In 1 Corinthians 15:55 Paul says “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” and in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 he writes, “so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.” Please hear this beloved, it’s so very important. Paul is not saying, do not grieve. The Christian community has taken this passage and twisted it many, many times to do something ridiculously wrong, and imply that we're not supposed to grieve.
When I was pastoring in Delaware, there was a sweet young woman who was thirty-four years old with four babies. She was in the ICU and was dying, and did die. We held a round the clock vigil for that young lady, and people were there with her praying the whole two weeks she was there. I showed up one day just in time to see one of our dear ladies come out of that ICU with tears streaming down her cheeks, and the next lady ready to go in stuck her finger in that woman’s face and said, “Stop crying! That doesn't manifest victory.” If ever I wanted to slap somebody in Jesus' name! You know what, maybe it didn't manifest victory, but it manifested compassion, which is, in my understanding of the New Testament, what Jesus Christ is all about!
We grieve. Paul said in Romans 12:15 through the spirit, “Weep with those who weep.” Jesus himself wept at the death of Lazarus. And this is so important, it doesn't say He cried a few tears, it says He wept. Weeping is full-fledged, heartfelt crying. That's an important distinction. If Jesus felt the freedom to openly grieve the loss of a loved one, even though it's temporary, we should feel the same freedom.
What Paul is speaking to us in these verses, is that he wants us to grieve with hope, to grieve with confidence that ours is never a permanent goodbye. I challenge every one of you, because until the Lord returns there will be death in your family and friends, when you're at that graveside, don't say goodbye, say until we meet again. Until we meet again.
Each week, Pastor Frank sends several short, encouraging videos to his circle of friends.
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