Have you had an experience reading scripture where you feel like through all time and space the Holy Spirit meant a word or verse just for you in a particular time? It’s almost like the Holy Spirit put an exclamation point after it just for you. I have read the following verse several times and on one particular occasion I felt the Lord pressing something upon my heart. A truth that I have realized before, but emphasized again for my heart to really know and understand.
Jesus said to her, “and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11: 26, italics mine).
That’s a bold statement. Never die. Isn’t that something that all of us have encountered through the loss of a loved one or feared encountering on some level? Yet here, Jesus encourages us that everyone who believes in Him, will never die!
I visualize this as going from life here to Life with Him in heaven. Our death is merely a passage from this life to the next, our real life. I once heard it said that this life, here and now, is the preface to our Story that had begun but will be lived out through eternity.
I share this because we have all been touched with death and grieving on some level. A miscarriage, a parent who has passed or someone else near and dear, or even a fear of death when it does come near to us. The latter, can sometimes debilitate us more than the former. The author of Hebrews encourages us, reminding us that Jesus, “himself likewise also partook of the same (flesh and blood), that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through the fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Hebrew 2:14,15).
So, let’s allow the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts through these scriptures and strengthen our hearts against the fear of death, trusting that we may lose this flesh and blood someday, only to gain a new life, a continued life, the real beginning of our life, with our Creator and all who have gone before us, for eternity.
After I lost my dad to cancer eight years ago, I have walked both sides of this fear. I have experienced a pain and brokenness I never imagined possible AND I have feared my death after seeing it so up close and personal.
But praise be to God that he rendered powerless the one had the power of death and has come to free us from this fear that can take us captive as the book of Hebrews tells us. Our faith gives us hope and our trust in God and His ultimate plan for our good gives us peace. Let these truths soak in as you walk a difficult path or let them strengthen you for what may lie ahead.
Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians, tells us what to do next: Encourage one another.
He begins his letter praising God, who is the “Father of compassion and God of all comfort, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also flow.” (2 Corinthians 1:4).
Friends, that is powerful. Through Christ does our encouragement flow. So how do we flesh this out in everyday life?
- Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Abide in Christ so His power and encouragement can flow through you.
- If you have experienced grief and pain due to loss or the fear of death, pray over those wounds, pray for healing, pray for vision of how you can use your past to encourage others.
- Look and listen for opportunities to encourage others who are walking a similar road that you have walked. You have so much goodness to share with them that they need. Even if this brings up emotions you thought you were past, pray through them and pray for Christ to strengthen you, because we need your story. You are a vital part of the Body of Christ.
- If you are in the midst of the valley, know that you will get to the other side. As we walk through the valley, right? We don’t stay there. Pray to be girded with His strength so that you may bear fruit as a result of your suffering, that one day you will be the light of Christ that someone needs.
After losing my dad, it took a while to see the goodness, to be honest. But He is faithful. Slowly but surely my heart and soul began to heal and the wounds that were caused by this suffering were healed. The scars remain, but they are strong. I have been able to show these wounds to others who may have fresh ones of their own, wounds that haven’t scarred over yet. They are raw, they are fragile, but Christ has been able to encourage them, through me, as the Word promises. I can show them my scars (figuratively) and show them that they do heal and it takes time to heal, just like our own skin when we get a cut or scrape (bear with me through this medical analogy, I’m a nurse, it’s how my brain works). Healing rarely occurs overnight, it takes time, in both cases.
Healing will happen. He promises us. Sit alone with the Word, let the Holy Spirit speak to your heart and bring about a healing that only He can accomplish. Not just for you sweet friend, but for us! We need you, wounds and all.