also lost a daughter and two infant sons, besides several siblings. But as Paul wrote, we don't have to "sorrow as others who have no hope." As Christians, WE HAVE HOPE! Yes, the pain of separating on this earth from someone we love is very hard, but I honestly can't imagine the pain of that separation if I did not have the Spirit of the Living God abiding on the inside of me as a believer.
We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you... because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel (Colossians 1:3,5).
There is a difference between natural hope and spiritual hope. With natural hope, we can be disappointed. But with spiritual hope, we can have confidence. And that's actually what that word means - it is a "confident expectation of things to come." That's why the scripture says "Now faith is the substance of things HOPED for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Abraham was our father in the faith and we are encouraged to follow his example: "Who, contrary to (natural) hope, in (spiritual) hope believed..." (Romans 4:18).
We too, must believe. It doesn't stop our tears or the pain of loss, but we are still comforted with the thought that our believing loved ones who have "fallen asleep" are with the Lord Jesus and that we too shall join them someday. In fact, Paul continued in Thessalonians to tell us that "...whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Jesus" (5:10). So we don't have to wonder where our loved ones are - they are with Jesus our Lord! And it may just be that they are there only a few minutes before they turn around and see us following right behind them. Because you see, we find another beautiful promise in the Word of God: "Beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2 Peter 3:8). Our minds have a hard time wrapping themselves around the idea of eternity, but it is not like our seconds, minutes, and hours. So even if I lived another 100 years, and Jesus tarried in His return, when I died, my Grandma would only have been with Jesus a few hours before I joined her!
Hold on to your spiritual hope. And all the more - share your faith so others will have hope also, as we all look "for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).
In loving memory of Lillie Emily Edwards. I love you Grandma!
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