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Thursday, June 9, 2022

Lebanon County Greenhouse
Yesterday we stopped by this rural greenhouse in northern Lebanon County.

"The Downside Of Love"

Message summary: We desire to have a healthy outlook toward the inevitable grief periods in life and consider grief to be a healthy dimension of giving love and being loved. "Grief is the downside of love".

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“I am about to go the way of all the earth" (2 Kings 2:2). "A time to mourn" (Ecclesiastes 3:4). "Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him" (Acts 8:2). "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope" (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

A regular and necessary part of ministry is supporting people during times of grief or mourning. At any given time we have people on our hearts who have recently lost a loved one and the sting of death is still fresh.

Of course this is not only true for those of us in "ministry" but for all of us. Yesterday I had a pre-grief discussion with a young man whose grandfather is nearing death. Of course prior to death we always hold out for a healing and extension of life. But inevitably, in a sense, we are always near death. Not only are we reminded of it due to our aging bodies, disease, and accidents, but also by the increasing violence that fills our land and world.

I heard an interesting perspective on a podcast that is so true, "Grief is the downside of love". Now I can't imagine not accepting this "downside of love" in exchange for the multitude of blessings that love provides but some do and thus escape grief, living only for themselves. They may feel no emotion when others die and have no one to grieve for them when they do. Some get into horrible life messes such as the homeless and drug addicted. They are so detached from others that when they die there may be no one who grieves.

Jacob and Esau burying IsaacGrief is defined as "deep sorrow, especially that which is caused by someone's death." Robert Orr, a hospice chaplain writes, "Grief is the last act of love we give to our loved one. Where there is deep grief there is great love."

David honestly faced the inevitability of death in 2 Kings 2:2, "I am about to go the way of all the earth".

Ecclesiastes 3:4 refers to "a time to mourn". For those who love this "time to mourn" is well-known, especially as we get older and older. The first time of grief in the Bible was surely when Adam and Eve heard the horrible news that one son had killed another. Later in Genesis we read that the long-estranged brothers Jacob and Esau gathered to bury their father Isaac.

Acts 8:2Today's third text gives insight into the emotion of grief in the early church. After Stephen was stoned, "Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him" (Acts 8:2). Surely the grieving emotions for these godly men were no less intense for them than they are for us in our losses. To "mourn deeply" has the sense of great lamentation, "to beat the breast in grief". Did they "understand" any better than we do? Surely not. But our faith must confront such reality.
Our fourth text is the beginning of a portion that teaches about the rapture of the church (although Scripture does not use the word). Paul did not want his initial Thessalonian readers (and through Scripture all of us) to be uninformed. The specific issue was death described with the euphemism, "those who are asleep" (later in the text described as "the dead in Christ" (v.16).

He informed them so "that [they] may not grieve as others do who have no hope". He is contrasting those who die as believers in Christ and those who aren't, "For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again" (v.14).

The aspect of grieve here can be taken in two different ways:

1) As believers we will not grieve. One writer's perspective, "Paul writes to the saints at Thessalonica who had lost loved ones so that they would not grieve but to the contrary they would be empowered by this sound doctrine regarding a believer's death to comfort one another with the sure hope of future glory to be revealed at Christ's return"

2) As believers we will grieve but not in the same way "as others do who have no hope". The Precept Austin Online commentary is helpful in explaining this:

We should not misunderstand what Paul is saying here about not grieving. He is not saying that believers are not to experience and express the normal sorrow that accompanies the death of a loved one which brings with it the pain of separation and loneliness. Even our Lord Jesus grieved over the death of His friend ("Jesus… was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled… Jesus wept" John 11:35). Although Jesus expressed sorrow, He did not despair over never seeing His friend again. Normal human beings grieve over the physical death of their loved ones. Paul is not saying Christians are to be dehumanized by removing grief from the realm of their experience. He goes on to qualify that the believer's grief is not as the rest, for the believer's goodbye is only temporary and our sure hope of reunion with our believing loved ones is forever!

We hold the second view and desire to have a healthy outlook toward the inevitable grief periods in life and consider grief to be a healthy dimension of giving love and being loved. "Grief is the downside of love".

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: God of all Comfort, would You bring reassuring comfort that is even more present than the inevitable mourning that accompanies the loss of loved ones. May You be glorified in the midst of one's emotional devastation when leaders are called upon to give words of comfort and guidance to family members and friends.  We find great consolation in knowing that those who breathed their last here on earth breathed their first in God's immortal Kingdom that will reign for all eternity. Sin is swallowed up in victory because death no longer reigns when these mortal bodies take on immortality!  So we are not overcome by grief but we overcome grief with this essential knowledge that comes from Your Holy Scriptures as we commit our thoughts and our ways to You, our Master Comforter. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Hymn Of Heaven"  Video  Phil Wickham

"Forever Home"  Video  Brian Free & Assurance

"Homesick For Heaven"  Video  Jim Brady Trio

"I Can't Erase The Message"  Video  Tim Livingston

"Present in the Presence of the King"  Video  The Guardians

Grief Poem (Robert Orr, hospice chaplain)

For further study on the topic of grieving in 1 Thessalonians 4: A thoughtful discussion on 1 Thessalonians 4:13,14 from the Precept Austin online commentary

Lebanon County farmview
I took this photo from the rural greenhouse in northern Lebanon County.
In the distance you can see Blue Mountain where the Appalachian Trail runs along the ridge.

Lancaster County farmview
A Lancaster County farm view with an Amish farmer doing fieldwork in the distance.

Finally today:

Tho in colorful dress
For about six years Thoebe and Notsen Ncube, along with their two sons, have been our neighbors and friends. They recently completed their studies and will soon return to their homeland where they will continue to serve the Lord in ministry. Since we are originally from the Midwest Brooksyne often makes a pot of pinto beans and ham along with cornbread which her family ate once a week when she was growing up. The Ncubes have joined us for this meal in the past and enjoyed it as well since it's a staple in their country. That's the bag Tho is carrying as Brooksyne sent her home with a couple quarts of beans along with cornbread for her family. She is wearing traditional attire from their African home in Zimbabwe where textile manufacturers print colorful and bold designs.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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