You can’t sidestep it or pretend it’s not there.
Jesus took the disciples to one side, anticipating the grief that would threaten to swallow them up when he died on the cross. This is what he said to comfort them:
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
It’s wonderfully simple, and offers three profound bits of assurance in dark times.
First: God promises peace. Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. Even in the day of grief we can experience peace. Why? Because we have faith – we believe. It’s like putting your foot down on to quicksand but finding instead a solid place to stand. We believe that even in the midst of the storm – even in the valley of the shadow of death there can be an amazing peace – because we know that God is with us. Psalm 23 “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” He is here. He is present. Believe in Him – Trust in Him and God will grant you his perfect peace. David Watson died of cancer, but his last book, called FEAR NO EVIL was a celebration of the God who is with us at the point of need .
Second assurance: God has a home ready. Jesus said “I go to prepare a place for you.” There’s a song: In six days you created everything, but you’ve been working on heaven two thousand years! It’s going to be amazing. This is a picture of a spiritual reality. This is truth, not pie-in-the sky fantasy. God has given his word, and his name is Jesus.
Third: God has made a way. God has prepared a route for us to get there. Everyone wants to go to heaven, some just don’t know the way. But Jesus tells us in John 14 that, “I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” We are all travelling the same road and there are many detours. This is an answer to confusion and loss of direction. All we need to do is follow Jesus. He will show us the way – in fact He is the way. He will lead us and He will guide us. That’s really comforting.
There’s an advert that comes on at Christmas. It’s so simple. A truck is speeding through dark mountains and forests. And as it gets nearer and nearer, lights begin to punctuate the darkness and the whole world turns -bit by hit- into wonderful colour. And the song goes “Holidays are coming! Holidays are coming!”
Let the living word of God punctate the darkness of your grief. He offers peace. He prepares a place and he provides a pathway home. This life is not all there is! Holidays are coming! The lights are on and the door is open. There’s a meal prepared. There are friends and there’s laughter.
There’s a homecoming.